I’m facing an interesting conundrum through my involvement in a business that focuses on nature connection. Its driving mission is to get people away from their screens and houses, into the outdoors - noticing and engaging with the natural world around them.
And yet, as anyone involved in promoting their business can attest - one needs to engage in marketing so that other people know that you exist and use your services. A core part of any basic marketing these days involves a social media presence - posting regular, engaging and useful content. This gives people a sense of who you are so that they begin to know and trust you, and might at some point down the track book an event you offer.
OK, got that. After some resistance, I got serious about Facebook and Instagram. I wrote a social media strategy plan and used a content calendar to schedule regular posts. I experimented with an intensive, 1 month campaign. The theme was noticing nature wherever you are, so I started taking photos and short videos of nature that captured my attention. The goal was to post something every day.
We got more followers! And Facebook likes! I became aware of acquaintances also practicing in this field and one invited me to work with her on an event - what great networking! My regular engagement saw some immediate results.
But an insidious thing started to happen. I used to just appreciate a stunning morning sunrise. But then one morning when I saw it, I found myself thinking ‘this is great content!’ and reaching for my phone. And then umming and ahhing about what filters to add to the photo. Then looking up minutes later and seeing that the sunrise show was over.
When sitting on the grass and having some ‘me time’, I found it much harder to just sit and appreciate the beauty of the water drop on the tip of the grass. The sun was on it and the drop was sparkling, the grass was the most verdant green - before I knew it my phone was in my hands and I was lining up the perfect shot. “I won’t have to touch this one up at all!” I found myself exclaiming with glee.
I also noticed that I checked my phone much more to see what posts were getting attention. Instagram and Facebook have notifications that show when someone likes a post. So I immediately knew that ‘forestbathingNorway’ liked my mushroom photo. Then I went and liked forestbathingNorway’s pine tree photo back. There was this restlessness, checking, checking, how many likes? Lots, yay! Not many - disappointment. Then thinking about why a post did or didn’t perform well.
What to do? It feels like one must partake in social media these days, and it can be an effective way to connecting with your audience. But promoting nature connection practices daily on social media impacted me personally by reducing my own nature connectedness. I was spending far more time on my phone and my ability to just simply be with nature and enjoy it rapidly decreased.
Granted, all of this happened when I was running an intensive social media campaign over a month and making videos and photos to post on a daily basis. I’ve concluded that I simply can’t create and post content about nature connection every day. I’ve stopped such constant posting, and now post on a much more infrequent basis.
The business social accounts have had a plateau in new followers and page likes, which is bad. But I can now just sit and watch a sunrise again, without reaching for my phone. Which is really, really good.