It was 2008. Facebook was on the uptick and people were flocking to it like extroverts to a spotlight.
But not I.
I was ‘one of those’ who refused to jump on the FB bandwagon, not willing to be seduced by its ex-boyfriend stalking potential and making your life look good for others (read: that bitchy wanker in high school who was such a meanie). No way, I wasn’t going to sign up, I would not succumb to Facebook’s allure.
But then, one day, something kind of like this happened, while I was on my husband’s Facebook page, out of sheer curiosity.
FB: Why don’t you give me your own email address and create a password, girl? You know you want to. How can you say no to this unassuming site, so friendly and approachable?
Me: But you scare me, Facebook. I don’t know you, or your intentions with my life.
FB: Girl, I’m not MySpace. I won’t scare you away with over-the-top shenanigans and flashy outfits. I’m not here to illicit anything sexual from you. I just want to be your friend. And suggest other potential friends for you, to broaden your circles. Allow you to keep in touch.
Me: Eh. I don’t know. Sounds invasive.
FB: Ooh girl, our relationship can be as private as you want. I promise, every time a new concern pops up, I’ll handle it.
FB: Aren’t you a budding photographer?
Me: I dabble….so?
FB: I can help you with that! I can pimp out your work to scores of fans, the options are limitless! I can help you reach out and show off that gorgeous stuff of yours to thousands of potential new clients!
FB: Did I mention I’m free?
Me: Sign me up.
And so I was born on Facebook. And the torrid love affair began.
Right off the bat, I was into the business page thing, like a lot. I used it as my blog, and I was pretty decent at it, garnering new clients fairly easily. I ran contests, which were a big hit, and I was obsessed with upping my fan total. When I reached a thousand fans, it was orgasmic. Until I realized I now needed to reach two thousand in order to keep that lovin’ feeling alive and then it was just…anti-climactic.
It was as if Facebook knew I was hooked.
FB: Yes my love?
Me: Dude. Why can everyone see my shit on my business page? People are liking and posting under my photos who aren’t even a fan of my page.
FB: Oh that. Well girl, I think in order to have your amazeballsiness reach even farther and wider, we need to, open the gates, if you will. Let everyone in, so you can then wow them with your stellar self.
Me: How do I convert them, make sure they stick around? How do I make sure they ‘become a fan’ now that my goodies are out for everyone to ogle at?
FB: You are so exciting and talented, how could they NOT stick around? Just keep being awesome and posting tons of new content. Just…less text and more photos, mmmkay? And keep the links that take them off our little site to a minimum, and make sure to be interesting! Oh, and we changed it from being a fan to just ‘liking’ a page. So it’s less of a commitment for all those free spirited folks out there, ya know?
Me: I guess.
FB: ‘Kay, love you, bye!
So I worked at being funny and current and mixing up my wordy diatribes with witty banter and lots of photos. And I gained more fans. At a lesser pace, but still ticking upwards. And I found a new way to keep getting that high from upping my fan count: Like gates. Hiding contests and goodies behind a virtual wall you could only get through if you clicked that big ol’ LIKE button. It worked wonders and I was on the fast track to 10K! Until Facebook got all jealous-like.
FB: Hey boo.
Me: Oh hey, Facebook! How’s life? Saw you are reaching some insane numbers! You must be tired.
FB: Yes! So exciting, and I’m still chugging away at my quest for total world domination! Hahahaha, I kid, I kid. I would never. Wink wink.
Me: You’re so funny, Facebook.
FB: Speaking of, I noticed you were getting pretty intimate with Shortstack, those third party bouncer dudes hiding all your content and turning away people at the door?
Me: Yes! I LOVE them!
FB: …More than you love me? I feel like you’re cheating on me, kinda. I don’t like it, Laura.
Me: Oh. Well, it’s not like that at all. It’s just that, it’s getting harder to get new likes on my page, because of the new…errr…rules you’ve implemented. So I am just seeking some comfort and help elsewhere. But I still love you.
