Online Business: Should You #DeleteFacebook?
It’s tough to turn the other cheek on a company who’s been stealing your personal information and giving it out to other companies. All just to sell you their stuff – and have the same ad follow you around through all the sites you visit.
And probably a little illegal of them, as well. But we’ll have to let the powers that be worry about that (just email or phone your Congresspersons if you’re concerned…)
Today the question is whether you want to #DeleteFacebook or work out some other solution.
I’m not any big fan of social media. Because they don’t sell books, and I into books as a content-business. Not that the social media can’t sell books, but your investment in getting these sites to help you with that is intensive, with low Return on Investment (ROI.)
My concentration has been finding, writing, editing, and publishing books, then making them discoverable.
As Facebook, Twitter, and most of the social media turned to running ads and limiting organic reach, that is the opposite of what they and others promised about being able to promote your business by aggregating followers. It went down to about 10% of your followers would see your posts.
One earlier post summarized my opinions on this: “Revenge of the Social Media Zombies.”
On top of everything else, these networks aren’t sales platforms, they’re social platforms. So you should never be blatantly asking for sales. Just, “Oh, by the way, here’s another book we published…” Which is a completely wimpy approach. People telling you to invest a lot of time on social media to “build relationships” would only work out to about 200-250 people, which is the maximum size of a person’s personal network. (And explains why most books only sell 250 copies.)
The base result for me was to arrange my posts to be syndicated through these channels and never visit. If I get some traffic to my blog, fine. I use IFTTT (IFTTT.com – If This Then That) to grab the RSS feeds of my blog post and then convert these to usable links, posts, tweets, etc.
Yesterday, I did what a lot of people do and looked to see what Facebook had on me. After downloading it, I saw that it wasn’t a big deal. The main difference was that I had never installed the FB app on my smartphone, so they weren’t grabbing my phone contacts and text messages. And for some, that’s a big difference.
Yes, I’m a geek. I have three smartphone devices. One is only a phone. The other two are closer to being phablets. One of these helps me curate news and share my posts to Flipboard, and has replaced my Chromebook. (Flipboard sends me traffic and has even made a few book sales.) The other is slightly larger and has become an ereader, replacing my bulky tablet. (I can slide it under my pillow when I’m too tired to read and it won’t make a lump there.)
See, geek. But two of those smartphone (the phablets) aren’t activated, so they are simply portable computers. My activated one is simply for calls and taking photo’s. (And because of phone spam, it’s on vibrate only.) Life is simpler that way.
The only other change of note is to take DW Smith‘s advice and set up a different desk and desktop computer for writing fiction. (The real scene with this is that it is only used for writing fiction and so enables you to simply stay focused and train your inspiration to arrive when you sit down to start writing. (See my other posts on Inspiration Training: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3) As a note here, I took an older laptop and boot from a pre-loaded USB drive from OSDisc.com to boot it into a secure and minimalist experience. Mostly just a word-processor and local network access. No social media.)
As a geek, my life could be very complex. Use of non-activated smartphones help save time without giving my data around (much.)
The point is to stay true to your own goals, not someone else’s. People will sell you anything they think you remotely want. But that probably won’t be what you need. The trick is to figure out your needs backwards from your goals and then strip everything else out of your life that doesn’t contribute.
Keep it simple, scholar.
For Facebook, I was just about ready to nuke the whole scene, and then stay away from it for 90 days so it would drop off their backups (hopefully.) I wasn’t getting sales from it, or traffic that I could count on. I did nuke my pages, especially after I tried to see how they could be used and found them so polluted with ads and “recommendations” that the whole experience was truly gawd-awful. Why send people to a horrible user experience when you can send them to your own beautiful site?
Since I seldom visit FB, why would I keep it? On my own page, it was regularly being updated by IFTTT and so anyone following me might (possibly) see my most recent posts. And I was getting a few people coming from FB daily to my blog. A very few. Wasn’t costing me any time, though. Set it up once and let it run indefinitely.
My real use of Facebook was to access one local livestock market that only has a FB page for its site. And I visit it once a week, but never log in. So that wouldn’t change. There are two FB private groups that I visit occasionally and actually could network with people there to do joint promotions for books through our combined email lists. I do have to log in to get access to them.
Those and my syndicated posts are the only reasons to keep access. Which is once a week right now. For a few minutes only. Without logging in. And with all ads removed (see below on links you can use for this.)
Advertising, Facebook, and the Devil’s Spawn
I hate advertising. Because I hate interruptions. I hate being told what to watch and when.
Here’s how I browse the Internet: no ads, no location. What Google might recommend to me never arrives. Instapaper to read the articles I want (which gets rid of most all the ads.)
How am I promoting? Curated content on Flipboard, Instafreebie giveaways. Direct email to those to subscribe from these.
Here’s how I handle TV now: I watch it twice a day for 5 minutes each, with the sound on mute. Meanwhile, I’m curating content while I update on the only news I actually find interesting. And I’m watching for the local weather to come on out of my peripheral vision. At that point, I unmute and watch the 5 minutes they deliver. Then turn the TV off. And go back to my work.
