I have a confession to make. Putting myself out there on social media terrifies me.
Despite the fact that I’ve spent years helping folks tell their stories on Facebook, Twitter, and everything else you can think of, when it comes to pressing that dreaded “post” button, I still freeze up. I second guess myself and whatever it is I’m trying to say. I spend way too much time double-checking everything from my spelling to whether or not I have something stuck in my teeth.
This irrational fear has even managed to work its way into my writing. Writing this post from a first-person perspective feels weird. Why should you listen to me? Why is my voice important? Do I even know what I’m talking about?!
The answer to that last question is a resounding yes.
It’s just like public speaking. So many people (about 73% of the population, sources estimate) live everyday with a fear of speaking in front of people. And yet, people do it everyday. They’re forced to do it and do it well, as if their professional or personal lives depend on it. (They rarely do, by the way.)
The evolution of this fear to exist on social media has gotten so bad that experts have started looking into the problem and those who live with this phobia, which goes by many names including FOP (Fear of Posting) to more generalized Social Media and Social Anxiety Disorder.
While there’s no cure-all treatment for this irritating feeling, we’ve put together just a few tips to help you get over the “share-fright” and into the (digital) world.
Get your breathing under control
When it comes to any kind of anxiety, taking a few deep breaths is the first step to getting your mind and body out of panic mode - and this doesn’t just mean right before you press “publish.” If you know you get a little nervous posting on social media, be aware of your breathing the whole time, from choosing your image or video to coming up with a creative caption.
You’ve got a ton of options when it comes to calming breathing techniques, but my favorite is to keep it pretty simple. Just take five deep breaths back to back, making sure that as you inhale, you focus on filling your belly first, chest second, and then any lung-space that’s left last. Try to keep your mind solely on the feeling of oxygen making its way into your bloodstream, take the time you need to relax, and then come back to your post with a calmer mindset.
Talk your rational self through it
Sometimes, you just need a little coaching, even if you’re playing the coach yourself. Consider talking through the points below:
You’ve posted on social media before and survived, you can do it again.
Millions and millions and millions of people share their thoughts online every single day, and I would guess (based off the fact that you’re reading this post and thus you clearly care about the quality of your content) that whatever it is you’re publishing is a heck of a lot better than whatever the majority of online users are putting out.
No one is better positioned than you to publish your post. No else is offering your perspective, because no one else has your perspective.
As long as you’re coming from a place of authentic creativity, your post will be appreciated for what it’s worth.
Do your homework
There is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others. See what your peers are publishing. Figure out what you like and what you don’t.
Yes, practice makes perfect, but sometimes, so does preparation. I like to plan out posts up to a few weeks in advance, which allows me to go back and read through captions and perfect my visuals and captions ahead of time instead of right before I’m supposed to hit publish.
It’s also worth mentioning that there is a whole world of resources out there when it comes to posting any kind of content on social media, from boomerangs to blogs. Video, especially, is consistently hailed as one of the most engaging forms of content, yet it can also be one of the scariest for creators to promote. Consider enrolling in Vignette University to really hone the craft of so-called “selfie marketing,” and learn how to use your authentic and natural storytelling to connect with your target audience.
An actor wouldn’t hop on stage without reviewing their lines, and an athlete wouldn’t even attempt to compete in the Olympics without devoting some practice time to their sport. Whatever your method is, give yourself the time you need to really work on your social media so that when the big moment finally comes, you know you’re as prepared as possible.
Lean on me everyone
Social media is all about coming together. Trends only trend because a whole bunch of people talk about them at the same time, connecting across digital boundaries to discuss, to learn, to stand their ground.
At the heart of any channel is the desire for people to find commonalities, so bear in mind the idea that your followers, and even your future followers, actively choose to see your content every day. They want to see you and your updates and your thoughts and your life. That’s the whole reason they followed you in the first place!
Have confidence in the little online community that you’ve built, and lean on them when you need to for support. Whatever you’ve got to say, your voice is valid and I, along with the rest of the world, can’t wait to hear it.