Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Quitter Chronicle: Life without Facebook - Week 3


I’m three weeks into my eight week challenge of no Facebook.
Again, I’ve found the need to go back onto Facebook – a need which sprang from a space that had no wifi, no pressure to be on the internet. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
I went on a three day yoga and meditation retreat at the beautiful Billabong Retreat. For three days I ate nothing but organic, vegetarian food, yoga and meditation every day and a massage overlooking a billabong surrounded by towering gum trees and water lilies in full bloom.
So why the desire to connect on Facebook? I met people on the retreat that I had a great time talking to. We helped educate each other about food and wellness. When it came to saying goodbye to these wonderful people, it seemed that the logical way was to connect on Facebook.
So I did. I went back on.
Once the seal was broken I drifted back to it again in an idle moment, but found that most of the news and updates weren’t as interesting as I had once found them.
I also went back onto Facebook as I’m hostinging a party, and Facebook is the best place for setting up events and inviting people. Within the day I had about a third of my invitees accept, which I think was faster than it would have been by email, and certainly by phone.
What I am finding is that Facebook is not having the same role in my downtime than it used to. I’m still on Pinterest quite a bit. I’ve been watching Youtube videos. But I don’t check my phone every time I stop at the lights as I walk across town. And whether it’s because of the peace I feel after Billabong Retreat, or the absence of Facebook, but I am feeling a bit more space in my head at the moment.
Space to let in things like this Pharrell Williams song (yes, I know it’s being overplayed, but that won’t stop me from loving it!)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Anatomy of a LinkedIn Profile

I’ve been meaning to update my LinkedIn profile. I’ve started working with some international colleagues and it’s helpful for them to get as much info as they can about who I am, and vice-versa.

Also – it’s a good idea to update your profile every 12 months or so. It can even help with your current role as opportunities may open up that are aligned with, and can build on, your previous experience. Businesses might also approach you with products that are better aligned to your needs. 

I’ve also been a bit overwhelmed when I look at optimising my profile – so I thought it would be helpful to break it down into smaller pieces. 

In fact, 14 smaller pieces . . . I present to you my ‘Anatomy of a LinkedIn Profile’:

1.    Photo – self explanatory.

2.    Headline – Describes you, not nessecarily your position. 

3.    Contact info – include as many channels as possible so that people you’re available through their preferred channel. 

4.    Activity – This is where your LinkedIn posts are listed. It’s a way to remind your connections that you are there, and to position you as an expert (or at the very least – a professional who is passionate about their chosen field of work!). 

5.    Summary – Here’s a chance for people to get a sense of your ‘voice’ from the way you talk about yourself. Include lots of keywords. Include contact details here too so that people who are not in your network can still contact you regarding the business you’re currently in. This can also be helpful to potential new clients who want to reach you but don’t nessecarily want to share all their info by becoming a connection. Be sure to include media: examples of your work. Even better if they have some images as it will help break up the page. 

6.    Experience - A chronological listing of your work history. Don’t be afraid to include a lot of detail, so long as it is relevant and you include keywords, sub headings and lists.

7.    Projects – here’s where you can go into detail about specific projects. This helps highlight your capabilities and that of your employers (past and present). 

8.    Skills and Expertise - This is where others can endorse you for skills and experience. It only works if you have lots of people who endorse you – which usually happens when you endorse others. The ‘endorse’ function on Linkedin is very ease to use. 

9.    Education - Here’s where you list all your education including short courses

10.    Recommendations - A text-based testimonial from someone who has worked with you, and a richer endorsement of you as a professional. Again – works best if you recommend others and others recommend you. 

11.    Test results – I don’t have any of these on my profile at the moment – but here’s where you can list IQ or personality tests that might help future employers get a sense of the person you are as a team member or manager. Some of the best profiles I’ve seen have included lots of test results. 

12.    Connections - Connect. Connect. Connect. The more you have, the higher your klout rating and the harder you make Linkedin work for you. If we’re all just 6 connections from Kevin Bacon, you want to make sure you have as many feelers out there as possible. I connect with people I meet at BBQs, friends of friends, colleagues, classmates, past colleagues, the list goes on, as it should. If you never know where a connection will lead, you want to be sure to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. 

