Returning to Facebook

Waving goodbye

(Image: sergios)

(Posted on May 14, 2011)

Believe it or not, I recently contemplated returning to Facebook, though for a different reason than most may think.

Review of why I deleted Facebook

First off, just to clarify, all the original reasons I had for deleting Facebook still stand. When I deleted facebook, it was in January this year (2011). A large part of why I deleted my account can be summed up to the following reasons:

  1. Facebook became a time-suck rather than a value-adding tool.
  2. As far as connecting with real-life life friends is concerned, I’m able to do that perfectly fine via other tools such as text messages, phone, and email. Facebook served little purpose in this regard. If anything, it added a lot of “noise” in my relationships to others. There were too many alerts and notifications, half of which didn’t mean much in relationship building.
  3. Facebook was doing a lot of funky things, like adding a whole list of features which I have zero use for (Games, Events, Groups, etc.), having an opt-out rather than opt-in approach which generated a lot of spam in the process, doing an average job in their spam management, and so on. I was getting a huge bunch of alerts that I had to repeatedly, manually unsubscribe from (due to the opt-out vs. opt-in thing). None of them had any relevance to me.
  4. I had no use for the Facebook inbox and felt frustrated at the inability to turn it off. I felt like I had an extra inbox to check and extra messages to process every day, all of which could be avoided if they just gave you the option to turn it off. But of course, Facebook wouldn’t want that as it would lose the appeal of having a Facebook account for others. They want people to have a reason to visit it repeatedly every day.
  5. Due to #3 and #4, my Facebook account became a pain to maintain. I was using my FB personal account to connect with readers, and since the inbox/events/groups can’t be turned off for personal accounts, I was getting a lot of spam. Also, I was receiving a lot of private messages from readers; messages which have already been addressed on my contact page to begin with. With 5,000 friends, this problem is heavily compounded. Since most people don’t use Facebook for the same purpose as I do (to connect with blog readers), I recognize this issue is isolated to me.
  6. The Personal Excellence Facebook Page (with over 3,000 likes) was made redundant after setting up the Personal Excellence Forums. Readers were gathering in two different places, one at the Facebook page, and another at the PE Forums, and it was dividing the community. As part of building the PE community, it made more sense to ax the FB fan page and direct everyone to PE Forums, which is a dedicated forum for PE users and is a better place to enable everyone to achieve excellence in life.

Improvements to my life after deleting Facebook

It’s now May and four months since I’ve deleted Facebook, and all of the things that I reported in my Life without Facebook update are still valid.

Firstly, I don’t miss it at all as far as connecting with real-life friends is concerned. After deleting Facebook, I suddenly gained a lot more clarity about my relationships with friends and where they stand. I realized that FB gives a lot of us an illusion of connectivity because we’d be seeing each other’s wall updates and status feeds.

But when the dust settles and everything clears, you get a clear sense on how close you are with friends, which relationships have been lacking, which friends you’ve been drifting away from, which relationships require more work, and so on. It became apparent who I’d not been in contact with for a while, and that it was time to arrange a meetup and catchup, vs. using wall updates, status feed, and profile pages as a sorry excuse for being in touch.

I feel like I’ve progressed so much more in terms of building authentic relationships with others in the past few months, vs. the 1-2 years when I was managing my fast growing FB list of 5,000 friends. Rather than manage my Facebook profile and checking who’s doing what, I now make it a point to meet up with good friends and acquaintances every week and get to know each other on a more personal level rather than through surface-level wall updates.

Secondly, I’ve also been relieved of a lot of the spam and communication clutter, mostly created due to poor functionality on FB’s part. No more extra inbox to check, no more alerts on events/groups I’m not interested in, no more alerts of friend requests which I’m unfortunately unable to add because of the 5,000 friends limit on FB.

Thirdly, I’m able to concentrate on community development at PE Forums, now that there’s 1 single spot for people to gather. In the past few months, there have been strong bonds fostered. We now have 750 active members, many of them who visit several times a week, and many high-value discussions brewing. The challenges from the past months (Apr 30DLBL, Million Dollar Challenge, Blogging Intensive Bootcamp) have drawn everyone together even more.

Why I’m returning to Facebook

Where Facebook comes back into the picture, is my realization that there’s a group of Personal Excellence readers whom I may be missing out on. While there is the PE Forums, it’s more catered for community building and meeting other like-minded people on the journey of growth. I realized there may be members/Personal Excellence readers who are just looking more to connect on a personal level with me, just as I want to connect with them as well. They may not be interested to be part of a larger community in growth and partake in all the discussions/value-added resources the forums has to offer (yet), so joining PE Forums will be irrelevant to them. Connecting on Facebook, however, isn’t.

One thing is I very much miss after deleting FB is the 1-1 connection with all of you on my old Facebook account. The regular wall conversations with you guys, how I can immediately pose a question asking for help on my feed and get your insightful replies within half a day, being able to get instant feedback on the things I’m planning next and the posts I’m writing now, etc. These were great parts of having a FB account in the past; it was just that the spam issues were so serious that it outweighed the benefits.

But I love connecting with people. Most importantly, I love connecting with you guys and I don’t want to stop. The reason I started Personal Excellence is to connect and reach out to all of you. When that’s missing, there’s little incentive for me to write any further. When I lost that personal connection with all of you after closing my FB account, many days I felt like I was writing to no one, like a blank void in the universe. While I knew that thousands of people would be reading my next entry, I had no idea who was going to be reading, for what, what they were like in real life, etc. The whole blog began to feel empty. Meaningless in fact, like I was writing for the sake for writing.

