Q+A: 5 tips for a stress-free social media experience

Hi Amy,

I am a recent illustration graduate from the UK. I’m already using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about my work, but I’m not quite seeing the results that I am hoping for. And I have to say that I’m feeling really stressed at seeing other people’s pages and tweets – they make me feel pressured, almost as if it’s one big game of brown-nosing, and I’m not good at it, and I’m not sure if I can do it much longer. What should I do?
~ Qibby

Dear Qibby,

Your question prompted me to do a bit of research about introverts, and according to the Urban Dictionary, an introvert is defined as “a person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone.” [read more!] And what do you know? Although I’m an extrovert by nature, however I’m a social media introvert (I coined the term myself, ha!)

The thing is this: with social media, it can get really overwhelming really quick. I’m not sure if this holds true for other people, but it holds true for me. For the first 10 minutes in, it can get pretty fun: “oh look, so-and-so just got a new book out, hurrah!”; “you mean I can’t do that for a client, because it’s considered plagiarism? Bummer.” But leave me on for more than 15 minutes and I melt into a puddle of confusion and beleaguered with self-doubt that you’d have to scoop me off the floor in a cup. Give me a quiet space to work on my projects or put me in a room with people I don’t know, and I’ll work it just fine (with a few new friendships made along the way) – but social media? Uh-uh.

So instead of hiding away, for me, I think of it this way: it helps to think of social media as a way of connecting with others, and not merely brown-nosing! Think of how you’d usually connect with other people face-to-face. Taking it online is almost the same thing, where there are rules and etiquette to follow. I’d advise you not to think of what your friends or acquaintances are doing as “brown-nosing” it’s just a way that they’re connecting with others. The issue if how. Perhaps it’s the way they’re doing it that turns you off. But there are other ways that you can make yourself more comfortable with the idea of using social media – maybe my handy list of how to interact with others on social media will help you out:

TIP #1:
Don’t send tweets to other people where you’re clearly just talking about yourself and don’t care at all about the other person. You’ll just be ignored!

For example: “Hey @pikaland check out my portfolio – I think you’ll LOVE it!” Some people do this and wonder why they aren’t getting responses – and I’m here to tell you that there’s a reason why. A Twitter account isn’t a personal hotline to a client/blogger/editor at your disposal! Think of all the hair-tearing sessions where you wonder why you didn’t get that response from someone although you clearly tagged them on Twitter/Facebook/etc. Yup. If you didn’t know before, then I’m going to tell you now – CUT IT OUT. You’re better off sending a nice email instead. And make it personal. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

TIP #2:
Be genuinely nice and helpful.

If you see someone on your list needing a bit of insight or help, jump at the chance to offer your time and expertise. People will remember you better and will thank you for taking the time to come to their aid.

TIP #3:

Don’t overdo it.

Space out time for yourself instead of hearing everyone else’s chatter online! We might trick ourselves into thinking that if we spend our time on social media then it’s time spent on “researching” or “keeping in touch” – but don’t lie to yourself, you’re going to feel sorry for yourself at the end, because I know what you’re really doing. You’re just sizing yourself up on competition and that’s not healthy at all!

From the article Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus:

[quote] “If you have a big project, what you need to do every day is have a protected time so you can get work done,” Goleman said [Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence and other books about social and emotional learning on KQED’s Forum program]. For his part, when he’s writing a book, Goleman goes to his studio where there is no email, no phone, nothing to distract him. He’ll work for several hours and then spend designated time responding to people afterwards. [/quote]

Hey it works for me, so it might just work for you!

TIP #4:

Separate your Twitter/Facebook friends into lists.

For example, you can filter your social media connections into media contacts, inspirational reads, friends, clients, etc. Doing so will help you keep track of different segments of your lists, especially those you feel are important to your growth as an artist, instead of just consuming everything all at once like a no-holds barred buffet bar. You’ll only get sick afterwards with no recollection of what you just consumed! Here’s help for Twitter, and here’s one for Facebook.

TIP #5:

Take it offline.

A lot of the connections I’ve made isn’t just online – they’re made offline as well. So go out and connect with other people from different fields. Start a new hobby (or get serious with a current one). The most important thing is that while the internet has made it easier to connect, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s easy to make connections. You’ll need to spend some time to build relationships – and that applies to both offline and online.

And there you have it! If you follow these guidelines, you’ll slowly realize that social media isn’t the be all and end all for artists (especially if you’re like me, a social media introvert!) It’s just  a tool for you to reach out to your fans, friends and to help others understand you better. How you use it is up to you.

Good luck Qibby!


Have you ever felt overwhelmed by social media? If you have, what have you done to make it all easier for your sanity and productivity? If you have any tips for Qibby, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

{please note that Q’s are usually edited for clarity and conciseness, as the queries I get can get pretty long winded!}


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6 Replies to “Q+A: 5 tips for a stress-free social media experience”

  1. Dana says:

    It is very easy to feel like you have to create a presence on all social media outlets, but there are so many that you literally can spend all of your time posting on them. I was overwhelmed at the thought of spastically reaching out to as many people as possible via social media, so I clearly defined specific goals for using social media as a tool in my art business.
    For example, I spend time maintaining and updating my personal website (my gallery and blog) because when I am in the community, I personally refer people to it for information they request/need. I avoid posting pictures of random art projects on Facebook, because I am rarely active on FB, and it’s a waste of my time to post a picture for no real reason other than “likes.” For me, it’s a way of working smarter, not harder.
    P.S. This is the only page I read and post on regularly at this time because it is worth my while to read Amy’s info. and others’ comments. I learn by visiting Pikaland:)

  2. Bethany says:

    Such a great topic. I spend way too much time on media which keeps me from seeing what’s inside my own head and developing that more! I think it’s easy to fall into comparing ourselves regardless of how we do it, but social media has so much more content that it is overwhelming! I think your tips are great also, in how to correspond to others. I always ignore strangers’ requests to look at something if they don’t even make any effort to acknowledge me. That’s just politeness which social media seems to be wiping out. I’m going to get off the computer and go hide in my studio today so I can get some drawing done!

  3. Rima says:

    Thanks for this.. it’s comforting to know it’s not just me feeling overwhelmed and caught in the web! It’s a blessing and a curse all in one and something we need to have awareness around.. I am an artist who just joined facebook after resisting it for a very long time but did it because most people spend most of their internet time on there now and I still need to earn a living. I wrote about my internet-misgivings here, which you might be interested in: http://intothehermitage.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-book-of-faces-and-web-of-world.html – and the comments are illuminating too. Good luck to you all 🙂 Rima

    1. amy says:

      Oh wow, thanks for the link Rima! I loved reading your thoughts, which is beautifully put together – and the responses and show of support is amazing as well. And congrats for dipping your toes into the big wide world of Facebook!

  4. Lisa says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing I can defiantly relate… I seem to struggle with which websites are actually good for business. I easily get lost on Pinterest, etsy, and instagram (Im a Combined Photography& Illustration Student) And whilst so many people say they are great to spred the word it often seems to be media overload! Yes I suppose it just makes you feel like that tiny drop of water on a hot stone…

  5. Danielle says:

    I get overwhelmed and doubt myself when I’m on social media too. Trying to watch followers and likes…it’s just too much sometimes. The only thing I have to say is you have to look at it like a growing plant. It doesn’t happen over night. You have to water and give it sunlight. I was finally published after years of drooling over everyones elses work. But it was only after I got off of pinterest and focused on my own work. Give it time and don’t let others validate your worth.

    BTW, I love this site and found it though pinterest! HAHAHA!

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