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Letting Go for 2018

I recently had the opportunity to contribute to Beth Brodovsky’s Driving Participation facebook icon in a trash binpodcast year-end special.

Beth posed the following question to her contributors: In 2018 what marketing tactics, social media, or tech tools are you letting go of and why?  

My response?

#DeleteFacebook

I’m not recommending that you delete your organization’s Facebook page. More than a billion people have active accounts, so they need to be able to find your organization there if they’re looking. But I would recommend interrogating your investment in Facebook critically.

Facebook is not in the business of helping your organization. They are in the business of making money. You’re using their platform for free, which means they can change the rules of engagement any time they want to, and you have no recourse. And they do change those rules, frequently. Pretty much every change they make that affects organizational pages degrades organic reach. You can still get your messages in front of people on Facebook, but you have to pay to do it.

For some organizations, paying for reach makes good financial sense. But I would argue that for most it really doesn’t. I would strongly encourage organizations to do a clear-eyed accounting of their Return On Investment – both direct financial investment and investment of staff and volunteer time – in Facebook, and if you discover that your ROI is in the red, scale back and devote those resources to audience engagement efforts that have a higher, more consistent return.

Personally, I deactivated my Facebook account more than a year ago, and I don’t miss it.

There are numerous studies that increased time on Facebook leads to decreased self-esteem and increased depression and anxiety.Which makes sense, when you think about it, because you end up comparing your every day life to your friends’ highly curated timelines of only the most amazing pieces of their lives.

“But I’d miss the baby pictures! And how will I keep up with my high school classmates and my grandma?”

Here’s the thing: Now that I’m not inundated with baby pictures, I’ve found that I’m much more motivated to go actually see the actual baby. In fact, now that I’m not under the illusion that I’m keeping up with my friends because I see their posts on Facebook, I’m more motivated to spend time with them in real life, listening to them tell me about their lives, and getting the juicy bits of their stories that don’t make it onto Facebook.

Be honest: Do you really care about what’s going on with your high school classmates? If you haven’t seen them in 25 years, there’s your answer. While it can feel good in the moment to see that the cool kids haven’t done much with their lives, while all the nerds have great careers, as one of the nerds, I can tell you it’s ultimately bad for your soul.

You know what your grandma would love? A phone call. A card, in the actual US postal mail. A visit.

Remember that if it’s free, you’re the product. Facebook is a highly addictive platform that creates a false sense of connection and encourages people to provide all sorts of private data about themselves that Facebook then controls, sells, and profits from.

If a divorce feels too scary, I’d encourage a trial separation. Delete the app from your smartphone (or at least move it to the farthest back screen of apps) and pledge not to open the web platform for a week (there are all sorts of productivity apps that can block it for you, if you’re afraid your willpower isn’t strong enough). Then see how it goes. You may find that your life is better without Facebook. I know I have.

Need more incentive to reconsider your relationship with Facebook? Check out techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci’s TED talk on the subject:

Edited to add: Beth’s full podcast is out. Listen at bit.ly/dpnewyear to find out what a whole bunch of other people who are way smarter than me had to say, too.

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