Facebook - Yes! Or - No!
A snapshot of a happening on Facebook
People often say to me "Oh, you're not on Facebook are you!!!" like it was some kind of disease that I should know better to stay away from. Sometimes, and somehow, I am left feeling kind of guilty. Because of this I decided to take a closer look, and give my honest and from the gut feelings about this very popular social media.
My First Attempt
When I first ventured onto Facebook it was about 2004 or 5. Others seemed to be doing it, so why not me. I signed up, got myself a profile photo, told a few things about me and then started posting. I was having fun uploading photos and finding friends. At this point I was really just entertaining myself. But in the midst of all of this I had another very active hobby that I had gotten into and this was genealogy wherein I was searching the roots of my ancestors.
One day I happened upon a website hosted by a fellow whose ancestors hailed from the same town in Italy as mine did, and so I joined his site and said "goodbye" to Facebook. I de-activated my connection and didn't think much more of it through the next couple of years. And then one day the Administrator of this site announced to all of us members that that site was going to start charging, and so he was closing the site and opening up on Facebook, where all the action was anyway. In short - Facebook was the place to be - Social Networking at its finest!
Wow look at all those friends!
So Here I am Again
Well guess what? Of course you are not surprised, but I go back to Facebook and find that my stuff has been there all along. And so I reactivate my page and I begin again, along with joining the Ancestry page for my ancestors. This was an innovation in and of itself. It was news to me that not only could you have your own page, but you could create another page - a group so to speak.
And I started accumulating more friends. They seemed to come out of the woodwork. To be honest many of my early friends, and who are still friends, are kids of kids - younger than me. But when they see the surname in amongst all of their other family members, you become an automatic friend. Do I talk to half of them? Uh-uh - but I know they are gathering numbers, and that's OK - I can help a little.
So over the next couple of years I continued fooling around on Facebook and gaining more friends. I learned how to share videos, besides photos. I got caught up on other people's happenings, and they learned about mine. But life changed drastically for me in 2010 when my husband, Craig, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And here is where I started to realize the different benefits of Facebook and how valuable it could be.
As we moved through those five months from the time of diagnoses, I was able to keep in touch with relatives on both sides - his and mine - from different parts of the world. They could follow along, not only getting updated information from our end, but also lending their support and love, from their end. Facebook was the link that made the world smaller for us!
The Internet in general and Facebook
After my husband passed away, I started experiencing things that told me he was trying to connect to me. I turned to the internet in general to search for information and validation of what was happening. I joined a message board for After Death Communications, left Facebook on the shelf for a while immersing myself in this new find, but eventually realized I had reached an impasse in that group. Back to Facebook I went, connecting with two friends from the ADC group. Now we found ourselves sharing and discussing this new found spiritual life of ours on Facebook. It didn't take me long to realize I did not want to do this. With well over 100 friends at this point, many of them would not understand what we were talking about, and not only would they not be interested, but they would think us - that's right - Crazy!! Oh God, I did not want that!
This is where I learned that Facebook had so much more to offer. I could create a "Secret Group" - one that only we would see the content. We started with 3, then grew to about a dozen, and then slackened off for a bit as we were all finding our way in our "new normal."
A Breath Away - A Journey Through Love, Loss and The Afterlife
A Breath Away Website
"A Breath Away" is born
A year and a half into my grief from losing my Craig, I began writing a book. I also credit Facebook for this, (well at least partially), and the reason for this is that without finding the multitude of pages geared to what I was experiencing, and sharing with those pages, I would not have eventually met the lady who would start saying to me "you should be writing a book, you have so much to share that others will want to know about." I didn't take this seriously, but by April of 2012 I find myself doing just that. And here is where I find one of the best benefits of Facebook. The "Good"!!!! My publisher told me that if I was on any social networking that was a good thing for marketing. Whoa!! Marketing??!! Don't laugh, but at this point I had not even given any thought to Marketing. I guess I thought the book would just sell itself. Wrong!!
