I’ve been finding it harder to sleep at night as I had SO many ideas and thoughts floating around my head. I was walking around during the day with a vague sense of overwhelm.
I decided the best thing to do was to create a brainstorm mind map for everything I’m thinking about for our new home. I used my regular art journal spread over two pages (I’ve been using this exact style of art journal since I was 16… 20 years now!)
I discovered my ideas roughly fell into categories:
Since then, I’ve been back and forward about being “on” social media. Something felt off.
I’ve been thinking about it more and more, wondering what feels off. And what I need to do to move forward.
It’s now been almost two years since I started that sabbatical. And here’s the thing about having a patch of time off from social media – I noticed just how hugely the landscape had changed in a short period of time.
How post interaction was WAY down. How people were needing to create MUCH more, at a much faster pace. How the platforms were changing our capacity to bring people back to our place (i.e. our own websites) and instead were forcing us to become unpaid content creators for THEIR gain. How it was becoming a pay-for-play access.
It’s kind of like the boil-a-frog analogy. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will GTFO of there quick smart. But put a frog into a pot of cool water that is slowly brought to the boil? It stays in there.
The same is true for social media. They started us off in a cool pot of water. And now we’re being boiled alive, but still don’t feel like we can jump out.
On Facebook, I have 130,000+ people who’ve opted-in to hear from me. On a GOOD day, I have less than 1% of those people who want to hear from me actually HEAR FROM ME. I remember in the beginning days when a single post would be seen by EVERYONE on your list, and a bunch of their mates too. And then the number kept moving down – when it was now good that I had 70% of my audience see me. Then 30%. Then 10%. Then 1%.
By contrast, if I send an email to my mailing list, I have about 15-20% open rates. If you have a smaller mailing list, you tend to have even higher open rates.
And it’s not just about Facebook either. Instagram is now owned by Facebook. It will continue to limit your capacity to engage with your fans.
Unwittingly, we’ve just discovered that we cannot build sustainable businesses on platforms we don’t own.
I’ve been bitching about this shit for years. I’ve taught all my customers to place MAILING LIST at the top of their priorities list.
Here’s what I wrote in 2014 in my Double Your Biz intensive program:
Let me drive this home for you:
You want people on your mailing list. You want people on your mailing list. You want people on your mailing list.
You want people on your mailing list more than you want them just reading your website or blog. You want them on your mailing list more than you want them pressing LIKE on your Facebook page. The highest priority is getting potential customers onto your mailing list. Your Mailing List Is Where People Buy From The Most!
Your conversion rate for sales on your mailing list is SOOOOO much bigger than any other communication platform.
That’s where people will be when they want to buy from you. That’s where people will stay in touch with you the most. It’s a great privilege and an honour for someone to respect you and your business enough to keep inviting you into their inbox.
A bigger mailing list = a bigger business for you. Absolutely.
There’s plenty of pages out there with 100 000+ likes on them. They simply will NOT be selling as much as a person with a 100 000+ mailing list.
A Mailing List Is An Important Business Asset
And it’s a big deal for your business – a mailing list becomes one of your business’ assets. For example, when I’ve applied for mortgages, one of the things my accountant highlights for my bank to approve me is that my company has a large mailing list. It’s a real asset.
If you decide to sell your business at any time, your mailing list will be one of the assets that increase the selling price of your business, because it’s a communication platform with your existing and potential customers.
You OWN Your Mailing List. You Don’t OWN Your Social Media Followings
What’s more, social media is kind of ephemeral. You don’t “own” your likes. With your mailing list, you get to keep them forever – even if you decide to move mailing list companies.
With social media followings, you are totally reliant on that platform: + continuing to succeed and grow (What if you had a huge following on MySpace? What is that worth now?) + not deciding to charge you access to your followers (hello Facebook, I be looking at you!) + not changing the algorithms and rules on a daily basis on how you can interact or advertise with your followers.
It’s not just me who is feeling like things are off. There’s an increasing number of entrepreneurs who are writing about it, and companies who are either radically changing their social media investment, or quitting it entirely.
Here’s some of the research, articles and books I’ve found.
There’s been a lot of talk (a lot from me, specifically) on why social media itself is exploitive and the companies who run social media platforms have an unscrupulous business model of selling our privacy and data for profit.
Because these platforms don’t charge users, they resort to advertising and data profiteering. Anytime we’re presented with “free software” we’ve just not taken into consideration the revenue model of the company and where us and our data fit into maximizing their profits.
We may not directly pay for social media, but we definitely pay for it with the trade-offs we make to use it. As Benjamin Franklin once said (probably), software users who trade privacy for functionality deserve neither.
This is where emails and newsletters differ entirely and why I think they’re better than social media. Companies who provide us with newsletter and email marketing software charge us for it—this is their business model. They charge well too (i.e. it’s not cheap, especially at scale). I pay over $230/month for Mailchimp so I can keep sending you emails. But this cost (the most I pay for monthly software by a lot) is worth it because it’s doubly profitable: Mailchimp makes enough money from me so they don’t have any need to sell my or my subscribers’ data. And I make enough money from my products by sending emails on their platform to cover the costs and not have to resort to ever selling data from my subscribers either. So it’s a win-win-win!
