I Deleted The Facebook Group & Went Off Grid
Taking conversations and connections off the grid, where it feels closer to your audience means you create the best, for some.
Moving to private spaces where you own the conversation and database is opposite to always broadcasting to many people you probably don’t event know.
I have made that step by deleting the You Are The Media Facebook Group. From a b2b perspective, it’s a case of moving with the times as private communities flourish where volume isn’t always the objective.
This article is on making decisions where the goal is stronger engagement through private, more meaningful moments.
Moving With The Times
There was a time when places such as Facebook were essential for giving your business a kick start and to be seen. In the book, Unscaled, ‘the small can rent scale that companies used to need to build.’
Where we are today, people are losing that sense of trust and the stories of coercion and being bullied mean people are switching off. Mark Schaefer recently shared a snippet of what life was like back in the early days of Twitter (read here) and was ‘the greatest think tank ever invented.’ The world is a lot different today!
Losing trust in social platforms goes hand in hand with how we all develop over time. In the beginning, we were all consumed with being seen by as many people as possible and audience engagement was a huge drive. Over time it made more sense to encourage people to commit to you and you own the database so you can reach out (a newsletter certainly helps many). The ultimate goal is to take that audience and build a community that has longevity and commitment from people who have the same aspirations, and goals and we all walk in the same shoes.
Being flexible with our work approach means we all change with time. What starts to happen is trust, collaboration and consent become pillars to work with. Trust is when others are in a place where they know you, collaboration is the opportunities that arise to make the whole effort better and consent is when people are ready to make that commitment. It means you have a direct approach to others and not via an algorithm.
I like this from A Media Operator (Jacob Donnelly), “for a solid decade, many media operators thought they could build a sustainable business on the backs of the platforms. Those days are dying. Owned audiences are the future like they always should have been.”
Why I Deleted The Facebook Group
The You Are The Media Facebook Group had 450 ‘members.’ When this group was set up, similar to many people and businesses looking to have an extension beyond their produce/service, it was a way to help you find the right people and connect with them. People had to tick a box to receive approval to join.
We started the group in the autumn 2018, this was a time when Facebook was an integral part of any businesses comms armoury and familiar to everyone. Four years later, it is deleted. For the record, deleting a Facebook Group is extremely long-winded as you have to delete each person one by one, manually, before you are the last person to close the door. You cannot delete in a couple of simple steps (here is the proof).
Why I deleted for good….
It hasn’t been as active. When we started, it was a great place to keep a discussion going beyond our in-person events. During 2022, it started to lose its pace. Whilst I have a Facebook account, I don’t use Facebook, I don’t post on my personal page and when you aren’t active in a channel, others lose interest.
It didn’t align with my values. YATM is built around creation, independence and identity, whereas Facebook is around control, mining data and misinformation. When you spend your life in a space someone else owns, they can do what they want with the information and communities aren’t safe. It doesn’t feel private and nurtured.
I’m keeping people on Facebook. If the group was active today, then I am effectively keeping and encouraging people to remain on that platform. Alternatively, if people are leaving and deleting their accounts, they are leaving the group too.
More random selling. When people joined there was an unwritten rule that it wasn’t to become a means for self-promotion (unless it related to others). As new people joined the group, there were more instances of people using the group to sell to. This meant that the original intentions became diluted.
It felt limited. The way the Facebook Group looks in 2022 is exactly the same as when it started four years ago. One group looks exactly the same as another group. Whilst the conversations keep the fires ignited, the options are basic and any development over the years has been limited. It is now looking dated.
I don’t want Facebook in my life. This is a selfish reason, but I’m just not an active Facebook user. When you have few choices, you get to choose what you want to see. If you want to keep to the way you once was that’s fine, but we all move on.
What’s the alternative?
Rather than a brazen, ‘I deleted the Facebook Group’ there has to be an alternative.
Linking to how we all change, the new YATM Club now has its home on Circle. Whilst this is not a space I own, it still means I control the database and the people who enter are all permission-based. It is this element of control that played a huge part in the decision, it determines how you reach out to your audience.
This new space has only been around for a month, but this is what I am seeing when you take your world off the grid and into a private space.
People join in.
My biggest concern was creating a private space where people didn’t join in. What has happened is that people are making their introductions, contributing and we’re all looking to find our place around the digital campfire. It feels secure and safe, people feel freer to open up more than they probably would do on a public platform.
People are stepping up with new ideas.
Communities work because of the participation of others. Thoughts and ideas are being shared that I would never have considered. For instance, when we are all back in January we will start a focused virtual working session (this is Sophy Wells idea). This is for people who are working on their own to have a dedicated part of the week to focus on one activity for a two-hour period (and then check with each other). From a blog, to research, to idea planning it’s a virtual room to work together.
It’s reaching out, not broadcasting.
When you feel a part of something with others, it is about the connection and rapport built, rather than what you can take from someone else. The sharing of ideas, progressing thoughts and accountability tend to shift from what we make produce, to how we can make our work better. It is the collection of talented people and skill sets that help raise each other.
A network develops with the right people inside.
We all want our work to be seen, and people to sign up and make that commitment. When you progress with others where there is a shared sense of values and feeling a part of something you are building together, it takes on a much stronger identity.
A big difference between public platforms to a private space.
From 2020 to 2022 we created online events via Zoom, some were free, and some were paid for events. When you put something out there, a lot of the time you are encouraging people to attend. What we are doing now is taking away from the public space and putting these shows for a private audience. Our ‘I Made This’ shows allow others to share how they have media or their message work with a focus on resourcefulness over resources.
It feels honest and open.
When you are with a group of people who have shown commitment, familiarity starts to happen. I am already learning a lot. For instance, people don’t want to spend their lives online. How can the YATM Club be an extension to the in-person events and how can people shape the input for the Lunch Club events in 2023? Ideas are sourced from each other. This has never happened before.
It is early days, but it makes me realise that we have to find the right people to connect with, nurture something meaningful and challenge each other to go to a place that might feel new, but quickly feels at home. When you take your work off grid, people start to feel a part of something they perhaps might not have had before.
Deleting a Facebook Group to setting up a new private group (YATM Club) is moving from a huge platform, where the audience can be many to a more personal conversation.
This means there is less emphasis on sharing to be seen, but the association we have with each other. If you can create a buoyant trusted space, where there is activity, what happens is that everyone finds visibility.
Social media still provides a way for reach and drive attention, but at the same time, there is importance to building something that is yours whilst places become overcrowded. Being relevant by keeping a relationship personalised, becomes a smart business approach as well as being happy. Finding a group of people and working with them on a regular schedule, gives everyone a huge boost.