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Running a Facebook-free business

Zlatko Najdenovski


July 28, 2021

Since I began working on Tribevibe, I had this unexplained, odd feeling, that to attract members and to build a community on top of Facebook‘s eco-system (Facebook and Instagram) is not the right path to thread. I‘ve had people tell me to open a Facebook group, or to invest in building an Instagram followers base. I never did. Never will.

The design and strategic approach to Tribevibe as a platform is to create a community-driven online safe space that instils positive mental states and fosters human attention. How would I be able to nurture such values if I were to engage my community in an ecosystem that works against those principles? How would I be able to stay true to my purpose and continue to use these services to promote Tribevibe in good conscience?

The entire business model of Facebook is ad-oriented, which means it needs your attention for the business to thrive—a finite resource granted by you. The more attention you give, the more ad revenue the business receives. This creates an environment where all business decisions are made to create compelling content and sketchy interactions with the explicit goal of keeping your attention and expose you to ads.

Having full awareness of how this machine works, I‘m taking a seemingly radical decision: to withdraw the brand from being promoted on Facebook‘s owned social media channels. The decision might act against me—since most of the future Tribevibers hang around there—but it feels right, righteous, and fully aligned to the Tribevibe‘s vision.

Invitation for other brands to go social media-free

We‘ve reached a time where there is enough awareness of the damage social media has done to our emotional and mental wellbeing. So, why are we still financially supporting businesses that thrive on disrupting human attention and play with the hormonal balances inside our brains? If there is customer awareness of this damage, there must be company awareness too. You might as well create a quantum leap in competitive advantage, and your customer base would rather stick with a brand that can trust, even if it means that that brand charges a premium for that.

Another insight. Building an audience in a foreign ecosystem means that it‘s not your audience, nor your community. You don‘t have their emails. You don‘t get deep validation of your business ideas, but get likes and comments instead. Your community is engaged and controlled by an eery algorithm that doesn‘t work in your favour. And a simple algorithm tweak can drastically change your marketing performance.

To use social media as part of a marketing campaign is so ingrained in our thinking that to believe we can go without it is unfathomable.

But this thinking gives you a cover and a comfort zone, and your brain automatically chooses the easy option. Don‘t choose the easy option. It‘s not that scary. I‘m taking the plunge, and I‘m sure I‘m not the only one. We might be early adopters, but soon others will follow.

On the other hand, I also fully understand that different brands are at different stages of evolution, and for some, it‘s simply too risky to go social media-free at this stage. But if you are at the very beginning and if you truly want to build a community, don‘t give that community for free to the behemoths. It‘s worth the effort to create it within your ecosystem or a tool that is specifically designed for that.

A badge of honour

If my ramblings make sense, you are free to put this badge. You‘ll see the same badge used in the footer section of this website. It‘s licenced under the Creative Commons (CA BY-SA 4.0). If you do, please let me know so that we know we‘re not alone. I would be truly happy to see other brands and communities joining us in this exciting journey.