This is why I care so much about newsletters and almost not at all about social media. You won’t find me on Facebook or Instagram, or even on Linkedin.
Most fascinatingly, he rages about a recent business report which found that 60% of businesses were planning to invest more time and money on social media in the coming year, but less than 5% could state that their social media had increased revenue and profits AT ALL.
“If it’s not going to get me results, I am not going to do it.”
“You can’t go to the bank and deposit likes, views, retweets, viral explosions, social media conversations, or brand recognition. They want real money.”
“The results are depressing. The study finds that top pages are posting a lot more now because engagements have dropped by as much as 70%. Facebook changes its algorithms often, and they’re hard to follow. This makes it incredibly hard for businesses, especially newer ones, to stay on top of their marketing game and reach their intended audiences unless they shill out tons of money.”
It’s the same story for all major social media platforms. In short, social media marketing is dead. Better invest your time and money somewhere else.
It’s only going to keep becoming more difficult for a business’ posts to be seen.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced changes to the platform’s news feed product with content from “more posts from friends and family” and “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”
It’s bloody important to not have your business sustainability pegged to a company that can change its mind overnight.
Becoming overly reliant on a social media platform that you do not own is not a smart business decision.
“We’re a community and we always have been,” the brand said on Twitter. “We believe we can make more noise using all of our voices across the globe because when we do we drive change, challenge norms and create a cosmetic revolution. We want social to be more about passions and less about likes.”
“For both our personal lives and businesses, we’ve become pretty dependent as a society on Facebook — But, things have changed quite a bit over the years.
What used to be a great way for businesses to connect with fans and people that wanted to hear from you has now turned into primarily paid advertising.”
JD Wetherspoon recently created waves by quitting social media. They are a pub company in the United Kingdom and Ireland which owns 1,000 outlets bars and hotels. They had more than 100,000 Facebook followers and more than 6,000 on Instagram when they quit.
“Wetherspoon chairman and founder Tim Martin told the BBC he had always thought the idea that social media was essential for advertising was untrue. “We were concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers,” he said. “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever.”
Asked whether Wetherspoon’s move could start a business trend, Martin told the BBC that he hoped not: “Currently we’ve got a massive commercial advantage because everyone else is wasting hours of their time.”
A non-profit here in Australia also decided to leave social media for good. Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) had more than 150,000 Facebook followers, 1,200 Twitter followers and 20,000 Instagram followers.
“Today we leave social media for good.
We believe in smart people and dumb phones. We believe in human potential and intelligence. We believe in depth, nuance, simplicity, and complexity. We know social media is no longer democratic, led by advertising, and built off the same algorithms used by slot machine designers – it’s addictive, dangerous, and unhealthy.
Offline; we know and believe in the power of human relationships…
We don’t want to lower the bar and gamify real life human stories. We don’t want to be in a world where there are barriers between us and you. We don’t want a social media company telling us to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to make sure you can hear about what you already have selected you want to know by following AIME. Instead, we’ll use that money to employ a kid or a journalist or both, to write with depth on ideas that will allow us to make sense of the world and give us the tools to overcome the struggles that we face on this planet.”
“Facebook is now mostly a pay-to-play platform (you need to invest in advertising, making this more-challenging for non-profit organisations). It is more-difficult to see meaningful results from investing dollars in content to present organically.”
For me, I won’t be investing my time or attention to social media marketing in 2019. Instead, I’m going to be focussing my attention on my mailing list. I’m going to create good, free things to give to them and take care of the people who want to hear from me.
At this stage, I won’t deactivate my social media accounts… but I won’t be placing my attention there. I will take time to create thoughtful things, and share them via my mailing list instead.
What I recommend for other businesses
You – as the business owner – are the best person to make business decisions for YOUR business and what works for you.
If you are going to use social media, I DO recommend:
have an excellent strategy in place to move people from social media onto your mailing list
measuring your results so you know where your sales are coming from and where you should be spending your time
concentrating on your $$$ numbers, not your social media numbers.
And if you decide to move away from social media marketing, I recommend:
deciding what you are going to do INSTEAD to build and market your business. You’ll always need to market and share your story. Decide what works for YOU and your unique voice.
test what works. Play to your strengths.
measure your results so you know where to spend your time.
build your mailing list.
My point exactly.
This morning, my husband mentioned that Russell Brand is interviewing Byron Katie on his next podcast. He asked:
Did you see? Do you follow Russell on Facebook?
Of course I do. But I still don’t see shit from him. You know what social media is fucking like.
And that’s the point of it all, really.
If we love people and companies, we want to be able to hear from them. If we love our fans, we want to know we can share good things with them. And social media is increasingly not the best place for that to happen.
Tavi Gevinson used to do these awesome blog posts which were basically a collage of everything she was thinking about/creating/doing.
And I’ve been thinking I might like to do something similar. See if I enjoy it? See if it resonates?
Because there’s a lot of things piling around in my brain that feel important, maybe not important enough for an individual blog post, but also too important for a social media post.
