When I tell people that two months ago I deleted my Facebook account I’m greeted with looks of horror and total surprise. You’d think I’d just announced that I’d murdered someone with a toothpick.
But yes, my long standing Facebook account with over 600 “friends” is no more and I feel so much better for it.
As an online marketer I suppose I’m supposed to spend my time raving about Facebook and the wonder that it is and why everyone should be using it as a marketing tool.
But that’s just not how I see it or feel about it.
Too Much Noise
For me in the end Facebook just because more online “noise” to deal with every day, noise I could do without. I already have enough noise running my business and dealing with my emails and personal life.
I started using Facebook in the early days and it was quite a bit of fun back then. Those of us who used to use it very frequently enjoyed the simple experience. We shared good stuff, talked rubbish and wasted a few hours a week achieving nothing
Many of these friends no longer use the site either and if they do it’s only very infrequently.
I found I was wasting too much time with Facebook, faffing about with their privacy settings, going through a load of posts that meant nothing to me, removing myself from groups I kept getting added to automatically; it all just become a real time waster.
It’s a bit like watching TV….most of the time it’s pointless.
For me Facebook really screwed up when they introduced the new timeline feature. I always hated it and it just soured the whole experience and I’m far from being the only person that feels like this.
Don’t Mention The Share Price
In fact, if you’re not aware, the online gaming company Zynga who make games that can be played through Facebook, such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, have also suffered with the new timeline feature (apart from for other reasons). They are losing paying users at a very fast rate and believe it or not, one seventh of Facebook’s revenues comes from Zynga!
As Zynga’s share price has plummeted to the lows of around $2 from a heady $20 when it floated last December, so has Facebook’s, now hovering under the $20 mark having started at $38.
These trends mean something.
Although Facebook has reached the one billion user mark and it is an almighty machine, I can’t see them continuing in their current state. They are desperate to increase revenues and we’re already seeing what’s going on in the sense that they have done an agreement with a UK gambling website to feature on the site, they will push more ads to mobile devices, they will share more data with advertisers, etc.
Even the days of having a page on Google as a business and getting loads of traffic from it, well that’s much more difficult now. Now they want you to pay to promote your page posts, otherwise they won’t be featured so heavily.
What was once a simple and effective resource has now become a major business with shareholders whose focus is not so much about the user experience but on how to make more money from all of those users.
Personally, I just don’t want to be a part of it.
There are other options
Not being on Facebook does not make me some sort of outcast. I still look relatively normal and have a life outside of the virtual world, but I have definitely shifted my focus as to where I want to spend my time online.
In the early days of Twitter I have to say I just didn’t get it. What on Earth was the point? What strangers really care what I’m doing?
It took a bit of time but eventually it started to click into place. As Twitter has grown so has its usefulness, unlike Facebook which I think has gone backwards. I have really warmed to Twitter. I pick up really useful local news that people post, interesting blog posts related to stuff I care about and it’s quick and simple to scan.
I can also see the search facility on Twitter becoming increasingly important on a day to day basis. When news is breaking or something is happening, Twitter is the place where you’ll get immediate information and comments from people in those places.
It’s the first place I went to when Michael Jackson died, Google had nothing about it for a while, I went there the other day when WhatsApp appeared to have stopped working. Twitter search is real time and although people will spam it, it’s an incredibly useful tool.
I’m also just getting into Google+ now. I know it’s early days but Google will preserver with it and it will become an increasingly popular social and marketing tool, especially as it will one day definitely start to influence search results. We are already seeing this to an extent with the authorship markup facility where you can add your image to search results.
And Foursquare, never got it at first but great useful website/ app too.
Friends will be friends
As it is I don’t need Facebook to keep in touch with my friends. I don’t actually have 600 friends. My friends contact me on WhatsApp, by phone or email. That’s enough for me and when we meet up we share stories and have a good laugh. I don’t need Facebook to keep in touch with them.
I’ve built up businesses from scratch without the help of Facebook and will continue to do so.
Facebook is not the only way to be social online, there are many opportunities and businesses need to focus on the ones that work best for them, not just use them because everyone else is.
I know many people who really do value the site, for example, to keep in touch with family abroad, but for now I’m going to continue being a non member and observe what goes on from the outside.
I’m quite happy with that.