Tag: anxiety

There’s Too Much Internet in MY Real Life

Our journey through the digital divide has taken us through the realm of individual accounts and your Top Ten, and then through the ads we see and Pages we engage with and things we can do to help those organization and businesses during what is typically a really difficult time of year for them. Now, we are heading into the point where the Internet and the Real Life collide – Groups.


In real life, we create our own groups of people we communicate with – friends, family, co-workers, other business owners, the list can go on and on. Likewise, in the digital space, the list can be expansively never-ending.


Facebook has Groups for just about anyone and on any topic – such as the infamous Colony of Ants or the Aldi Red Bag Chicken “that’s so good, it has its own Facebook Group” have breached the digital space and moved into Real Life through our conversations about these two distinct yet very different Groups.


Groups are the water cooler chats in the 21st century; and while some Groups may be punny or fun, not all are. Some are meant to be informative – such as the local Community and Neighborhood Groups.


Not all Groups are created equally


As I tell our clients, not all Facebook Groups are created equally. That is why you will see some with more members, more activity, and more drama than others – and for better or worse, these are QUALITY groups because they attain what the algorithm is looking for most – that sweet, sweet engagement.


Just like how your Top 10 is defined by your engagement with others, and the Pages and Organizations you see on your Newsfeed is based on your engagement with them, Groups are equally determined by engagement. The only difference is the number of people who regularly engage with the Group and your personal engagement within the Group.


In a Group setting, we have the ability to speak to more people. Which can be incredibly effective if you are new to an area or looking for something specific in an area. But, often, we as individuals will do things in a group setting that we wouldn’t do by ourselves or in real life.


This can explain why at times, Facebook Groups can be a bit more drama filled, or individuals will say things in a Group setting that they would not feel comfortable doing so on their own personal Page. While this may be the case, we must remember that in the digital space, these things can become dangerous.

Data Privacy? What’s that?


Facebook has long been a source of controversy when it comes to data privacy, and the stickiness of the ads we see on our Newsfeed is HIGHLY indicative of just how much information is known about us as individuals.


I don’t mind telling you that sometimes, Facebook hits the mark closer than anyone else and it can give even me, the creeps at times.


Now, that is not all together a bad thing. If we’re receiving information that is important to us or make more educated decisions on the area we live in or making a large investment – these things can be downright helpful.


However, frequently, we do not understand how all this information is coming to us, nor do we understand the intricacies of Facebook Groups and in the digital space, where it’s the little things that make a big difference.


Groups Help Us Connect With Our Community


There are two significantly different types of Groups: Private and Public. Private Groups are those that can only be seen by those on Facebook, those who have been invited to and accepted the Group invitation and any applicable Rules associated with the Group Page. Public Groups are just that, including open to anyone who is not on Facebook.


While Private Groups offer a bit of added security, it should be understood that when communicating within that Group, you may be communicating with those you do not know in real life but share a mutual connection in the form of a shared topic of interest. Conversations are typically thematically driven, based on the type of Group you are in.


Public Groups are typically community based and include such Groups as the “What’s Going On/What’s Happening In” Pages. In these Groups, you will find events, local news, and individuals looking to learn more about the area, looking for recommendations, or posting about lost/found items.


Finding “Quality” Groups


Now, I hear you, some of these local groups, make you shake your head in wonder sometimes. They can be just a hot mess of comments and side conversations that when taken into context of the original post, may have very little, if anything in common.


While this seems like it is a hot cluster mess, and in some regards, it can be, it’s important to remember what feeds the algorithm – that sweet, sweet engagement. So even though, at times these things seem like a dumpster fire, they are actually working quite effectively because people are communicating with one another.


These Groups give a greater sense of what is like to live in a particular town or area, which is vitally important to not only those looking to relocate to an area, but also to those who live in the area. Having these Groups that are active in the local community builds on our sense of community by keeping us connected on one device that the majority of us own, and on the same platform that a whole lot of us use every day.


The Shear Convenience of It


With Facebook recently taking over as the Top Social Media platform by average monthly users (overtaking YouTube), it is evident that while our engagement of this platform has dropped off in the last few years, our usage has only increased. With more people using the platform and less engagement feeding the algorithm, Facebook has recently implemented new techniques to get us to engage with that which we engage with most – Groups.


