Whether it’s to keep up with the news, stay connected to friends or out of sheer boredom, many of us are spending more time on social media during lockdown.
For a friend of mine, the realisation that she had spent over 14 hours in a week on just Facebook alone was alarming enough for her to send me the following message.
“Hey Vic, a question occurred to me last night and I thought you might be a good person to ask about it. With more time than usual on my hands now, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone a lot. Facebook stats told me I've been using it for over 2 hours a day in the past week!
I was thinking, since you're in media, you must consume a lot of content to stay abreast? Any tips you could share on how you curate your content? Or how we could practice ‘mindful consumption’ of social media?”
I shared some tips, such as limiting my time spent on “chasing the news” and intentionally seeking out content that is helpful, uplifting and solutions-focused. But it also got me thinking about people I know who would have even more insights to offer.
Almost immediately, a name came to mind. Who better to share practical tips on navigating the torrent of online content, than someone whose full-time job is social media?
And that’s what sparked this Q&A with Anna Ragen, Head of Social Media at an international advertising agency in Malaysia.
Read on for Anna’s insights, tips and recommendations!
Q&A with Anna Ragen
1. Have you noticed any interesting social media trends or usage patterns during lockdown?
With the lockdown in place, people are definitely spending more time on social media. However, while time has increased, content needs have changed along with the situation and the general mood.
People are looking for more meaningful content that will help them navigate this unprecedented situation – disruption to routines, social distancing, working from home.
There has been an increase in people searching for and consuming content related to cooking, fitness, and even just inspirational/motivational content. Brands are going down a more empathetic and situationally-relevant content route and exploring ways they can provide value to their fans, so we’re seeing a spike in "Live" cooking demos, virtual exercise classes, motivational pep talks, etc.
2. When social media is your full-time job and not just a “past time”, how exactly do you filter the huge amount of information every day?
Curate, curate, curate! I've come to the point where even though I'm inundated with a huge volume of information daily, it's worthwhile and relevant information to me because of my curation process.
My advice would be to understand your knowledge needs and then go from there to build your knowledge feeds.
I tend to assign a purpose to each platform:
For example, I use Facebook as a news aggregator and so I follow local and international news publishers on this platform
On the other hand, I use Instagram more as an inspirational and connection platform, so this is where I curate a list of friends, influencers, thought-leaders, creatives whose content "feeds my soul" and also sparks new discovery
And then I use platforms like Medium, Quora and even my e-mail newsletter subscriptions for more professional-related and deep learning content.
Curation is an on-going process. Depending on the season of life you're in and the challenges you're going through at that time, you may choose to "switch-off" certain content sources and platforms just for your own mental wellness.
Or you may choose to focus on just following content from sources that will feed, nourish and encourage you during this period.
3. To prevent mindless scrolling and excessive time spent on social media, do you have any “best practice” tips to offer people who want to practice “mindful consumption”?
Set times for your consumption of social media content, and stick to it
Activate notifications for when your favourite people post – you can do this on Instagram. So this way you open the app for a specific purpose and once you've seen the content, you can exit the platform
Use the "Mute" function on Instagram. You may wish to see Story content from someone but perhaps not Feed content and vice-versa, and you can use the Mute function to help manage this
4. Any specific tools that you personally use and would recommend?
Facebook "Save" feature. You also have the opportunity to organise your saved content, which I love
Instagram "Save" feature
Newsletters. This is the most deliberate form of curation because you only subscribe when you're sure you want to receive information from this source.
5. As more people put out content of their own during these times, is there anything you would encourage people to do as a social media “producer”?
Create value. You may not be a professional content producer but what you have to share – a recipe, an epiphany, tips, experience – could be the content that someone is desperately looking for and needs to hear.
Discover your creative side. I love seeing people find new ways of showcasing their content, whether it's through editing apps, or even trying a new feature like IG Live or Tik Tok. I believe that after this lockdown is lifted, many people are going to come away realising that they have a knack for content production, and they have a unique voice that people want to hear and stay tuned to.
6. Are there any useful, meaningful or enjoyable sites or accounts you would recommend following during this lockdown period?
7. Finally, you’re someone who has a heart for women’s issues. I’d like to know if you have any specific tips for fellow females on healthy social media consumption and production during lockdown?
Be real and authentic. We don't always have to present the best versions of ourselves on social media. If you're not dealing well with this situation and maybe your stream of conscious thought is not the most positive but you want to share it on social media, go ahead. I think there are many other women who are struggling with this and need to know that they're not alone.
Practice "social listening". Look out for cues that your friends may not be doing so well, and reach out to them via a DM. Ask how they are and how you can help them through this period.
Share your experiences. What you're learning, trying, discovering during this time. Your story could be someone else's motivation or inspiration.
Anna writes a newsletter called herGracestory, where she shares her thoughts on womanhood and faith. To hear more from her, subscribe at this link: https://tinyletter.com/herGracestory