40 Days and Nights WITHOUT Facebook

Posted by Mike Dwyer on May 11, 2009

We have our very own junior marketing ninja at Paladin by the name of Elizabeth Stiles. Ms. Stiles joined Facebook waaaayyy back in 2004 when she was a freshman in college and now has over 1,000 friends in her network. She mentioned abstaining from Facebook for Lent (which is 40 days long… see her “Activation Wrap-up” http://elizms.wordpress.com/).  I thought it would be a great case study of our need for social media, and so I convinced her to blog about her “deactivation” and then send the link out through Twitter (from the frying pan into the fire…?)

I don’t have to tell you (especially marketers) Facebook is an important way for people and companies to engage on a more individualized basis. The numbers prove that most people are enthusiastic about this: over 200 million users.

Ms. Stiles is a member of Generation Y a group who lives and communicates daily with a rapidly growing network of online friends. She, like millions of others, is apprised of the daily goings-on in her friends’ lives, most often from their updates and photos that are posted several times a day on home Facebook.  In the time she had been writing her Lent-deactivation blog, she received over 1,100 visits — primarily through sending updates through Twitter.

Okay, so let’s get to the deactivation and Elizabeth’s key insights:

 How it began:

“The first week was terrible. I complained a lot, mostly about how I felt like I had no connection to anyone anymore (keep in mind, I have over 1,000 Facebook friends).”

Midway through her Facebook fasting: Elizabeth published a list of the top 25 things she has learned without Facebook. Including reading a newspaper, listening to music,  cooking 3 course meal, sleeping 8 hours and more importantly getting past her PCD (Post College Depression).

As it came to an end Ms. Stiles had learned a few things:

“As the days went by, I found other ways of connecting with friends such as emails, text messages, and actual phone conversations.”

In retrospect:

“What have I learned from being off Facebook for 40 days/40 nights? That I am indeed an addict, no joke about it.” and according to CNN’s 5 indicators you are addicted to Facebook she is.

Marketing:

“Before I deactivated, I never really noticed the marketing techniques that were being used through Facebook (because my focus was solely on checking updated profiles). Now I have a close eye on things like side advertisements, fan pages, or Facebook group companies have started in order to reach out to consumers. The best way companies are going to be able to reach the attention of someone in my generation, or even younger, will be through the various social media groups, Facebook being the number one.” 

Other Viewpoints:

Elizabeth’s mom: “Wow, Elizabeth, I haven’t heard from you now that you are back on Facebook.”

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Elizabeth’s insight cannot be ignored by marketers.  If you want to reach this demographic, you should be plugged-in to social media, and particularly Facebook.

I have personally been using these media channels for the past couple of years and feel I’ve been able to create a personal brand.  Through online media, I promote and represent Paladin in hopes of helping people find work and grow our business.

It can be difficult to learn how effective a marketing initiative like this can be without using these channels yourself.  That being said, Paladin has just recently started our own Twitter @Paladinstaff to engage with candidates and clients alike.  More importantly we have created a Paladin Fan page to help drive awareness of our brand and give people a place to share marketing strategy and community.

Engagement with people on a 1to1 basis is increasingly important in the changing media landscape. For the record Generation Y isn’t the only age group using Facebook just released numbers shows the fastest growing age group on Facebook are women 55+.

Although we sing its praises — Elizabeth, we really hope you called your mom on Mother’s Day. 

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