I've made a major decision to leave the world's largest social network? You would think that as a content creator who is trying to promote myself that it would be brand suicide. Here's why I think the skeptics are all wrong.
When I started on Facebook back in the later half of the last decade, the network was invaluable to me. I was able to connect with friends from grade school and high school that I haven't been in contact with for years. I was able to catch up with former colleagues I've been out of touch with. It was a good time reconnect with people that have been out of my life for a very long time and get to know them again.
Over that period of time though, it seems that there's been less connecting on a personal level and more "look-at-me" posts. It was very disheartening. What started out as an awesome tool to link up with those that have been out of my life for decades in some cases turned into a digital pissing contest. Sure it started out slowly, but over time, I was inundated with family photos (some so poorly taken, they were beyond recognition), Internet memes and idol bitching about everything from their job to irate drivers to spouses and significant others. It was maddening.
Moreover, there were the privacy implications. In an effort to manage who was and was not able to see the content I was posting, I had to restrict public access to my profile - something that is rather purpose-defeating when it comes to social networking. The point of a social network is to be social and share, not hide my content.
For those familiar with the concepts of personal branding, Facebook is a nightmare. Since the introduction of the timeline to the platform, it's become increasingly harder to promote a personal brand or business on the network. Without granular controls over how and what content appears, every page looks exactly the same. What works well from a uniformity standpoint is monotonous to the user. Other than publishing your content, there is no way for a small business to stand out from the crowd, unless they invest in Facebook's ad promotion scheme, by which users pay money to promote their pages and, in turn, content. For someone like myself, that's a non-option.
So what's an independent content publisher to do? Well, unless your brand has a large following already on Facebook, there's virtually no way to organically grow your business. Facebook is forcing content developers and publishers to spend money to promote their content. To me it seems as if they're working around the notion that they want their users to pay to use the service, but don't want to the backlash they would otherwise receive if they imposed a membership charge each month. Instead, if you want what you post to be actually seen by the masses, you're pretty much faced with doing the exact same thing - paying to promote.
I'm not really sure what some people see in Facebook. Sure it is social, but only to a point. If you're not willing to invest cash into a marketing scheme and a majority of your audience isn't on the service, or those that are there are indifferent to your message, you'd get better ROI using Twitter.
Users who value their privacy will lock down their accounts to the point where it's no longer social, in turn making Facebook a closed society. In turn, it will make those businesses who rely on Facebook for marketing and product/brand traction with their constituents less reliable then in previous years. Everything about the direction that Facebook is headed, in an effort to maintain its revenue stream, will force people off the service. When people no longer use Facebook, its value in the eyes of it's remaining users decreases and as a result, value drops among business users.