TagSocial Media

The Three Percent

Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits

I’d argue Facebook is a waste of time and money for any group or organization where your goal is to grow your following. But let’s hear it from an arts non-profit.

The Center for Artistic Activism discusses their experience with their Facebook group.

We currently have 4,093 “fans” of our page on Facebook.

These 4,093 fans were gained over years of activity and posting. They do not pay for followers, choosing to use their dollars on furthering their goals of artistic activism, rather than enriching one of the largest corporations in the world.

Screenshot of C4AA’s Facebook analytics. Courtesy of Steve Lambert.

This shows how many people (anyone, not exclusively fans of our page) have seen our posts over the past three months. With a few exceptions, you can see most posts don’t reach more than a tenth of the number who have opted to follow our page. In recent weeks, we’ve reached an average of around 3 percent.

3% of their audience is seeing their posts.

People think the Facebook algorithm is complicated, and it does weigh many factors, but reaching audiences through their algorithm is driven by one thing above all others: payment. Facebook’s business model for organizations is to sell your audience back to you.

If you pay Facebook, more of your audience will see your posts. If you don’t pay Facebook, you’re better off screaming into the night. Or posting flyers on a telephone pole.

Do we think that Facebook is turning the internet from an autonomous, social democratic space into an expanding, poorly managed shopping mall featuring a food court of candied garbage and Jumbotrons blasting extreme propaganda that’s built on top of the grave of the free and open web? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I love this description of Facebook. It also reminds me of the food court in Tysons Corner mall. For those outside the area, think of the last time you were in an airport. Now turn the televisions up louder, make the seats less comfortable and add a dozen screaming/crying children and you’re off to a good start.

Defriended

I have been off Facebook for a few months now. I have thought about it for a long time. I am friends with a lot of people on the site. There are a few people who I 1) care enough about to follow their lives and 2) can only connect with them through Facebook.

Some people have blogs. Others I can keep up with on Twitter or Instagram. For the rest, I do miss keeping up with them and their hijinks with their kids.

And I haven’t found a good solution for them.

I want to reopen my Facebook account so connect with those few people. If I do, I am going to go through my list and unfriend most of the people there. (Unfriend is such a harsh word. And they use it purposely.) We are not Facebook Friends™.

My biggest problem with Facebook is the endless striving for more! More people, more connections, MORE FRIENDS!

When I deactivated my account, its first solution was to suggest that I connect with more people. As if that was the problem… Not enough friends.

If I reactivate my account, I am going to pair the list down to those few people. I know Facebook will continue to show me friends of friends and people they think I might like. And people who commented on a post they made one time.

I don’t care about their family members.
I don’t care about their friends.
I don’t care about their co-workers.
I don’t care about…

I care about the people I care about enough to friend. The End.

And that’s the problem with Facebook. There’s no money in it for them for me to keep my social network small. And that’s where we disagree.

Facebook is not important enough for me to fight that fight. It’s not worth my time to keep fighting Facebook’s interests.

Most importantly, I haven’t missed it. I haven’t opened the browser or downloaded the Android app since I deleted it back in October. It’s not a part of life I find missing.

Do I want to reopen that door?

Curated Lists

I have a Facebook list, a Twitter list, a Tumblr list. I used to have a well-manicured LiveJournal list and to date myself and at the risk of geek cred, back in the early 00’s I had a Xanga list. All of these lists contribute to the information I get. They’re the structure I’ve built to keep in touch with friends and to follow the writings and art of interesting people. But most importantly, they are how I consume data. These trusted advisors to my news gathering are my information network.

I don’t watch traditional news anymore. I haven’t in years. Probably since I was required to when I was an Advertising student in college. I hate the news. Most of what is on reported is spun and unpleasant. I don’t care who died in a shooting today or a car bombing. I don’t care what the Republicans and Democrats did or didn’t do. Most of these things have absolutely no bearing on my life, daily or in the bigger scheme of things.

In Richmond, the nightly news contained murders. Lots and lots of murders. No longer atop the United States’ list of deadliest cities, at last count it was still in the top 10. Do I need to know who got shot today? I don’t. I know it matters to someone somewhere. But in my life, it does not matter to me.

What if something big and important happens? Then I’ll find out about it through my lists. I found out about Princess Diana’s death via someone randomly popping into the chatroom I was in and announcing it. I first saw the 9/11 attacks via instant message, then a roommate pounding at my bedroom door. I don’t need the talking heads of our national and local news networks to tell me these things. If it’s important enough to warrant my attention, someone else from my lists will bring it to me.