Perhaps that’s because I think social media is increasingly a waste of time for both creators and readers.
It’s useless for readers who want to stay up to date on their favourite creators because the chances of you seeing what you want to see are next to nothing. And for creators, the chances of your work being seen is again – next to nothing. It’s like saying to a dear friend “Hey! I’ll meet you on Planet Earth!” and then never finding them again… or only by extreme chance, you know?
And I just think our creations and connections and relationships are more important than that bullshit. So I’ll be increasingly putting more energy and time into my mailing list because at least I know you’ll hear from me if you want to. I’ve got a bucketload of free stuff I want to create and give away, so I’ll do it through there.
Anyway, that’s by the by. I’m here. And I want to share. And I want to do it intentionally, and with heart.
Here’s what I’m doing/thinking/creating:
Yep – we’re moving again.
HO HO HO!
But this time! GASP!
We are only moving just down the road, not across the country!!
We are happy living in this region, and our eldest kid is at a school she loves, so we’ll stay around here for a while.
We needed to find a more permanent home as we’re in a smaller place with most of our belongings in storage. We also needed to find a place with potential for a granny flat incase we need to look after one of our ageing parents for a time.
We’ve ended up buying an acreage close by that has a house with an artist’s studio. I am THRILLED to be living back on acreage again. We left our Kuranda acreage four years ago and had no idea it would take us this long to be back on acreage again. But here we are. We’ve had so many adventures in the meantime. And now we get to love it and appreciate the experience even more.
Also: I know it can be hard to keep up with the moves I’ve had.
Here’s a list of the places I’ve lived in the last nine years:
Hilariously, we seem to be drawn to places starting with C/K. My youngest still gets confused between the words Kuranda and Canberra.
To continue with tradition, our next house is in an area called Cooroibah.
That will REALLY confuse the kids!
Another lovely piece of serendipity:
You know how I tend to call everyone possum? (Or blossom?)
Cooroibah is the Indigenous word for Place of Possum.
I no longer make promises any more about staying somewhere forever. We will be here for however long it’s right for us to be here. That may be a year or ten years. We will find out by going there!
But one thing I am noticing is how much more love and gratitude I’m feeling towards Mr D. For walking this path with me. For knowing so much of my story. For being that sage counsel when I’m losing my mind.
This month is our 18 year anniversary of finding each other. He’s been by my side for exactly half my life now. It feels like it, in a really lovely way.
I feel like I’m so much better equipped now at loving now, more qualified at understanding him. Our relationship has forced us both to grow and heal and become better humans. We’ve fought a lot, and gone to a relationship counsellor, and unravelled a lot of our family patterns, and worked out a way to form a true partnership with each other.
We will never be perfect – we are splendidly human after all! But I just feel honoured to be the one who gets to love him.
READING PROJECT CURRENTLY ON HOLD
I was going great guns with my project to read all my current books before I buy anymore. I even read 100 books in 100 days!
And now I’m on unexpected hiatus for a bit… I’ve been having lingering headaches and neck problems which is unusual for me. I have no idea if the reading is tied to it, so I’m taking a break to recalibrate to find the cause.
By the time I get back to the reading project, my book collection that’s in storage will be delivered, so my list of unread books will be substantially grown.
It’s been SUCH a bloody great course to do to get my feet wet again.
To be honest, I was feeling really nervous and unsure about what to do next after closing my Academy down after 9 years.
I thought I might need to partner with someone else to create something. But the idea for the book course floated through, and I thought it might be fun. So I caught it, and ran with it.
And it’s ended up being the perfect thing for me for right now.
I am LOVING having a contained experience to walk people through a project. I love the extra levels of accountability I can create. I am loving the engagement. And I’m loving the results… SO MANY people have already finished writing their books and we’re not even at the 40 day mark yet!
It’s thrilling me. It’s definitely given me a whole bunch of confidence and excitement. I am also LOVING using Kajabi as my new course platform. Makes me excited to create MORE THINGS! ALL THE THINGS! ALL THE IDEAS!
I love Ahn’s spirit (and my kids are rabid fans of his books). And I so deeply appreciate the compassionate way he interviews.
Tim’s story was fascinating – he has been this brilliant musical comedian for so many years, and everything he touches turns to gold. Like his award-winning Matilda musical – and his collaborations with orchestras.
And then he kind of went quiet for a while, and I figured he was overseas creating new miracles and continuing being the brilliant success he is.
And he was – he was directing a huge DreamWorks animated musical movie with huge stars involved. He spent four years working on it… only for the project to be cancelled when the company was bought out. He talked about the despair and pain of that time, about wishing he had those four years back to create something else with.
It really struck me you know – this idea of working so hard for something which doesn’t work out. I know Tim will go on to create splendid, insane miracles in other ways. I just wish we all could have gotten to see the outcome of his work.
I hope he takes all that pissed off energy, the sadness and disappointment, and weaves it into a new kind of gold.
And I’m grateful to know that sometimes our creative and business journeys take routes we don’t always want them to go. And that we’ll go on to create something more out of that experience.