13.    Groups - A good way to demonstrate your commitment to your craft – but don’t join groups you have no intention of interacting with. 

14.    Following - The groups you follow indicate your personal and professional interests. 

In the coming weeks I will be updating my profile, and compiling a blog post about how to optimise each section of a LinkedIn profile.

The Quitter Chronicle: Life without Facebook - Week 2

I caved. A little.
I went back onto Facebook for a total of 17 minutes last week.
In the first instance it was to post a message on a the page that I set up for a writing group within my Masters at UTS. Just a quick note to let them know where, and when, to meet and details of how to contact me if anyone needed to (ie not through Facebook). Total time: 55 seconds.
Sucked into the vortex
The second instance drew me in a bit deeper. I went online to post a message in a women’s fitness group I am part of. I’d interested in a local gym, but had read some bad reviews. I wanted to see if anyone wanted to sell their membership (so I didn’t have to commit to a 12 month membership). I also wanted to see if I could find a workout buddy – or at least someone to laugh along with as I crashed my way through the first couple of dance classes.
On the way to the Facebook group page I was headed for, I got a bit distracted.
First by '17 things you want to say in Yoga class, but don’t,'
then 'The Golden Globes most GIF-able moments,'
and finally a heart-melting story about a stranger making a 3 year old’s plane ride the best ever. And it involves turtles.
As the clock ticked over past 10 minutes, I realized that I was being sucked into the vortex of the big, beautiful, digitally connected world. I stopped myself from scrolling any further. I hastily made my way to the page, posted my enquiry, then quickly scampered off the site.
If you want the low down on the chow down you gotta hit the f'book
On Tuesday I was interested in the Sydney Festival and wanted to check out what catering and entertainment options were available. The entertainment option research was fine – the Sydney Festival website had pretty much all the info I needed. But the catering options? The website had very little useful information and I found I was redirected a number of times to catering supplier’s facebook pages in order to find out what they were offering. I think that marketers have all become too dependant on the ease with which Facebook can be used as a channel to communicate product details. Certainly if I had to manage a website with as much information, from as many sources, as Sydney Festival, I would probably rather link to supplier’s Facebook pages rather than get the relevant information from them. This comment is less a criticism of the Sydney Festival website, but more an observation of the current way marketers, and general punters, use Facebook to communicate and research.

And that Facebook, for all its time-wasting faults, remains a relevant and contextual channel for connecting with the cities and world we live in.

Meanwhile, I have been checking my emails a lot less, but pinning a lot more in Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Quitter Chronicle: Life without Facebook - Week 1

Tom Hanks in Castaway, from IMDB

I'm feeling a bit like I'm a castaway on a desert island.

Quitting Facebook in the first week back at work was probably not the best timing. People are still on holidays (my colleagues who make me laugh, who bring energy and dynamism to our projects, my girlfriends). The work pendulum is still gathering momentum for the start of the year.

I've been craving connection. I've checked my emails more often than I would like - made worse by the fact that as part of this 'digital fast' I have also unsubscribed from the masses of eNewsletters that I was receiving but not reading. And that people are on holidays (lots of out of office) and are probably still connecting and updating in the way they are accustomed to - via Facebook.

I've looked as smh.com.au a few times a day - so much so that I have been getting pop-ups warning me that I have almost used up my monthly allocation of free articles, and an invitation to subscribe at a cost. I have been taking for granted that I do stay in touch with the world for free via Facebook. At this stage I can't really see a difference between the journalism on SMH vs Huffington Post - not enough to warrant paying for it.

