Susan Boles (00:00:04):
How do you decide what to invest in? How do you examine the opportunity of that investment? How do you make sure you're giving your investments every chance to succeed? That's what we've been talking about this month. But what happens when the investment that you're considering seems like a pretty straightforward payoff, but taking advantage of that opportunity might conflict with your values? How do you balance the financial health of your business against those values? Because those values should be an important consideration of any investment you're making. But we all still need to actually make money in order for our businesses to survive. I'm Susan Boles and you're listening to Break the Ceiling, the show where we break down unconventional strategies you can use to save time, boost your profit, and increase your operational capacity.
Susan Boles (00:00:56):
A great example of this balance of investments and values came earlier this summer with the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. Now, if you're not familiar with the campaign, it's a joint collaboration between the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Sleeping Giants, the NAACP, Free Press and Common Sense. They launched an advertising boycott against Facebook to protest their decisions to consistently allow blatant photo suppression, hate speech, election tampering, and more on their platform.
Susan Boles (00:01:29):
These organizations wanted to hit Facebook where it hurts, their profits, by pulling advertising dollars from the platform. Lots of high profile brands have joined the campaign, including Coca Cola, The North Face, Ben and Jerry's, RAI, Patagonia, Hershey's and more. Whether or not the campaign will ultimately be effective is yet to be seen, but it's a great example of companies choosing their values over the relatively easy payoff of investing in advertising dollars.
Susan Boles (00:02:00):
While this is a great example of big businesses choosing values over sales, they generally have bigger budgets, bigger margins, and the risk isn't as personal as it is for small businesses. When it comes to small business, the decision over whether or not to pull advertising or presence from Facebook in protest is certainly much more personal and potentially riskier. For small business owners, you might be talking about risking your mortgage payment, your insurance premiums, or maybe even your groceries.
Susan Boles (00:02:31):
Social media participation in advertising is one of the very few channels that's readily accessible to small businesses. The payoff for running Facebook or Instagram ads is usually pretty high if you're doing it right, and that might be one of the main channels through which you bring in new clients, which contributes to your revenue, and your financial health. It seems like for most small businesses, running Facebook or Instagram ads should be a no-brainer, but what about when you disagree with the decisions the platform makes, or what they stand for? Is it worth potentially risking your business to stand up for your beliefs?
Susan Boles (00:03:08):
As the Stop Hate for Profit campaign was heating up this summer, this became a topic of discussion in a lot of the online business communities I was a part of. Business owners were wondering, "Should I pull my ads? Pull my presence off the platform completely?" They supported the concept of the campaign, but could they really afford to risk their business by leaving the platform? And if they did, what would that look like?
Susan Boles (00:03:32):
So today, I want to explore that decision making process, and see what it looks like for two business owners. We're going to explore their thought process, and how they approach the decision to stay or to go. I want to prefix this episode with a note that I don't think there's one right answer here. My goal isn't actually to convince you to go one way or another, but to think critically about what's the right decision for you, and for your business. Ultimately, I want you to think about how your values could play into your decisions about what to invest in.
Susan Boles (00:04:06):
First up, meet Nancy Jane Smith. Nancy is a licensed professional counselor with 13 years in private practice. She's spent 20 plus years working as a counselor and a coach for people with high functioning anxiety. She's written three books on living happier, and she's the host of the Live Happier podcast. Now, ultimately, Nancy decided to pull off Facebook and Instagram altogether back in July. We're going to talk through why she made that decision, what came up for her while she was thinking through what to do, and we'll talk about what's happened in her business since she left. Hey Nancy, thanks for being here today.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:04:44):
Hey, thanks for having me. I'm excited about this conversation.
Susan Boles (00:04:47):
Yeah, me too. This is constantly playing out in my head, so I am really excited to talk to you about this. Social media is one of those investments that we make in our business that might have a good payoff maybe, but it also comes with a lot of requirements. There's a big time investment, maybe there's money that you need to invest, maybe you need to hire somebody to manage it. When you were considering your move away from social media, what came up for you?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:05:19):
Well, when I first started considering it, I had swallowed the lie completely. That I had to have social media, that that was the only way to do it, that I had to post regularly and share all the things. I had even just invested money in having a designer brand my Instagram stuff so it was all ready to go and perfect. When I started debating it, I don't even remember, I think I was having a conversation with a friend, and she said, "Maybe we don't need social media," and I was like, mind blown, no way, that is impossible.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:05:58):
The driving force that really spurred the decision was my feelings about Zuckerberg and how he manages Facebook and unfortunately Instagram, because Facebook was easy to leave, Instagram was a little bit more challenging for me. But I knew if I was going to make the decision, I had to leave both, because my main reason for wanting to leave was recognizing if I'm going to build a business based on my values and the values of Facebook and Instagram are so counter to my own values, why am I continuing to feed into this giant monster of a thing?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:06:39):
That was really the first thing that I considered, and then it was oh my gosh, how're you going to sell stuff? No one's going to be able to see you. This is where you go. I realized that I would do a lot of spinning all day long on social media. I'd spin on Facebook, I'd spin on Instagram, I would waste time, and then I would write a post, and be like, "I did something for my business today, I wrote a post on freaking social media." I wasn't engaging in my business, I was just in this rote pattern of do a podcast, post it on Facebook, write a post, post it on Instagram, and I wasn't really engaging in my business, and so that was factor number two that was a recognition to me that maybe I needed to look at this differently.
