Facebook? Friend or foe?
Who needs it? Who doesn’t? Who cares?
Excuse me while I attempt to explain myself.
Facebook, Who Needs It?
These are questions I’ve been asking myself a lot lately about Facebook. Once upon a time, I thought for business owners, it was essential. Any business, especially an online business, had to be on Facebook. Or else.
Or else what?
Used to Be Fun
What started out, for me at least, as something just for fun, has become almost anything but, in recent months.
Sure, it’s a great place to connect and share photos, socially interact with friends and family.
Then it turned into a must-have business tool.
And that’s the part I’m starting to rethink. That whole must-have part.
When I opened my Facebook account, it felt really weird. It seemed like something only my then teenaged daughters’ generation would do. I really felt like I was way too much out there.
I felt like an idiot, to put it bluntly.
Over time, I got more comfortable with it, but still didn’t use it all that much. Just occasionally, to share pictures, connect with some of my family and friends. For fun, basically.
Ah, the good old days.
The Thrill Is Gone
Because, to be honest, the way I use it now feels more like a chore than fun. It has become an enormous time and energy drain.
To make matters worse, because I began running an online business, the necessity, or so I thought, of having a fan page took on the feel of an albatross around my neck.
And it still does.
That feeling of, gotta be out there, gotta stay in front of people, gotta make sure no one forgets who I am. It’s insidious. It’s stressful. But oh so necessary.
Or is it?
Facebook, What Is It Good For?
Just from a casual standpoint, look at the things people post. Yes, there are amazing stories of inspiration, to be sure. Humor. Fun. Beautiful photos.
It does help us keep up with trends, new movies, books. Almost anything. If you want to find it, you’ll find something about it on Facebook.
It’s a given.
But then there are the posts that go a bit like this: “At the post office.” That’s it. Just, at the post office.
Where’s the punch line? Did I miss something?
Is there a reason that being at the post office is news?
Nope, apparently not. That is the news. Huh. Go figure.
What The Hell Happened?
When did we become so attached to our mobile devices, and social media, Facebook, in particular, that we cannot stand in line somewhere without posting about it?
Now, obviously not everyone does this. But so, so many do.
And yes, I’ve been guilty of it myself.
But the absurdity of it is beginning to loom large.
Why must we announce every move we make, every meal we eat, every thought in our heads, on a social media platform? Or worse, discuss on a public platform things that up till now most of us kept between only those intimately involved.
I’ve seen entire relationships unravel in the Facebook newsfeed. I mean, really? Really?
I find myself thinking about the equivalent of doing this before the internet.
Imagine George Washington in the midst of the American Revolution. “Leaving Valley Forge.”
Now, no doubt he was too smart to ever post that publicly, but if Facebook had been around back then, someone probably would have posted it.
Or Michelangelo, painting the Sistine Chapel. “Another day staring at the ceiling. Let’s see how far I’ll get today.”
I’m being silly, I know. But had Facebook been around back then, how likely do you think it may have been to see such posts? I’m guessing very.
Does Your Business Need To Be On Facebook?
And now businesses are marketing themselves on Facebook, along with other social media platforms. In fact, as a business owner, you feel like it’s a must-do. You simply have to be on Facebook.
And maybe you do.
But then again, maybe you don’t.
Which brings me to where I am today. I’m stopping and taking a closer look. How much business actually transpires because of Facebook, for the average solo entrepreneur trying to build an audience?
Admittedly, for some, it may be a lot.
But for many, many others, it’s hours and hours toiling away, trying to keep up with an ever-changing social platform, striving not to break any rules and not spam your friends.
All the while, your most valuable real estate, your blog site that belongs to you, languishes while you try and decipher Facebook’s algorithms.
Only to have them change next week or next month.
And remember, lots of likes and engagement on your Facebook page does not necessarily translate into business. Unless you’re getting actual business from those likes, it’s nothing more than socializing.
Is There A Better Way?
So I wonder, is there a better way?
And logic alone tells me that yes, there has to be. My BS radar is twitching big time.
The idea that Facebook is an absolute must just does not seem logical, to quote Dr. Spock.
Believe it or not, there are many hugely successful business models that you won’t find on Facebook. Copyblogger, for one. In fact, they killed their Facebook page, for what appear to be very good reasons. And they had a tremendous following.
If you depend on Facebook to build your business — and you don’t have to — it might help to keep in mind that some business models are better suited for the platform than others. It is a tool. You can chose to use it. Or not. Just like any other tool.
I follow quite a few successful freelance writers, as you might imagine.
To my intial surprise, many freelance writers can’t be found on Facebook. They have a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, maybe Pinterest. But not Facebook. I know there are others who have chosen not to go down this twisted path.
For what I now am starting to believe are very good reasons.
It all comes down to the best use of your time and resources.
It’s Your Decision
For me, the question is: Do I want to write, or do I want to spend time on Facebook?
The answer is glaringly clear. I want to write.
Keeping up with Facebook, staying relevant, visible, in the just the right mix, is a full-time endeavor that requires more energy, time, and apparently skill, than I possess. Or want to possess. And that may be the most salient part of the equation.
Still, I Wonder
For now, the jury is still out on this one for me. I find I still fear going cold turkey from Facebook and removing my presence. The importance of maintaining a Facebook connection has just been too deeply drummed into me.
But I’m examining that premise very closely now. Make no mistake about that.
Because I really don’t want to post what I had for dinner, where I’m going shopping, or what may be running through my head at any given moment. I doubt many really care anyway. Why should they?
I like posting pictures of my dogs, maybe things I’m doing with my family, fun vacation photos and things like that.
And So I Am Back Where I Started
But that takes me back full circle to the original reason I joined Facebook.
The good old days when it was fun, not a chore.
I’m not sure right this minute what I’ll end up doing. I have a hunch, but we’ll see.
I’ll decide based on what is relevant and makes sense for me.
I’ll let you know what I decide.
What about you? What do you think? Love Facebook or hate it? Post your comments below. Maybe you can help me see what I’m missing.