It’s no secret that with over 1 billion users, people love them some Instagram.
After all, it’s hard to resist Instagram’s visual appeal–it makes for great eye candy and mindless scrolling.
But what impact are all of those #livingmybestlife posts having on your mental health?
According to an online article by TIME Magazine, Instagram is actually the worst social media platform for users’ mental health. But why is that?
And more importantly, what can you do to reduce the negative effects of Instagram on your mental health?
Since Jumper Media is a social media marketing agency, we obviously don’t want to bash Instagram. However, we do believe that if our clients are more aware of why social media is bad for mental health, then they can make responsible decisions when using it for their business.
So, the main purpose of this article is to give you concrete strategies for managing social media in a healthy way. You should also listen to our podcast episode on the subject: Studies Show Just How Bad Instagram Is For Our Mental Health
However, you have to understand how Instagram impacts your mental health before you can fully appreciate how to combat those effects.
The Negative Effects of Instagram on Your Mental Health
According to recent surveys, the overuse of Instagram contributes to higher levels of:
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
- Poor sleep quality
These sentiments were especially prevalent in teens and young adults, which is no surprise since they use Instagram the most.
So, why is a site like Instagram, which is rated so highly for encouraging self-identity and expression, responsible for increases in certain mental health conditions?
Well, it’s simple. When people see other people out there traveling, having fun with friends, or doing whatever other cool thing it is they’re doing, they feel like they’re missing out – also knows as #FOMO.
As a business, you may see other businesses with fancy Instagram accounts and even think you’re missing out on something, too.
All that pressure to be as good as the next is exhausting.
Not to mention, trying to navigate between different audiences and what they want/what they don’t want, and what you could be doing better contributes to feelings of anxiety and depression. This applies not only to businesses but to individuals as well. It’s very easy to fall into a “compare and despair” attitude.
That’s because the digitally enhanced photos Instagram is famous for makes many young audiences feel as though they aren’t good enough and should strive to be perfect.
It is important to mention, though, that some researchers believe people who already suffer from the conditions mentioned above are more likely to become addicted to social media. In this case, social media can trigger pre-existing conditions.
Regardless, social media affects people’s mental health and we have too many stimulators already messing with our mental health to let social media bring us down.
Strategies to Reduce the Negative Effects of Instagram on Your Mental Health
Even as a business that relies on social media for marketing purposes, there are ways you can reduce the strain social media causes on your mental health.
Keep Your Feed Positive
As cheesy as this sounds, having positivity on your feed keeps you hopeful and in high spirits. And who doesn’t need that with all the demands running a business places on you?
Make sure you follow people who inspire you. Maybe there’s a business that’s inspired you to do what you’re doing. Or perhaps you follow entrepreneurs who are always sharing advice and encouragement. That’s the kind of positivity you need to keep going.
@AshleyStahl, for example, is a career coach who’s posts focus on changing mindsets to encourage you to keep working hard.
On the flip side of that, make sure you’re being a positive influence to your followers as well. Not only does positive energy attract positive energy, but you’ll also know you’re contributing to a healthier Instagram environment.
Highlight things about your business you want your followers to know. Make efforts to engage with your followers by asking them questions about:
- What kind of products they’d like to see in the future
- What kind of posts and stories they’d like to see on your Instagram
- Sunday Funday: what’s their favorite weekend activity
Get creative with how you engage with your followers. Think about your target audience’s interests, and find ways to engage with them that way. For example, if you’re a brewery, then the Sunday Funday caption above would be perfectly paired with a picture of some patrons enjoying your beer.
Doing stuff like this helps your followers develop a positive perception of your brand, and they’ll look forward to your posts and stories, which gives you all the good feels you need to keep running your business.
Set Limits on Your Screen Time
Scrolling on a screen all day not only strains your eyesight but being on social media all day will bring your mood down.
When you spend so much time attached to your phone, you forget to live in the real world and make genuine connections with people.
As a business owner, you’re probably thinking you don’t actually have the time to spend so much time on Instagram, but you’re probably spending more time than you think you do.
Instead, set a time limit for your social media use and use that extra time to interact with customers in other ways.
Maybe hop on a phone call with a client you’ve been thinking about.
Or, even better, spend some much needed time interacting with loved ones.
When you’re more focused on finding the balance between building your life and building your business than you are on your Instagram followers (even though that is important), you can feel more fulfilled.
There’s An App For That
Did you know you can set screen time limits for certain apps on your phone?
If you have an iPhone, you don’t actually need an app:
- Go to “Settings”
- Tap on “Screen Time”
- Tap “App Limits”
- Select “Add Limits”
- Select the “Social Networking” option and tap the “Add” button at the top right corner of the screen
- Set your desired time limit
If you have an Android:
It depends on what Android device you have.
If you have a Pixel, Android One, or one of the Motorola Moto G7 lines (I didn’t even know Motorola was still making phones before I researched this), then you can use Google’s Digital Wellbeing.
Eventually, Google hopes to integrate this program into all of its Android devices, but for now, you’ll have to download an app if you don’t have one of the devices listed above. Good apps for setting screen time include:
Create Boundaries Around Your Social Media Use
Social media tends to blur the lines between professional and personal, which is ok. Millennials and Generation Z like feeling like they have a more personal connection to the businesses they interact with.
But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set boundaries. Setting boundaries with on Instagram ensures you’re not sucked in by the madness that can sometimes ensue.
How Can You Keep Yourself and Your Business From Being Sucked In?
1) Put Real People First
Maybe you want to share posts of your business in action so your followers can see what a great company culture you have.
This is an amazing tactic because it helps your followers see you not just as a brand, but as real people.
However, don’t get too carried away. Remember, time spent with your employees bonds you, and worrying about capturing every moment takes away some of that magic. The same goes for spending face-to-face time with your customers.
Don’t stress too much about recording it all on your Instagram stories. As long as you’ve got a couple of good stories and pictures for posts, then that’s all you need.
Take this example from @ballastpointbreweing:
They want to engage their followers in a chance to go behind the scenes but are offering customers a chance to take a tour in person, rather than through the screen of an Instagram story.
2) Be Strategic With Content Creation
If you’re at that company function, try to get one or two good shots of content at a time, so you’re not worried about having quality content to post at all times.
As another example, if you run a restaurant, don’t worry about getting a shot of every good meal. Instead, plan a shoot where your chef creates all of his or her best meals, and get shots that way. That way you’re not interfering with work just for social media.
Even better, promote user-generated content. Offer a special to followers who tag your products/services in their posts, and then repost that content later.
Just look at these awesome pictures followers tagged of @poppiecosd. They can definitely use some of these for later posts.
Basically, don’t let the pressure of social media run your business. Let your business run social media.