Everywhere you look, there’s something new happening on social media. It's hard to escape social media entirely, whether it’s the latest TikTok craze or a scandal about how a tech company has been using social media users’ data. But there are ways to achieve social media minimalism, making it work for you instead of against you.
So, if you are ready to take a bit of a social media detox, then you're in the right place! We are going to share how to practice minimalist social media, so you have less negative influences and more time for the more important things.
What is social media minimalism?
Being a social media minimalist means just what it says: you don’t give up social media completely, but minimize your use of it. Being a minimalist in general means having and using less, whether that’s regarding clothes or skincare, or handbags.
So if you want to achieve social media minimalism, you need to be deliberate about your usage of platforms and not allow it to rule your life.
Social media minimalism could mean you stick to a single platform, rather than using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and every other one that comes along.
It might mean limiting your time spent on social media, or you might choose to use it only for work purposes. The key to social media minimalism is to put yourself back in control.
Benefits of social media
Clearly, there must be some benefits to social media, given that almost half of the global population uses it today. Even though I’ve wanted to quit social media at times, I still find it useful in several ways, which may be true for you too.
It’s possible to gain these benefits when you focus on minimalist social media. First, let’s look at the main ways you might be enjoying your social media.
It can help network and boost your career
One of the major ways people are using social media is to advance their careers. You might use Facebook groups to find job leads or network with potential clients. Perhaps you’re following influential leaders on Twitter or LinkedIn to gain their wisdom.
Some people even literally make their living from social media. For example, if you’re an influencer on social media, you can earn money based on sponsored posts, affiliate links, and social media driving traffic to your sales website.
Even if social media isn’t your primary source of income, it can be a terrific platform for you to share whatever you do. Most authors today, for example, have some kind of social media platform where they share free content but also may drive customers to buy their books.
If you use social media to advance your career, that’s awesome. You shouldn’t have to give up that benefit. But if managing your social media is overwhelming or not producing the results you want, social media minimalism can help. (So can hiring a virtual assistant or social media manager.)
You can build relationships
Maybe it sounds silly to include this one second, but social media is of course, a great way to socialize. It’s “social” media, after all, right? You might be using Snapchat and Facebook primarily for building relationships.
How can you practice minimalist social media while still building and maintaining key relationships? It may seem tough to do. After all, isn’t it a good thing to connect with friends who live far away?
I personally love social media for the opportunities it gives me to build community and connections. For example, following the local yoga studio’s Facebook page reminds me of when classes are happening.
Whatever interests you—finance and budgets, certain sporting activities, artistic endeavors—you can find groups for them locally and online.
You can also benefit from social media when it helps you keep in touch with people. It’s great to reach out via quick messages and to see your friends’ children growing up via social media. While it’s important to try living slowly at times, that can include connecting with loved ones online.
Why you should pursue social media minimalism
Are you wondering if you should try to become a social media minimalist? Well, here are a few reasons why you should give it a try.
To avoid comparison traps
One of the biggest reasons most of us should pursue being a social media minimalist is that too much time on social media is dangerous. It can cause you to focus too much on what other people have and do, which makes you compare yourself to them.
For example, lifestyle influencers (who are rewarded when you buy things) might pull you into comparison traps. You might see the clothes they wear, the workout programs they recommend, the smoothie recipe they claim to make daily and compare yourself unhealthily.
Consider how often you think thoughts like these while on social media:
- “She’s so organized…I wish I weren’t such a slob.”
- “What a gorgeous family photo. Her family is so put together, unlike mine.”
- “Oh, sure, it’s great he has all this free time for marathon training. I’m too busy.”
While sometimes looking at what people share on social media could motivate you, it’s likely that it often just makes you feel bad.
In order to stop wasting time on social media
There’s no doubt that social media can be an enormous time-suck. In North America, one study showed that the average person used social media for a total of two hours and six minutes per day. I don’t know about you, but that number freaks me out!
Two hours per day—that’s more than 8% of our lives. While some of what we do on social media may be necessary or helpful, I certainly don’t want to look back on my life in a few years and feel I wasted it all on Facebook.
While there’s no shame in using social media for its good uses, you want to think carefully about how you’re spending your time. Could you put those two hours a day to better use? Think of all the other things you could do instead:
- Exercise more
- Read with your kids
- Work on your side hustle
- Go to bed earlier
- Plan a trip
- Learn a new skill
Social media is one of those things that can shock you if you don’t realize how much you’re depending on it. You may underestimate how long you’re spending on those apps every day, not even noticing the time passing.
It can be a fun distraction, but if social media distractions are keeping you from achieving your true goals, it’s got to go.
To minimize the emotional and mental health impact
Another reason you may want to work towards social media minimalism is to protect your health. Your emotional and mental health may suffer due to excessive social media use.
It relates to the comparison trap, the way that social media can make you feel dissatisfied with your life. You’re likely more content with what you have if you spend less time on social media platforms.
Instead of fretting over the luxurious vacations, you see your friends posting on Instagram, you could be enjoying your own time and focusing on the present.
Studies have been done on the emotional and mental impacts of social media use. For example, a study reported by the University of Pennsylvania indicated limiting social media (they suggest 30 minutes per day or less) can “lead to significant improvement in well-being.”
