Should You Delete Every Social Media Profile You Have?

Part of the fun of a “fireside chat” is that any question can come up in conversation, which I learned in my own fireside chat with Jeff Goins, on-stage at Tribe Conference (even though for safety reasons, there was no actual fire—it was mostly a “chat”).

Because I teach personal branding and digital marketing at Platform University, it was only natural for Jeff to ask me to share my opinion on the latest tip or trick that was working well on social media, but I don’t think he expected me to say that I’ve deleted every social media account attached to my name.

It’s true; I recently deleted my Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram profiles (I’d already deleted Facebook a couple of years back).

The Marketing Argument for Ignoring Social Media

There are many ways to grow your business in today’s world, social media is simply the most visible.

Think about it. When you look at your competitors, or any successful businesses with an online presence, all you can see are the likes, shares, and comments on their social media posts. Without an insider advantage, you can’t see:

  • The traffic to the company website that comes from Google searches
  • The number of email subscribers and the level of subscriber engagement
  • Automated sales funnels turning new subscribers into paying customers
  • High-ticket sales happening over the phone, or in-person at live events

The reality is, most of modern-day marketing is not on social media—but you wouldn’t know that from the way social media dominates news coverage and marketing training conversations.

Social media is like a loud coffee shop or local bar where everyone gathers, so there is a lot of conversation and activity, but from a business perspective most of that is just noise. For example, an email subscriber is fifteen times more likely to make a sale than a social media follower.

Still, social media has its uses as a channel for creating engagement and conversation—or joining a conversation that’s already happening, in order to make new connections. With that in mind, social media can be part of your marketing strategy—but it should not be your primary focus.

Personally, I know that I have limited bandwidth, and my strengths are in creating in-depth content that teaches for transformation, which lends itself well to growth through email list engagement and SEO.

I actually enjoy social media, but for me it became a sort of “fake work” where I was spending considerable time and not getting considerable results.

Like any other investment, if there’s no ROI social media has to go.

The Productivity Argument for Ignoring Social Media

I talked about the productivity effects of social media in my interview with Erik Fisher on Beyond The To-Do List and with KC Proctor on Remote Work Friends. Off-camera, this also came up when Matt Ragland interviewed me for his vlog.

There is so much work of importance for me to do, that I want to do more of, that it’s hard to justify spending 136 minutes a day scrolling through a social media feed—but that’s how much time the average user spends on social media each day.

It’s not really surprising. Social media is designed to give you little dopamine hits with each refresh or notification. Those small jolts of pleasure make social media attractive, for the same reason dolphins enjoy chewing on pufferfish—it provides a psychological “high” (which never lasts long).

In Michael Hyatt’s book Free to Focus, he introduces the concept that there are generally two types of work (emphasis mine),

When we get stumped on something tough, it’s tempting to give our brains a rest by switching to something more enjoyable. Think of an incline. It’s easier to go downhill than up. Some tasks are uphill tasks (say, financial analysis or writing) and others downhill (say, checking email or Slack).

The uphill tasks are usually the ones that drive results and create value in our organizations. But the downhill tasks demand less energy. That’s one of the reasons people do so much fake work; it’s easier. There’s almost a gravitational pull to it.

Social media is a leech on your precious time and attention as an entrepreneur. It is one of the most prevalent examples of downhill work in today’s workplace. Honestly? I enjoy social media! That’s exactly why I had to let it go.

Protecting family time, along with focused entrepreneurial energy, is what led me to get rid of the internet at home, so this was a logical next step.

Should You Delete Your Own Social Media Accounts?

Honestly, you probably should. That doesn’t mean you have to, but you should consider going sans-social (you’ll probably develop a stronger real social life because of it).

Take one day off social media. Take a week off. Practice Cal Newport’s Digital Declutter and log out of all your apps, social media or otherwise, for a full 30 days. Then reinstate the apps that you wish to use again, but this time with boundaries. My friend Brendan is doing that now.

If social media is worthwhile to you, in what capacity? What are its purpose and value?

