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What I know about being off Facebook

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part of an ongoing series documenting my social experiment as a former Facebook user. The observations and opinions expressed here are mine and do not in any way reflect those of my employers.

I got an email from a friend the other day saying she missed me on Facebook. It’s not the first such email, and it won’t be the last. It has been more than two months since I deactivated my Facebook account — again. And although I don’t miss it —  I do like not being on the world’s largest social network — this time around confirms what I discovered last fall: Being off Facebook makes for some weird real-world situations.

Unlike last time, I just deactivated without a lot of fanfare. This time there were no pleas for me to stay. No questions why. This time I made a clean break: For 24 hours, my status said, “I’ll be back. Promise.” And then I was gone.

After eight-plus weeks, I’ve found plenty of ways to keep busy — and more real-world social weirdness. I told a friend that because I’m not on Facebook that it’s as if I’m persona non grata. I have gotten (what seems to be?) cold shoulders from co-workers and former co-workers because they (might?) think I’ve defriended them. Even worse, I’ve lost a meaningful connection with co-workers and former co-workers whom I actually like — not to mention re-formed bonds with the college friends whom I truly love. Case in point: I’m just now catching up on plans for a 20-year reunion — but I’m not blaming the organizers. Facebook definitely makes it easier to orchestrate such events. If I’m not on Facebook, I have to work that much harder to be included.

But I don’t mind.

When I logged on after the first break, I found that as much as things change, the more they stay the same: I was losing the same 20 minutes every day that I had been losing before I logged off. And it was a precious 20 minutes. I had not deactivated my account because I think I’m too cool for Facebook; I did it to find some lost time because I am too easily distracted by — well, everything. Facebook was a crippling diversion for me at home. Away from work, every minute counts for me. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I needed to eliminate distractions that ate up my free time. Facebook was one of those distractions.

“But do you miss it?” That’s the question I get when I mention I’m a former Facebook user. The answer is no, not really. There are just so many things about Facebook I don’t like, such as its creepy “sharing” initiative or the classic overshares from the Chardonnay Moms or the chain-prayer posts. I have to admit, though, there are some things I miss. As a journalist and marketing/ecommerce student, I miss seeing what the marketers are doing with the brand pages. As a friend, I miss seeing what my friends are doing, how their kids are growing up. I miss seeing what my teenage niece is up to or the beach photos from North Carolina that make me homesick. All of which is more reason for me to make a real-life effort to connect — and to stay logged off.


NEW: Thinking about logging off? Baby steps for the Undecided<


EARLIER: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook


YOU NEED TO KNOW: Mashable on Facebook’s auto-sharing feature


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From YouTube: Facebook Nervous Breakdown

I did return to Facebook after deactivating my  account.

I do have more to write about logging off the site; however, I don’t have time right now because I need to ‘like’ some things on Facebook.

Right now, I want to share something I found on YouTube via Facebook: the Facebook Nervous Breakdown by tmusic406. At the time of this writing, the video had 194 views.



EARLIER: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook


YOU NEED TO KNOW: Mashable on Facebook’s auto-sharing feature



One month off Facebook

It has been a month since I deactivated my Facebook account.

When I sat down to write this, I really believed I’d have more to say about it, and then I realized that I risk repeating what I wrote in my last post about logging off. However, I do have at least one observation to share.

But first I want to make clear that when I deactivated my account, I didn’t do it to because I think I’m too cool for Facebook; I did it to find some lost time because I am too easily distracted by — well, everything. Facebook was a crippling diversion for me at home. Away from work, every minute is precious to me. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I needed to eliminate distractions that ate up my free time. Thirty days later, I have found that time, but I’ve also found myself in a weird social space: People assume I know something simply because it was posted on Facebook.

“You didn’t read that? I linked it on my Facebook page.”

“Ohmigod! Funniest picture ever! Go see it on my Facebook page.”

“Did you see on Facebook that Joe changed his relationship status to single?”

Um, no. Why don’t you tell me about it?

My husband asked me recently if I miss it. The answer is still no, but I do miss people – just not Facebook and its creepy “sharing” initiative, although I do want to test drive the Timeline and the Gestures, just for my own edification, to see what all the fuss is about.