Not only has Facebook added a direct button to the Groups in which you personally belong to between the Home and Notifications buttons, the social media giant has also added badges and “Community Awards” to increase engagement on Group Pages – the latter of which has been found on a local community Group Page within the last month.


Our local usage of not only this platform, but others, is evident in the quality of the Groups and the availability of algorithmically driven “enhancements” meant to increase our already high rate of activity on these very Pages.


Local Groups Are POWERFUL


The ability for information shared on our local Group Pages to expand outside of our region is a key step in marketing a business, organization, or event in this area. Even more than this, what we consider to be small town, local events – such as the fountain being damaged – has reached national news sources and this wasn’t the first time an event in this area has captured national attention.


This is directly related to how much time we spend on our devices and online, specifically on social media. Now, this is not necessarily a negative thing, as through this, we ARE more connected to those we care about and our local community. We ARE more engaged with one another.


Which means, whether we like it or not, we’re going to come to a place where disagreements happen, boundaries are pushed, and at times, mob-like behavior occurs. Shit gets said that wouldn’t be said in real life.


And then we get all hot and bothered over something said on the internet like it’s SRS business. Where it bleeds and festers into other areas of our lives. Leaving us questioning not only ourselves, but other’s motives over SHIT said on the Internet.


It Is SRS Business ‘Yo


Here’s where shit gets exceptionally real:


Not only are Public Groups visible and readily available to anyone, even those not on Facebook which means we are inherently going to be speaking to an unknown audience – take a moment and think on that – Private Groups can be exponentially more dangerous, simply due to our usage.


Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles titled, The Facebook Files where in one article specifically found that the adjustment made to the algorithm in 2018 made the platform a more divisive and angrier place to be. Which, if you haven’t checked my linked articles – was about the same time Facebook saw a distinct drop in engagement rates.


Fun times, right?


Hold onto your hats, cuz true to form, Facebook has fun little ways of distracting our attention when they’ve done something that has caused some unwanted attention.


Within A WEEK of these articles publishing, Facebook launched the Community Awards (feel free to open those links now but come back cuz we aren’t done yet).


And this is NOT the FIRST TIME Facebook has launched something new when they are in hot water.


But Wait! There’s More!


That is without touching “Meta” – which is a WHOLE other ball of wax where if we don’t get this shit under control, we’re in for an even worse wild ride than we’ve already been through.  I don’t know about you, but I’m about f-ing done.


So, here’s what I want you to do this week. Take a look at the Groups you belong to, start with those that pop up in your Newsfeed and notifications. If they are local, check to see if they are “quality” local groups and look at the privacy settings – it’ll be right by the name of the group. If it is Public, go forth eyes wide open and personal shit sealed (don’t give out your phone number plz!).


If it is Private – Look over the Page carefully, especially if it is a political, spiritual, or religious and look for any inconsistencies or “bleed” over from these specific categories, or any “us vs. them” derogatory type posts. These are usually topics that have little if any, bleed between in a traditional setting. Think about how these things work in real life, that’s how they should work online too.


As such, thematic Private Groups tend to stick to their theme and are usually primarily for entertainment and have little bleed over. Look for these inconsistencies.


Those Pages that do have a “bleed” be it political, spiritual, or religious and a high engagement rate on these types of posts are exceptionally dangerous. As they not only fuel lines of division and have crossed the barrier into real life, they also feed the algorithm as a positive reinforcement – meaning that you will then begin to see more and more of that type of posting, creating more division, more anger, and more isolation on your social media feed which will then begin to affect your real life perceptions as well.


Pretty Sweet Deal, Huh?


Which is the LAST thing we need after the year plus we’ve had and coming into the “happiest” time of the year, which for many – it’s not; and it’s time we stop pretending.


It’s time we stop pretending. Period.


This shit has the ability to cross into our real lives.


And we carry it around with us every where we go with our handy, dandy little tracking device.


That holy shit, for many of us, we’re closer to than our best friends.


Think about the shit it knows….


