Blogging without social media: Goodbye Social media. Hello Reality. A few months back I’ve decided to embark on a journey of moving away from social media. It’s been a few months since I’ve deactivated my personal social media accounts and only kept my business pages on the main social media platforms. These pages are only present for a front, as no boosts or constant content uploads have been made. They are simply there as a shadow presence, rather than an active and engaging channel. Before I jump into my results and findings, let me first share the reason behind this action.
First step was to recognize these platforms for what they truly are; virtual advertising platforms. Back when they began, they were social platforms that allowed people to connect. As time went by, they decided to push advertisements to those same users. Today, every other post is an ad desperately trying to sell something. I get it. Everyone wants to make money. But the least you can do is allow users to filter the ads you force them to scroll through. It has become absurd as they don’t seem to even present ads that may interest users.
Facebook has this function of interests. If you delete all the interests, advertisements can no longer target your account to display ads. Once you’ve cleared all your interests and your Facebook looks like when Facebook just began; only displaying posts of your contacts, groups, and pages you signed up for. So, what do they do? After some time, they ADD interests to your interest list. This way, you will be advert free for a short while, and then will begin seeing ads that you never even chose. Meanwhile, Instagram doesn’t even give you an option. All you can do is report the advert as irrelevant and hope they won’t be plastering it again every other post.
You can’t go dark, but neither do you want to continue this way.
There are ways you can use social media platforms and their limitations, to your advantage. Each of these platforms has its advantages and disadvantages. It is your job to see these and identify how you can make them work for you. I have covered a lot of these in my article on 10 tips on becoming a blogger tip no. 7.
It is no news to everyone that it is my favourite platform. Pinterest is the most developed platform from the traditional social media platforms I have used. It has all the tools for creatives and the majority of people registered on it are the type of people who are most likely to appreciate and look for your content. They have a great website integration system, which allows you to link posts directly not only to your site but also to specific pages and posts.
They now also allow video posting and their hashtags actually work (unlike most platforms). They also don’t have any of the pathetic rules on how active and engaged you are with other users in order for your content to rank, which allows users to actually have a life. I have also noticed that unlike other platforms, Pinterest content that was posted in the past is just as important in the present. It is not about who posts what and how engaged they are within seconds of content being posted. It’s more focused on giving users the correct content they search for, even if that content was posted a while ago.
Another important aspect of this platform is that it seems to have an image recognition software behind it, which helps modify results not in accordance with which accounts have a lot of followers or engagement, or even which hashtags are used. But by analyzing what the users are searching for and finding results that are the closest to what they are looking for, depending on the images users click on. So, this platform I am happy to continue using as I’ve done all along.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an ‘oldie but a goodie’, but it has earned some brownie points in the face of the PR scandals and constant downtime of its competitors Facebook and Instagram. Again, the platform is terribly out of date in terms of design and functionality. It has an annoying word limitation which would drive any blogger insane; however, I have to hand it to them, they do take websites into consideration. This allows bloggers to choose which image, title and description to display for every post and when the link is shared, Twitter happily redirects readers to the blog post. I will keep using it as I have before, as unfortunately there really isn’t much more that can be adapted on this platform.
YouTube isn’t a platform I use much. My medium is writing and I only use this platform to post occasional video content that I create to go together with my written work. I am glad to have avoided getting too involved with this platform, as it is just as controlled and money-driven as all the rest.
Many have heard of the recent shadow subscribers being deleted from channels. However, another issue that is not so commonly spoken of is channels and video content being removed, as well as active subscribers being deleted from channels. This situation doesn’t affect beauty, fashion, travel or lifestyle types of channels. It mainly affects channels that create the content of a serious nature and in certain regions. A YouTuber by the name Kamakadze D in Russia, recently noticed that his active subscribers have been removed from his subscribers’ list. His content does not go against YouTube’s regulations; however, it does address serious issues against the current power in the country. He even wrote to the main YouTube regarding this issue concerning his channel. It is interesting to notice how content that is posted pro-Russian power is never blocked and that which is posted against the current government seems to be blocked or shut down.
Once his subscribers realized that they were removed from his channel, they instantly signed back up and made sure to boost the engagement of his videos with likes, comments, and shares. This played well as this huge boost from the subscribers pushed his content to the top. However, it also comes to show just how controlled and very far from being fair and real these platforms really are.