FB: Well, I don’t like it. If you continue to use Like Gates, our relationship is over. Also, I made up a long list of rules you need to follow or else we are through.
Me: But Facebo-
FB: NO. Starting next month, you will use no one but me. I give you plenty to work with, there’s no need to seek anything elsewhere. Good day.
No like gates was a punch in my gut. Now how was I supposed to up my numbers? Running contests just got infinitesimally more difficult. And I think Facebook knew I was upset.
FB: Hey Laura.
Me: Go away.
FB: I’m sorry, boo. I didn’t mean all those rules I threw at you, so I took some back and revised others. We still cool?
Me: I don’t know. That whole episode really hurt me and my business page. Likes are trickling in at best.
FB: Ooh but girl, I have someone I want you to meet. His name is Edgerank, and you two should get to know each other. The more intimate you get with Edgerank, the better your posts will do online. Get to know him, he also likes it when you buy him stuff every once in awhile.
And so I delved into Facebook’s algorithm like an earthworm in fresh soil. And that was hard. For every article that came out claiming this was how to best up your Edgerank, another would contradict it. This algorithm was as mysterious and confusing as women are to men. And the basics I kept boiling down to was that in order to make a dent in the Facebook universe, you needed to pay your dues.
FB: Yes hun?
Me: Dude. We need to talk.
FB: What’s wrong?
Me: I feel like our paths are no longer running parallel. I don’t know if what I want is what you can give me. I am…unsatisfied.
FB: Really?? What did I do wrong? Did I not keep up appearances enough for you?
Me: Not at all! Every time you changed appearances, it was a pain in my ass. I always liked you just the way you were. It’s just that…I feel like we’ve gone from a partnership to a renter’s agreement. And I don’t think I can afford to pay the rent anymore.
FB: Not sure what you mean.
Me: Well, I’m just a small fish in the sea, yeah? And I was totally okay with the changes you were making to yourself to transition into a profitable website. I understand we all need to be who we are meant to be, and you, Facebook, are meant to be lucrative. But as I’ve spent the past half decade or so trying to accumulate fans and new clients, it has just gotten harder. And at the end of the day, when all is said and done…they aren’t even really mine.
FB: What are you saying? Are you leaving me?
Me: Oh never! I still love you, I love the way you let me humble brag to my frenemies, how I can be passive aggressive to people I don’t really like. I adore how you let me vent on current events with people whose opinions I don’t even really care about! You have shown me just how stupid some people are, and I can never take that away from you. You, Facebook, are my only link to people I otherwise would never even nod my head to in public, and you allow me to never have to pick up a phone to wish anyone a happy birthday! I love you for that. But…just as a friend. As a business partner, I need to step back a little bit, reevaluate, maybe start a blog.
FB: A blog? I thought I was your blog…
Me: You were. And I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, but it’s time for me to go out on my own and just kind of use you to steer people my way. SEO and all that jazz. You understand. Plus, let’s be honest. You stopped showing me off to all of your friends. Even when I paid you to do it. Engagement hasn’t been what it used to be and it’s killing the mood between us.
FB:….maybe a little.
Me: It’s okay. We can still be friends.
And that’s how I decided to stop seeking those likes. To stop focusing on getting more fans. It just became too hard and tiresome, trying to be funny and endearing and deep and it became a little bit faux. If I didn’t get 100 thumbs’ up on a post or photo, I’d be sad. And that’s just weird. Like with every relationship, when you aren’t happy anymore, jump ship, swim to shore and build another boat.
So, I’m gonna give blogging a shot and quit renting my fans, or paying for likes. It’ll be hard, 10K is still looming over my head like a failed attempt. I’m sure one day, it’ll get there, and it’ll be as anti-climactic as that first 1000.
And you know what Facebook said when I said we needed a break so I could go out on my own?
You’ll come back. They always do.