Quick Note: Final reminder for past buyers of 30DLBL to get your upgrade at a special upgrade price! The announcement was sent on 24 Nov to all newsletter subscribers. This is a big upgrade that I spent 2 months working on and I highly recommend everyone to get it. This upgrade offer applies to those of you who got 30DLBL in a giveaway as well. Let me know if you have any questions via the customer care page!
Hi everyone! Last month, I deleted my verified Facebook page with 20,800+ likes. To be precise, I deactivated it, but the page is as good as gone now. Today I thought I should share the reasons why.
The truth is that Facebook hasn’t been adding value to me as a business owner for a while. While I had previously deleted my Facebook account in 2011, it was because the Facebook personal account was the wrong tool for me to use for my site, and subsequently switching to a Facebook page solved my issue of the 5,000 friend limit among others. But over the past years, I feel that Facebook has degenerated from being a potentially great seeding ground for useful content and positive discussions, to now a venting ground; a place for unsavory exchanges; a channel to get back at those who don’t meet a certain level of conduct (think citizen journalism); a place for short-form, “scratch an itch” content; and even fake news, which recently became a hot topic due to the 2016 US presidential elections.
Why has this happened? I suppose this is as good as anybody’s guess, but for me as a page owner and content publisher, my biggest grip with Facebook is how its algorithm has developed over time to prize content with the most engagement. Engagement meaning Facebook likes, comments, or shares — anything that triggers activity. When a content is able to gather a certain number of likes/comments/shares in a short time frame, it is then deemed newsworthy, after which Facebook “pushes” it to more people (be it followers of that page or non-followers), which further drives engagement. In the meantime, the reach of other content on Facebook gets depressed, which is why if you are a Facebook page owner and have been since 2010, you would have probably seen the organic reach of your posts plummet over the past 6 years to just 1-2%.
To me, using engagement as a measure of a post’s value is great when we live in a world where everyone takes time to thoroughly read/think through something and assess its value before deciding whether to engage with it. But we don’t, not today. We currently live in a world that’s very fast-paced; where stimuli is constantly blasted in people’s faces; where people are constantly frustrated with various issues such as living pressures; where anger, fear, and envy rule most societies; where income divide is greater than ever. Given that, many people tend to use Facebook for a quick escape; not to think. Because of that, the most highly engaged content on Facebook are usually content that provides some form of distraction and escape; that triggers anger, uproar, or indignation; that scratches an itch. Conversely, content that reminds people of their pain, that is meant to get people to look at hard issues, and that requires people to slowly think and process, do not do well at all.
So when an immaculately taken selfie and a lengthy post are put side-by-side, the selfie will generally win based on Facebook’s algorithm, because it doesn’t take thought to process a selfie and its content is visual, where sight is a lower-level sensory.
When a fake news with an absurd headline and a genuine, important, yet “boring” news story are put side-by-side, the fake news will win, because fake news is able to elicit quick reactions due to the nature of its headline. Case in point: NY Times shared how a recent fake news went into internet orbit with 350,000 shares on Facebook in just one day, subsequently getting reposted on popular social networking site Reddit and getting the attention of journalists. The corrected followup received barely any attention.
And when an I’ve-seen-this-a-zillion-times quick tips post and a long-form article that dive deeper are put side-by-side, the quick tips will win (especially if it’s talking about dealing with people, unhappiness, anger, letting go, etc.; even if it’s the same repetitive content posted again and again by the page), because short form content is easier to process for the average Facebook surfer.
It’s probably worth noting that most of the people who post reactions to a post, especially a linked post, do not even read the content. People are just liking, commenting, and reacting based on the few words written in the headline, based on their conjecture of what it means. This also includes uproars, criticisms of the author, and recommendations. Meaning the most popular posts you see on your Facebook newsfeed are generally voted up based on few-second reactions, and not based on the actual value of each post.
And here lies the problem: I feel my site content and direction are simply not compatible with Facebook’s direction as a platform anymore, at least not with how their algorithm works today. I have no interest to write posts just to elicit reaction. Many reactions are noise, not an indicator of a content’s ability to create change/action. I don’t care if people “like”/ comment on my posts; I just want them to think about how the content applies to their life, which may take days sometimes months, not minutes to an hour. But when Facebook steps in and heavily depresses a page’s reach based on its engagement level, that’s where it becomes a problem. When your posts aren’t “engaging” a big pool of people quickly (based on likes/comments/shares), your next post will reach even less followers of your page (think 1-1.5%). To reach more people, including the very people who “liked” your page to get your updates, you need to pay to use Facebook’s “Boost” feature, a type of Facebook ad. And as Facebook’s algorithm continues to change based on perhaps what works best for their shareholders, organic reach continues to get depressed as millions of content are posted every day, to the point where people don’t really see anything anymore except content with the most noise.
