I am absolutely thrilled to introduce you to one of my favorite women (in business and life). Chances are you already know and love her but in the event that you do not, meet my friend Shanna Skidmore! Shanna and I met years ago when she joined us as a speaker at Gather and we became fast friends. Since then, she has mentored me in business, creativity, marriage and friendship and I’m honored to do life with her. Today, she is so openly sharing her experience with stepping away from social media and running her business with more intention. I’m so inspired by Shanna and the thoughtfulness with which she loves and leads. Pull up a seat!
Tell us a little about yourself
Hi, I’m Shanna. I like balloons. Love Surprises, and celebrating birthdays like it’s the biggest deal EVER. (Because it is! Duh!) I’m married to the most amazing blessing I’ve ever received, Kyle Thurman Skidmore. I call him Thurman. We have one pup, Sadie. She’s a Siberian husky and an absolute mess. I love to run. And music is the fastest way to my heart. A good beat or some Jesus worship can make any day better. I love talking about money, dreaming big and helping others live intentional lives. I’m a business strategist and financial coach. I teach small business owners how to make money doing what they love. I’m passionate about this work.
Do you remember when you first joined Facebook and/or Instagram? Can you describe how you viewed social media at that time?
I remember exactly when I joined Facebook. Actually, I didn’t … my roommate and best college friend signed me up for Facebook. I refused to do it! My login is still the exact same one she created for me over ten years ago. I was a late comer to the game, and without that push from my friend I may never have joined. I’m just not one to get involved with that stuff – Bachelor Fantasy leagues and Facebook Groups just aren’t my jam.
Instagram I started back in 2012. I posted pictures of my dog and Christmas tree. I used it as a way to stay connected with my Atlanta friends while we lived in Savannah. It was fun. At first. But somewhere along the way, it became work. A mind game.
And snapchat… yall. You would laugh! I had it for about 3 days, could never figure it out and deleted it about as quickly as I started it.
When did you begin using social media for your business?
I don’t remember exactly. It was a mix for a while. Flowers, family, flowers and family. I was working with Amy Osaba at the time so I had no reason to use it for business. 2014 is when I probably started seeing my reach expanding. I had officially started my consulting company at that point. Most of my followers probably originated by finding me through Amy, but slowly over time I found this voice. Honesty, truth, struggle. I enjoyed sharing the hard, behind-the-scenes aspects of business that not many were seeing.
How often were/are you using it? Would you say this use was mostly active (posting, commenting, taking action) or passive (scrolling, contemplating)?
In 2014 I posted here and there, haphazard really. In 2015 I started “trying” I would say. This is probably when the love/hate began as well! I would take sooo many photos of my life, spend sooo much time trying to edit them and then spend sooo much time analyzing and agonizing the response. I even had an excel file that tracked image likes and engagement (before Planoly). It was ridiculous. I wasted so many life hours trying to be a photographer instead of just being me.
I’ve always been an active participant by writing, posting, and commenting. It feels special to me to read each comment and engage back with that person. I absolutely love connecting with others and feel honored when they share their “real” with me.
What is the most positive thing you’ve experienced through social media?
People are just really sweet and encouraging to me. I love getting to share real things I see, feel, and hear and absolutely love when that encourages someone else. Encouraging others with my voice was the best thing (and hardest to give up).
What is the toughest thing you’ve experienced through social media?
I feel sad for the hours I sat distracted with Kyle. If not scrolling, just comparing, analyzing or wondering.
Do you remember when you first started to feel the “weight” of it all? How did it affect your business, emotions, confidence, etc.?
I first felt the weight because of imagery. I was often frustrated that I would have words I was dying to share but no image to go with it. As a business consultant, it has always been hard for me to combine imagery with my business work. But words … there are more than enough of those.
I always felt I was living in my weaknesses by taking, styling and editing photos but once I decided to stop trying to be a photographer (and hire a photographer to create consistent imagery), it got easier. I was more proud of the images I was putting out and I loved sharing words.
