When I heard one of the co-founders of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, started encouraging people to delete Facebook, I looked on with mild interest, especially since I remembered about the #deleteuber movement that was and still is happening. When Elon Musk took up the challenge and deleted his Tesla and SpaceX pages, I was…shall we say, more interested because he’s Elon Musk and people tend to want to emulate him. That could be an issue, if you’re not a “world-renowned billionaire with the eyes of the world on your every move, wanting what you’ve got even before you pitch it” type.
Putting These Two Happenings in Context
First off it’s all well and good for a mega-influencer to start off this movement but let’s take a look at a couple of pieces of background on this, shall we?
Brian Acton co-founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum. They sold it to Facebook. Koum is still the acting head of the company while Acton has moved on with his billionaire dollars. He’s now working with a WhatsApp competitor called Signal, which wouldn’t be hurt by the “down with Facebook and anything it owns” mindset that’s taking hold. While Acton has a right to be upset (as we all are), his motives aren’t that pure.
Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal (another billionaire) who’s now running Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company, is the man who’s got the ear and respect of other billionaires as well as millions of regular people. He’s the guy they want to be like and while I wouldn’t call him a cult of personality, he’s close enough to tech deification to have some overzealous devotee name a religion after him.
He and Mark Zuckerberg have traded barbs. Remember, Zuckerberg was touting the good that can come from a future where AI (artificial intelligence) was more commonplace. Musk came out on the side of speaking of the possible evils that AI can bring and so Zuckerberg called Musk’s perspective negative and irresponsible.
They don’t seem to get along so to Musk, his #deleteFacebook act may be more like a slap with a silk glove than a call for pistols at dawn. Having said that, he’s a persuasive figure whose actions will cause many to stop and consider following his example.
Should you #deleteFacebook?
People are going to do what they’re going to do. What I do sense is a bit of uncertainty just because the company has been dealing with multiple issues that seem to be spawning new mini-issues every few months.
For those smaller online business owners (the non-billionaire, non-millionaire thousandaires and below) who question whether or not they should ditch their Facebook pages or accounts altogether, ask these 4 questions first:
- How are my Facebook insights and reach?
This is where data becomes your best friend, if it wasn’t before. Not only FB Pixel but GA. Facebook announced their newsfeed change in January 2018. Look at how your engagement (not just likes but comments and shares) looked before and how it looks after taking into consideration the season. Is there a marked downswing in the attention you’re receiving that has nothing to do with seasonality? Look at all of your analytics.
2. Have I built up a strong email list?
Email is still the best way to generate sales for any business. If you haven’t yet built up a mailing list, it’s not too late but with consumer data concerns as well as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance in play, it may be a little more challenging to earn consumer trust. One of the keys to building a great email list is to consistently provide valuable content that not only attracts prospect attention, but also establishes and augments your authority in their eyes. If you can do and are doing that regularly, you’ll be able to tick this question as answered.
3. Do I have an owned asset that I can leverage to get the word out?
Unfortunately, there are more than a few businesses who swear by free sites or even just their Facebook pages instead of investing in their own hosted site, www.YourSiteName.com. The problem is that those borrowed assets, like the free WordPress/Blogger site or even Facebook pages, are subject to a lot of rules. Break one of them even by a hair and the site is shut down without much notice (read any Terms & Services agreement just once and you’ll see what I mean). Once the site is down, all that visitors you had will see the notice about the site no longer existing. How do you think that will that go over when you’re trying to establish trust and authority? It’s good to have a mix of platforms for the sake of distribution to a wider audience. But having your own network, even if you’ve got just one domain name to start, is like owning your own little corner of the internet.
4. Am I diverse enough on other platforms?
This question ties intimately into question three as it’s about your relationship with borrowed assets. There is absolutely no need to be on every platform. Why? Because social media sites multiply like Tribbles and disappear faster than Girl Scout cookies at a weed shop. And let’s not go into the takeover games corporations play (points if you get that reference). Despite that, it’s still not good to put all eggs in one basket, even if you swear all of your clients/prospects reside on this platform. Open up your network and work one or two more platforms. You may just surprise yourself. It’ll take a bit more consideration but as you have your content marketing system in place, it’s easier. How do you know which sites to focus on? Take a look at your site’s Google Analytics. The Acquisition Overview report is a good place to start. It will let you know where people came from, where did they land, how’d they get there, how long they stayed and how many pages they looked at while they were there. You may even find some sites you’ve never even heard of are giving you some great traffic. Could you have an audience there? Could you guest post, comment on questions, or make your presence more prevalent? It’s worth investigating.
The Real Question You’re Asking
Here it is: Is my brand strong enough to survive without a presence on Facebook?
This is not an easy question because it forces you to reconcile how you’re really doing and how you think you’re doing. A reality check, if there ever was one.
The answer starts with understanding that algorithms change regularly and if your business is heavily reliant on a platform where this is true, you need to have contingency plans going. If you feel that the Facebook is no longer living up to its potential, then maybe you should consider #pauseFacebook rather than a full-on deletion. Your presence on Facebook will be more of a handed-out business card than a continuous effort that isn’t yielding much.
The truth is, trust has been shaken. Facebook now has more to make up for. For a while there, it looked like she-who-coined-the-phrase/movement “Lean In” checked out at the beginning. I’m glad to see she’s made up for that.
They still have more than a chance to weather things. It’s a strong company with a lot of potential, provided that real contrition and transparency are staples in the ever-evolving equation.