So, here’s the deal, now that I’ve hopefully taken the wool down from your eyes a bit, you’ve found that you have a *bit* more control than most would have you think. From now until the end of the year, I am offering free copies of my thesis, “You’re Doing It Wrong: Using Facebook for Personal Profit and Pleasure” for anyone wishing to get a “head start” onto where this blog is headed.


I will personally print these out and deliver or mail them to you. During this time, you are free to ask me as many questions as you would like.


Please be aware of two things: Symbiotic Marketing will be closed from December 24-January 2. This is my personal time to be with family, if I respond, please respect my time.


Secondly, after December 31, 2021, a change in fee structure for new clients will take effect in reflection of inclusion of PR and Training services.


Your business and what you do with it is an investment. It’s time it’s treated as such.

Embrace the Chaos

Anxiety is something I live with every single day. For me, it is something that is inherently a part of my everyday life and comes in ebbs and flows and lately, it has been flowing. As much as I would rather not discuss this topic, it needs to be. So many are living with some form of mental illness or traumatic episode in silence and in that silence, the illness takes hold. It can become suffocating, overwhelming, all consuming and above all else, lonely.

An entrepreneur’s life can also be lonely, even if you have a team of people with you. You are in control of every aspect of your business from making sure the lights stay on to making sure work is completed. Many work well past the hours of “normal operation” to ensure everything that needs to be addressed has been because people rely on us to get it done, from our clients and customers to our family and loved ones. Sometimes it’s early mornings and late nights. It’s never having a set schedule but being flexible enough to make the important things fit into a schedule. Owning a business means these are your monkeys and this is your zoo and yes, at times, they are throwing “stuff” at you.

So, why would someone who struggles with mental and emotional health decide to embrace the chaos and start a business? Because it is fulfilling on so many levels. Yes, it can be scary, frustrating, and physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. But it can also be incredibly rewarding. I read an article a while ago that discussed the relationship between being an entrepreneur and personal development. While I cannot find the link to the article, there is a rather clear line between the two. Personal development and growth are closely tied with the success of your business.

Looking back over the past three years, I can see now that I’ve been making huge steps in my personal and professional growth. By focusing on myself and my overall health, I was also allowing my business to grow and become successful. I have big goals for Symbiotic Marketing, but I cannot reach those goals if I allow myself to fall into negative habits. That means going out and meeting with people when I want nothing more than to curl up in my comfy chair and binge Investigation Discovery all day and going to networking groups and meetings when I don’t know a single person there. It also means I need to make healthy choices for myself every day, getting exercise, eating healthy foods, and making time for me without feeling guilty about it.

I’m telling you about this because I know I am not alone. Many business owners struggle with some form of mental illness or trauma that continues to follow them years after the event. I know this because assisting others with marketing endeavors can become very personal. Marketing is closely tied to emotions and behaviors and the more I am able to learn about my clients and their businesses, the more I can do to help them reach their goals.  More than anything, I want you to know that you are not alone. While being an entrepreneur can be lonely, it doesn’t have to be. You’ve already done the scariest thing by following your dream. Embrace the chaos and together, let’s see how far that dream can go.


My first year in business, I drew inspiration on my office window, literally with liquid chalk markers. I still have these drawings on my window today and continue to look at them for inspiration. One of the two is simple but I’m still amazed that I wrote it and how it continues to mean so much to me. It says simply, “Be unapologetically you.”

As many of you may have noticed, I went dark for a bit and had not posted anything in about a month. While dealing with some personal things, my head went into what I call, the bad place. Anxiety reared and depression followed. I know these feelings all too well. I lived with them side by side for so long, they were almost comforting friends. That is until the OCD tendencies started to seep in.

It’s funny how something that can give so much short-term comfort, such as cleaning the kitchen feeds and builds on my anxiety and depression. As I shifted my focus from how clean the kitchen was, I noticed other areas that needed attention as well. The empty box in the dining room for books I’d like to donate that haven’t made their way from the bookshelf yet. The hutch that hadn’t been dusted since June. The bits of destroyed dog toys littering the living room floor. The pleasure of a job well done was quickly squelched by shifting my focus. I could feel the old habits seeping in, the things I tell myself that I would never allow to pass by my lips if I were speaking to another.