Susan Boles (00:07:28):
So walk me through the decision process you went through as you decided to leave. What factored into this overall decision, and how did you actually make the decision to say yep, I'm going to leave, I'm going to do it, and then pull the plug?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:07:51):
All this happened for me right around the timing of the George Floyd. I was debating it before that, but then when the George Floyd Black Lives Matter movement started happening, and it was a wake up call to me of how performative social media is, and all these people were posting things about Black Lives Matter, and that was at the time that everyone did the blackout, and that really got me thinking, and really got me questioning how much of this is helping me, and how much am I just doing it because someone somewhere has told me this is important.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:08:29):
It was the first time in a long time that I really started taking my business seriously. I started questioning my business and questioning where my values were fitting into the business, and so that was the beginning of debating it. I was talking about it with a friend, I was going on forums that I belong to and sharing my debating about this. Then I listened to Jenny Blake did a podcast and I think it was a couple of years ago that it came out, and she talked about how she didn't do social media at all, and had totally gotten off of social media, and she's written a number of books, she does a lot of speaking, and that gave me hope. Here's someone who is building a business successfully who is not on social media, and that was the first example of someone that I saw that that could be possible.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:09:24):
Then I was like, "Okay, I've got to get some things in place here to do this, to make this transition." Social media is so passive, that was the biggest thing. It's a passive way of engaging with people, and I was doing all the things. I was posting regularly, I had the branded posts, I had tons of posts, but I didn't have a lot of followers. I think I hit 1000 followers, and I would post something up and I might get 20 likes or 30 likes and I might get some engagement, but it wasn't like anything was going viral or I was getting all these followers. It was just trickling in. I really started questioning how much of this am I doing to perform for other people, and how much of this am I doing for me.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:10:16):
The second factor is I work with people who have anxiety. That's my business model is helping women with high functioning anxiety, and the one thing that triggers my anxiety more than anything is getting on fricking social media. So getting on social media, doing the scroll, allowed me to get stuck in comparison syndrome, it allowed me to think I was doing something when I wasn't. It was just this constant passiveness.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:10:45):
One of the things someone suggested was they were talking about SEO, and I have not done anything with SEO. That, getting people to my website through SEO was never, it felt like a gimmick to me, it just wasn't something that I invested in. I actually talked to an SEO person, I think it's the same person that you're working with actually. And she was like, "Oh my gosh, you have this amazing website that has all this content on it, but no one can find it, because your SEO sucks." She's like, "Once we can do these few switches, we can get people to your website, and not direct them just from social media."
Nancy Jane Smith (00:11:31):
So that felt like, okay, now I have a plan. Its not just that I'm dropping social media, I'm dropping social media but I'm adding this new way for people to find me that is in my niche, and fine tuned, and so that felt good, like I was adding something else. And I've been blogging since 2008, so there was a ton of content on my website that no one was accessing, and then I was just creating more content on Instagram, and no one was accessing it. It wasn't going anywhere.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:12:05):
Then I decided I had to just pull the plug. I was going to debate it forever unless I set a date, and so a friend of mine and I both, I set the date hard, I said I'm going to go July 1st, I'm done by then. All in on July 1st. The irony was that right before July 1st, I was on a podcast and it was really popular. I didn't realize it was so popular when I recorded it, and I got a ton of Instagram followers. I think I increased up like, I think I got 350 Instagram followers in a couple of days. I was like, "Oh my god, maybe this is a sign I shouldn't be leaving, I have all these followers.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:12:55):
But I stuck with it. I said "No, I'm getting off of it July 1st," and the two things that really pushed me over that finish line was one, the politics of Zuckerberg, and two, my own values that if my goal is to help people with anxiety, I should not be directing them to a place that causes anxiety, which is social media. And so really pushing my clients and my listeners and my followers for lack of a better term and putting them in the forefront, and recognizing they need to get off of this platform, and I don't want to be the one that's encouraging them to go on it.
