Working Tools -12. Buffer

The Dilemma

I wrote before about my distrust of Facebook (and by extension, Instagram), and Twitter. Ultimately, I find the way that they harvest and trade in personal data abhorrent, and the way that they allow themselves to be instruments of manipulation, dangerous.
Nevertheless, this is where the people are, and whether it be my writing or my notebooks, I want people to see what I’m up to; so I need to continue to post on Twitter and Facebook. In large part, I do this from one remove.

Buffer

I use a tool called Buffer. This is a web service that allows me to create and schedule posts in advance from an independent platform. Once a week, I sit down and prepare a week’s worth of content. I schedule Facebook posts, Tweets, LinkedIn updates and even Instagram photos (although Instagram/Buffer is a bit awkward). This isn’t my sole interface with social media, but it does help me maintain a more intentional presence. I have no notifications turned on for any social media channels. No little red numbers, no banners in the notification centre, no cute little sounds. I look at social media when it suits me, not the other way around. I recommend that everybody do this with pretty much all notifications, on all things. My phone rings when someone calls it, and beeps when I get an iMessage or SMS. That’s it. My iPhone home screen is empty, bar one app in the dock. The telephone.

Other check-ins

  1. Instagram. I check in at the beginning and the end of the day, to respond to any comments on my posts and to have a little browse myself.
  2. Facebook. I don’t go there anymore, perhaps once a week, I might have a scroll through some of the Groups. Clare looks after the Nero’s Notes Facebook page, and it connects through to the shopfront for any customer queries.
  3. Twitter – Once a day, I check mentions, retweets and spend a little time scrolling through for something of interest.
  4. Linkedin. As per Facebook, I might have a look every week or two.

Content Inbox

During the week, I will top up my Buffer queues. Buffer allows me to set up “Content Inboxes”. These are made up of RSS feeds, so when the Pen Addict publishes, this will appear in my Nero’s Notes Twitter Content Inbox. I can then add this to my queue. It seems likely that people following Nero’s Notes are going to be interested in the output of the Pen Addict, and so giving them a link to it, is a service, of sorts. Similarly, my own blog posts appear in the Content Inbox and I can then push status updates and tweets from there.

Summary

There is always a risk that social media will suck away time, but tools like Buffer do make it easier to manage and control. Buffer can’t replace genuine interaction, but it does provide a background ‘base’. I’m not looking to profile, target and pursue customers with Big Tech’s data harvesting, I just want to let people know that we’re here and that we may have something that they are interested in.

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Working Tools 10 – Facebook

Facebook (FB). By any objective measure, it should be dead now. It lies, it steals, it believes itself to be above moral, legal and contractual considerations.

Increasingly, consumers are aware of this. There is vocal disgust. There are movements urging us to quit Facebook. And yet, the company appears impervious to scandal. We’re told that numbers remain robust.

Frankly, I wouldn’t put too much faith in that, I have no doubt that Facebook has no compunction in lying about numbers. They lie about everything else.

Why stay?

Actually, on a personal level, I am disengaged from Facebook. I have tied down the privacy settings as much as I can, and I no longer post there directly. I stay for two reasons;

  1. Nero’s Notes. To have a company page, I need a personal profile.
  2. As a signpost. When I post articles like this one, some people find out via FB.

However, even these prompts to post are diminishing. Dealing with FB as a small business is almost impossible. To inform:

  1. The FB page points to http://nerosnotes.co.uk but is called pocketnotebooks (the original name of the site). Changing the FB page name to nerosnotes would be confusing. Apparently.
  2. Many products are not available on the FB page as they breach FBs rules. “#DigitalDetox” for example is disallowed for making false health claims…(by nature of its name.) Bots, it turns out, love a rule, dislike an appeal.

Ethical Use

I wrote before about ethical use of social media. I stopped using FB’s advertising tools,  and ads.

Consequently, I have mimimised the data that I give out and I make no use of the data that FB offers me. Nor will I give it any money. I daresay that a combination of those things will mean that my pages appear less often in other’s timelines and the utility of the profile and pages will gradually decrease, dying of natural causes, as it were.

I’m comfortable with that.

Instagram

On the other hand, there’s Instagram (IG). That’s a much different place. It’s lovely. Rainbows and Unicorns. Isn’t it?

It’s true that there is a nicer feel about IG. However, it was bought by FB. There is no indication that there will be any difference in the business model. My response therefore is the same. I’ll keep posting, but I won’t buy advertising, I won’t buy data, and I’ll be very careful about what data I give them.

Conclusion

I’m sure that people working at FB are lovely. However, the single-minded pursuit of capturing personal data for corporate profit means that as an entity, it’s poisonous.

Bottom line for me – people are on these platforms, so I have a presence, but I’m being very intentional about how I use and/or support Facebook Inc.