Maybe in November. Maybe never.

NEW: How to leave Facebook: A beginner’s guide


EARLIER: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook


YOU NEED TO KNOW: Mashable on Facebook’s auto-sharing feature



No Facebook: Week 3

Did I log off Facebook too soon?

I was asking myself that last week when Facebook’s most recent redesign sparked an outcry among users. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I’ve missed the “huge” changes, all the rage, all my friends’ comments about how they feel about it. I got an eyeful of brief opinions on Twitter, but not enough to overdose. (I can log off Twitter more easily than I could Facebook.) Now folks are saying they’ll quit Facebook, but social media watchers are saying no, they won’t.

But I had already quit Facebook. Was it time to go back?


Although I want to see how the brand pages might look and how marketers would respond to the changes, I’m enjoying my time from Facebook. Right after I logged off, I noticed my life seemed quieter; it was something I couldn’t explain. Then my friend Terry pointed out that social media carries an obligation: If we’re logged on, we are expected required to respond. On Facebook, I felt I was required to respond to everything, no matter how large or small. After I quit Facebook, I felt like something had been deleted from my daily to-do list. I realized what I was feeling was relief.

That’s not to say there aren’t some things I miss about being on Facebook: I miss keeping up with my niece who just started high school. I miss keeping up with my best friend from college. I miss seeing what people are saying about Allstate’s Mayhem commercials.

But I don’t miss spending 16% of my online time looking at strangers’ Lady Gaga photos. And after reading about the creepy Timeline and auto-sharing features, I miss Facebook even less.

I still can’t say whether I’ll stay gone from Facebook forever. Deactivating my account was an experiment to eliminate some distractions. I told my friends I would be gone just for a little while, and then I set an end date for Nov. 1. But I’m not sure I’ll log on after that. I’m finding that there is life outside of Facebook, and I like it.

EARLIER: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook


YOU NEED TO KNOW: Mashable on Facebook’s auto-sharing feature



How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook

ED’S NOTE: Amended Sept. 13, 2011, for clarity.

I have done the unthinkable: I have deactivated my Facebook account. That was three days ago, three years to the day that I joined Facebook.

I had joined Facebook in 2008 as my personal 9/11 Project. Each year I do something to change my life for the better. Sometimes it’s big; sometimes it’s small. It’s my way of reclaiming my autumns. I started this several years ago when I realized that if I didn’t do something – anything – that perfect September days would forever be tarnished by the terrorist attacks of 2001. It isn’t that I want to forget that day; I just want to go forward – with hope. In 2008, I wanted to reconnect with people I had lost touch with. And I did. I made it a project, and Facebook helped. These people mattered to me; I wanted, I needed, to know them again. Now I do, thanks to Facebook.

But with the good came the bad, the ugly and the mundane. Several times, I found myself overdosing on information that I didn’t need, and so I’d uninstall the app from my BlackBerry and later, my iPhone. Then I would re-install it less than 8 12 hours later.

My friends need to know about my vacation, commute, dinner, dammit!

A recent Monday night, I found myself logged on well after 1 a.m., clicking through photos of a Lady Gaga concert posted by a sister-of-a-friend-of-a-friend.

We were at that concert! She lives three states away! She was at the same concert! Miracle!

No, not miracle. Insanity. I didn’t know this woman. I will never meet this woman. I can’t tell you how I found her album or why I felt compelled to click through it. I can only tell you that I lost 20 minutes of my life trying to determine whether she and I were at the same show in 2010.

She had better seats than we did, didn’t she?

Who gives a shit?

Evidently, I do.

Continue reading


And even more on the Toyota Venza girl!

ED’S NOTE: The commentary here reflects my interest in advertising as a marketing student. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.

Toyota Venza Interactive Ad on YahooToyota Venza ad on Yahoo

Our heroine from the Toyota Venza commercial has been recently spotted on the Yahoo! portal in an interactive ad that encourages viewers to “learn stuff.” An ad is just an ad, some might argue, but this interactive ad is engaging the viewer with its appealing character (“Click on something.”) and unassuming links: “See the commercial on YouTube” and “Learn more at Toyota.com.”

