2020 no doubt was one of the shitiest (had to invent this word) years I’ve experienced, like many others. Time magazine was dead right on their cover this time (excuse the pun).
As I look back, part of that was because of social media. Bombarded by various channels and armchair experts on nearly every topic, including health. Garbage in, garbage out.
I have to admit we use social media to promote one of our websites extensively, which generates advertising income (a bane imho) for us but there is one thing I noticed.
The impact of social media is declining, people have reached a sort of fatigue, and social media companies want to own you, so people will pay up money (i.e. advertise) to reach millions.
Ask yourself the question - does the future of social media still rest in selling ads? Then ask yourself this question - why pay for something that you can get for free? And you will see the problem is not easy to solve.
Strangely this year, Netflix (a subscription based company) released a documentary called The Social Dilemma. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend doing that. Maybe you will admit you have an addiction, because the drug being sold to you was cooked up by some smart engineers. Or maybe you’ll just go back to what you love so much… the dopamine effect.
Now back to my position, we used to rely on something that has still not changed. The ownership is not by a social media company, but by the user itself. It’s called email. Heck, even social media companies need ur email to sign you up. And so it still remains the killer app. (Side note: I’ve been closely studying CRM companies, and the reason why they make money is because the email is core to everything).
So I asked myself the question, what would happen if I deleted my social media accounts, okay… we would lose a captive audience, but now I have to pay the social media company just to access that audience, and each time they increase the cost per click, I lose out on more interactions. And if I decide one day to NOT use them, I lose complete access to that audience.
With email, it’s not the case. I am not an owner of someone else’s email, I’m just a custodian, I merely “own” the connection to the audience and I have to retain their trust (I’ve gained it when they signed up).
If at any point in time, they don’t like what I’m doing or saying, they can unsubscribe i.e. sever the connection. That would end our relationship. But at least it would be the choice of the audience, and not left for an intermediary to dictate. Another way to look at it is that you ‘own’ the audience connection with email, but with social media, you ‘rent’ the audience connection.
Now, if I use a email service provider, and they increase their rates, at least I can easily shift my audience of email subscribers to a new email service provider.
Every time I use a platform, I try to figure out how easy it is to export and continue operating on another platform. Social media platforms don’t/won’t let you do that.
Which brings me to a question that I’ve been battling for some time, what about WhatsApp - it is an unusual beast, not because its owned by a social media company, but because there is no advertising model attached to it. And also because the phone numbers are retained by me on my end. So is it a social media app? I’m beginning to think not. If they are to make money out of this, it will be when they convert themselves into a payments app for social commerce.
If you were to do a time audit of your mobile, you would be shocked (in IOS, there’s a scary feature called ScreenTime, on my MacBook, there’s RescueTime) - and it is shocking, at least for me on how many mindless hours were spent viewing social media. Those few minutes, really do add up. If you were to focus less on what others are updating, you might just get more work done!
I’m taking a cue from Cal Newport, instead of totally quitting social media stone cold and deleting your account. Just delete it not the device you use the most, your smartphone. Then set aside some small amount of fixed time on your desktop to use it. You can use some apps to block ur usage of it as well, incase you really get tempted.
So one thing is for sure… 1) Instagram 2) Facebook and 3) Twitter - are now deleted on my devices - my smartphone and my tablet. And it will stay that way for the whole of 2021. Let’s see what happens.
WhatsApp stays (strangely they haven’t developed a version for the tablet yet!). The moment I see WhatsApp showing ads, I’m deleting that as well. (Now while Telegram is picking up steam, I am yet to see their monetization model, so staying off that as well)
Then there’s Linkedin, which I use on a regular basis. But hey, you can actually export the emails, making it a not-so-pure social media platform. Linkedin functions differently from Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter. This is where people you get to meet are there to do business. Thankfully it’s a lot more professional, although I have seen bouts of trolling take place.
Twitter, will be relegated to my browser. Which is what I typically do, because when it comes to news… The Twitterati seem to be the first to broadcast it. I mostly use it for following useful discussions that are happening. And yes, it can be brutal some time.
So with this I conclude, that in 2021 - I will be only focusing on one platform - Linkedin - 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
P.S. I wanted to title this post as “I’m quitting Social Media and you should too” but that would be too clickbaity!