Reclaiming Facebook as a useful social media tool

Over the years, my Facebook experience deteriorated significantly. During my recent holiday, I finally realised why: too much, too many. Too much notifications, too many ‘friends’.

The signal/noise ratio had definitely taken a turn for the worse.

So, in line with my previous post on focus, I decided to reorganize. But I needed to better understand how Facebook actually works, in order to do that successfully. So I turned to Bram Willemse; he knows these things!

Now, obviously, all of this is dependant on your personal preferences, so let me give you mine before I tell you how I am reclaiming Facebook as a useful social media tool. I decided that:

  1. Facebook is a personal environment, that I want to use in private. Business stuff will be on my companies website and Facebook page, but no longer on my personal Facebook account;
  2. I want Facebook to be a trusted environment where I can communicate with a known audience;
  3. Facebook should be a place to communicate with people that I would also like to converse with IRL (in real life) with at home, in a bar or at a concert.
  4. Facebook communications will take place on Facebook, not in my email inbox.

Again, your preferences might differ, and I am in no way suggesting that my resolutions would be best for you as well.

Here’s what I did:

  • I unsubscribed to all email-notifications, with the exception of formal Facebook product announcements;
  • I disabled the option to allow people to follow my updates
  • I disabled any setting that would use my activity in a commercial way towards my friends (this is a decision that is not undisputed, though. Facebook is free to use, since they make their money selling advertising. In a way, this decision diminshed FB’s possibilities to make enough money to keep providing me with a free services. Then again, if that were to happen, I would be happy to pay for an ongoing, ad-free service);
  • I limited the ‘virality’ of my Facebook activities to ‘Friends of Friends’;
  • I set the default privacy setting to ‘Friends’ instead of ‘Public’.

And that’s not all of it. Next up, I wil start pruning the list of (currently 417) Friends in accordance with Decision 3. Some will have to go, others will be ‘downgraded’ to Acquaintances. I will also create a number of lists that allow me to make updates visible to specific groups of friends and acquaintances. And I will problably un-Like a whole series of brand pages.

Obviously, it will take some time to get all of it done. And then it will take some time to see the results and adjust details. But I’m pretty confident that these decisions and actions will help me to regain Facebook as a worthwhile medium to have interesting and significant conversations with people I care

Starting a new business: getting a conversation started

Learn from your mistakes. Fail, fail again, fail harder. Any of these apply to me.

For my previous company going bankrupt to have any sustainable, positive outcome, I will need to learn from it. And as I get older, I discover that I learn by doing. Repetition builds quality. Not that I want to go bankrupt again, mind you. I want to get better at creating my own, sustainable source of income. And my main path to do so is through creating an independent company.

So, how do I go about starting a new business? Some thoughts, in a somewhat random order:

  1. Partnership
    I know how to work, but I get better in partnerships. Luckily, I know just the guy for that. Having been through the exact same bankruptcy as me, former partner Ronald Mulder is as hell-bent on improving his entrepreneurship as I am. And we know how to work together.
  2. Focus
    This should not be something you do when provoked. It should be a constant effort. But having nothing better to do than start over has made it very easy to throw out the old and start with a clean sheet.

    1. Eliminate noise: I am ferociously unfollowing on Twitter, un-friending on Facebook and disconnecting on LinkedIn. This is sometimes awkward. But it needs to be done in order to make those networks ‘work’ for me.
    2. Increasing attention to the areas of interest. In my case: it is not Social Media that is interesting anymore. It is the impact it has on the behavior of people. It is not startups per se, it is creating sustainable value through modern networked organizations. Or something (still working on that one).
  3. Talk, connect
    Ronald and I talk a lot about what we want to bring to the world. We also talk about what really interests us, and what combinations would be made possible from that. But most importantly, we are starting to talk to people we think are doing interesting stuff right now. Because eventually, those conversations will create our market.

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