I've been spending a lot more time on Facebook as a blogger lately than I ever did. So I thought it was worth explaining why. And I'm going to cross post this entire post on Facebook as an experiment, rather than just posting a link on FB and trying to drive people to my blog.
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We all have our Facebook experiences based on our life stages since we joined. Some people complain that they have too many connections and the site is no longer relevant. These are mostly people who joined in college or their early 20s and FB sort of became like LinkedIn--the place where you are connected to too many people you don't really know. Others have very few connections and use it to share personal information.
I was always more the latter. I signed up for Facebook before many--in 2005--when I first moved back to the U.S. But I was already 37 with two kids, and so I was looking for a different kind of experience. I had started keeping a personal blog (on Blogger) about family life just for my friends and family, and I realized how hard it was to get even my closest family members to remember to visit there to see updated photos of the kids. I realized that with Facebook I could just publish them into the stream and my family would see them.
So throughout 2006-7, when I had really young kids, Facebook was truly a social network for sharing family moments. In the years 2008-10, it seems most of my high school and college friends discovered Facebook and wanted to say hello. That was fun, and I've enjoyed seeing their families and lives, even if we don't really speak much any more. And a few ex-girlfriends decided to check in and see whether I was still married--happily, it turns out! So I guess I realized what might happen to others on Facebook.
By the time people started using Facebook for more business purposes or general "social networking" in 2010-15, I really didn't have any interest. I figured the people who connected with me on Facebook really didn't give two shits about what I thought about tech startups and I really didn't want to share photos of my family or private life with the world. Thus, I never really accepted connections and eventually I set up a "BothSidesofTheTable Fan Page" because I felt bad about not accepting the requests of thousands of people who asked me to connect. But fan pages kinda suck.
Twitter was always my public space, and I enjoyed being able to interact with many people who I barely knew, knew only online, or really didn't even know at all. Twitter was my public chat board, my place to share blog content, my place to ask public questions and to debate. It was my public square.
But honestly, Twitter never evolved and built tools to enable that to progress. It is very hard to have threaded conversations, it's hard to engage with others when you start one day and want to come back the next day. And if somebody missed your Tweet or content sharing, then they were unlikely to every see it again because of the reverse chronology that means content is more ephemeral.
So I became more interested in experimenting with Facebook. I knew that every media company I backed and every e-commerce company I worked with was getting significantly more engagement in FB than in Twitter, so I figured the same had to be true for me as a blogger. But I wasn't sure how to make the transition.
Mostly I was encouraged by Robert Scoble, who seemed to most ditch Twitter and even a separate blog entirely and began engaging natively right in Facebook. I noticed how many comments his posts generated and I thought that would be a very useful platform for me.
By 2014, my wife had set up private groups for our families, so the kiddie photos mostly get shared there and it's easy to mentally separate the private FB sharing in a group from more public sharing. And so I opened up my FB profile and made it public, so anybody could see it, follow me, and engage.
And I realized how liberating it was. Perhaps my high school friends have unfollowed or muted me or perhaps I just annoy them with tech talk--I really don't know. But what I found is that FB was a much better place for people to be able to respond to my posts, ask questions, and add input, and it started driving more engagement than even Twitter.
So the more engagement I got, the more I started to share on FB. Right now, I share many things on Twitter, but with its 140 character limitation, I find myself often posting longer or more controversial stuff to FB.
The reasons I blog are clear:
- I can test out ideas
- I can get feedback from others who agree or disagree
- I can spread news
- I meet people/have conversations/get to know what others think
- I have a chance to influence how others perceive things or perceive me
But the places where I choose to engage will change over time, I'm sure. The problem with social platforms is that the hard-won readers who follow you on one platform won't necessarily migrate with you to other platforms. I think you need to think about spreading your bets and not being on just one platform--like Twitter.
For me, the most sustainable engagement comes from newsletter subscribers, because I can deliver my content right to your email box. Remember, you can sign up for that here.