In 2007 I was halfway through my stint living in London. I’d just been offered a job working on the treasury desk of the prestigious NM Rothschild & Sons investment bank and before I could legally provide financial advice to the UK’s wealthiest people, I had to pass an exam.
The date was 16 June and it was a sunny (by London standards) Saturday. I was in the office… studying. Only I wasn’t really studying.
For someone who always fancied themselves as more of a marketer, I was finding it hard to focus on, let alone grasp, the subject matter – financial derivatives.
Not helping was the fact that Daft Punk was performing in Hyde Park and all my mates were texting to tell me how much fun they were having. Also not helping, no doubt, was the instant messaging that was taking place (who remembers MSN Messenger?) with my friend in New York.
She was telling me about this new website called Facebook and apparently it was awesome. Way more awesome than MySpace, which I found hard to believe because my MySpace page, in my eyes, was beautiful.
I signed up to Facebook on that day to take a look, promptly dismissed it and didn’t log in for another six months.
Fast forward to 2008 and I was doing all the annoying things that more than one billion people do on Facebook. Posting stupid, irrelevant status updates. Posting pictures of last Saturday night in da club with an assortment of people, few of which, if I forced myself now in reflection, I could call friends. Posting comments on other people’s pages and photos – some which were complimentary, some which weren’t.
These habits continued until early 2012. It was post GFC, I had just resigned from a job and, given the majority of my resume described a background in financial services in a time when financial services was haemorrhaging workers, career options were slim.
I’d log in to Facebook, in my funk, only to be bombarded with images and proclamations from others in my life detailing how awesome the universe was treating them. It made me feel terrible.
This would continue for a few months until in May 2012 Facebook went public. In a rush to meet the demands of shareholders, the company started focusing on how to start bringing more money through the door, and among the soul-sapping status updates of my ‘friends’ came a barrage of advertisements.
I hated it so I switched it off.
That was Facebook Deactivation #1.
I didn’t get any of the expected withdrawal symptoms. Actually, it was a weight off my shoulders. The hardest thing I had to deal with was switching off the channel that feeds me invitations to parties and provided me with access to people I met throughout my travels who reminded me of better times.
In November 2013, I was required to manage the Facebook page of a business I was doing some contract work for, so I had to switch it back on. Return: the bombardment and all the old emotions that came with it. Things still weren’t amazing on the job front, I was hopelessly single, arguing with my flatmate and watching my credit card balance creeping up daily.
In a piece titled ‘Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy’
(Google it) I found the explanation for my discontent with Facebook. In a social media life, you are continually absorbing the text and imagery of other people’s lives and comparing them with the text and imagery of your own.
Happiness = Reality – Expectation.
My reality was not matching the expectations I’d set for my life. Those expectations were set based on where I thought I should be in my life… which in turn were distorted by where I could see others were in theirs. But those others: were their lives actually as fantastical as they were making out to be on their Facebook pages?
In March 2014, I deactivated again… and I haven’t looked back.
There were weekends when I discovered I’d missed out on a party because I hadn’t received the Facebook Event invitation, but then I figured that if they couldn’t make an effort to ensure my attendance, say, with a phone call, how good a friend could the host be.
I missed out on all the noise force-fed to me through my newsfeed, but that was fine by me.
Now I concentrate on what matters and rather than sharing a little bit of my time with hundreds, I’m focusing big chunks of my time on a few. I am better for it and it appears that others are following in my footsteps.
Last week, I logged in to my account for the first time in 12 months, to retrieve an email address for someone. Scrolling through the list of my acquaintances, I noticed a huge number of their profiles were no longer active. It seemed like a Facebook exodus (among my friends at least) had taken place.
To make this article more relevant to your business, consider this: if a post about your wine on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter appears right alongside pictures of grumpy cats and politician and/or celebrity bashing posts…
Is that the best thing for your brand?
I’m not saying social media is evil (indeed parts of it are extremely useful) but I do question whether platforms like Facebook are the right solution for certain products like wine. I’ve taken plenty of photos of wine labels and posted them to Facebook and Instagram in the past.
My question to you is: instead of a picture, wouldn’t you prefer a sale?