Why we’re taking a break from social media

May 15, 2022   |   News

If you’re looking for us on social media (i.e. Facebook), you’ll still find our profiles. However, we won’t be actively posting for the time being. While we haven’t been active on our social media platforms for a while at this point, we thought it might be helpful to provide context around this decision rather than letting our social media presence simply “go cold.”

Living and working with intentionality

At LifeGuide, we exist to help families achieve financial peace, freedom, and eternal impact. This is the heart of the work we do every day and what gets us out of bed in the morning. We continually evaluate how we spend our time, energy, and resources with the sincerest hope that we continue to improve the experience and value we deliver to our clients. We want to be intentional that every decision we make and everything we do is in support of our mission. This brings us to social media.

In the past, we’ve posted because the typical thinking in our industry is that “Your business needs to be active on social media—your clients and prospective clients value and expect you to post regularly. If you don’t, you will lose relevancy and miss opportunities to connect!”

We are choosing to make a counter-cultural decision to take at least a temporary hiatus from social media.

Our analysis, including client feedback, tells us that we can more effectively use our resources to connect with you in other ways. We will focus on continuing to advance our website and blog, sending our monthly Guideposts, and making sure we are easy to find via online searches.

Here’s what we’re planning for these three areas:

Examining the costs

We also believe that other costs associated with social media fall into two main categories: material and personal costs.

It’s no surprise that there’s an incredible amount of busyness and noise competing for our attention in today’s world. Pew Research shares that 69% of Americans are active on Facebook, and the vast majority engage with the platform at least once daily. While it isn’t clear precisely how much time the average American spends on all social media each day, the research is clear that social media usage doesn’t come without costs—the potential for increased feelings of loneliness, isolation, inadequacy, and more—including maddening levels of targeted advertising!

The material costs

To explain the material cost of using social media, we need to take off our usual “advisor hat” and briefly put on our “marketing hat.” We’re going to talk specifically about Facebook here, but the general principles apply across most social platforms.

Did you know? According to Forbes, Facebook only shows a page’s content, on average, to less than 6% of the people who like a specific page. For example, if you’re a business with 100 likes on your Facebook page and post a photo, Facebook only shows that photo to six of your 100 followers. In other words, 94% of your audience will likely never see your content.

Beyond simply being a disheartening statistic, this presents two significant material costs to businesses:

  1. You must dedicate considerable time and energy to post, post, post, and increase your “organic reach,” or:
  2. You pay these platforms to advertise your content (known as “paid reach”)

Most businesses heavily engaged with social media do both of the above. In fact, many large companies operating at scale (think Apple, Nike, or even Ramsey Solutions) employ teams of full-time staff with massive marketing budgets explicitly focused on building their social media presence.

However, social media efforts are difficult to scale down effectively for smaller local businesses. As we mentioned above, the less you post, the less “organic reach” platforms like Facebook provide. Paid advertising presents a way to increase your reach yet still requires a non-trivial investment of staffing and advertising dollars.

Yet beyond these materials costs, we’ve also been asking ourselves: “At what personal cost?”

The personal costs

As a business, social media works by positioning people as the product. Again, we’ll use Facebook here as an example. The longer a user stays actively engaged on Facebook’s platform, the more user data Facebook can collect. The more data Facebook collects, the more effectively they can pair advertisers with potential buyers and the more profitable their business becomes. The content is simply the “hook” to get users sucked in and provide a way for Facebook to collect a tremendous amount of user data. And make no mistake—companies like Facebook have become incredibly good at getting people sucked in, often habitually and mindlessly, on their platforms.

Better decision making

Ok, we were taking off our marketing hat and putting our “advisor hat” back on.

When we help our clients navigate decision-making, we often work with them to compile a comprehensive list of the associated costs—not only the financial costs but also relational, experiential, and time costs.

We’ve been applying this decision-making strategy to ourselves as we’ve been thinking through our social media strategy. We’ve been asking ourselves, what are all the costs involved? Beyond just financial (as we discussed above), what are the costs of “doing” or “not doing” social media well? Let’s say we commit to being the best at engaging users on social media—would we be helping our audience live more intentionally? Would we be helping families achieve financial peace, freedom, and eternal impact? Or would we contribute to the continued busyness, distraction, and comparison social media invites?

In an article published in MarketWatch in 2019, author Caroline Baum states:

“It took some time for neurologists and psychologists to document the negative effects all of this digital togetherness is having on our brains and our lives. It has reduced our attention spans, created a nation of addicts craving the dopamine rush from feedback from followers, contributed to an increase in mental-health problems among teens, affected the way news is consumed and delivered, and even provided a support system for sick individuals contemplating terrorist acts.”

So, even if we decided that social media is the best place to spend our time, energy, and marketing dollars, are we okay with the human costs social media has in many lives? Does our involvement on social media ultimately help lead our clients to achieve peace, freedom, and eternal impact?

At this point, we feel the answer to these questions is “no.

We don’t believe social media is inherently “bad” or “evil.” We do, however, believe it’s important for all of us to critically examine our relationship with it.

We realize that leaving our social media presence behind is an unconventional approach for a business. Yet living with this kind of intentionality—even when it goes against norms—is precisely why we believe it to be the right decision for us.

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