Big shifts are happening in people’s use of social media for both personal and business purposes, thanks to the downsides of the advertising revenue and data mining models used by the big social networks. I see those ads, and I avoid clicking on them simply because I know I’m being manipulated. On the other hand, I understand the usefulness of the model; broadcast television and radio have been using it in the United States since both technologies began; it does cost money to produce the infrastructure and the content that we all partake of. Same with social media networks. Try setting up your own social network linked to your website and you will see how complex it is to run one of these things. “Free” is never really free; it can’t be and still operate.
Alternatives to the Ad Model
But there are other ways to structure broadcast and online content that don’t manipulate the user with ads and data mining and still generate income (although maybe not at the billion-dollar level). I am a fan of the freemium model used for a lot of software tools these days, at least as long as the free level has some real features to it. I think subscriptions are fine, too. Adobe’s don’t provide the best value for small operators like me, but other providers, like Netflix, provide great content (for a much larger audience) at a reasonable price.
I am both a user of social media as an individual and the owner of businesses that could benefit from the visibility provided by advertising on social media. I choose not to use paid advertising, but that doesn’t mean I choose to be invisible on social media. I prefer to develop connections over time in a number of different outlets and to develop quality relationships with customers and potential customers by being a helpful expert at the free level (blog posting, video), and then inviting folks to connect with me through my website for services that require payment. Slower customer development process, but still effective. The ripples of referral then create growth for my business.
Here are my social networks for 2019 and how I propose to use them, in case you find some value in my experience. 🙂
I do find FB useful for its groups in particular, and for staying in genuine connection with family in ways I never did without the ease of posting pics instantaneously. I’ve been amazed at how FB groups have grown from a confusing non-useful thing to the most interactive part of the network. The biggest problem with FB now is their corporate irresponsibility and greed that often comes with being too big. A number of my friends (and my children) have minimized their FB presence or left altogether, and I have great respect for this move. I choose to minimize for the moment, and see where my personal friends and family choose to migrate in the future.
I also have FB pages for my business facets. Without ads, the growth is slow, of course. I will be shutting down my pages and focusing on other networks for my business in the first quarter of 2019.
I ignored this one at first, but I currently find it useful for posting photos to both it and Facebook at the same time. Also, my children and neighbors connect with me on this network. Unfortunately, it is also owned by Facebook and works on the advertising model. I am still ruminating over how and whether to be on Instagram in future.
Although I have developed some real friendships, deep ones, with a handful of folks on Twitter, I have been appalled by their handling of fake news, etc., and their hypocrisy in deleting some badly behaving accounts and not others, so I have left Twitter for good.
This job-and-employee-candidate search network hasn’t ever served me well as a sole proprietor, at least so far. It does run at least partially on the advertising model, but the ads are not as intrusive as on other networks. I plan to maintain a presence, but a minimal one for now.
I have renewed my use of Pinterest (check out my boards here) to highlight a number of interests, including tips on website design. Pinterest isn’t really a social network now, if it ever really was one. But it’s a great place to collect information on topics of interest that you can share with others. It makes a nice visual browser search vehicle.
This is where I’m going in 2019 (you can find my MeWe profile here), both for business visibility and personal interaction. I’ve been testing out this new social network over the last several months, and I like their freemium model (no ads), their commitment to privacy (no data mining, etc.) and lack of censorship (although that means you have to be a little more discerning about what groups you join and who you allow to be a contact).
Being a lot smaller than some of the other networks, they don’t have all the same features set up, but I like the intimacy of one’s timeline only being posted to contacts and not the public (so far—they plan to add public posting shortly), and the focus on groups as a place to find folks with common interests. This way I can maintain a small group of actual contacts (“friends”) that I know personally, and use the groups function to share in a larger way or make my business blog posts visible. MeWe also has pages for businesses now that make posts visible to the public.
All that said, the owner’s commitment to privacy, no ads, etc. is just his commitment. Like all social networks, none of us users have ownership or ultimate control here, so it pays to stay aware and discerning with all of these networks. And if you do own a business that is visible online, it’s important that you have website territory of your own as a home base.
Regardless of the shifts in social networks in the future, I will always start with my own site first. That’s where I and my products and services will be, and where I can help you build your own website home, of course. 🙂