During this time, I made it a point to go out and socialize. I went to every networking event, special occasion, and learning series that I could attend. Some of the people that I socialized with knew details of what I was going through but not all and it was what came up in discussions that I found particularly interesting. While out in social environments and not hiding my vulnerability, others were more likely to share theirs as well.

Listening to others share, I found that many decisions were made from fear: fear of the unknown, fear of others, fear of change. This made me look back on my own life and saw that many of my decisions were made from fear as well. Meaningless little decisions to decisions I am still feeling the repercussions of today. But the big ones, the decisions that mean more to me today than what they meant when I made them, those were made from a place of love. Love for others and love for myself.

In that moment of realization, I decided to make it a point to have more of my decisions based in love rather than fear. While I may not know the long-term results of having more decisions based on love than fear, I know where my fear gets me. Feeling lost, worthless, and overwhelmed. During this difficult time, I decided to do the opposite of what I would normally do and put myself first. Some days are easier than others, and that’s to be expected but what is important is that I am making decisions based in love rather than fear and through that, I am finding that I am able to be unapologetically myself.

The Wall

Have you ever felt the pain and anxiety of waiting for docs to open on your computer because you just had to write something out? That fear of waiting for the computer to turn on and load would lead to forgetting some portion of what you wanted to write? Maybe it’s just me, sitting here watching the computer load for what seemed like an eternity. What’s so important that I felt the absolute need to get it out? My business plan.

But before I get into that, I want to tell you what brought this feeling up. The other day, I attempted to play Halo with my son. I say attempted because I was raised during the time that gaming systems were thought to make children complacent and lazy. And I certainly was not allowed to have one. So, I did what every child who wanted a gaming system who wasn’t allowed to did, I visited friends that had one and played on theirs. Unfortunately, I lived in a very small town and there weren’t a lot of children my age. Needless to say, I am not a gamer.

In my attempted to play with my son, he taught me how to get into vehicles and how to operate them, but I had one glaring setback. I didn’t know what the buttons on the controller did, what they were called, or where they were. I spent most of my time looking at the sky or the ground while trying to move myself forward.

Once I started to figure it out, he traversed ahead of me, telling me to follow him and I followed the little arrow designating his character until I simply couldn’t any more. My character wouldn’t move and I couldn’t figure out why.

I couldn’t move because I was facing a wall, but I didn’t realize I was facing a wall. I was looking ahead to get to him and not looking at where I was going. Now you may be asking, how does this relate to my business plan? Because I haven’t updated my business plan in over a year. I know I need to, I know I should, but I haven’t done it yet.

I talk about business plans with clients, and the importance of writing one. I compare it to a road map, you know your starting point and your destination, and over short distances, you can get away without planning too much if at all. But longer trips, that takes planning. Several years ago, my husband and I took our first big road trip. We decided on a whim to drive west to see the Rocky Mountains. We knew we wanted to drive and figured it would be fun to camp along the way. In that journey, we had to plan. Where were we going to stay? How long could we drive at a time? How long would we go on this journey? How much should we budget? In that plan, we researched, discussed, and prepared for our journey.

Not long after this trip, I wrote my first business plan and I found the similarities striking. I was setting forth a plan for the business I was going to create. It was fun and exciting, thinking of the business I wanted to start and why. I enjoyed some of the research I did and created handwritten notes to keep myself on track. But then it became real, and fear started to set in. As I typed, I realized that my business plan didn’t really look like a business plan, more of thoughts typed into a computer and thus easier to organize, but not a true business plan that I could take to a bank for funding.

I sought out assistance from SCORE and SBDC to assist with different parts of the plan, specifically the financial portion which I knew would be the weight of the plan and the determining factor of whether or not this was a viable business. One year later, I sat down to revise the business plan to plot out the future of my business, and at that time, not a lot had changed. My goals at startup had not yet been met, but I was still trying. As the year progressed, I decided to change services offered and how the rate plans were organized based on what I was hearing from clients and business owners. While this was well received, I did not update my business plan. And here I am a year later, with handwritten notes and figures, fearing to type it all out again.

My business plan is my wall. I know where I want to go and am figuring out what buttons do what and where they are. And yet, I am stuck standing at this wall trying to figure out why I can’t move forward. I’m going to run some figures, update that spreadsheet and start typing out my findings. I am going to find my way around that wall.

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