On December 1, 2019, I'm shutting down my Facebook account and all my related Facebook business pages. This isn't sudden: I took an entire quarter off of social media last year and my business revenue actually went up. It's been more like a slow leak. Logging in now feels like a phone call I dread making, or a chore I need to tend to, like changing a dirty diaper.
The poor ethics of the Facebook organization provide serious motivation, but the honest answer is much more basic: It's now a waste of time for me and my businesses.
Low Return on Investment
It's simple: The time it takes to learn the latest algorithm, figure out the right button click and maximize the post effectiveness pales in comparison to the actual impact.
Ironically, I literally co-wrote The Idiot's Guide to Facebook Marketing a decade ago. Even I am tired of following up with the latest update. And, a few times a month, my business page will just freeze up or pause or crash in the middle of me writing a heavily-curated post, and sure enough, there will be a new feature or button popping up on the feed.
The shenanigans with Zuckerberg and the competition as well as its own acquisitions means Facebook is rapidly adding in new features and tossing out trusted ones. You can almost hear the strategy: "Snap did this, so let's add it by this weekend! Instagram has some clout, so let's get the main Facebook image experience closer to that! Tinder is hot, so let's launch a dating function!"
I'm just trying to run a few businesses. I just want it to work.
The Disconnect from the People I Serve
As Seth Godin and other marketers have pointed out, social media was once a smart way to quickly reach the people you serve. The more monetization became a priority, though, the more barriers platforms put between you and your audience.
It's not a coincidence that I was able to reach nearly all my Facebook followers during my first book tour, circa 2008, and, a few best-sellers later, only connected with only a fraction of them during my last book tour this past year. This isn't hyperbole: Facebook directly tells me how many people I accessed with my "unsponsored" post, often in the double digits, and, more importantly, how many more I can access if I chip in a $50 or two.
This isn't unique to Facebook, as all major free social media platforms seem to reach this point. Facebook just isn't worth the trouble.
A Big Distraction
Running with the 80/20 rule, Facebook is taking up way more mental energy than the actual return it gives. During my social media sabbatical, the website started emailing me random status updates, like "so-and-so just liked another so-and-so's picture". The emails began about a week after I hadn't logged in, like clockwork.
It feels desperate. It feels weird. Worst of all, it feels impersonal.
I'm not getting reminded of the people interested in my business, which is the main reason why I've been on Facebook, or about the pop cultural/media updates I'm missing, which is the personal reason why I've stayed on Facebook. I'm getting jammed into a generic algorithm, the same algorithm that is blocking me from reaching as many customers as I could unless I pay a toll.
Why It Matters to Your Business
I spent most of last month on the road as the Toledo Library Entrepreneur-in-Residence. During my many keynotes, I explained why I got on a plane, from Vegas to Toledo, every week to present to the audience rather than just hopping on a webinar instead.
It was an opportunity to make a real connection.
Like Maslow's Hierarchy, our most intimate connections start at face-to-face and fan out to video calls, then to phone calls, then to emails, then to texts. Social media is somewhere in the distant lands.
My coaching, my book sales and my consulting opportunities all emerge from the personal: The keynotes, the conferences, the email newsletter, and so on. The personal cannot be duplicated. The personal cannot be hacked. The personal cannot be mastered through a third party.
If you want to make an impact, then you should be launching that newsletter or podcast, taking the people you want to serve out for coffee, investing in that conference or event and building a community based on your terms as much as possible.
Connecting with your customers primarily through a third-party platform is like renting your audience, as the landlord can kick you out at any time.
For me, and for others, we're realizing it is time to move out.