09 Aug Eight Months Without Facebook
Eight months ago today, it happened. I became one of the few. The odd. The faceless.
On November 9, 2016, I officially – finally! – quit Facebook.
This wasn’t something I took lightly. Nor was it something that happened overnight. It had been brewing in me for quite some time. The worries about privacy issues. The hours spent scrolling through a Facebook feed comprised of posts from the same people, day after day. The longing to spend less time in front of a computer screen. All of it was building up until, Mount Vesuvius-like, it resulted in the release of…my Facebook account.
It might surprise you to know that my life hasn’t changed very much since that fateful day. I still work (obviously). I still spend time with my family (probably more quality time, actually). Amazingly, I still have friends (that I actually see and talk to in person!).
As I get closer to a year without Facebook, I’m starting to reflect on what that means to me as a consumer and marketer. As with most things in life, there’s some good and bad that goes with not being beholden to Mark Zuckerberg. I thought I would share a few of these here, with my fellow consumers/marketers, to provide some perspective on what a Facebook-free existence looks like from a potential customer’s perspective.
I kind of miss always knowing what’s going on with my favorite companies
If nothing else, I consider myself a brand loyalist. I’ve got my favorite companies and I stick to them, no matter how far behind the competition they may fall (hello Barnes and Noble!). Naturally, when I was on Facebook, I would follow my favorite brands posts. It was a good way of staying updated on new products, services, and promotions.
Since I don’t have that anymore, I find I often do not know what these companies are up to. As such, I’ve had to adjust the ways in which I receive company news. I am forced to actively seek out information about what’s going on – through sites like Google News, or forums, for instance. Articles from reputable news sources have become more valuable to me than ever before. That’s not a bad thing, but it is a little more work. The good news is that it proves the power of effective media relations – companies can still get to people like me. Heck, I might even learn something new by scanning through a non-curated news portal!
It can actually be easier to consume the news I want to read
This one may not apply to everyone, but I actually find it easier to consume and focus on news when it’s not being continuously fed to me through a social media feed. Sites like Facebook and Twitter provide great information, but often it’s a torrent of information that comes at you in waves. For me, that makes it harder to concentrate on a particular news story, while making it easy to miss stories that I might actually be interested in reading.
On the other hand, by seeking out stories – or simply scanning, say, The Washington Post or The New York Times – I’m more likely to hone in on certain features of interest. That may sound a bit counterintuitive, since the point of social media is to present relevant topics directly to the user. But I find it a useful way to selectively filter out the flood of stories I may otherwise receive.
I miss certain Facebook groups
Not all of them, mind you. I’m not a class reunion kind of guy, so that Facebook group filled with former classmates who I haven’t seen or heard from in 15 years doesn’t really do it for me.
But I do miss some of the consumer groups that I used to be a part of, even if I wasn’t exactly an active participant. It’s still nice to be able to see what other people think about a particular product or service. For example, I used to belong to a Fitbit user group comprised of runners like myself who would often comment on the products, or discuss upcoming challenges, and things of that nature. It was a useful way for me to meet likeminded consumers and fans of the product, and I’m sure Fitbit didn’t mind the social interaction that was taking place around their products (even if some of it, as per usual in these environments, would sometimes focus on the negative).
Will I go back?
I’ve often toyed with the idea of going back to Facebook, for these and other reasons. I have to admit; it makes it a lot easier to keep up and connect with friends and family. And sometimes I find myself out of the loop as to what’s going on in my neighborhood, since I no longer have any access to my local community page.
For the most part, though, I can get what I’m missing from other places. After all, I’m still on Twitter; I still depend heavily on my Google and Apple News feeds; and there’s always – gasp! – actually having a face-to-face or phone conversation with someone.
I’ve come this far; no going back now.