If you use social media to keep up with personal connections, then schedule social media time outside of your working hours. Also, don’t forget to schedule face-to-face, in-person social time.

If you use social media for marketing or networking, then create a content calendar to schedule your strategy and create small windows of time to work on it. You may also want to set a total time limit on how much you’ll do on social media each day.

James Clear likes using Twitter, but finds it distracting during key writing periods. So naturally, he has his assistant reset his password during the week and only give him the new password on Friday afternoon, so he can log in over the weekend when he’s more flexible with his time.

If you do nothing else to change your habits, install RescueTime. This software tracks how you spend your time across all devices, in all the apps, on all the websites. As Peter Drucker observed in The Effective Executive (emphasis mine),

I sometimes ask executives who pride themselves on their memory to put down their guess as to how they spend their own time. Then I lock these guesses away for a few weeks or months. In the meantime, the executives run an actual time record on themselves. There is never much resemblance between the way these men thought they used their time and their actual records.

Question: What’s your current relationship with social media?

10 thoughts on “Should You Delete Every Social Media Profile You Have?

  1. Ok I love the password change idea you mentioned! Thanks for the shoutout as well. I logged into Twitter yesterday because I’m at a conference and felt like I needed to try to be in the hashtags and, turns out, I hadn’t missed anything in the last 30 or so days.

    1. So glad you found that helpful, Brendan! I love going to conferences and ignoring the hashtags now. I have such rich, mindful conversations (and I take notes primarily for myself, I used to just look for tweetables).

  2. Such a spot-on article with massive nuggets of wisdom! While I probably won’t be deleting my social media profiles, the massive truth-bombs in this article have alerted me to how much of a time-suck social media is to my productivity.

    “…but for me it became a sort of ‘fake work’ where I was spending considerable time and not getting considerable results.”

    I love this, and is incredibly accurate in my experience. Social media has been a terrible platform for conversion!

    “The uphill tasks are usually the ones that drive results and create value in our organizations. But the downhill tasks demand less energy. That’s one of the reasons people do so much fake work; it’s easier. There’s almost a gravitational pull to it.”

    Amazing stuff! Thanks John!

  3. Interesting idea. As an artist, I love sharing my paintings on Instagram, but I can so easily get sucked into the Instagram Black Hole™ for an hour or so. I can say it’s “research” but really I’m just wasting time.

    While I’ve had very few sales from Instagram, I do think visual artists in particular need to have some presence on social media so people can look at their work and learn more, and it’s a great opportunity to share a “behind the scenes” look at one’s process, which fascinates non-artists. (Other artists like it, too, because they’re always comparing notes about technique, etc.)

    I think a healthy balance can be achieved; I might have to try the new password idea.

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Brad! I see your perspective, and I agree that there is value in documenting the behind-the-scenes process for artists. I just don’t think social media is the most effective place to do that, I think that could be an email newsletter or blog.

      The key to the whole thing is exactly what you said though, healthy balance. I found that took a ton of work to maintain, so I opted out. You may have the self-discipline or systems to get past that.

  4. I don’t use social media to be social at all – it’s all for my digital business. I absolutely must leverage social media but I stick to ONE platform. This works for me. I don’t want to get sucked into the rabbit hole of social media, so I am very strategic about how and when I use it.

  5. Right now I’m using social media very sparingly. I do have to use it for work since we drive a ton of traffic to our FB Lives and we are hosting our different communities as FB groups ????.

    I personally enjoy both Twitter and Instagram and have placed screentime limits on them with my iPhone. For me as a remote worker, I’ve found that it’s good for me to maintain those connections since I’ve been terrible about being proactive in keeping long-distance friendships alive without them.

    I love seeing what you’re doing. And I love the idea you shared on Beyond the To-Do List about using experiments and the word “unless…”

    Great stuff!

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Robby! You’re not that far off from where I was at the end of last year. That’s a good place to be, with an intentional practice. Ultimately, I decided that while I still have a lot to do in order to invest in long-distance friendships I was better off doing that over text and video calls.

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