:Marketing / Social media marketing

It’s not me, it’s you: Why creators are dumping social media

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Social media is fantastic in so many ways. It connects people to their friends and family, is a good tool for sharing information, it’s home to countless memes and internet jokes. Plus, it has been the backbone of many creator businesses.

But, there are some dark sides to social media too. And constantly-online creators (and even brands) are beginning to realize that. We’re seeing more and more creators share that they’re slowing down on platforms or leaving specific social networks altogether. 

Why are creators “breaking up” with social media? And how can they continue their career in the creator economy without it?

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Why are creators (and brands) leaving social media?

There are many reasons why creators and brands realize that social media isn’t necessarily the best way to reach their goals.  And that frequently leads to a break, sometimes it’s a temporary break, but more and more it’s becoming permanent. As creators and brands find different ways to take their audience reach into their own hands, they’re finding that they’re just fine without social.

Algorithms make it impossible to reach your audience

Ever-changing algorithms not only make it exhausting to constantly adjust social media strategies, but they make it harder and harder to actually reach your target audience.

Data shows that social media reach is continuously declining. In fact, Instagram reach sees about a 32% drop year-over-year. At the end of 2022, the average Instagram reach rate was 9.34% and the average Facebook reach rate was 4.32%.

This means if you have 100 followers on each platform, only around nine of your Instagram followers. And four of your Facebook followers will see your post.

One influencer, Jess Ann Kirby, took a two-week break from Instagram to recoup after getting exhausted trying to compete with the algorithm. She felt like she had to be always on, always posting, and always engaging to ensure her content was seen.

This feeling of burnout happens on a brand level too. The brand Lush Cosmetics also shut down all of its UK accounts in 2019, stating that the brand “was tired of fighting with algorithms,” and wanted to find a better way to talk to its audience.

Another influencer, Hillary Conheady, was getting tired of the amount of time and money she had to dedicate to get her account to see any type of growth that she eventually quit. In her words:

“From about 2017 to 2021, I was very dedicated to blogging and posting consistently to Instagram. A large portion of my free time was spent shooting content, writing blog posts, linking items, etc., and while I loved using it as a creative outlet, it became almost impossible to grow, especially without continuing to put more and more money into the platform and my business. Considering these factors and with the introduction of Reels, I decided to take a step back and create more casual ‘lifestyle’ content on my page as I shifted my priority to my full-time job in managing social media accounts for hospitality clients.”

In addition to audiences being difficult to reach, they’re out of the hands of creators and brands. When the platform controls the audience, it makes it nearly impossible to control who sees what and when. Too many brands and creators are finding that the time, energy, and effort required to build a solid presence on Instagram and other social media platforms simply isn’t worth it—which brings us to our next point.

Constantly being online is draining and can cause burnout

Algorithms want people to be avid users of the platforms. So the algorithms are designed to reward those who post often and engage frequently. In fact, TikTok recommends users post one to four times per day—that’s a lot of content.

In addition to those frequency requirements, there are constant changes to the algorithm too. This makes it difficult for creators to keep up with the latest unspoken rules. Between the need to be online all the time, engage with your audience, and continuously create content, it’s no wonder some creators are feeling stressed and frustrated.

So it’s no wonder that creators and social media managers are starting to burn out.

Chelse Hensley, social media manager for Visme, says she has to be careful to separate her personal and professional social media consumption so she doesn’t get too overwhelmed. 

She says, “For me especially, I tend to use social media differently than the average user. People tend to think that since it’s my profession, my personal TikToks and stories are professional-level and high-value. 

“But in reality, my own content is so authentic and in the moment. Curating styles, editing photos, and thinking of the perfect caption is exhausting. My brain energy is spent on behalf of my company—I’d rather just enjoy the moment for my own posts.”

Social media can lead to mental health decline

More than just burnout, social media can lead to other mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, and more. One study ranked Instagram as the worst platform for mental health, proving exactly why so many creators are needing to take a step back. The endless scrolling has gotten the best of all of us at one point or another, but it can be magnified for creators.

The social media platforms know about this issue as well. Documents show that Facebook itself has done in-depth research that has given them insight into just how detrimental their platform can be to teen girls.

But since there seems to be nothing that platforms are doing to make their sites safer, many brands and creators have decided to do something about it.

Lush’s UK accounts shut down in 2019, but the brand overall decided to leave social media behind in 2021. It shut down its Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat accounts “until the platforms take action to provide a safer environment for users.”

Lush’s Chief Digital Officer & product inventor Jack Constantine said, “As an inventor of bath bombs, I pour all my efforts into creating products that help people switch off, relax and pay attention to their wellbeing. Social media platforms have become the antithesis of this aim, with algorithms designed to keep people scrolling and stop them from switching off and relaxing.”

Shirley Cramer, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health, says that social media is more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes. But in this case, the addiction causes mental health issues rather than physical health issues.

Creators are leaning into digital and physical products

Influencer Jess Ann Kirby is taking a step back too. She’s taking time to diversify her revenue streams so she can take a bigger step back or leave Instagram entirely. In her words, “I want to have control over my business. I don’t want Instagram to have control over it.”

One way to diversify your business is through the creation, promotion, and sale of products—both physical and digital.

Physical products can include things like:

  • Handmade items
  • T-shirts
  • Mugs
  • Water bottles
  • Planners/journals
  • Tote bags
  • Stickers
  • Pins
  • Socks

Digital products include things like:

  • Online courses
  • Ebooks
  • Checklists
  • Newsletters
  • Coaching
  • Workbooks
  • Guidebooks
  • Digital files
  • Templates

Hone your skills to determine what you could make and sell. This can help you take a step back from creating for social media and start creating for yourself and your business.

Is 2023 the year of the social media breakup?

Getting sick of social media, too? You’re obviously not alone—and there are moves you can make to take your business off of the apps. 

Consider dropping a couple of social media platforms that you use, slowing down the amount of content you post, and finding new avenues to generate income for your business. Digital products can be a great option—learn more about how you can sell courses and other products on Teachable.

Author: Chloe West, Chloe West is a digital marketer and freelance writer, focusing on topics surrounding social media, content, and digital marketing. She's based in Charleston, SC, and when she's not working, you'll find her playing card games or watering her plants.