In 2016, though, it got hard again. First of all, everything started to look the same. Instead of sharing unique stories, I felt like everyone was sharing the same story. I felt like I was having to shout to be heard, and I don’t like shouting. I felt bombarded with product launches and “instagram will make or break your business” pitches. I felt tired. And I sensed my friends felt tired as well. I started wondering,
“Do I really need this? Is it really ‘good’ for me? Is it helping as much as it’s hurting?”
I was exhausted pouring more and more into my words, yet fighting algorithms and the instagram “man” to be heard. I didn’t want to follow rules. I didn’t want to believe that one platform could make or break my business.
When did you decide that removing social media from your daily life was right for you? How long do you plan on staying disconnected?
Last summer Kyle and I took a 10-week roadtrip across the country. We were celebrating Kyle’s graduation from Georgia Tech and this big grand risky adventure we had embarked on for the past five years. Kyle had been urging me for a while to let it go. He hated how my moods were often dictated by social media activity: highs when posts were hot, lows when no one seemed to care. He thought it was unhealthy and he wasn’t afraid to share that with me. Of course I thought,
“I can handle this. I have good boundaries. This doesn’t need to affect me. I AM STRONGER THAN THIS.”
But despite my best efforts, many days it did affect me. One day, Kyle and I drove 30 minutes out of our way to find showers. Our campsite didn’t have one and we were three days into the stink at this point. It was during that $10, 3-minute shower that I no longer felt going social media free was an option – it was a calling.
What are some fears you have about ‘quitting’?
Everything. All of it.
Being forgotten. (Still a fear.)
Not selling anything. Ever. AGAIN.
But seriously. Not selling anything.
No one caring.
What have you done to prepare to remove this platform from your business (logistically and mentally)?
Well. I planned to quit January 1st. But there was always a reason it wasn’t time yet. A big launch, another big launch, the website isn’t ready. I kept waiting and waiting for the “perfect time”. But maybe there isn’t a perfect time? So, I ripped the bandaid off.
I decided on a Sunday I was going social media free on the following Wednesday. Ten days.
I put together a 5-day challenge as a “launch” strategy. I made five days of video content all about social media boundaries. I announced the challenge on social media that first Wednesday. 7 days.
The challenge started Friday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – all about social media boundaries. The challenge list grew to 300 people. So on Wednesday, March 1st I sent a bonus challenge email “A YEAR WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA.” I announced it to the 300 person challenge group first with a blog post & video goodbye.
I put together a short video for Instagram, posted it to my 12k+ followers and logged off.
I didn’t take the time to think through my strategy entirely, I just went for it. But here are some steps I did take….
- I noted my starting numbers. What was my audience size on day? Instagram, Facebook and newsletter. I want to chronicle the journey like an experiment. I want to see what happens. So I took “baseline” stats.
- I deleted the apps on my phone.
- I had my assistant change passwords in case I had a bad day and tried to login with my computer.
- I started a podcast to record the process weekly and share the story.
- I started coming up with a new marketing strategy: blog, pinterest, newsletter, repeat.
What are you most excited about in this transition?
I’m excited to have no expectations – to just see what happens. I’m excited to learn more about building a strong business marketing foundation. Social media just feels shaky. I’m excited to be a guinea pig; to experiment; to see what works and what doesn’t. Not just for me, but for all my creative friends who may just need a break from social media as well.
What advantages do you feel this decision creates for you as a business owner?
Great question! I think this conversation is starting to happen. I feel a shift in the winds of social media. I’m not sure what is going to come of that or if more people will speak up as well, but I’m excited to be in on that conversation. I’m excited to be an advocate for anything that has to do with living a better, fuller, more intentional life.
Friends, if you have questions about stepping back from social media, Shanna’s journey or simply want to cheer her on, please do so below in the comments!