You might notice issues like feeling anxious when you don’t have your phone in hand or being unable to stop scrolling your preferred social media app. Don’t feel bad about this—do something about it!
You can achieve social media minimalism and reclaim your time, mental health, and contentment.
6 Steps to achieving social media minimalism
If you recognize your need to be a social media minimalist, here are six ways to make that happen. Again, this doesn’t require going cold turkey. Don’t quit, but be more mindful about your social media use.
1. Determine your reasons for using social media
Before you step into making any major social media changes, you may need to examine why you like using it currently. Determine what you need and want to get from social media.
When you do this, try to be honest with yourself. Which of these potential reasons are important to you?
- I need social media to advance my career.
- Social media helps me connect with my friends.
- I enjoy social media for unwinding and relaxation.
- Social media is important to me for sharing photos with family.
- Consider potentially “bad” reasons—to numb sadness, to cure boredom, to avoid your problems, to avoid achieving your goals, etc.
Prioritize which reasons need to stay and which need to go. If any of the reasons are hindering you from achieving your goals, keep that in mind as you craft your minimalist social media strategy.
2. Evaluate how well you’re using social media
As you consider your reasons for being on social media, take some time to examine how well you’re doing. Look at each social media platform, consider how much time you spend on it, and think of whether that time is being spent productively.
You may want to download a social media tracker to your phone. This can illuminate your planning by showing you how many minutes per day or week you spend on a given platform. You can also set limits with some of these apps, which we’ll discuss further down the page.
3. Try a social media detox
As you begin your journey toward social media minimalism, it could be useful to start with a social media detox. Just as people sometimes jump-start a new year by giving up something for the month of January, you can select a period of time to take a serious break from social media.
A social media detox may look like totally abstaining from Facebook, Twitter, or whatever platforms you use. Or, if you truly need some social media to keep your business going, you may need to structure your detox differently. (You might give up all unnecessary social media use for a week or a month.)
What a social media detox can do for you is show you just how reliant you are on those constant notifications, likes, dislikes, and other aspects of social media. It may be painful at first, but I’d bet that after a day or two, you’ll begin to notice you don’t need it as much as you thought.
Unless you truly plan to give up social media forever, your detox will likely be temporary. Many people like to make it a 30-day challenge, but you can choose a length that works for you.
Give up (or severely limit) social media time for enough days to challenge you, but help you reset your defaults. After a detox, you can gradually add a bit more social media use as needed.
4. Delete social media apps from your phone
A next step for many of us is to actually delete the apps for social media from our phones. Why would you do this?
Well, in the quest to achieve social media minimalism, a key to changing habits is to make undesirable activities harder. Since you want to cut back on Instagram scrolling (or whatever the social media platform is), make it harder to do it.
By taking the apps off your phone, you will make social media less convenient for yourself. You’ll have to then either re-download it every time you want to post or find it online.
That’s what I do with Facebook. Instead of using the app, I have to take that extra step of logging in via web browser on my phone. It makes me less likely to constantly post there, but I can still log in fairly quickly when I wish.
5. Disable notifications
Oh, those nonstop notifications. As you know, the repetitive dings of push notifications can draw you away from whatever you’re doing at any given moment. It’s extremely frustrating, and you might get notifications of the most mundane things on social media.
Each platform may work a bit differently, but they should all enable you to disable push notifications. This is a great way to not only minimize social media use but minimize time on your phone altogether.
Think to yourself—do you actually need to hear every single time someone “likes” or comments on a post you’ve made? Or does that distract you, causing you to miss work or become obsessed with others’ opinions?
Even if you personally don’t yet see the problem with notifications, I can almost guarantee you that anyone near you does. Disabling those notifications is a courtesy to colleagues, family members, and anyone else in close proximity.
They don’t want to hear your phone go off every ten seconds, either.
6. Prioritize your social media platforms
This next step may be fairly obvious after you’ve decided what your uses for social media are. Perhaps you only use Snapchat or Instagram for connecting with friends, but Facebook is mainly for your small business.
Figure out which platforms are most essential to your life and happiness. Be honest about it, and consider that although you might use several platforms for your business, that may not be necessary.
If you’re wearing yourself down trying to keep current on multiple platforms all the time, maybe it’s wise to focus your attention. Pick just one platform where you usually get the most bang for your buck.
Focus on creating really great content there, and only add back the others if and when the time is right.
Set priorities for social media use
A key to achieving social media minimalism is to set your priorities. Decide what you want and what you need. How can you best achieve your goals, whether they’re mainly social or career-based, or both?
Along with setting priorities for platforms, you can do this all across social media. Cut back in a few areas:
- Reduce your friends or connections list.
- Unfollow groups and individuals that no longer align with your priorities.
I don’t mean you have to be ruthless. Not every social media connection has to be profitable; they can just be fun. But the key here is to focus on what you truly want and need. Keeping toxic people in your circle of connections isn’t going to benefit you.
You can become a social media minimalist to feel better about yourself and reclaim your time!
While you might feel like you’re trapped in a cycle of constant social media scrolling, you’re not. It’s up to you to reclaim your time and energy. You can become a social media minimalist by trying these steps, and you’ll likely feel better about yourself by doing so.