This month I welcome social media guide, Alexis Bushnell, to the blog. She shares some wonderful insight into the power we all have to create feeds that will breed kindness and make us smile.
What if I told you that you have more power to control what happens on social media than Mark Zuckerberg? I ask because it’s more true than you may think – how you use social media changes how social media as a whole works, the direction it goes in, what content is created for it and how marketers use it.
Today I want to share with you how you can not only change how social media works, but find a whole world of kindness, compassion and support which already exists on the platforms we have.
Kindness exists on social media
Despite the bad press, kindness actually shows up everywhere on social media. From awareness campaigns, to niche community groups, to total strangers leaving random nice comments, there really is a lot of wonderful stuff happening on the platforms we love to hate.
Before you start spreading kindness yourself, I think it’s really important to receive it and see it in action because you deserve some kindness yourself. Start curating your feeds to have more warm fuzzies and less of the stuff that makes you angry, sad or feel bad about yourself.
Replace any unfollows with new accounts or groups that uplift you and make you feel motivated and positive about yourself and life.
A great place to start is with the Time For Kindness Instagram account and the hashtag Project Amplify Kindness; from there you can check the suggested accounts and start discovering the wonderful side of social.
Vote with your engagement
Once you’ve filled your own feed, and your soul, with other wonderful people who walk through the world with compassion and kindness, it’s time to take mindful action. I say mindful because a lot of making social media a kinder place is actually pausing before we act;
- Do we need to post that 5 tweet rant about a celebrity’s relationship?
- Do we need to reply to someone else’s rant telling them not to be so negative or mean?
- Do we want to leave that angry reaction on that awful status on Facebook?
You know the saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, well on social media it’s “there’s no such thing as bad engagement.” Every action you take on social media, everything you like, comment on and share, decides what you get more of, even if what you were saying with your engagement was “this is awful”.
In practice this means taking a breath when you see those horrible posts and scrolling on by or reporting it, not engaging. It also means making sure we do engage with the posts that we may otherwise smile at and scroll past.
Communities of kindness
The truly wonderful thing about algorithms is that they will show you more of what you want. That means by changing who you follow and how you engage, you can very quickly discover the many interconnected communities using social media to spread positivity and kindness.
Using social media a little differently to start with creates a beautiful self-fuelling cycle of more kindness out, more kindness in. This makes it easier and easier to find amazing accounts and posts to share. As well as wonderful ethical businesses to support and communities to get involved with.
Ultimately you end up with a much better experience when you open those apps and you help change the world for the better, literally everybody wins!
Going the extra mile
If you’re a kindness superhero and have both the time and energy to do a little more to change social media here’s a few bonus tasks you can slot into your days:
- Leave reviews for small businesses you love.
The difference reviews make to small businesses is massive and helps them to stay in business and grow. Fuel the small business revolution by making sure you leave reviews!
- Do some love-bombing.
Rather than just scrolling through your own super lovely feed, spend 5 minutes finding some total strangers with really small accounts and leave some love for them. Anything from “love that outfit” to “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day, I really hope things improve soon”.
- Take it off social media.
Social media is great for building connections but connecting outside of your avatars can be really magical. Whether that’s organising a virtual quiz for your online friends, a Tweet up for the Twitter chat group you love, or switching to a group chat. Bringing your community closer for special occasions or on the regular is a powerful way to lift everyone’s spirits.
Tell people about it
The next time someone is talking about how negative social media is, whip out your phone and show them your feed. Talk to them about how you created a better online space for yourself and the kind things you see every day on your platform of choice.
Meet them where they are – social media can be horrible, don’t deny that, but offer them an alternative where people see the human before the handle and offer to help them find their own utopian slice of the internet.
Alexis Bushnell is a social media guide and founder of Social Media for Humans. She is passionate about helping small businesses succeed on social and using the power of the internet to do good. Priding herself on an ethical attitude and realistic results, she believes that quality is more important than quantity.
Outside of work she enjoys agility training with her Bichon Frisé, TiLi, who she also competes with. She loves yoga, self-development, and cooking new recipes while dancing round the kitchen to music from her teenage years. You can find her on Instagram talking about social media and running a business with a mental illness, and in her Facebook group supporting small business owners.