An Open Letter to People Who Don’t Use Social Media

I’m sharing how the business of social media can work for you.

Social Media

Grant Friedman

Photo: Grant Friedman

How do you know if someone doesn’t use social media?

Don’t worry – they’ll tell you.

I know this because for 10 years, I’ve helped companies use social media to connect with their consumers.

And for every person I’ve encountered who deeply believes in the power of social media, there is someone who most certainly does not.

Here are the five most common responses from people who do not use social media, when I tell them what I do for a living.

1. “I hope you’re not offended, but I don’t use social media.”

2. “I don’t use social media because I don’t care if people are eating a sandwich or showering.”

3. “I don’t have time for social media.”

4. “I don’t use social media because I don’t want people knowing my personal business.”

Or (my personal favorite):

5. “I don’t believe in social media.”

The first thing I wonder, when I hear any of these explanations, is: Would you ever take this route with another profession?

If I told you I were a comedian, would you tell me that you, yourself, don’t tell jokes? Or that you don’t have time to tell jokes? Or, perhaps you don’t believe in comedy altogether?

I’m guessing not.

What if I told you I were an artist? Would you respond by saying you don’t care for paintings, if the art features mundane details about the artist’s life? Would you tell me that you don’t paint because the art might reveal intimate details about your personal life? 

Likely not.

Because, no matter what you choose to do with your life, you exert self control. Restraint. Judgment. You would never generalize an entire industry.

Why should social media be any different?

I’ve written openly about how most people use social media as a hobby, not a job, which I suspect is partially why the industry is subject to so much scrutiny. (Everyone has experience, few have expertise.)

But as I hear more and more people share their reasons for not participating in social media, I can’t help but notice that it’s often not the platforms they’re concerned about – it’s the people – and in some cases, themselves.

Oversharing is one of the most common reasons people give for not using social media. (i.e. “I don’t use social media because I don’t care if people are eating a sandwich or showering.”)

But Facebook doesn’t force you to share. Instagram doesn’t ask what you’ve eaten after every meal. Social media doesn’t overshare – people do. Oversharing is not a social media problem, it’s a character flaw. (I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the person who overshares on social media overshares at brunch, too.)

Time – or lack there-of – also doesn’t strike me as a real reason someone is not on social media. (You’ve heard the one about making time for the things that matter.) I don’t go to the gym not because I don’t have time, but because I have not made time. (True story, ask my trainer.)