In the end, when you manage a Facebook page, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a merry-go-round, where you need to write content in a way that gets the most reactions, where you are constantly “competing” against the millions of pages and page owners in a “who shouts the loudest” contest, just so you can reach the very people who subscribed to your page to get your updates to begin with.
This is not what I want to do. Rather than engage in such activities, I rather focus on creating deeply thought out content and serve my readers who may not react, but are following my material. My opinion is that every Facebook page owner and content creator should work on creating content that matters, that makes a difference in today’s noise-filled world, not engage in like/comment matches to get more engagement to get more exposure, which may actually mean nothing as the average Facebook user flits through updates. Even if you successfully get the most engagement, it’s questionable as to whether the views you are getting are of the highest quality, and of the right crowd.
So I nuked my page. As the issue has been brewing for years, I guess the decision was a long time coming. It became so ridiculous that continuing my page was becoming more costly and painful with little for me to gain as a busy business owner. There were other signs that contributed to this decision, such as ongoing spam; pointless analytics and a cluttered admin layout designed to push you to buy Facebook ads; and pointless, endless notifications that again prompt you to buy their ads, that you can’t opt out of. But the fundamental issue is that I created my Facebook page to connect with you guys, but I can’t even do this now without going through hoops. I much rather build my relationship with you through my site and newsletter list, where I know my emails will always be sent to all of you, and I don’t have to be subjected to some changing algorithm that may not be in your best interest.
Now the issues I just mentioned are specific to a Facebook page for businesses/personalities. As a private Facebook user who deliberately chooses to have zero connected friends, I find Facebook quite useful for connecting with friends. Their chat messenger is handy, especially after their recent feature to disable push notifications permanently. Unsolicited messages go into a different tab, so I never see them. I don’t have any friends connected so I’m free from filtered content based on Facebook’s noise-driven algorithm. I only join groups I want to be a part of and leave when they’re not a fit. I check people’s profiles directly to read their updates, if they are not private. I message friends directly if I want to see how they are doing, not rely on the Facebook newsfeed to get a faux connection.
Just to be clear, Facebook’s algorithm works well for certain pages/content. Basically, content that elicits reactions or drives discussion. Short tips, easily relatable stories, short quotes, easily digestible advice, selfies, posts that create uproar, criticisms, and things that drive shock/emotion. But beyond quotes and simple advice, I think what the world needs now is deeply thought out material that tackles big questions, big issues; not content that repeats itself and caters to the monkey mind. I have no wish to take part in noise matches but to create my own path to serve, help, and connect with people.
On a side note, I’m finding Quora is a fantastic place to learn new perspectives, though the platform is very much dominated by people who are left-wing, progressive, and in a way more privileged than the average person. As with any internet platform, it can only be used by people with internet, so tech illiterate users and people in rural communities without internet/computer can never get their voices heard. So this is something to take note when reading any online discussion — there is almost always some bias based on the audience profile, and as such risks being an echo chamber. In particular, I find certain subreddits a big echo chamber that bury views that mildly oppose theirs and hugely upvote views that fit their thinking, in the end creating a very narrow, one-sided discussion platform that only serves to reinforce members’ biases. Our goal as a learner should never be about seeking only views that support ours and putting others down, but about exposing ourselves to different lines of thinking, about understanding different people’s pains and suffering, so that we can build a more inclusive world.
As to why I deactivated my Facebook page instead of deleting it, it’s because Facebook’s algorithm can always change. If one day the platform becomes a positive ground for sharing conscious discussions and deep content, then I’d be happy to rejoin as a page owner.
If you used to be on my Facebook page, do subscribe to my newsletter to get my updates, including messages and special announcements that I don’t post on the blog.
New Release! Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program
As shared in my previous update, the new version of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program (30DLBL) has now been released! This is just in time for you to do the program in December as you round up for the year. Those of you who haven’t gotten your copy, head over to my newly revamped 30DLBL sales page to read about 30DLBL and get it there!
For past buyers of 30DLBL, this is your chance to get your upgrade at a special price! I’ve sent the email announcement on Nov 24 to all newsletter subscribers. This is a big upgrade that I spent 2 months working on and I highly recommend everyone to get it. The guidebook is heavily rewritten, includes more details, and comes with many helpful, insightful past participant examples for each day’s exercises. There are now 40% more pages than before (from 260+ to now 360+ pages, and this is not from formatting changes). This upgrade offer applies to those of you who got 30DLBL in a giveaway as well.
Let me know if you have any questions via the customer care page! The upgrade offer ends on November 30. Thanks to all those who have upgraded and let me know if any questions!