Facebook is What You Make It

I spent the better part of 2017 and 2018 really starting to loathe Facebook, wishing daily that I could delete my account. I couldn’t — I managed over 60k in ad spend monthly on the platform, and deleting my account meant quitting my career and effectively deleting my income. It was Trump’s election and his effect on those networks that fucked with me and still does, but I’m a little numb to it now. I’ll tell you why later.

For perspective, I managed ad accounts, writing organic content, creating some graphics and managing the estimates, performance on all of that spend for multiple clients with their own goals for an agency for the first time in my life. In conjunction with that Cambridge Analytica happened, and it completely sent Facebook into a frenzy of “what the fucks”, and knee-jerk policy changes that reset how the ad algorithm worked, dramatically. It felt like everything I learned from my pre-agency years of experience on the ad platform was suddenly pointless. The rug was effectively pulled out from underneath me.

Then I was handed an ad account that was 90k a month and asked, “Could I handle it”, by my bosses in what felt like in retrospective, a sit-down, like an honest, “Is this possible with what we have on-staff” aka, me? I said, sure. I was game for the challenge — did I fully understand what I was getting into? No, I didn’t, you never do when it comes to marketing.

That account turned out to make me hate social media more than I could have imagined. The level of work that went into managing those spend levels with the client’s expectations (including absolute shit tracking in place btw), plus my lack of full depth of experience/education in the ad platform. Then you just add on the shit storm that was caused by Cambridge Analytica. It set me up for failure and it fueled my distaste for working with and experiencing the platform as a user. I secretly championed the articles that called Facebook out for not seeing the obvious or letting it’s users see beyond the perfection it presented.

In the middle of my work stress levels rising and in my personal life issues (my fur-children experienced multiple health issues, eventually leading to their death). My husband was fired from his job and then hired to work for Facebook, well sorta. He worked for a company that was contracted to monitor content on the platform. I can’t talk about it, but Google the stories, there’s plenty of them and most of them are negative, and for a very good reason. I heard enough from him after the first month that I asked him to please no longer tell me about it.

I couldn’t handle it. I was sinking into a depression, I constructed a view in my mind that my source of income, my source of entertainment, my job was going to come crashing down in front of me.

I couldn’t love social media as I did before, it’s how I got my job 10 years ago, it’s how I found like-minded souls that inspired me. Everything was changing.

Then I started closely monitoring my time on social, plus I began seeking guidance from a mentor on how to navigate the obstacles presented to me at work and sometimes in my personal life. It gave me perspective, I was getting too myopic, not looking at the bigger picture.

As I was changing how I responded to everything, I was also handed multiple professional blows to my ego, and I was trying to keep from just fully letting depression sink in from the hits of losing my fur-children. I’m gay, I have zero plans to bring children into my life. These beings are my children. I hurt mentally, and physically. Seeing negative things in my Facebook/social media feed just made things worse. So investing time in caring about how things were changing in the platform was the least of my concerns.

Then I lost my job, inevitably replaced by restructuring, and probably my lack of true enthusiasm for the job. I even had a well-meaning coworker tell me long before I was let go that he noticed a change in me in proposing new ideas. He said I had suddenly become quieter in meetings over time. It’s true, I just didn’t care anymore, I was somewhere else. I was trying to find a reason to keep working on the platform, to keep up this career. Was it even worth it, was the mental impact worth it?

When I had the reset in thinking.

When I lost my job, I thought “oh shit”, for about 3 days. Then I went through all of my work, everything I had done, from the early event marketing days to the work I had backed up from my time at the agency. One thing stood out, an old presentation that I had made on how I marketed a local event.

When I marketed that event, I took on tactics I learned in class years before. I spent part of a semester creating a character on Facebook (my degree was nicknamed, “the Facebook degree” for a reason) in a storytelling class. For that campaign, I created “Sally”. Sally liked all the foodie publications in the area that the event was happening. I used her Facebook Newsfeed to understand what worked organically in the feed, it was my literal way to see what would Sally see. That’s how I derived my organic and ad content, targeting those event ads. It was highly effective.

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time on social, every platform, eventually learning the mechanics of them. I spent 755 hours on Facebook and Instagram alone in 2018. Why not use the platforms I use the most to reset my mental perspective? Why not game me during this shitty time to help me out?

So I started liking positive posts from friends, commenting, encouraging others across my networks, joining Facebook groups with like-minded people. Ok, I’ve increased the positive social in my feed. Now, I have to decrease the negative, so, I mostly refrained from liking posts that talked about what #45 is doing and how he’s causing the end of the world. If he is, ok, it happens — if not, then we’re still here and life moves on. I’m going to proceed with the positive mindset that we’ll be ok in the end.

After all of these subtle changes, Facebook so far, unless it is a major event has been fairly mute to consistent negative news stories of our current government and now leans more towards cats and dogs, and family photos + groups. It’s what I want it to be.

This long ass post with a vague title is mostly because I needed it. But, if you find yourself still reading this and thinking about how you look at Facebook, and thinking that your social feed is filled with negative things, just take a moment and remember – it’s just a reflection of what you’re engaging with — it’s a super-smart system, but it’s still a program at its basic level. It’s garbage in, garbage out and so is every other social network. Don’t hate on them, just look a little closer at yourself and also educate yourself on the basics of algorithms, or at least RFTM before you jump in.

I’m still buying ads on the platforms, I even quietly started a company that hopefully will become something. I believe in the opportunities presented by the platforms again, and the best part is — I’m doing really good at my job now.

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