The Social Media Marketer’s Burden: On Leaving Platforms

roofI saw it again today.

Every once in a while, someone I know professionally grandly announces that he or she is leaving a social media platform because it does not fit their needs. For some reason, that always bothers me. Why would someone in social media marketing – why would I – abandon a popular social platform, let alone announce that fact?

First, why should we question that? How each of us uses social media is personal. In the case of the post I saw today from Geoff Livingston, he decided to stop using Facebook to market himself because he felt it was, for him, a personal platform that should remain just that. I can respect that, I suppose, but I can’t see myself abandoning any platform I use with clients. I also am not trying to pick on Geoff (he writes, as he picks on Geoff), as I know there is more to the post than saying “Hey, a social marketer quit Facebook, that’s stupid.”

It did make me think, though – why not question it? By this measure I should abandon Google Plus because I get little to no traction there, or stop using LinkedIn because I represent a competitor (true, I refrain from talking about them publicly with this notable exception, but it is still part of our professional tool set); but I do neither.

Why? Here are the factors I consider as a social media professional using social media:

  • My Personal Use of Social Platforms is Experimental: Even if I felt Facebook were irrelevant in most cases, I would still feel the need to keep a presence there, to know what makes it tick in case it works for someone. By that same token, we keep accounts on more obscure platforms and tools, to find things that work, or even to save a space – and know how to use it – in the event it becomes big. I can’t fathom leaving something behind unless it is truly dead (just don’t get caught being the one pronouncing something “dead”).
  • Shiny Object Syndrome Turns Us All Into Dopes: Having just got through saying we should be on everything as communications professionals, we should also be wary of chasing shiny objects – and yes, I know saying that is old hat at this point, so stow it. That goes two ways: the first is not getting caught pronouncing something is big before it is just to declare yourself innovative (hello, Google Plus); the second is not dumping perfectly good tools chasing the new. I recall people declaring that LinkedIn- oops, there I go again – was dead and were abandoning it for Facebook. there is some tattered symmetry in Geoff’s pulling back from Facebook for exactly the opposite reason.
  • As Marketers, We Must Use the Tools: We are often judged by how we wield the tools ourselves. Would I expect a potential client to take me seriously if I declared self-hosted blogs to be dead because Tumblr is cool? No more than I would expect them to appreciate my shunning Tumblr because I think it is stupid (I don’t, by the way).

I appreciate that someone like Geoff has already shown an ability to use Facebook and will likely do so for clients. I also recognize that there are no (none, zero) absolutes in what I say. But for me, I’m not going to hop platforms in opposition to the logic of my work any more than I would hop lines at the supermarket because I think the next one is going faster (oh wait, I do that – see? No absolutes).

Photo: Michael LaMartin on Flickr


  1. I don’t know, Doug.

    Sounds more like Geoff is really just announcing he’s decided to cut bait. He’s not saying that Facebook is broken — just that the fish HE is trying to land aren’t there. He’s not quitting on his acquaintances, and he’s setting expectations going forward.

  2. Doug, I’ve made the same decision as Geoff and decided to use Facebook for personal posts and much, much less those associated with business.

    My rational: I get few interactions with business related posts. Not because people in my tribe aren’t there, but because…(still working on that one).

    I still use Facebook and advise businesses to do the same – via Pages. I also advise businesses to encourage their employees, customers and stakeholders to “like” said pages so that information can be transmitted to their newsfeeds.

    Instead, I’ve taken to using Twitter and LinkedIn more pro-actively for business. Google+…meh.

    But, unlike Geoff, other than by means of this comment, I’ve yet to announce that fact. I don’t really see the point.

  3. Geoff is the starting point, but not THE point of this post (in other words it’s not about him). I’m looking more at what it means as a marketer to be on these platforms, and to use them, not necessarily to marktet ourselves, but to show those who might buy our services that we know how to make them work- for them. I concede there are many different ways to do this.

  4. I don’t have clients that I need to manage so I don’t have that issue to deal with (thankfully). As a Marketing Technologist I investigate just about every new tech out there worth investigating and that goes to Doug’s point. You need to maintain awareness of what social platforms are doing and you can best do that by being there. The bigger point, IMHO, is that Facebook is now a black box where you don’t know who sees your content. Content is being “Edgeranked away” and if you want to increase eyeballs, meaning you want to reclaim your audience, you need to pay. That fundamental shift should cause social Marketers to rethink how they use Facebook personally and professionally.

  5. Well, Doug, I have a few issues with this post.

    1) My decision to leave Facebook as a personal marketing vehicle for my blog was metric based. Basically, statistically, I went were my traffic was coming from. Have I seen a decline Facebook traffic, yet. But I have easily quadrupled my Twitter traffic, far outweighing any loss from Facebook.

    2) You say I quit Facebook. I did not, so your post is misleading, and factually wrong. I still use it for clients, I still use it everyday on a personal basis.

    3) Frankly, your interest in maintaining a Facebook presence is highly personal, IMO. We’re in the business of marketing, not staying on networks because they are cool, or we like them or we don’t like them. It’s for that reason that I don’t abandon Google+. It has search value for marketing.

    There’s a difference between questioning and being consistently negative. I hope you’ll understand the subtlety there, Doug. When you post without factually grounding your work, you err towards the latter.

  6. – I agree that it’s a personal choice without right or wrong, full of nuance (read the post again).

    – I didn’t say you quit Facebook, though I characterized reactions in a mock hypothetical quote (read the post again)

    – Despite the small pain I went to to mention this post wasn’t about you Geoff (rather, I prefer to cite the source from which my thinking branched lest I be accused of passive-aggressive behavior), you seem to have come to that conclusion. (read the post again- but I guess I’ll have to be more clear on that point next time)

  7. Well, now you’ve made a fourth incorrect assumption. I don’t think this post has anything to do with me, rather it has everything to do with your thinking and its incorrect logic. I commented to correct several factual wrongs in your post. You can keep assuming what ever you want.

  8. Thanks for the thoughts, Doug.

    I came across this post as I was working on the complete opposite idea. Although I do social media consulting, and even run Facebook pages, my personal page is really just a placeholder. I never truly enjoyed the platform for my personal use. But I’ve wanted to grow it for some time, I just felt so far behind. So I’ve decided to use my personal Facebook page as a case study in growing a presence online. I’m doing everything social media consultants say not to do, as well as many of the things they say you should do. I’ll be measuring the results to see what works. And depending on what works and what doesn’t, the page could morph into a business-focused profile or it could become a look into my everyday life. Just thought I would share since it touches on this subject:


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