How to Turn Your Social Media Feed into a Mindset Makeover Tool
Smart tactics to shape your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds into a motivating and inspirational influence on your state of mind
Our social media feeds are flooded with the thoughts and mindsets of those we follow: family, friends, celebrities, and other social media influencers. The more and more exposure we have to others’ mindsets, the more they begin to influence our own. Some of those influences are decidedly negative. But simply opting out of social media—or even unfriending—isn’t a viable option for many of us.
The good news is that you can control what mindsets you are exposed to on social media. And you can do it without unfriending your cousin or blocking your grandma.
I’ve learned that I don’t even have to be subject to the whims of some social media algorithm (well, at least not entirely). Here’s what I learned about cleaning up my own social media feeds, and how you can do it, too.
Your Mindset Matters
Your mindset is born out of what you expose yourself to. Exposure comes through your physical senses: what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch will frame how you see the world, especially if you’re exposed to these things often.
If you are spending any significant amount of time on your smartphone, you are affected by your exposure to it. The average exposure for most people is about 2 to 3 hours a day, so it’s significant!
Before I figured out that I could fine-tune my feed, I would often find unwelcome “surprises” there.
- Posts that were offensive or pessimistic.
- Posts that were self-serving and petty.
Sometimes after reading these, I would find myself feeling down or upset. I started avoiding social media altogether because I didn’t want all that junk in my head.
Not long after this, I had a conversation with one of my coaching clients. She faced many physical challenges at that time, and would often make fun of her situation in a self-deprecating way.
We talked about it one day. I learned that she spent a lot of time on social media. She also experienced a lot of negativity on her feed from some of her friends. She was actually reposting many of these posts. She agreed with their assessments and used them to describe her own life.
She said that this was how they talked within that circle. The negative self-talk was their habit. It was part of how their friendship worked.
I decided to dig deeper and take a closer look at her feed. It confirmed that the negative self-talk I heard from her was much like things she was reading in her friends’ timelines.
I began to consider how my client was being affected by social media exposure and how I was being affected by mine. I decided to try an experiment on my feed and asked her to do the same.
I knew I could block and unfollow, but I decided to check my settings to see if there was anything more. A few changes in settings and a bit more mindfulness in my posting habits helped me turn my feed into a source of inspiration.
How to Shift the Focus of Your Feed
We will focus on your news feed preferences on Facebook and hashtags on Instagram. I’ll show you how to make some simple adjustments to turn your feed into a mindset makeover machine.
- You’ll find out how to focus on content from people who lift you up.
- You’ll learn how to remove unwanted content (and unwanted people) from your feeds.
- And how to make the social algorithm add more of what you want to your feed.
The Algorithm, AKA “The Man”—How to get him to work for you
At some point, I began to notice how the social news feed has a spooky way of knowing what you are doing, thinking, or talking about. My client experienced the same thing.
- Your kid takes martial arts, and now you have Bruce Lee quotes in your feed.
- You picked up cupcakes for an office party and now you see cake decorating posts.
We began playfully calling this phenomenon The Man. We were amazed and slightly freaked out by how accurate The Man was about what we were up to.
The Man is actually the set of social media algorithms. These programmatically adjust what appears in your feed based on things like who you are connected with, your activity, what you “like” and follow, what you click on, etc.
The Man notices everything trackable you do online. To understand what The Man is putting in front of you, it makes sense to evaluate your social media activity.
Ask yourself some questions like…
- Who are you following?
- What types of posts are you liking?
- What types of posts are you sharing?
- What types of posts are you commenting on?
This will give you clues about why you see what you see on your feed.
You can experiment with this for yourself:
- Search for a yoga studio and watch as yoga stuff begins to appear in your feed.
- Like or comment on a post your friend shared about success. You may see more of these types of post show up in your feed.
- Like a few posts on a friend’s feed and you will probably see their posts pop up more in yours.
The basics are pretty simple: to affect what you see, shift your behavior. If you like and share people and things that are bringing you down, the algorithm will feed you more of that. But if you like and share motivational, inspiring, and uplifting post, your feed begins to change towards that mindset.
Working on changing The Man’s perception of you, one post, like, and share at a time, takes a while. So what can you do right away to give your feed a quick makeover?
Facebook: Match Your Settings to Your Mindset
Facebook gives you some ways to fine-tune your feed so you can see more of what you want. You’ll need to access Facebook on your desktop (not your phone) to set this up. After it’s done, you can make individual changes to these settings on a post-by-post basis. Or you can go back to your desktop to make changes in bulk.
Edit your Facebook feed preferences
Begin by clicking the three little dots next to the news feed icon on the left, under your profile picture.
When you click on those dots, you get a pop-up menu that lets you control what you see in your feed.
Look for Edit Preferences and click on it. You’ll see a pop-up window.
Now, just like it says in the window, you can… “take control and customize your News Feed”!
I know, it sounds like an infomercial, but it works!
The options you’ll see are:
- Prioritize who to see first
- Unfollow people and groups to hide their posts
- Reconnect with people and groups you unfollowed
- Manage your snooze settings
- See more options
Options one, two, and four are where we’re going to focus on your news feed makeover.
Prioritize who to see first
Click on this option and you’ll get a list of pictures with names of the people and pages you follow. From this list, you can select whose posts will be prioritized on your feed. Then click “Done” to save.
You can select as many as 30 people or pages. There is no ranking system within the 30 you choose, so the posts won’t appear in any certain order.
Now the posts of those people or pages will appear first in your feed. If you select at least 10 people or pages that are active daily, you’ll have to scroll for a bit before you see posts from others.
The idea is to follow the people and pages that reinforce the mindset you wish to have yourself: positive, uplifting, motivational, and so forth.
