I’m Quitting Social Media

You read the title correctly, I’m quitting social media. It has been a love/hate relationship over the past few years. On one hand I knew that it was a nasty beast, on the other I couldn’t get past the idea that it was a fantastic platform for business promotion. I completely avoided Instagram for several years before finally caving in and signing up in 2014. This started a downward spiral, I made an account for every venture that I had at the time. I now have 8 or 10 accounts, I can’t even keep track any more.

Next up is Facebook. I have been on and off of Facebook more and more recently. In the last 3 years I have deactivated my account so many times. There was a point that I didn’t get on Facebook for an entire year. Recently I’ve been toying with Facebook, I will deactivate then reactivate multiple times in one day just to see if they will allow me to keep coming back.

Ultimately I see no personal value in using social media. At it’s core it is an advertising platform to steal your attention. On the surface it’s a highlight reel of the life of people you may or may not know or care about. The final straw for me on Facebook recently came on an advertising campaign, well, two of them actually. A good friend of mine ran a campaign for more likes with a daily budget of something like 7 dollars. He ended up getting the likes on his page that he was after but he was noticing a troubling trend, he had targeted a very specific audience but the likes were coming from what looked like click bank likes.

If you are unaware there are places in other countries that you can pay to buy likes, or subscribers. These places have people with multiple accounts, they get the memo and go like the page, after you pay them of course. When paying for a Facebook ad, directly through Facebook, you expect to get legitimate likes. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case. He received likes from accounts that only have a few friends yet had hundreds of page likes. These people also featured fake looking names.

I then had a glaring issue in my own personal experience. I have run many Facebook ads with varying success. Most of them I have at least broken even on. I run a different kind of ads than my friend ran. I ran ads with the intention of getting people to make a purchase on an external website. In the past when running this type of ad I will get roughly 1 sale per 1000 views. 1000 ad views typically results in 10 ad clicks which will get roughly 1 sale. To achieve this I have run the ad for a week or two spending $5 per day. In a week I will get anywhere from 1-3 sales. Facebook will spend the entire daily budget and I end up breaking even with my $30 product. Last week when I ran the same ad the results were very different. I started running the ad late on a Saturday evening, around 9Pm.

This is a known dead time for the business that I am running ads for. The business is a Yoga Studio in a town of 10,000. The ad is targeted toward what we have found to be our perfect target audience, women, ages 35+, living within a 10 mile radius of the town. This is extremely precise and because of this, there are typically almost no clicks at all on a Saturday, especially not after 9Pm. The first red flag came when I was served the ad on my personal page. I was scrolling the newsfeed and there it was. Now sometimes Facebook will show a post that looks like an ad to try to get you to actually buy an ad, that is not what this was. This was the ad that I was paying for showing up on my news feed. Here’s the kicker, when I clicked on it to interact with it, Facebook defaulted to me acting as the page. I¬†was paying for the ad to be shown to me. The first issue here is that I am a male, it was specifically targeted towards females. The second issue is that I am 30 years old, it was target to 35 plus. The last issue here is the obvious one, I was paying to see my own ad.

“I was paying to see my own ad”

This occurred well after midnight, which was also extremely odd to me. I decided to investigate further. My daily budget was $5, I had spent $6.25. Facebook had gone over my budget in just 3 hours, during a time that was traditionally dead. On top of this the ad received 13 clicks. It had received more clicks in 3 hours than it typically does in an entire week. Remember, this ad was targeted to people in a small town and it had been started after 9Pm. Something here was obviously wrong. I still feel ripped off. Sure it’s just $6 but I feel that it was taken from me in a very dishonest way.

This was the final straw for Facebook, but I need to back up, there is more to it than this.

What about my personal page?

I am a photographer, I have a site that sells prints and I have a Patreon page. These pages were created because I have many friends who asked me to start posting photos again. I took a long hiatus from posting photos online and people wanted me back, or so it seemed. With the constant outcry of people claiming to want to see and buy my work I decided that selling prints and a Patreon page was the best way to do that. I would be able to make a little money and people who wanted to see my work could not only see my work but also support a friend.

I set up the Patreon with a $1 level and a $10 level but I’m not dumb, I didn’t expect any support. It is more of a social experiment than anything else. I have a ton of friends on social media that swear by “promote local art!” Would they put their money where their mouth is? $1 a month is squat, surely they would support a friend and local artist.

Wrong.

I have managed to get my mom, my dad, my wife, a cousin and four friends on board. I have talked to people in person about it and they will not support my work. This is a different issue entirely and likely warrants it’s own post but the relevance here has to do with the social media aspect of it. I have social media for the sole purpose of promoting my business and my brand. It’s a fantastic way to get free eyeballs on your content, or it was.

I at least knew that if I posted my work to my personal page that my friends and family would see it. The logic was that these people would be sure supporters. These are the very people who told me to get back in the game. The very people screaming about supporting local art, the very people begging to see my photos, yet when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is there is no support.

I tried for 3 months to convert people, to get them excited about my art, with minimal success. Now I am done. I am not worth $1 a month to these people so why should I give them attention? That’s what social media is, a place to post and get other peoples attention. These people who claim to support me but clearly do not, no longer warrant my attention. Despite being done with Facebook I have continued to post on Instagram which links to my Facebook business page. I have pushed the content from Instagram to the Facebook page and also to a Tumblr page, that is until last night.

“Digital hearts don’t give me much to invest”

Last night was the final straw. I made a last ditch effort to convert people. I posted one of my best recent sunset photos on all platforms with text over it saying that I was leaving and to keep up with my work, find me on Patreon. Again, crickets. The crickets validated my decision. When I say “crickets” I don’t mean that the photo didn’t get any attention, it absolutely did, it has all sorts of hearts on it. Unfortunately little digital hearts don’t give me much to invest back into my artistic endeavors.

Wait, there’s more.

I have another account, this one has 2500+ followers on Instagram. It is associated with a YouTube channel that has 7000+ subscribers. This is an extreme niche situation and I have a lot of loyal followers. Over the past 2 weeks I have been selling this niche product on the Instagram page. I do this because it seems to be less evil than eBay but I’m not sure. This process is something I have used with great success in the past. This time I had just moderate success. This time it has contributed to my decision to walk away from social entirely.

The issue is that people message me wanting more pictures, wanting more information, then they either go silent or they never buy. Obviously this is going to happen but the regularity of it is alarming. It’s a waste of my time, which is ultimately what this entire article is about.

Social media is a waste of time.

Time is precious. I need money to pay my bills. If I am not enjoying what I am doing and at the same time it is not gaining conversions to pay my bills, what is the point of spending time on it? This is something that rings true for everybody but it seems that people get caught up in the social media circle. People enjoy the endorphins that come from seeing those little likes pop up on their screen. People chase them like junkies but they mean nothing. At the end of life, when it’s all said and done, how do you want to be defined? Do you want to be defined as someone who spent their time staring at a screen, scrolling, double tapping, and getting an endorphin rush when someone likes the crappy photo of your French fries that you posted? Or do you want to be something more?