All of you are people whom I’ll love to know better, put a face to, and connect as individuals vs. a blob of statistics in my analytics account. The former is what motivates and inspires me on my path; the latter means nothing to me at all, other than for measurement and tracking purposes. I don’t blog to get higher numbers on my blog counters, though it may occur as a result of blogging. I blog to connect with all of you.

I also recognize that removing my FB and closing my contact form from personal contact (for good reason) may have distanced myself away from all of you, and that’s far from what I want.

I want to be accessible to all of you reading at the blog. I want to know who you are and why you’re here. I want to know how you’re doing, whether you’re well, what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling. I want to use scalable methods to remove as many walls between us as possible (that can be extended to all other readers without a serious detriment to my life).

This is why I’ve been thinking of a solution to address this. And I think I may have found the solution by way of a Facebook page. :D

Re-starting a Facebook Page

Since Facebook is the dominant social media tool today, it makes the most sense to leverage it as a platform to connect with all of you. Most people use Facebook as a tool of convenience, so it is the best medium to reach out to the masses, for better or worse. As long as Facebook as a service delivers value to others, it’ll continue to play a role in my outreach to you guys.

So yesterday, as part of my plan to bridge the gap above, I created a new Facebook page.

There are several things that make me believe it’ll be different from my previous experience:

  • I’ll be connecting with all of you via my FB Page vs. FB personal account. This means previous issues surrounding inbox, events and group spam won’t exist anymore. Finally, I get to use it purely as a platform where I can connect with all of you, without barriers — the way I want it to be.
  • Since it’s a FB Page, there’s no limit of 5,000 friends. That means I can now connect with as many of you as possible. This was previously an issue as I couldn’t add anyone after 5,000 friends, and it was frustrating not being able to approve new readers trying to add me.
  • There’s no need to manually approve new members to the page vs. a FB personal account, where you have to authorize each add. This makes it much easier to maintain.
  • FB has added a new function, where you can use FB as your Page account, not your personal account. That works out great for me, as I have no use for my FB personal account. In terms of administration, it’s a huge plus.
  • The FB page is for me as a person (rather than a Personal Excellence page), since I’m creating the page to connect with all of you individually. It’s not a page for community building – Where community building is concerned, PE Forums is the one place for people passionate about personal excellence. In short, FB = Primary me connecting with you and vice versa; PE Forums = Everyone connecting with everyone else.

Hence, there’s sufficient reason to believe that the previous issues I experienced with FB wouldn’t resurface. As for the rest, I can only know when I start using it, which is what I’m doing now. I’ll be using the page a trial run for the next few months to see how it goes. Given time, I’m sure all will reveal itself. :D

The unique role that FB serves here is that it is a great tool to connect with people who are not in your active circle (meaning, these people are not within your immediate reach). For example, friends who traveled overseas to study/work. Friends who are migrating to a different country. Acquaintances from work and business. In my case, it’s to connect with all of you out there. :D

In light of the above, I do not see the use of Facebook as a backtrack at all, since I’m not returning to use FB in the same capacity as before. Rather, I take it as a step forward as I’m now clearer of the purpose that FB serves in my life/business/work and how to best use it for that purpose, and I’ve learned how important connecting with all of you is to me.

Speaking of which, I hope you know that while this is a Facebook Page and most people use pages as a way to “idolize” or “cult-ize” a person or a celebrity, I in no way see this as such. My sole purpose for creating this page is to connect with you, one-on-one, person to person, human to human. It’s not to attain or gain some popularity status, or anything like that. I don’t see myself as a celebrity, or as a guru, or an expert, or higher than anyone, which is quite frankly, absolutely ridiculous and full of crap. I’m using an FB page because it’s most suited for what I want to achieve here, functionality-wise (for reasons cited above). I’m only here as someone who earnestly wants to connect with you and know you as a friend in life; someone who’s passionate about your growth and wants to be with you in your journey of growth as well, just as I’ve been doing through the blog and everywhere else.

Regarding my FB personal account, I have no plans to use it at all. I only created an account because you need to have an FB account to create an FB page. My personal account has zero friends at the moment and will probably stay that way unless something changes.

If you’re an FB user, the great thing about “Liking” the page and being a part of it includes:

  • You now get a new channel to get instant updates on latest Personal Excellence posts (on top of the newsletter, which you should most definitely join if you’re not on it yet)
  • There may be special offers and prizes exclusive for the Page members from time-to-time (e.g. new, free ebooks)
  • By being part of the page, you’re giving me the chance and honor to know you personally, which I’ll deeply be grateful for. I sincerely want to know all of you who read the blog, see your faces, and get to know you as people and common souls living in the same world.
  • You now have an easy channel to share your feedback/comments/appreciation on the blog and the blog posts. After closing the comments a year ago, some readers may have missed out on the opportunity to share their thoughts on the posts (if you don’t know, you can still comment on the posts in PE Forums, but it may not be convenient for non-forum members). With the Facebook page, blog posts are posted on the wall instantly, and you can easily reply there.
  • We get to connect with each other on a personal level! I make it a point to review the wall posts and reply to each post where necessary.

Thank you so much for your support and I look forward to growing together with you. :D

Update June 2018: Because Facebook is a constantly changing platform, I find that my relationship with it kept changing over the years. After years of using the Facebook page and trying to make it work, I found other issues that led me to first deactivate my Facebook page (with 20,800 likes and a verified status), and later reactivate it — but only because it is a convenient way for existing users to keep in touch with PE updates. I no longer invest effort into my Facebook page but instead focus on connecting with my readers through my blog and newsletter. I share more here: Why I Deleted My Facebook Page with 20,800 Likes