I see it as the directory or yellow pages of social media platforms. With a totally outdated interface, terrible customization settings to pages and non-existent help centre (unless you have a billing issue), this platform is simply there to allow everyone to know you exist. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much that can be done on this platform, except share your content in groups and of course use their advertising tool to boost your posts, hopefully to the audience you instruct it to.
Facebook advertising to drive traffic increases the bounce rate immensely. It seems like the platform not only exposes your ad to random audiences which do not fit your targeting list but also utilize bots. By sending a bunch of bots towards your website, it causes an increase in page views at the cost of an extensively increased bounce rate.
Advertisement targeting is far from being advanced. The dashboard looks more complex than the system behind it. There have been too many times to count that I’ve noticed boosted content being sent randomly to people and countries that did not meet the parameters given to the system. Interestingly enough these seem to be at their peak towards the end of the advertising time, almost as though they intentionally want to utilize the budget, disregarding the set parameters that are given to them. Also, they are constantly changing the parameters of advertising targeting and do not indicate which parameter is no longer valid, nor do they simply remove it from your list.
I can’t even begin expressing my utter hate for this platform. It seems like this platform doesn’t even try to hide the fact that it is money-driven. It has no website integration for people like bloggers, to link to a specific post to an article, except in your bio section on your profile. It does not allow users to add a swipe up URL to a shared post on your feed. Heck, it doesn’t even have a basic function of creating a line break in the captions or any functionality through a computer.
Instagram honestly seems to be actively working against bloggers. It is filled with bots and shell accounts. It has a library of rules on what users have to do to get their content to be seen, which basically adds up to users not having a life outside their system. It only pushes content that is paid for. Oh, and it breaks down from time to time. The only upside to it is the stories and live functionality, which Facebook also has. But unlike Facebook, the quality doesn’t look like it is from the last century. Another huge downside that I think is particularly aimed against bloggers, is the inability to have the swipe up option unless you have 10K followers.
The platform is filled with shell accounts and bots, but recently I witnessed this on a whole new level. I created a new account for a project of mine and decided to post my first story. Just a few minutes after the story was posted this is what I saw:
from 7 views, 4 were bots, which yes is over 50% views that aren’t real views… On a brand-new account…
In terms of ads, it is pretty much the same situation as it is with Facebook. After all, they are apples from the same tree.
Perception is everything. You don’t have to go dark should you not wish to. If you are a business owner, you should definitely utilize the platform features to promote your business. Just keep in mind to take the results with a grain of salt. And even though this game is rigged against you, it does not define you or your business. You find that freedom that others seek and attempt to capture, just by realizing that a virtual platform does not have the power to access your work. It is only here to make money from your efforts.
Social media is not reality… Not even close to it.
In a nutshell, social media is not reality. It is a filtered, carefully crafted illusion that desperately attempts to mimic experiences from life. In doing so, users are cut off from the very experiences they try to replicate on screen. It is controlled and most importantly, it is all about making money. Real-life is not all about money. There is a lot more to it and even though these platforms exist today, becoming aware of their true nature will bring you one step closer from stepping out of this money-driven game.
You may think you will gain nothing from seeing them for what they are. However, you’d be surprised. You might actually be gaining the one thing that even the owners of these platforms may never have; freedom. The freedom to choose not to allow virtual likes to judge you. The freedom to not place your value into a virtual platform that has made sure to keep you on your toes and making you feel like you must pay more to be worth anything. And finally, the freedom to live your life and experience the moments that many try to replicate and capture to later post online.
Social media: If you don’t want to join them, Set your own rules
If you find yourself not liking where you currently stand with social media, you are not alone. I’ve been thinking of the best way to tackle this issue because, for one, I wanted to minimize the time I dedicated on the false reality. One of my most valuable resources is time and it is one that is limited, so what I spend my time on is very important to me. As s blogger, I can’t completely go dark. I began my journey by turning off all the notifications and sounds on my devices, to never hear any of them. Shortly after the feeling of having to constantly engage and constantly live the virtual life still haunted me. This is when I decided to cut off from this toxic virtual world entirely by deactivating my personal account (which were the main points of contact on these platforms).