Local weather. Once at noon, once in the evening. 5 minutes each time. Maybe. (My smartphone weather app gives me most of what they can tell me, so I’m trying to wean myself off even that much TV.)
Are there any current shows I want to watch? No. I’ve invested in entire collections of much higher quality shows which ran for years on TV, years ago. Wal-Mart ships them to me. I then save them to a networked hard drive to watch when I want to, without ads, from any mobile device or a desktop computer. And I have lots of feature length movies, of course (like the entire Die Hard set.) After a couple of years of this, I’m now so far ahead of watching everything that I am seriously not interested in what the networks want to pitch.
(And I’ll wait a few years to see if the current movies are worth watching. The DVD versions will come down in price quickly, so I’m usually never paying more than I would to see it in the theatre, but can watch it at many times as I want. See of the show will do any good at the box office or gets a grassroots following. For instance, were the big shows at the Oscars this year even heard of anywhere? Not at the box office. Because they weren’t widely popular. And while we are at it, I haven’t seen the Oscar program in years – and its ratings are a disaster, particularly as they are now more political commentary than entertainment. Going political turns off at least half the viewers. Soon, only actors will watch it.)
With this collection of movie series and sets, I can binge watch anything I want whenever I want.
Like the entire series of the original Star Trek. All the Star Trek movies. All ten years and three movies of Star Gate plus their spin-offs. (I did give away my collection of Big Bang Theory, as what passes for comedy isn’t that good these days.) But I have an entire collection of Twilight Zone and Serling’s Night Gallery waiting, as well as the entire Andromeda series.
See why I don’t need TV or cable these days?
I just finished off five years of Ghost Whisperer recently. Yes, I leaked a lot of eyeball fluid. Great writing, missed being a real classic and that link tells why.
And I need to probably get the rest of Gunsmoke series so I can distill the essence of Western procedurals. I am probably not going to invest in either the nearly as long-running Family Guy or South Park, again because what passes for modern humor isn’t that funny. I’ve got some classic comedy on tap without having to put up with sleazy schtick.
As I writer, I have to stick with what I really like to watch or read. Because that is what will inspire me to write better.
Which idea brings us right back to Facebook and social media. Social media isn’t even good entertainment. Numerous studies show social media is depressing. Because it’s not real life interaction. And you’re more likely to have to deal with trolls than you would in real life (where they aren’t tolerated.)
This also is why I buy as little from Amazon as I can. Because Wal-Mart has real people working there. Real. People. And I can go and pick it up and return it less than 5 miles from my home. And talk to real people when I do. Nice people.
I don’t have to chat with someone in India or another “English” speaking country to get customer service. And just about everything Google has recommended to me from Amazon (they get a commission on all sales, I understand) can be found on Walmart.com – maybe not as easy to search, but they are getting better.
And I can pick it up from real people, or have it delivered to my home, usually for free. Maybe not as fast, but plenty fast. (Instant is over-rated, especially when they are harvesting your data. The entire five-year collection of anything is still going to take you a long time to watch – what’s your hurry?)
Advertising on Facebook
Only works because people are using FB like TV. And they are used to being interrupted by really stupid recommendations. They are depressed and avoiding real life. Same as vegging out in front of the TV after work. (If you want to get ahead in life, invest that time into learning a new skill, starting a side venture that will earn you extra income. Both ideas are exciting.)
Meanwhile, you don’t have to suffer through ads at all. Instead of TV entertainment, stream (or better, buy) movies. If you don’t like online ads (or really dislike, as some of us) then use an ad-block browser like Brave or install browser plug-ins. Then the FB ads won’t follow you around. Because you never see them.
Certain sites have shut me out because of using an ad-blocker. Their loss, not mine. Plenty of other sites who don’t care and that give the same data.
(TIP: save pages to Instapaper and you’ll get a mostly ad-free experience when you read. And they’ll be accessible off line.)
Sure, I bought Mark Dawson’s course about using FB ads to sell books (TIP: you can work it out from his free promo videos.) And I might get into that some day. If FB is still around. But you won’t see me opening up my lines to get ads coming in through my browser. And FB ads require an extensive investment of time as well. The study that needs to be done is whether the investment is worth the added income, compared to the lower quality of life you’ll experience.
Between now and then, my book-publishing content-business is still working on basics of getting writing and publishing habits into a schedule, getting free books regularly offered to build a mailing list, and then will be examining the real social media where uber-readers go to find their next reads (Wattpad, Goodreads, LibraryThing) and also Medium.
Ads can wait for their own study and evaluation.
Should You #DeleteFacebook?
Probably. Or at least put it on a severe diet.
And get your life back under you own control.
That will give you more time to get out of your house and go visit some real people and have real conversations. See some family and friends you’ve gone out of touch with. Enjoy life more. (My sincere advice is to diet Amazon as well. Talk to real people when you buy things. That will also cut down on enforced ads in your life.)
You’ve only got this one existence (that we know of.)
Getting rid of the crud that plagues us is probably a good idea.
Starting with “social media” and advertising.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Or join my mailing list and email me directly. I answer all email (and phone calls ) from real people, but not spammers or scammers.
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Also published on Medium.