When to Hop Off the Facebook Bandwagon

Jump Off

via Flickr user psmithy

In my internal life as a secret pundit, I hold strong, unpopular opinions on a wide range of topics. I’ll spare you my monologue on the proper storage of tomatoes, but let’s discuss my wildly unfashionable opinions on Facebook, which are probably more relevant to your interests.

Here’s a radical thought: Facebook doesn’t work that well for some brands, particularly small B2B service providers. Yes, that Facebook—the stuff of marketing mavens’ dreams. For many, it turns into a marketing nightmare; after devoting time and energy to creating and curating a brand page, a chorus of crickets greets you instead of legions of grateful fans.

Many self-proclaimed social media experts will suggest that you are doing it wrong. That is true in some cases, but not all. If Facebook isn’t working for you, I think there are a few reasons it is more than okay to stop using your brand page.

It’s cost prohibitive

Contrary to popular belief, using Facebook as a PR and marketing tool is far from free. It is time-intensive, no matter what strategies and tools you use. It’s cliche but true: at work, time is money.

To get the most out of a Facebook brand page, you should spend time and money not only perusing and posting, but also creating videos and custom visual content like infographics, memes and quality photos. Last time I checked, graphic designers don’t work for free. Plus, paid ads, contests and promoted posts are often the only way to get any semblance of a noticeable boost in fans and engagement. This could be time and money well-spent, but not if you don’t see results.

Your content never meets its mark    

When I say engagement, I’m not speaking in abstract jargon. What I mean is people seeing, liking, commenting beneath and clicking thru to your content. On Twitter, engagement defined this way is possible any time someone logs on and scrolls through their feed. On Facebook, what someone sees on their News Feed depends on a number of factors analyzed by the company’s EdgeRank algorithm, which you can read more about here.

From a personal user’s perspective, there are advantages to EdgeRank and otherwise being in control of your News Feed. For example, with a few clicks, you can hide future posts from your Facebook-addicted auntie and never again be subjected to her semi-literate rants on the tyranny of everyday objects.

However, the same tool may prevent a user from being exposed to your brand’s content, even if s/he would like to see it—which s/he presumably does, since s/he “likes” you. Users rarely return to a brand’s Facebook page after they have liked it, so they won’t see your pithy posts there. And if you don’t share a photo, it is unlikely that they will see a post in their News Feed. As many have lamented, EdgeRank prefers gimics over content that is relevant to your audience. If you provide B2B services, or something that is equally ill-matched to meme-ing or Harlem Shaking, you just may never stand out.

There are other options    

Should you want to stand out on Facebook? This question nags me. For companies that provide consumer products or entertainment, the Facebook News Feed is a natural fit. You want to be (and often are) an integral part of your customers’ personal lives, so you fit in snugly between a cousin’s baby pictures and political rants from college friends.

For most other kind of brand, the Facebook News Feed is an awkward fit, like trying to wear the clothes you thought were cool at age 15. No one thinks you look cool in those JNCOs, and no one wants to hear about some esoteric corporate service while they are perusing their iPad on the couch.

In the wide world of digital marketing and PR, there exist many more agreeable options. If you are struggling with Facebook and don’t even enjoy the medium, maybe it’s time to redirect your efforts elsewhere. Perhaps your time and energy could be better spent on Twitter, LinkedIn or a blog. Read case studies, ask around and give a new network a try.

I’m far from the first person to suggest Facebook isn’t the social media marketing magic bullet, but I don’t think many take action in response. Has anyone out there abandoned their Facebook strategy? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Disconnecting from the Digital World

Disconnecting from the digital world can be challenging. It’s extremely difficult for some people to “let go” of their work in today’s digital age, but it’s well worth taking time to disconnect every so often.

Recently, I took a few days off and disconnected completely. No  emails, social media, or mobile devices. It’s strange – at first – to let go of everything completely. But it’s also refreshing.

RambergMediaImages / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Why it’s good to “unplug” from the digital world every so often

  • It’s healthy. Being constantly connected to your phone, laptop, etc., can take a toll on your health and make you feel run-down. It’s vital to take time just for yourself.
  • Taking some time for yourself is a good way to decompress and evaluate your personal life.
  • You have time to take time to do what matters most to you such as spending time with family and friends, partaking in a new activity, etc.
  • You feel refreshed and stress-free.
  • You can jump back into the digital chaos afterward with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, wrote about his experience after disconnecting for nine days.

“By the end of nine days, I felt empowered and enriched. With my brain quieter, I was able to take back control of my attention. In the process, I rediscovered some deeper part of myself.” (HBR)

Plan on disconnecting? Have a plan!

Before you disconnect completely, be sure to make a plan and coordinate with colleagues to ensure nothing is overlooked while you’re unavailable. Here’s what to consider before you embrace the unplugged life:

  • Set away messages on your work phone and email, or have a colleague monitor your emails.
  • Make sure you’re covered on the social media end. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your accounts go dark. Coordinate with an employee to monitor your accounts and ensure there is a plan for most eventualities.
  • Inform clients if you’re going away for an extended period of time and give them an alternate contact person.
  • Change the message on your personal cell phone (yes, work can find you there too). Note that you’ve disconnected and share when you’ll be back among the digital denizens.

Have you ever completely disconnected? If not, maybe you should consider it. If you have disconnected, please share your thoughts here on the value of going unplugged.

Photo credit: RambergMediaImages / Foter / CC BY-SA