Before I went ahead and did this, I worked out a plan to go through all my blog content and to optimize it, in order for it to be at it’s best. The thought of social media playing such a huge part in building a bridge between the content and audience was taunting me and the only way I could calm the mind was by making sure I did everything possible to make the existing content reach those who search for it. Call me old school but I would rather spend my time focusing on optimizing my website and articles to reach a larger audience than play into the monetary games of social media platforms which are trend-bound and will eventually cease to exist.
Part of the optimization process was to find a tool that will allow me to cross-post new content without having to actually log into the business pages. I managed to achieve this with Blog2Social. This tool allows me to spend a few minutes to vamp up the description of a post and with just one click to cross-post the newly published article to all connected social media business accounts and pages.
Social media of the future
Social media platforms, as everything today must evolve. As they have passed the stage from being social platforms to allow people to connect worldwide, to become virtual advertising platforms, now it is time for them to develop further. We are currently living under the impression that for their presence in our lives, we, as users, must take on all the rules they currently setting, and be grateful for their free access to all.
With such a way of thinking, a new development has been taking root which is building its foundation on the absolute opposite understanding. Blockchain social media platforms, although not as famous to date, are based on the concept that users should be paid for their time and engagement. Although the mechanisms behind blockchain technology and the social platforms are a little complex, the basis is that everyone, whether you are commenting, sharing, liking, posting or constantly engaging with other users, everyone deserves to get a share.
This may be hard to comprehend as we were taught that if something comes free to us, we should be silent on all the rules and changes that the mechanism brings about in the future. That the fact that we are allowed to use the platform for free, we automatically have no say in its development. Although ironically, those who run the system are the ones that make the money from our participation. Which all in all makes the current outdated social media system a one-sided payday. Blockchain social media platforms see this situation fairly unfair and take into consideration that without the users, their technology would cease to exist. And for that reason, the user participation and time spent on their platforms should be rewarded accordingly.
It’s been 3 months since I hit the deactivation button on social media and I won’t lie, my life has changed…
I won’t say that I had a certain itch or that I constantly wanted to check my profile. The apps were muted for a few months prior, so I didn’t all of a sudden reach to my phone and need to check my virtual rating. Although the first 2 weeks felt strange. I noticed how all of a sudden, these empty time gaps appeared in my day. I noticed that I began to have some free time during my day, here and there. It felt strange at first as it was almost as though I was forgetting something I had to do. Not too long after, I found other things to occupy that empty time with, and it had nothing to do with a phone or a virtual platform. These little free time slots amounted to quite a batch of time, which felt like I took back into my possession.
As for the technical aspect of my exit from social media, it was surprising. There was a heavy drop in website visits in the first 2 weeks. However, within the drop of traffic, I also noticed that the quality of visits got richer. Social media platforms seemed to have driven numbers, but not necessarily quality users.
The bounce rate decreased and after the first 2 weeks, rich organic traffic was flowing in, raising the overall website visits to numbers previously seen with social media. The traffic graph is now looking healthier than ever, without any rapid crazy highs and crazy lows.
Something that caught my attention was the quality of visitors. It occurred to me that the majority of users on social media may not necessarily be the type of users for blog content. It is a theory that came to mind, however having pulled the plug on social media, the results seemed to have proven it. The majority of users on Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram, did not seem to be the users that would take the time to read written content (percentage-wise), as to those users who specifically search and come across the content via search engines. And this makes sense when looking at it from a practical human perspective. Traditional social media platforms are focused on fast-paced content, imagery, and opinions. Written blog content requires the user to step out of this ‘fast-paced, swipe – swipe – like – swipe – comment – swipe’ rhythm. From a practical and routine perspective, it makes sense that the majority of social media users may simply not be the perfect audience pool for written blog content. It is like placing a print advert of a child’s school uniform store into a motor vehicle magazine. The two aim at very different audiences, however, a small overlap may happen.
As a conclusion, it was quite an experimental journey I decided to take on and I am glad to have stepped out of the main social media trend and see things for myself. This decision has allowed me to take back a resource, my time, that I never even noticed was taken from me. It has also placed my mind at ease in regards to there being a centralized authority, which is the only route everyone must take. Despite the information we are bombarded with, businesses such as social media platforms, do not run the world. That indeed is a satisfying piece of information to be aware of, as a centralized method or the ‘one-route for all’ can bring about a one-sided payday for a very small group, while the rest have no say. Competition allows us to choose from many different routes and also pushes towards innovation, rather than simply business.