Believe me, the irony of writing a blog about my turbulent relationship with social media to put out on social media is not lost on me. The issue is, social media is the primary forum to get your message out to the masses.
I have such an uncomfortable relationship with social media. From a business perspective, I know it's a necessary evil. From a personal perspective, I realised it was just a forum to feed my ego.
I don't do Facebook personally. I set up an account when I moved to Copenhagen to stay in touch with my best friends, my brother and husband. I had 8 friends. I still have 8 friends, but have chosen to unfollow them all. There are a couple of hundred friend requests pending which I never accepted. You see my view has always been friends are the ones you make the effort to physically see and speak to. I don't want to hear about their lives via pictures on line, I want them to tell me over coffee, dinner or long walks by the sea. I am so blessed to have the tightest group of friends. We have been best friends for over 25 years and we would go to the ends of the earth for each other. They understand my perhaps irrational views on this forum. "Don't open the trap door" I would say. They bought me a key ring with the following “Do I look like a fucking people person". They get me.
I had an active personal Twitter account until recently. I realised that I spent most of my tweets taking pictures of the sugar free, gluten free, veggie, vegan food I had cooked. And why- to show all my 600 odd followers how great I am and to make them question the food choices they we're making? If it wasn't food I was tweeting it was details of my training sessions and how hard I was working. Again- the purpose, to feed my ego...look how great I am people. I realised when I was running up the Mourne mountains one day and thinking about how great a tweet this would make, that the forum had become an unhealthy habit that I needed to remove myself from.
And so in the last couple of weeks I've taken a step back from the above, removed myself from chat groups I didn't need to be part of and started what some people call- " the social media detox". Do I feel any better- honestly not really. But you see I hear a habit takes 21 days to break and I haven't quite got to that point yet. That and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are unfortunately my marketing budget (£0) for the business and require constant attention.
These forums for the business don’t sit easily with me either. I had a great conversation with my roaster about them. He has a hugely successful business in Copenhagen and doesn't use any of these forums. His view is that if you're good people will find you anyway, It may take a bit longer but success is made on these real people. I couldn't agree more. Having a load of instagram followers, likes and retweets isn't sales in the till and anyone opening a business should perhaps keep this in mind when deciding where to focus their efforts.
When we first opened in June 2014, I was obsessed with what people were saying about us on these forums, the pictures they were taking and the reviews they were writing. Two and half years in, I treat all with a healthy dose of cynicism.
The same people will appear at every new establishment opening claiming it’s amazing and the best there is...until the next new place opens. Tomatoes really aren't that red and avocados not that green. The buzzing shop picture with lines out the door hides the half empty shop inside.
Accusations have been made on social media that me or the team have been dismissive and rude. We have has also been accused of being stupid and lazy- from a person whose picture states "love is a human right"! I’m also including the great comments on social media, which far out weigh the negative, to be included in the cynicism pot too. I suppose the point I'm labouring to make, is every post on every forum has an agenda. I know this because I set the agenda for all posts which go out on our social media.
I'll be honest, I would love to turn off all the social media for the shops, but I'm not that brave. I know some of our success is because we have a strong social media following, and I’m of course extremely grateful for that. I’m sure there were different challenges to businesses prior to social media, but at least they stopped when the business was closed. Social media means you're on edge 24/7 when you can be notified of a new comment, review, check in, picture, tweet at any time.
Whilst I genuinely don't get carried away with either the good or bad comments, I do let them interrupt my life and have developed a habit of constantly checking these forums. My goal then for the rest of 2016 is to set restrictions on my checking, try to stick to them and perhaps by 2017 I'll be brave enough to follow my roasters example, perhaps...