In­sta­gram is cu­rated con­tent and does not re­flect real suc­cess

The National - News - - BUSINESS IN DEPTH - MA­NAR AL HI­NAI Ma­nar Al Hi­nai is an award­win­ning Emi­rati jour­nal­ist and en­trepreneur, who man­ages her mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany in Abu Dhabi

In­sta­gram started a test­ing phase a few months ago that in­volves hid­ing the num­ber of likes a post re­ceives. The test rolled out in coun­tries in­clud­ing Canada, Ire­land, and Ja­pan. Last week, In­sta­gram chief ex­ec­u­tive Adam Mosseri an­nounced that In­sta­gram will start hid­ing the num­ber of likes for US users.

Num­ber of likes for a post will be vis­i­ble to a user on a per­sonal ac­count, but not to those fol­low­ing them. In­sta­gram is un­der­tak­ing this as part of its ef­forts to make the app a safe place on­line for peo­ple to en­gage and com­mu­ni­cate, and to com­pare them­selves less to oth­ers based on the num­bers of likes a post re­ceives.

So­cial me­dia apps have made it easy for busi­nesses to check out the com­pe­ti­tion, ex­plore the lat­est mar­ket­ing trends and con­nect di­rectly with cus­tomers. But it has also made it com­mon to hear com­ments from many en­trepreneur­s along the lines of: “How come they re­ceive more likes?” or “They have so many likes. I’ll never be liked like that”. It had re­sulted in a num­ber of en­trepreneur­s and users con­tin­u­ously com­par­ing how they are do­ing in busi­ness and in life with the cu­rated feed that oth­ers post on­line. This con­tin­u­ous com­par­i­son has re­sulted in de­pres­sion and lone­li­ness.

A study by the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, pub­lished in the Journal of So­cial and Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy, ex­plores this as­pect. Re­searchers ran­domly as­signed 143 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents to two groups: ei­ther to con­tinue us­ing so­cial me­dia apps the way they do, or to limit their time on In­sta­gram, Face­book, and SnapChat to 10 min­utes per app a day. Those who spent less time on their so­cial me­dia apps, re­ported sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in lone­li­ness and de­pres­sion.

When build­ing a busi­ness, look­ing at com­peti­tors and eval­u­at­ing how they op­er­ate is nec­es­sary, but don’t let it take over your life. Com­par­ing your busi­ness to other busi­nesses on­line could quickly lead you to feel dis­cour­aged. Part of my job en­tails me to al­ways be on so­cial me­dia and to keep up to date with how dif­fer­ent plat­forms and in­flu­encers op­er­ate, but that un­in­ten­tion­ally made me feel over­whelmed. I thought I needed to do this or do that, or maybe cus­tomers would be in­ter­ested in this ser­vice. My brain was on alert the whole time and it wasn’t healthy.

Luck­ily there are two ways you can break free from the com­par­i­son cy­cle, for you to keep fo­cused on your busi­ness devel­op­ment and growth, and to use the apps in a more pos­i­tive way.

Even if your job re­quires you to al­ways be in the know when it comes to so­cial me­dia, it is nec­es­sary to ded­i­cate cer­tain times in your day to do­ing that, and to go on­line with the in­ten­tion of ex­pand­ing your knowl­edge. For my work, I’ve ded­i­cated an hour in the morn­ing for my so­cial me­dia up­date ses­sion, and then it stops at that. I’m also try­ing as much as pos­si­ble to break the habit of check­ing my so­cial me­dia feed when I’m wait­ing in queues. In­stead, I read blogs, and other news. When I ded­i­cated a spe­cific time each day, I found that I was still con­nected and up-to-date, with­out let­ting the apps take over my life and feel­ing that I’m al­ways on­line.

When on so­cial me­dia, you may find your­self com­par­ing the first day in your jour­ney to some­one’s day 1,000, and that is not fair. A lot of times we see peo­ple post­ing about their mile­stones and achieve­ments on­line, but what we may not see are the hours and ef­forts they’ve in­vested to reach where they are. We need to al­ways keep in mind that what peo­ple post on­line is cu­rated con­tent, and doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the en­tire re­al­ity. Fo­cus on your own ef­forts, on your jour­ney, and al­ways look at how far you’ve come.

It is nat­u­ral to be con­stantly on the look­out to com­pare your­self to other busi­nesses and see how they are evolv­ing. Real­is­ing where you are in your jour­ney, lim­it­ing your so­cial me­dia feed in­take, and not let­ting oth­ers’ suc­cess and what they post on so­cial me­dia over­whelm you are im­por­tant steps in your jour­ney to­wards achiev­ing your goals.

Com­par­ing your com­pany to other busi­nesses on­line could quickly lead you to feel dis­cour­aged

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