Last week I posted a “life event” on my Facebook timeline: “John Scott Put His Facebook Profile In Neutral.”
I decided to leave for three reasons:
1) frustration with Facebook's timeline algorithms
2) to see what effect my absence had on my blog traffic, and
3) because I really wanted to strengthen my relationship with my folks on Twitter.
I think Facebook can make you lazy when it comes to curating and sharing content; it's an easy default behavior. It's still, for old people, the place to see and be seen, and it makes total sense that millions of teens, tweens and Millennials have no need for the service any longer. There's also growing evidence Generation Z may be recoiling at the notion that every data breadcrumb we toss up online should live on forever.
Facebook's attempts to filter content that it deems boring or unengaging make sense if we assume that out of 800-1000 followers/friends, a bunch of content is going to be irrelevant on a daily basis. I won't bore you here with numbers and trends, but many have documented over the past year the shrinking amount of “influence” they have across the network. Here's one example, if you were not aware.
Not everything all of us post is going to be a photographic or literary blockbuster. We do want to filter some stuff, but Facebook has taken control away from us. In fact, It seems to me that Facebook simply wants everyone who uses their network to be an advertiser. “Pay us and we'll promote you!” the algorithms scream. It's the exact opposite with YouTube, which pays YOU when you're successful, and where your viewers aren't required to also be creators, curators or advertisers.
The writing on the wall: the service is past full maturity and has become older and slower to respond to market conditions. It's becoming less nimble. The corporate vision is to hunker down and do what they do, ignoring the signs that disruption is imminent.
We've seen this time and time again; it's no surprise we're witnessing maturity and decline of a brand now.
Facebook feels like that old-school mass appeal radio station that plays a bit of everything but specializes in nothing. The fact that Baby Boomers and senior citizens comprise all of the growth on Facebook proves the point. Old people are okay with talking with and sharing content with a crowd defined by numbers instead of interests.
Social media in 2014 will likely continue the trend toward specialization and specifics, not mass audiences and numbers. Twitter still feels relevant because you can filter, you can see almost everything you'd like to see, and nothing (yet) is intentionally truncated.
I don't know if I will stay away from Facebook forever. I haven't really missed it, and have had plenty of quality interactions on other networks.
But going back kind of feels like caving in, returning to an unhealthy relationship just because it's familiar, not because it's good for me.