I used to love Facebook …
I used to love Facebook as a very efficient and affordable promotional tool for artists but I am starting to change my mind. There are still many good reasons to have a presence on Facebook, but I don’t think it is worth making a lot of effort anymore promoting my work as an artist there because of the time and money investment it requires. Here are the reasons why I am rethinking my Facebook strategy.
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Facebook is by far the social network with the most important number of users
Facebook had 2.07 billion monthly active users all over the world in the third quater of 2017. So many people are now on Facebook that no other network can compete with it. It will probably be that way for a very long time. This is still the place where artists can connect with a huge number of people all over the world in a way that traditional advertising never allowed. But the consequence of that ubiquity is that so many people are posting on Facebook nowadays that the information overload is getting worse. We could waste days looking at our feed and there would always be something new happening. It has been designed that way, we get notifications throughout the day so that it is highly addictive and we can get a small release of dopamine multiple times in a day.
The huge amount of posts and content being published every day makes it impossible for Facebook to show all your friend’s and pages posts in your news feed. So Facebook developed an algorithm to select what you see and what you won’t see on your feed. What you will see depends on many factors, including your recent interactions, your centers of interests, but also how much money people are ready to pay to promote their content.
Frankly sometimes posting on Facebook feels like being in a room full of people where everyone is talking simultaneously but no one is listening.
Over the years, Facebook changed its algorithm with the purpose of making more and more money with paid advertising. The result is that owners of Facebook pages who spent time, effort and sometimes money to aquire a lot of followers are seeing the organic (free) reach of their posts diminish over time.
Facebook pages used to be a free way to connect with an audience and an awesome community building tool, but not so much anymore.
I have 4455 followers on my page. Often I will post something and only between 100 and 400 people will see that post. That is about only 2 to 9% of the people that are following me!
Facebook lets me know that only 314 people saw this post and at the same time is offering me the possibility of “boosting” my post, in other words pay for people to see it.
I don’t have the budget to pay for people to see my posts when I want to share something on my page, and frankly I am getting tired of the continual suggestion that I should pay to be read. I also noticed that every time I am posting something that is more promotional in nature, these are the posts are more likely to get less visibility.
I still like most of the interactions I get on Facebook with other artists and will continue to post pictures of my work in progress, my studio, events and interesting posts I want to share, but I am carefully monitoring the time I spend on social media. I am not sure Facebook is helping my business in a significant way and feel my time might be better spent at something else.
Are there alternatives to a Facebook page?
An interesting alternative to Facebook pages is to make a Facebook group. People get a notice when a post is published to a group way more often than when a post is published to a page, so what is published on a group is seen by more people. There is an important difference though: A group is more about a community than an individual artist, you are not the only person posting the content, so you have to give away some control over what is being published. I still want to keep my Facebook page so I can control the look and feel of what is being published there.
I like to use Facebook groups for my online classes participants, this is a community of artists that can interact in the group, post pictures of their art and support each other. I can moderate the group and block spammers or delete comments that I would find not acceptable.
If you decide to transfer your business page to a group, unfortunately there is no direct way to transfer all your followers into the group. You can only post on your page or contact your followers to let them know your page is going to be replaced by a group. So you most likely will loose some of your followers in the process.
Posting on your Facebook personal profile
You could also use your personal profile to promote your art, posting there definitely gets more visibility than posts on a page. The drawback of posting on your personal page is that posts about your personal life get mixed with posts about your professional life and I like to keep the two somewhat separate.
Instagram is an interesting alternative to Facebook because the interactions on this network seem more direct and less influenced by advertising and how much money people are willing to pay to get their content seen. But as you probably already know Facebook bought Instagram and is starting to implement business profiles and paid content. So I think it won’t take long for Instagram to feel exactly like Facebook.
This is an interesting tendency by the way: All the social networks are starting to look very similar. Twitter recently increased the number of characters from 140 to 280, Facebook has now a live feature and Instagram has stories that make them look a bit like Snapchat. All the social networks are starting to look very similar.
My personal use of Facebook
I was doing some research and read that there is an increasing number of people doing temporary “social media detox” or closing their account permanently. The general reaction being that they feel way better and less stressed after doing so.
I am not surprised, the more time I spend on Facebook, the less happy and energetic I feel. I don’t like that it feels like a competition for attention, measured precisely by the number of likes and comments. It makes us crave for constant external positive reinforcement. The pressure to show only our good side and pretend that all is always well start to feel like an imposed misrepresentation of reality.
I also don’t like what is called the “echo chamber” effect of Facebook. The fact that I see mostly what I already agree with and am less and less exposed to confronting or challenging opinions. It gives me the false reassurance that the rest of the world thinks exactly like me. The trouble is that anyways discussion is almost pointless on Facebook as people get upset and agressive really fast, way faster than if they had a person to person discussion.
Despite all these negative constatations, I am not ready yet to quit Facebook. I enjoy the fact that I can keep in touch with many friends and relatives and many posts still move, inform or educate me. So the positive is still outweighing the negative, but as I am doing for my Facebook page, I am carefully monitoring the time I am spending on Facebook.