But there have been positives too:
  • I played scrabble last night with my housemate (he whipped my butt!)
  • I've written more blog posts than I have in 6 months
  • I've written in my journal most days and been more inward looking, rather than looking outside myself for distractions and solutions
  • I've had time set aside for reading the books on my bookshelves that have sat unread for months
  • I've exercised more, as I don't have the temptation of sitting on the bus trawling social media. It's also been great weather in Sydney, and I felt sloth-like over the break so I'm inspired to walk whenever I can
  • I signed up for this MOOC
I'm still on track to stay off until the end of February and am content making these observations.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Why I quit Facebook for two months

Today I’m quitting Facebook for two months – until the end of February 2014. Here’s why:

Virtual vs actual connections

I’ve used the Facebook to replace connecting with my actual social network. Over the past few years I’ve commented on a post rather than calling or emailing or writing a letter. I can go months without calling or contacting any of my friends who are on Facebook, as I can see what’s happening for them through their updates. I’ve allowed a decrease in the amount of contact I have with those who are not on Facebook – unconsciously putting the contact into the ‘later’ basket. This, with friends who I have known for a decade or more. with whom I have travelled continents, mourned broken relationships and celebrated new unions and new lives. I have enabled a computer and a virtual network do this. Lately, this superficial level of contact has been making me feel unfulfilled.

A possible downfall

This means inevitably that my virtual social network will decrease. It’s just not possible to maintain contact with all 244 people with whom I am Facebook friends via older methods of communication like phone calls, letters or actual face to face contact. Facebook’s algorithms, and the digital social networks of which I am a part, require me to contribute in order to be a meaningful member of the community.

This move could even affect my brain. There’s a hypothesis that the size of a social network has a direct correlation with the neuroplasticity of individuals in that network. This article summarises a study that was based on monkeys and the theory applied to Facebook and other social networks.

However, I’m not a monkey and there are other ways to promote neuroplasticity – some of which I would like to explore. Quitting Facebook will free up my brain space to allow it to work in different ways. 

Protecting memories

I’m a Gen X. My early relationships with friends and family unfolded across pages of letters handwritten and posted across the country. I read them now and I’m reminded of the person I was then and that I am now. Facebook moves very quickly and there’s no solution yet as to how to preserve the feeds as historical documents for individuals. Facebook posts also lack the depth that a letter can convey.


In the past few months I have procrastinated by trawling Facebook. This video helped me understand why I’ve been doing this. Humans, when faced with a new and daunting task will procrastinate by completing small, insignificant tasks because they are gratified by completing these and ticking them off their mental to do lists.

In the past few months I’ve had new challenges about which I have been daunted and overwhelmed. I have struggled to develop a clear vision of the end goal and so have gone for the easy way out. Rather than waking each day and considering what lies before me, and visualising how I will approach it so I get what will most make me happy, I have instead rolled over, picked up my phone from my bedside table and checked Facebook to see what the news for the day is. The result of this is that some projects, which could actually make a positive impact on my life, have not progressed in the ways that would make me happy. 

More reasons to quit

There are many other reasons to quit Facebook. This Huffington Post article refers to study from the University of Vienna who studied 320 individuals who quit Facebook for several weeks or more. Their primary drivers were:

‘worried about who sees their photos, annoyed by Facebook’s constant changes, irritated by superficial social interactions and concerned by how many hours (approx 1.9 hours per day) they spend glassy-eyed and slack-jawed staring at their screens.’

Not replacing it with other networks

So what will replace the 1.9 hours of my day that I won’t be on Facebook? One thing I won’t be doing is engaging in other social networks like Twitter or Instagram as suggested by this article in Huffington Post entitled 11 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook In 2014. Online communication has become more visual and our networks want photos of what is happening for us. I recently went a bit far when I sent my team at work a graphic photo of my left eye which had puffed closed and nessecitated a trip to the hospital and a day of leave from work. My team said I had set a precedent for requiring photo evidence of sickness – a suggestion which is unlikely to materialise. However, the ease of taking and sharing photos has meant that communication via images has become more accepted and understood. But this has also meant a decline in our privacy, as every digital image shared has a permanent imprint on the network. Plus, I am a writer. Why would I use a photo to replace what I can illustrate with words?

Why quit for only two months?
As a marketer I love social networks. I’ve been lucky enough to live through times when the internet just didn’t exist, to today when it’s part of every day life. I love observing digital communities, being part of them and am grateful every day for the new information and ideas that I see through the friend and pages that I have liked. I joked years ago that I would only ever tweet if someone paid me, but the truth is that my digital inclinations are also part of my offering as a marketer.

Quitting Facebook for two months is a temporary move. A chance to reconnect with people in different ways. I can still be reached via gmail, Linkedin, this blog, phone and even snail mail.