In August 2017 I came to a crossroads where a lot of things needed to change within my personal life as well as my business life. It was an incredibly painful time of transition, but one that ended up for the best; I had to take time to evaluate what I could change and control and what I could not change and control, but rather had to learn to accept. Does any of this sound familiar? I feel like many other people go through something similar in their own life.
At this point in time social media was beginning to wear on me more and more. Not only did it take up my time, but it also drained me emotionally and mentally. I had already deleted certain apps off my phone, including Pinterest and SnapChat (those were easy for me to let go of because I didn’t use them a ton), but I was left stuck on two that I clung to a little closer: Facebook and Instagram.
For months (actually years) I had been complaining about the Facebook platform and constantly thinking about deleting it. It had become more and more about politics, advertisements, and recommendations, than anything remotely related to keeping me in touch with the ones that I loved. I always told people, “The only reason I have Facebook is for my business.” It was easy for me to share an event or a product with a click of a button, and it was easy for me to be part of calligraphy and stationery Facebook Groups that helped me get answers to questions about printing methods and so much more. But overall, Facebook left a bad taste in my mouth. It was a huge time suck and it was draining.
One day in August, something in my personal life snapped and gave me the strength to finally do what I had wanted to all along: deactivate my Facebook account. All it took was a few minutes of my time to become a 2D gray profile icon.
During this time I also took a break from Instagram by deleting the app off my phone. Those of you who know me and follow me, know that I have come back in full force on Instagram. I love the platform even though the new algorithm has been such a killer for small businesses (and I try to do my best to forget that Facebook owns it).
When I deactivated my Facebook account, I didn’t realize it would delete my business page. I thought that my business would still “exist” in that part of the virtual world, and that was good enough. It’s not like I had maintained my business page that well anyway. It wasn’t until a friend told me she couldn’t find my business on Facebook that I realized my business profile had disappeared because I had deactivated my personal account (and I was of course the one and only admin for the page). Here’s how I reacted to this news: “Oh well.” At that point there was nothing I could do and I was enjoying my separation from Facebook too much for it to matter to me.
I will admit, this has been quite the long and lengthy introduction for what I actually want to talk about, but I think that the overall context is important. My business exists in multiple virtual facets online including Google, YouTube, Instagram, several editorial features, MailChimp, my website (HELLO, huge one right there), Pinterest, and many others. When it came down to it, did deleting Facebook really have an impact on my business that much? No. Deleting Facebook has actually helped me grow my business stronger than ever before and let me share why.
1. Facebook never really counted as word of mouth, and not having Facebook has forced me to network better than ever.
This is something I was really hung up on for a long time. I kept thinking that Facebook counted as “word of mouth” when in reality it doesn’t at all. What I originally believed what something along the lines of if people are sharing about my business on Facebook, that helps spread the world about what I do. But take some time to think about the last time you saw a friend share about a product or company on Facebook that you wanted to immediately try simply because you saw them share about it. It’s probably pretty hard to think about something because 1) most people you are “friends” with on Facebook, you aren’t actually friends with in real life, so why would you trust their recommendations and 2) the sheer volume of information you see on your Facebook feed hardly allows you to process anything you see, and you’re not likely to notice a post about “ElisaAnne Calligraphy” unless you’ve been actively looking for a calligrapher or stationer, and you’re only doing that if you’re engaged and planning a wedding.
In reality, the audience I wanted to be talking to was very small and a fraction of people on Facebook that I was friends with; not to mention, my services are expensive which makes the fraction of friends that could afford to hire me/want to hire me even smaller. So no, Facebook was never a good source for “word of mouth” nor should it ever be counted as one.
Now, since I deleted Facebook, I’ve done more networking events and signed up for more in-person opportunities in the past 5 months than I ever would have when I had Facebook! I have forced myself to go “traditional” and network the crap out of myself at any event I can go to that’s in my area. This has caused me to step out of my comfort zone more times than I can count, but building my business is all about building relationships, and networking has only helped me strengthen my business. I’ve made so many different and cool connections recently!
2. Facebook Groups are one of the most powerful tools for business that Facebook offers, but they’re addicting and a huge time suck. I can focus better without them!
When I had Facebook and something happened in my business that was “sad” or “wrong” or “frustrating” I often took to Facebook Groups full of other designers and stationers that would validate my feelings and vent with me. It was like living in a snow globe where one good SHAKE would rouse everything up, and before I knew it I was sucked into the post I had created, writing back responses, shaking my head, and screaming into the abyss. I know this sounds dramatic, but this is actually kind of what happened a lot. Instead of turning to my few close friends to talk to them about a frustrating situation (and problem solve in a logical way) I would just take to Facebook where I knew there were a bunch of like-minded people waiting to applaud me and validate my “pain”. And you wonder why our current political landscape is a mess…. lol.
A couple things happened when I deleted Facebook and no longer had access to these groups (even though I really did love them overall and there were some amazing ladies in there that were so helpful)! First of all, I found myself a lot calmer about things the majority of the time. If something went wrong within my business, I was forced to deal with it without the wild virtual chants of approval spurring me on. I was forced to deal with it reasonably and to learn from it. Second, I gained back so many hours of my time it’s not even funny to think about. You think you spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram? Every time I’m hard on myself for how much I used Instagram, I remind myself how obsessively I checked Facebook Groups. My time on Instagram pales in comparison to that.
Do I miss those groups? Sometimes! I miss the community of like-minded people that, in the grand scheme of things, really do want to help each other. But, when it comes down to it, any question I’ve had about paper, design, and printing methods I have been able to get an answer to without being part of one of those groups.
