As a business owner it may seem a daring – or stupid – move to quit facebook. And I didn’t just deactivate my facebook account to maybe come back later. I deleted it completely. I am not going back. This obviously has an impact on my personal profile, friendships as well as my business. But having managed social connection for most of my life prior to facebook, having worked in business & sales both with and without facebook as a tool, I feel confident that I – and all small businesses – and in fact all of humankind – can thrive without it.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should do the same. If you happen to find it rewarding and effective to use, then I’m genuinely happy for you. Ultimately we each need to do what works best for us and is sustainable. I certainly suggest that it’s worth spending time evaluating what is really valuable and necessary for you and your business. Doing things and use tools with intention and purpose.
As for me, we’ll see in a year how I get on.
Here’s why I quit:
1. Facebook is no longer enjoyable to use. If it’s not enjoyable, I don’t want to be wasting my time on it.
I was quite frankly fed up with it. And I’m emotionally exhausted. Now that the user experience on facebook is busy, overwhelming and increasingly complicated I wanted out. I was involuntarily put on a beta version of a new updated version of facebook for much of 2020, they kept saying the new version would be launched in September 2020 but that didn’t happen. I hated it, but they wouldn’t let me go back to the old version – the one you probably still use. The dashboard looked like an airplane cockpit, there was no more empty space, it was difficult to find anything. Even when I just wanted to quickly dip in and out, I would have to click through too many buttons and pages and of course you can end up going down a rabbit hole and coming back out hours later, probably feeling depressed. There were all these buttons for old and new features I really do not want to use or even see – things such as games, shops, communities, etc. Also, they were constantly pushing my pages to advertise which I have no interest in. I wasted so much money advertising over the years for no return. The glimpse and insight I got into the direction facebook are taking was quite frankly disturbing. It seems they are trying to be everything, and to trap people into using the platform even if you want to just use one function.
2. The investment in time and money to create meaningful connection with your tribe outstrips the value in most cases.
I tried out advertising on facebook for a year when the organic reach for pages declined. I have also taken several courses with experts on effective facebook advertising. Some people do really well with it, but I wasted a lot money with zero return. My observation is that many businesses who do well with advertising already have an established audience and this makes it easier to target those people (or similar people). Almost all my business has come at no financial expense. I do know a few select people who amazing success with managing groups, but again they have built up communities a while ago already and positioned themselves as leaders early on. They also invest a lot of time in engaging with their people. I admire them for it and they deserve whatever success they get. But I personally don’t want to invest that much time doing it, I want to focus on my actual work.
3. Sharing information within communities should not require registering for access to a third party platform that profits from your data.
Information we share on facebook is locked in the platform, which means we are potentially restricting how people can find out more about us. Which leads to the next point…
4. Far too many people are putting all their eggs in one basket and building their entire business on social media platforms. This is foolish.
Every business needs to nurture a direct connection with their clients/tribe and not have it owned or hosted by a third party. Ask anyone who has ever had their page or profile hacked, blocked or deleted without warning. How would you communicate with people then?
5. It’s harming our mental health.
Most people I know complain about how they dislike facebook, yet keep going back. I much prefer to remove the things that I feel are toxic to my wellbeing altogether. A lot of business and marketing coaches (including myself some years ago) tell businesses that they should be present where their audience is. But so many people don’t enjoy being on facebook either, so why make them go there just to connect with you? That makes no sense. If people want to connect with you, they will make the effort to find you.
6. I need to set boundaries and ring-fence my time and the way I am available for people to contact me.
Communication has become very messy over the last 10 years. It used to be you would either call or email a business and that was it. But suddenly some people started sending messages on facebook, instagram, twitter, whatsapp and other social media platforms and expecting answers immediately. It’s particularly dangerous for small businesses because we tend to be doing everything ourselves. A big company will have customer service employees to take care of social media enquiries. I’ve heard of people who have clients who send an email, then send multiple messages on whatsapp and social media because they have received no immediate response. What human being can possibly be so available all the time? That’s why people burn out. The world needs to slow down. More importantly I need to slow down. I limit my business communication to emails or scheduled calls because that way I am more effective and able to focus on my clients. I am not saving lives. Nothing is an emergency in my line of work.
7. We have a mistaken belief that if we don’t stay on facebook, we will lose all our connections with people.
I’ve heard many people complain about it being the algorithm’s fault that we don’t see what our friends are doing anymore or seeing the posts we want to see – I think it’s more likely that friends have simply stopped sharing posts or logging on. I was curious and checked most of my friend’s profiles individually to see if they had made any updates that I’d missed, but the reality was that so many of them they had not posted in months and rarely do. It was like being surrounded by ghost profiles. Many told me separately that they rarely go on facebook anymore. I think it’s cleaner to send a clear signal that I’m not checking facebook by just not having a profile at all. The people you want and need to stay connected with find a way. Most people are on multiple social media platforms anyway.
8. Facebook has the potential to make us lazy with friendships. I prefer quality communication over machine gunning information impersonally.
I was the annoying machine gunner facebook poster. In early 2020, sparked by the pandemic, I started just reaching out to certain individual friends as and when I have the energy to. I now write proper long emails – in the way we used to write letters. In some cases, I’ve caught up on zoom calls instead. It has been nice to have certain friendships revived in this way after several years. I’ve never been great at the small talk friendships and have always preferred deeper connection like this anyway.
9. I cannot reconcile my personal values and ethics with the way Facebook runs its business and takes no responsibility for serious issues which we see continuously in the news.
10. I am convinced that it is perfectly possible as a small business to thrive without facebook.
How I plan on thriving without facebook:
- I’m focusing on managing my time and limited resources in the most effective ways and that suits my needs and that of my clients and business.
- Focusing on real connection with people.
- Focusing on quality and creating a good service/offering.
- Making use of social media and marketing platforms that are actually effective. For example, LinkedIn, Google My Business, Instagram (despite being owned by facebook is still a more enjoyable experience), newsletters and so on.
Many small businesses have a ceiling limit to how many clients they can take on anyway and there is a point I’ll reach where I earn enough to live well and thrive. So there is no need to be trying to make the whole world love me. I don’t need all the money in the world, I just need enough. I prefer to focus on caring about my clients & community. The rest takes care of itself. Word of mouth is THE most powerful marketing tool anyway. Whenever your clients or community share their personal story with their friends – if they rave about the good experience they had or how they love you and your work, that will be more powerful than any facebook ad or post you ever do.
Also, let’s remember that humans have managed to work in businesses of all forms without facebook for thousands of years. At some point, humans will move on, we will work and connect in completely different ways. Facebook is not forever.
If you are interested in how to thrive as a small business, I recommend the resources below. I have no idea what these authors would say about facebook, but they have plenty of valuable things to share about creating a successful business around values that really matter. They would all likely agree that time is a limited resource and that we ought to be intentional in the way we use it.
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
- The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
- The Tim Ferris Podcast
I’ll share an update at the end of 2021. In the meantime you will still find me on Instagram, here on my website and sign up for my mailing list if you want to get all my tips and advice for thriving as a soulful entrepreneur.