2. Unfollow people and groups to hide their posts
You probably already have a good idea about who you should unfollow. If not, here are some things to consider when making your decisions.
- Whose name popped up in your head immediately when you read the word “unfollow”?
- Do you roll your eyes at almost everything certain people post?
- Do you hope that certain people won’t see your posts so you don’t have to deal with any of their “special” comments?
- If you saw certain people at the grocery store, would you seriously consider leaving and coming back on another day?
If you answered yes to any of these, you should probably unfollow these folks.
Seriously…you should consider it at the very least. Unfollowing them won’t unfriend them, but you will lessen their negative influence on the content you do see.
If someone meets all these criteria, however, you may even want to go further and unfriend them. I know, unfriending is a bold step, but in some cases, it may be worth it. It was for me.
The great thing about the unfollow option is that you can avoid someone on social media without being obvious about it. You’re still friends, but you won’t see their posts.
In the same Preferences window, choose Unfollow people and groups to hide their posts. From there you can select who you wish to unfollow in bulk.
And if you want to avoid comments from those special folks, you can add them to your restricted list. They’ll be able to see anything you post publicly but won’t see any posts that you share with friends.
They won’t be notified if you unfollow or restrict them, so you can avoid any awkward conversation about it.
You can add someone to your restricted list in your General Account Settings. It’s under Blocking. At the top of that page, you’ll see Restricted List. Click Edit List and add whoever you’d like. Although they’re still friends, they will only see what you post publicly.
3. Manage your snooze settings
This option lets you snooze messages from a person for 30 days. This is great if you want a break from someone or a page for a limited time.
I find that this setting is easier to manage on the post level because usually, I want to enable it at the moment when I’m seeing lots of posts from someone and want to take a break from them. When this happens, just click the three dots at the top right corner of one of those posts. Then choose Snooze person/page for 30 days, and enjoy your break.
Instagram: Fine-tuning for inspiration
The noise of Facebook is what led me to Instagram. The interface feels much quieter and simple to me. There are no extras. Just the posts.
Instagram was my refuge from Facebook. I did follow some of my Facebook friends on Instagram too. Many of them I found through hashtags (#).
Instagram has a search function that lets you find people by keyword. You type in your keyword, and then you get a list of related posts.
If you see posts you like, check out that person’s profile page. See if they are posting the type of content you want to read.
If so, follow them. If not, go back to your search and see who is posting content that appeals to you.
You can even follow the hashtag itself by clicking the big follow button on top so you can see any post that uses that hashtag. I follow hashtags to see content that I’m interested in by topic. So I see more of what motivates and interests me, and less of what someone wants to randomly put in front of me.
Super simple, which is a big reason why Instagram is my favorite right now.
How about Twitter?
Twitter is pretty to adjust, too. There are three feed options that are useful in addition to your main feed.
One is driven by your location, one by who you follow, and the other is custom built by you.
Twitter Trends are driven by location and who you follow. You can update your trends setting from the home screen.
Look for the stars on the top right of your home screen.
Click them, and select View content preferences next to the gears symbol.
You’ll see a list of preference types that you can view. Click on Trends.
Uncheck the Trends for you checkbox to update your location so that you can see stories from where you are in the world by country. You’ll get a list of countries to choose from.
Lists let you create custom views of the type of content you want to see. Name your list whatever you’d like and add the accounts you’d like to follow on the list.
You can create multiple lists and categorize them however you like. This makes it easy for you to organize your topics and favorite influencers. You’ll be able to get to their content quickly, easily, and in simple chronological order. In fact, if you want to get away from an algorithmically-generated Twitter feed altogether, you can make a Twitter List of the accounts you want to follow and then just bookmark and follow that instead of your main Twitter feed.
To create a custom list, start by clicking the down arrow next to your profile picture. This will open the Account info window where you find the List link.
Look for the New List button to start creating your list.
You’ll then be prompted to name and describe your new list. You also have options to make the list public or private. If the list is public, other people can also view that list feed (and people you add to the list will get a notification that they’ve been added to it). If it’s private, only you know about the list and who’s on it.
Now all that’s left is to add accounts to your list. Once you have the accounts added, click Done and the list will be created.
Then you will only see posts from those accounts when viewing that list.
Twitter’s search function is a great way to find inspiring or motivating accounts to follow. Especially if you are searching for a topic or a specific interest.
The search window is at the top of your screen. Just start typing and see what pops up.
Check out their tweets, follow the ones you like, and add your favorites to your lists.
Positive People and Pages I Follow
Here are a few of the people or pages that I have prioritized in my feeds. This will give you some options to start transforming your feed if you need a place to start.
Use these, or find your own. Just make sure that whatever you choose speaks to what matters to you.
I found that my eye-rolling instances while scrolling were significantly decreased after I made these changes. Instead of being irritated by things I saw, I was motivated and uplifted by them.
This positivity began to come out of me in my actions, words, and how I interacted with others. I was able to pass on the things that helped me to others. This lifted them too and as a result, people around me were feeling better.
As for my client, she had a habit of calling herself names and often speaking about what she could not do. It took a few months, but now I can’t remember the last time I heard her call herself a bad name.
Her negative self-talk has gone down significantly. And she often posts and speaks encouraging words to others. She even mentioned that she feels better about herself and about facing her challenges.
Don’t get me wrong—this is not a fix-all solution for negative thinking. Making adjustments to your feed won’t make all your negative thoughts go away.
There’s no app for that.
That is not the goal anyway.
The idea is to transform this one thought-influencer into a simple and convenient tool for inspiration. The objective is to purposely steer the direction of our thoughts by carefully choosing where your influences come from. The goal is a mindset that will serve your purpose for your life.
Be intentionally selective about your influences, and watch as those choices begin to change your life!