3. Instead of focusing on Facebook tactics, I now spend my time building content for my email list, blog, and YouTube channel.
This one is kind of funny for me to list because, in a way, I never had much of a Facebook “strategy” for my business besides randomly sharing things every once in a while. It wasn’t ever a priority for me, which makes me chuckle because hindsight it 20-20 and if I had actually opened my eyes and realized this early on, I would have deleted Facebook long ago.
However, just because Facebook wasn’t a priority for my business in terms of marketing tactics, doesn’t mean I didn’t spend a HECK of a lot of time on there. In fact, I would often get so distracted by checking Facebook during my work day that I would sometimes get nothing done that I needed to.
Now that I no longer have Facebook, my productivity has skyrocketed. During the year of 2017 I released 10 YouTube Videos total. During the month of January 2018 I released 4 (one each week), and if I continue that trend I will release nearly 52 videos by the end of the year. That’s a 500% productivity increase. Dang! It’s exactly the same with my blog posts. During 2017 I released a total of 15 blog posts randomly throughout the year. Now, during January 2018 I’ve also published 4 blog posts (also one each week), which puts me on track to post 52 if I can maintain the trend. Once again, a huge productivity increase. And I haven't even taken much time to explain how many amazing automated email campaigns I've been able to create as well. Part of this also comes at a perfect time because I have tweaked my business goals for the new year, but there is seriously NO WAY I could have created this much content if I was still wasting a ton of time on Facebook and getting sidetracked by drama and other problems.
One of my greatest accomplishments last fall was actually creating a physical newsletter that I mailed to my sphere. I never would have had the time for that, or the idea/motivation to do it, if I had still had Facebook. I got a lot of wonderful compliments on it as well, so I will probably try to do it again at some point this year!
4. I’m no longer hung up on whether or not I should be creating “Facebook Ads” to get my content seen.
This was definitely a struggle for me as a small business owner on Facebook. It’s a pretty well known fact that Facebook wants you to pay to boost your content to get it seen (something that’s incredibly frustrating for someone on a very tight budget & trying to organically grow a following). They want you to pay for Facebook ads to get clicks to your website, likes, or video views. Obviously, Facebook is a business itself, which is why it does this. Facebook wants to make money, and it’s a smart way to do it because so many people get sucked into it not really understanding what they’re spending their money on.
I was always stuck between the “should I” or “should I not” argument for investing in Facebook ads. And for the couple of times that I did I can definitely tell you it was not worth it. Facebook ads can be very powerful tools for businesses that have the money to be pouring into them, but Facebook ads were not beneficial to me at all. Do you know who was seeing my Facebook ads the most? Not brides planning weddings, but fellow creatives that were in the same field as me. Talk about being super unhelpful… And yes I even took a course about Facebook ads so it’s not like I didn’t know what I was doing.
5. Facebook is NOT a search engine. Google and YouTube are!
If you take anything away from this monster of an article, I want it to be this right here. Facebook is NOT a search engine. Remember that funny cat video you saw a couple days ago that you forgot to save? Good luck finding it if you don’t remember the name of the page that shared it. Facebook does not allow you to search/find content in the same way that Google does, or YouTube for that matter. If you search “how to learn modern calligraphy” on Facebook you might find one or two things that match your search and are actually helpful. If you search the same phrase on Google or on YouTube you will find dozens of articles or videos that will help get you started.
I finally realized (what in the world took me so long?) that creating content for my blog and videos for my YouTube channel would help my business much more in the long run than ever sharing anything on Facebook. The power of SEO is so real! If you don’t understand Search Engine Optimization as much as you wish you did, go ahead and give Google search a whirl – there are so many helpful articles out there for small business owners like me (and you). If you search “custom calligraphy wedding invitations” my website shows up on the second or third page of Google and that’s a huge deal for getting more people to find my business! The amount of inquiries I’ve received, and therefore the amount of bookings I have, has increased by quite a bit because people can easily find me on Google.
When it comes down to it, Facebook is one of those platforms where you can share information, but not necessarily find it. That’s why I decided to stick with Instagram as my main “sharing” platform and nix Facebook all together; between Instagram posts & stories (along with my email campaigns through MailChimp) I am able to share all of my information and important announcements just fine!
Also, it’s important for me to mention that just because I “don’t exist” on Facebook anymore doesn’t stop someone from sharing a link to my website or one of my videos on the platform. I’m sure some of those things are still being shared on Facebook, I just don’t know about it, and that’s ok with me.
So, did you make it this far? I sure hope so! I wanted to write this article for people like me who might be terrified of deleting Facebook (because they hate it) and having it destroy their ability to grow their business. I want you to know that’s not the case at all! If you would rather live your life without Facebook, by all means go ahead and deactivate it today. There are so many different ways you can continue to grow your business without Facebook. Is it necessarily easier? No. Is it worth it? Yes, absolutely, in every single way.
I will admit there are certain things about not having Facebook that can be super inconvenient. For example, I’m part of certain societies and groups that don’t exist outside Facebook (hello Rising Tide Society, I’m talking about you), so I find myself missing out on exclusive events and gatherings if I’m not following up with friends to ask when the next meeting is! I’m also part of a bridal society in Georgia that shares all of their events through Facebook so I have no way of knowing when the next one is coming up, which can be super frustrating. But, like I said, I’ve learned to work around it! And in terms of complaints, those are super minimal and not a problem in the long run.
Questions/comments? Leave them below! I would love to engage with you and hear your thoughts. Has Facebook helped your business or do you think you could be better off without it?