I have been engaged in an uncomfortable relationship with Facebook for many years now.  At one stage I broke it off, left it for a few years, then re-engaged. With renewed commitment and the best will in the world, I have to confess that I still don’t love it. I still feel a heaviness in my heart when I click on it, and a sense of disconnectedness when I am engaging on the platform. 

So why would I not stage another more permanent break-up, you’re wondering? I guess I was just afraid to be different, which is a bit rich coming from a speaker who is always telling others to have the courage of their convictions. So then I asked myself, if Thembe Khumalo was a client of mine what would I say to her about her personal brand and its relationship with Facebook?  Well, I wouldn’t tell her anything.  I would simply ask a few questions:  

  1. Why are you on Facebook?  

The “Why?” Question is one we ask clients all the time, and we are no longer amazed at how often people don’t have a good reason for the things they are doing.  Sometimes they do have a reason, but it’s so vague and general that it may as well not be a reason.  My reason for being on Facebook was that I thought it would be a good way to grow my brand online, to reach audiences with my content and to engage with them so that I can know more about what they need from me. 

2. Is it doing what you have employed it to do for you?  

This one would elicit one of the “Yes and also no,” responses that can be very tedious. Facebook does help me reaching audiences, but because of the way I use it, it’s not delivering the level of engagement that it should. And the reason I use it that way is because I am so uncomfortable with it that I spend the least possible amount of time on the platform. 

By this stage it would not take a rocket scientist to tell the client that the chances of a rewarding relationship were not good. But there would be a chance that it could still be salvaged, so we would proceed to the third and final question:

3. Are you prepared to make the necessary adjustments to make it deliver?

This question speaks to investments in time, level of interest and perceived benefit. If my client Thembe wasn’t prepared to invest some effort into repairing her relationship with FB, then, ladies and gentlemen I would call it a wrap.

I would also point out to my client that there is in fact more harm than good being done if you are on a platform and you misuse it.  If you are slow to respond to your community, inconsistent in your delivery of content, and failing to create deeper engagement, then you are likely to alienate rather than attract the kinds of people you want in your community.  You are better off not being at the party, than being there and behaving badly! 

Yes, I work in the media, and I recommend social media to clients on a daily basis, so it would seem kind of odd if I don’t use it myself.  But the truth about any media platform is that not every platform is right for every brand or even for every season in a particular brand’s life cycle; and that is exactly what we demonstrate to our clients every day. Facebook may well have the largest number of users of any social media platform but that doesn’t mean those people will automatically gravitate to your business.  Nor does it mean those are the people you want as customers. Once we recognise that everything isn’t for everybody, that we have to have a lot of clarity about which customers we really, truly want; that we should focus on only the best ways to reach them rather than trying out all the possible ways to reach them; then we can begin to build an effective strategy for communicating with them.

So for me, that means bye-bye Facebook for my personal brand.  

But remember, it doesn’t have to mean the same for you.