Business, Social Media

Are you using social media as validation of your worth?

May 27, 2015
social media as validation

It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the hype of followers, likes, retweets and so on with social media. This can be especially challenging when you’re starting your business and want to gain attention.

Here are common concerns I hear from my clients:

  1. Should I buy followers? – NO. Absolutely not. These are usually fake accounts or people who have little to no interest in what you’re doing. It’s not worth it.
  2. Should I delete a post if it doesn’t get enough likes? – No. This is too much work. Learn from these posts and move on. Spend those few seconds thinking about why it didn’t connect with your audience.
  3. How can I find out who is unfollowing me? – There are apps and websites for this, but again, that’s so much work. Does it really matter who unfollowed you? If you’re playing the game where you follow every person who follows you, then I want you to stop right at the beginning. Follow people you genuinely connect with and are interested in. Let’s not make this a numbers game.

While these questions may seem important, to me they signal that my client is focused on the quantity and not quality of their following.

It doesn’t matter if you have 1 million followers if no one is signing up for your course, buying your ebook or enrolling in your coaching program. twitter icon

There’s also a deeper issue here with social media. We are using it to validate our worth, and when you tie this in with your business, it can become a major problem because it’s such a huge part of your life.

Realize that those numbers are just feeding your ego + entering you into a dopamine rush cycle. twitter icon

That small high you feel when you see the notifications on your phone is great, but don’t lose focus on your intentions as a business owner (+ for life in general). Social media is merely a tool to communicate with your audience and share helpful information. The likes can help you know if you’re on the right track with content, but they should not be the determining factor in your success. Your success is based on how you want to feel + how you want your clients to feel.

Why is this validation a problem?

A University of Michigan study published in the Journal of Social Issues found that college students who base their own self-worth on external sources, like approval from others, reported more stress, anger, academic problems, relationship conflicts, drug and alcohol use, and symptoms of eating disorders. And a June 2014 survey from the statistics company StatPro found that 68% of people share information on social media to define their identities. The issue is rooted in a phenomenon psychologists refer to as “contingent self-worth.” “When you’re waiting for someone else to confirm that what you’re doing is cool, you’re basing your opinion of yourself on their values, not your own. And the further you stray from your own center, the more unhappy and miserable you’ll feel,” explains Bryan Dik, PhD, a Denver-based vocational psychologist.”  –Generation Validation: Why Everyone Just Wants To Be Liked

Change the Focus

So instead of focusing on likes, follows and tweets, focus on how YOU feel about your work + creativity, plus how you’re making your current clients feel. What kind of testimonials and praise are they giving you? Does your work light you up?

If you nurture your current clients, I guarantee they will refer you to their friends and colleagues. That’s the real cycle you want to get into.

And here’s an interesting perspective I’ve been considering lately:

“We live much of our life pushed forward by the “if only” thoughts and yet the career/life dissatisfaction persists. Let’s not let the pursuit of happiness become the source of unhappiness. Twitter_logo_blue  Let’s commit to caring about our work but not necessarily the result and chasing passion rather than popularity.” – Dr. Danielle Dowling


In the Comments:

Tell me about your experience with social media as a business owner. Have you struggled? Do you get caught in the cycle of numbers?

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  • Holly May 27, 2015 at 5:45 am

    This is such an important topic you’ve addressed today, Danielle. I used to be so so focused on instant gratification. I believed that my success was based on the quickest amount of time I could gain Bloglovin or social media followers. But I now believe that we shouldn’t strive for instant gratification. Seeing new followers every day on Twitter shouldn’t be the thing that makes us happy. That’s great, obviously and so is social media! But what’s even better is having someone sign up to your newsletter, or emailing you some questions because they trust you’ll give them good answers. I love this perspective you’re sharing – we all should embrace it!

    • Dzeigler May 27, 2015 at 7:41 am

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Holly! You’re very right. On a slightly different topic, your newsletter list is a better benchmark AND you actually own the list, whereas you don’t on social media platforms. So that’s great that you changed your focus to that!

  • Erin @ Erin's Inside Job May 27, 2015 at 7:11 am

    It is definitely easy to get sucked into numbers=self worth game. It’s also hard as a blogger bc if you want to start monetizing and working with brands then you need those numbers. It’s all about balance and I’ve been trying to create more genuine content in order to get followers that are interested in what I have to say rather than playing the numbers game. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Dzeigler May 27, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Very true, Erin! Most companies just look at numbers and not engagement or your booked-solid client list.

  • Lucy Davies June 16, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Really interesting article Danielle 🙂 I try to focus on the meaningful interactions and the individual relationships I build on social media and not get caught up in the numbers – but it isn’t always easy!

  • Kat June 16, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Great article! I think you are speaking to 99.9% of the online population, especially entrepreneurs/coaches/etc. with this post. I have definitely found myself feeling defeated numerous times when I didn’t get “enough” likes or feedback on various social media posts. I had to remind myself today that what I am doing is all about helping other people. The impact I have is what’s important–not the online “popularity contest.”