Off and Running
Marketing!!! Hmmmmm So now with my "Secret" group in tact, I started to follow the lead of another author and created a "Fan Page" for my book.
Through this page I post inspirational photos with inspirational sayings attached to them. It is amazing how this appeals to others in grief. Currently at 1220 likes on my page, I am pretty pleased.
Inspiration from A Breath Away Fan Page
A bit of the Good and a bit of the Bad
Having a fan page for your product is a good thing. You can attract potential buyers that way. I found that in that first year many of my posts were being "liked" as well as being "shared", and oftentimes a post would touch a couple of thousand people. Well rather, in Facebook jargon, it "reached" a couple of thousand people.
Oftentimes, people would leave comments to connect with me. And many times they even told me they were either purchasing my book, or had just read it. This was "good" and it felt amazing. Eventually Facebook came up with an "Advertising" program - where you were encouraged to advertise either your page, a post - or both. Eventually I got into this, and it garnered some more likes. Also my "Secret" group now has 40 some people in it, and the love and support we give each other is amazing. That's definitely a good thing.
But lately the kind of "bad" thing is something that is well known. Facebook has changed the way people see things on their newsfeed now. I am lead to believe that there is not enough space on the newsfeed, and so therefore those fan pages that have the most activity on their pages will "reach" more people. This of course is to get you to advertise. I find that I have been caught in a bad spot now, because I do not yet have enough "likes" to influence people to "like and share." It's a quandary, and one that I am trying to work out currently. How much advertising money spent, is "too much?"
Where my early posts "without" advertising were reaching a couple of thousand people, my posts now, "without advertising," are sometimes just reaching 20 people. That sucks - to put it bluntly!
Some of the Bad and The Ugly
And yes there is the bad and ugly too. Those people that you don't want to see on your newsfeed that curse and swear and who rant about their politics and their religion, and or their prejudices. One lady friend of mine, who is on Facebook - only because her children in other parts of the world want to connect with her, is really irritated by those types of posts on her page. But, she does not understand that this is not her page - it is her news. So I tried to tell her to think of it like a newspaper. When you see something in the newspaper you don't like, maybe you just don't read it. A choice! And in the end, when it is a friend, you have to decide what is it about that person that made you want to be a friend. If there is something worthwhile, then you take the bad with the good. So that's not too bad of a "bad" or "ugly."
A really bad and ugly is when you get those private messages from someone who just loves your profile photo and wants to get to meet you. Especially when they tell you, you look like such a lovely lady, and they have lost their wife and they have a 12 year old daughter, and they both would like to get to know you. "Delete" "Delete" "Delete"
Or the private message that tells you that you have won some money. Or the scam that goes around the newsfeed and people are not smart enough to understand that it is a scam or a hoax and they keep spreading it around. But, is this different from email in that respect? Not really.
In the end I try to tell people that you have to use a certain amount of judgement in order to protect yourself. You DO NOT become friends with people that you do not know, nor have any kind of connection with. When I get a friend invite, the first thing I do is go to their page to see if they either have a mutual friend OR if they are in a group that I am in. If they are not I do not have a problem asking them why they want to be my friend. If I don't like the answer I ignore tham.
So How We Stack Up?
In My Opinion!
- a way to connect to people in your family around the world
- a way to connect to people of like minds and interests
- the availability to create fan pages
- the availability to have a "secret" group
- a way to find other groups within your interest group
- a great marketing tool
- the availability of advertising
- a way to make new friends, and to realize that across the world we are all alike
The Bad and Sometimes Ugly
- it is becoming harder to get time on the newsfeed for a fan page, without advertising
- being bothered by scammers and frauds
- some think it is a dating site
- putting up with other people's rants
One of the big things that make me shake my head are those who post their addresses on their timeline, and those who announce to the world that they are going away on vacation. So sometimes people ask for their own problems.
In the end, for me - and so far, it is very worth it to be on Facebook.