So what’s the big deal? At the time of this writing, this YouTube video (posted July 6) had 55,198 views, 300 likes and 23 dislikes. On the official Toyota channel, with lovely Venza display ad (natch!), the video had 8,129 views, including 55 likes and five dislikes.

Although the official Toyota channel’s numbers aren’t that impressive, collectively the video posts have sparked quite a bit of consumer engagement – which is what a marketer wants when investing in Internet advertising. And although the viewing audience was introduced to the Venza girl (played by Allyn Rachel) through old-fashioned television advertising, we’re getting to know her better here on the innerwebs thanks to YouTube, Twitter, this blog and other Web 2.0 outlets.


EARLIER: Toyota Venza: ‘That’s not a real puppy’


RELATED: More on the girl in Toyota Venza commercial



Toyota Venza commercial: ‘This is living’

EDITOR’S NOTE: The commentary here reflects my interest in advertising as a marketing student. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.
UPDATE 8-12-12: Allyn Rachel, aka the Toyota Venza girl, is angry about Triscuits.

A new ad for the Toyota Venza takes a swipe at social networking sites. The spot is funny, a nice dig at 20somethings, but not entirely spot-on. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those pedants who demands absolute truth in advertising; I believe in poetic license — even in business. It’s just that I’m a marketing student who gets 20 e-mails a day telling me who is using social networks and why, so I thought I’d show off a little bit and explain why it doesn’t reflect current patterns of social-network-site (SNS) usage.

In the clip, a daughter (played by Allyn Rachel) says she read “the majority of an article online” that said more and more adults are becoming anti-social, so she has been aggressive about getting her parents on Facebook. (They only have 19 friends — losers.) The ad cuts to shots of her parents enjoying their Venza crossover vehicle and mountain-biking with friends — presumably older adults — while the daughter stays home looking at puppies on Facebook. (“That’s not a real puppy.”)

As much as I’d like to believe in a world where old folks such as myself are joyfully cycling through the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s more realistic to believe Internet users older than 35 are just as glued to Facebook and other social sites as their younger counterparts.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Social Network Site survey, which was conducted on landline and cellphone Oct. 20-Nov. 28, 2010, more than half of today’s social-network users are older than 35. In 2010, 48% of Internet users over 35 were on a social networking site, compared with 18% of Internet users 36 and older in 2008. SNS use among those 18-35 grew to 80% in 2010, up from 63% in 2008. The explosion of older SNS users has put the average age of adult social-network users at 38, up from 33. It has also expanded the opportunity for marketers to reach these users — the ones with the most discretionary income — through social media.

Digital intel outfit eMarketer reported in June these users are also connecting with — or “liking” — more brands on Facebook. So if the spendiest (my word; it’s trademarked) consumers are swarming Twitter and Facebook, legacy marketing rules still apply: Message matters.

RELATED: More on the girl in Toyota Venza commercial


ALSO . . .

UPDATE 2-10-2012: Pew releases a new survey on social media users. Sixty-eight percent of 30- to 49-year-olds use social-networking sites.
UPDATE 9-12-2011: Spotted on MSN
RELATED 9-11-2011: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook
UPDATE 7-26-2011: Toyota Venza girl ad on Yahoo


eMarketer Quick Stat: U.S. mobile ad spending to break $1B

Emarketer study looks at U.S. mobile ad spending. The study estimates a 48% jump from 2010. (Graphic mapped to eMarketer blog post about study.)




via Quick Stat: US Mobile Ad Spending Expected to Break 1 Billion This Year.

Twitter by the numbers: An eMarketer report

Research firm eMarketer gives us a peek at its new report on Twitter usage, which offers some juicy predictions for marketers.

Among findings shared in the report summary:

  • 14% of all U.S. adult Internet users will be using Twitter in 2013
  • Twitter usage rate among 18- to 29-year-olds is double that of the 30-to-49 group
  • A revised 2012 forecast that says 24.1 million U.S. adult Internet users will be on Twitter. The previous forecast had predicted Twitter would reach 36 million.

The whole report will cost you $695, but the summary itself includes some not-insignificant numbers. It’s definitely worth checking out.