I (Sandy) left social media for good on March 18, 2021.
Up until last summer, I was the only writer I knew who stopped using social media. I thought social media wasn’t working for me because of me. I assumed I lacked the fortitude and skill to grow my platform effectively. I thought I was doing it wrong.
But over the last couple of months, as I’ve been more vocal about my decision to leave, writers like you are emerging from behind your computer screens to say, “Hey there! Social media isn’t working for me either.”
I see you.
- Maybe, like me, despite a solid decade-plus of consistent effort, you’ve never been able to gain the traction you worked for.
- Or maybe the visibility and engagement you once enjoyed have tapered off or come to a complete standstill.
- Or maybe you are simply weary of chasing the ever-changing algorithm, and rather than learn the next technique (is it “lives”? Is it “reels”? Is it pointing at words and lip-syncing?) you simply want to step off the hamster wheel and…well…write.
Let me assure you that, while social media was once a viable platform for audience growth, in 2023 it’s a losing game.
Here are three reasons why:
1) The conversion rate and organic reach are horrible.
This wasn’t always true. Prior to the algorithm change in 2018, social media worked well for many writers and entrepreneurs.
Currently, the conversion rate for book sales on social media is less than .1%. That means for every 1000 followers you have on social media, you sell one book. (For more insights on various platforms, see this article.)
According to Hootstuite, in 2023 the average organic Facebook page post sees just 0.07% engagement. That means if you have 5,000 followers on your Facebook author page, an average of 3.5 people will engage with your new posts.
Sounds about right, no?
2) It’s a time sucker.
The average social media user in the U.S. spends two hours a day on social media. If you are a content creator, it’s even more. (You can find out how much time you’ve lost to social media with our handy-dandy calculator.) Think about what you could write with that two hours a day…
By the way, this is not because you mismanage your time. Nor is it because you are weak-willed and unwise. This is by design.
This is you up against a hundred-billion-dollar industry that is actively pouring its resources into researching and implementing the best and latest addictive technology to ensure that you can’t leave. Your attention is the fuel running their hundred-billion-dollar machine.
That’s why you hop onto IG to just post that one thing “really quick” and then look up to see you lost 30 minutes of your life.
3) Social media makes you depressed, anxious, and lonely.
(It just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?)
When I first joined Facebook in 2008 it was a lifeline to me. I had three small children in a very isolating season of parenting, and I was actively treating for a debilitating bout of Major Depressive Disorder. Facebook helped me stay connected with my friends and out-of-town family at a time I could barely function. I’m so thankful.
But as the years passed and I spent more and more time on the platforms, the opposite started happening. My hours a day on social media left me feeling glitchy and sad, drained and overwhelmed.
Again, I thought it was just me. I thought I was the one who couldn’t handle it. Back in the early 2010s, we didn’t have data studying the effects of social media on our mental health.
But now we do:
A study appearing in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine (July 2017) concludes: “…The more time you spend “connecting” on these services, the more isolated you become.” (Brian Primack, University of Pittsburg)
Another study appearing in The American Journal of Epidemiology (February 2017) concludes: “What we know at this point, is that we have evidence that replacing your real-world relationships with social media use is detrimental to your well-being.” (Holly Shakya, The University of California–San Diego and Nicholas Christakis,Yale.)
If you struggle with depression or anxiety because of social media, listen to me: Your mental health is reason enough to step away for a time. Or forever.
I mean, who cares about the algorithm and engagement and book sales and publishing contracts if you’re depressed, anxious, and lonely????
You Can Choose Your Own Path
Everywhere you go as a writer in 2023–conferences, masterminds, paid writing communities–it will be assumed that you use social media. You’ll hear tips, tricks, and strategies to boost your engagement. You’ll be given numbers to strive for and targets to reach.
If social media is your jam, then carry on.
But if all that exhausts and overwhelms you, I’m here to encourage you to choose another path. Take a break. Explore options that play to your strengths and feel good to you.
Because one thing I know for sure: creativity flourishes when writers are free to choose their own path.
Thanks for reading,
Looking for more? Sandy + Mary K. discuss these reasons in depth in Episode 2 of Writing Off Social: The Podcast
Download our list of 27 *Real* Ways to Grow Your Audience Without Social Media!
In it, we share some tried and true methods to grow and nurture your following. No dancing, pointing, or lip-syncing required.