Susan Boles (00:13:35):
When you decided to leave, was it just Facebook and Instagram? Or were you not active on other platforms? Or have you left all social media altogether?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:13:50):
I left Facebook. I deactivated my account on Facebook. Initially, I was like, "I'm going to delete everything, and I'm going off." And then at the last second, I was like, "We're just going to deactivate." So I deactivated Facebook, and I did keep my Instagram. My Instagram profile is still there. Because I was getting all the new followers, I just put a link where they can sign up for my news letter list. So I'm going to revisit that, I set a date for September 1st to revisit, if I'm getting a lot of new followers, then I'll keep that there. If I'm not, I'll pull that as well, because I just didn't want to lose all those people. But and I will say my email list has increased.
Susan Boles (00:14:42):
So you actually did manage to drive people who found you on Instagram to your email list?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:14:49):
Yes. My email list last year, I bet it grew by maybe 50 people last year. It barely moved at all. This year, I have added I think 400 people. Most of that coming from podcast interviews I've done and pl sharing my stuff. Very few of that, and maybe coming from Instagram, but I wasn't getting a ton. Since leaving Instagram, I've gotten more followers than when I was on it, if that makes sense. More people on my newsletter list than when I was on it.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:15:23):
So I got off and then the other thing that's interesting is I built a dummy account on Instagram, because I have all these cats and dogs that I enjoy following on Instagram that just make me happy and bring me joy, so I was like, "Maybe I can do this dummy account and still follow the handful of cats and dogs that I follow to see what's happening with them." I made up a new email, I did all the things to keep it anonymous, but I put my phone number in. Wouldn't you know, bammo, Instagram's suggesting that I follow all these coaches, it found me.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:16:01):
That just freaked me out, and I was like, I'm done. I can't even do the dummy account. I can go on YouTube and follow, those cat dog people are everywhere. So then immediately after I got off of Facebook and Instagram, I got on Twitter, and that for a while was where I was scrolling. Twitter scrolling. Just the habit of scrolling, and getting input from other people and seeing what other people are doing. Twitter and LinkedIn are two things where I haven't gotten off of them yet. I'm debating doing more with LinkedIn in general, building more of a platform there. I haven't done anything with that yet. I ended up unfollowing a lot of people on Twitter and making it way more boring so I don't hop on that. I'm not doing the scrolling as much as I was.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:16:55):
I will say what I miss about it is getting that input. Getting other ideas coming from other places. LinkedIn provides some of that. I don't know much about LinkedIn, I haven't spent a lot of time on there, but that's something I have to go search out, so I subscribe to a lot more newsletter lists than I used to, just getting people's links and engaging in those different conversations.
Susan Boles (00:17:24):
Interesting. That was one of my followup questions. It's been about a month or two since you left, and wanting to know what have you noticed hog after leaving, and at least for me, the reason that I'm finding it hard to pull the plug on Instagram is that that is the primary social media channel for most of my business friends. That's where I find out what they're doing, and we send each other DMs. So for me, it's less of a promotion channel because I just don't really use it that way. But that's where my friends hang out. So what have you noticed since leaving, either positive or negative?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:18:20):
I've noticed a lot more, the negative is what I said about the lack of input and not getting as much articles. But one thing I have noticed that I didn't really think would happen, I didn't think would be a positive, is I'm so much more intentional now. In the past, there is a podcast that I listen to that I liked, I would have just thrown it up on Instagram, or thrown it up on Facebook and suggest that people listen to it. Now, I'll text people and say, that I individually think of, "Hey, you would really like this," or, "Check this out," or I'll email them.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:18:57):
In that way, it's really helped some of my relationships that I reach out individually where I would have just done a blanket post. I use Voxer a lot in how I work with clients, and so that's something I've started using with people in my life is just using Voxer instead of social media, instead of that direct message way. I'll just hop on Voxer with them and leave a message that I would have left on direct messaging. That is something that's been really cool.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:19:27):
I've also had a lot more creativity, because I'll come up with an idea. It used to be, I would come up with an idea and I'll be like, "Oh, that would be a great social media post," and I'd hop on Instagram and I'd make it into a social media post, and that would be the end of the thought, I wouldn't think anything more of it. Now I have a thought, I write it down, and then I expand it so it becomes a newsletter post, or it becomes a podcast episode. I'm going deeper with stuff than just posting it up and forgetting about it, like I would before. My newsletter has gotten stronger because of that, because this is the one way I'm talking to people.
Susan Boles (00:20:07):
Nancy Jane Smith (00:20:09):
Is through my newsletter. That is even been better. I would say I have so much more head space. The amount of time that I would fake work because I was scrolling on Instagram or social media. I would think of an idea for my business, and I'd be like, "Oh, well let's go see what people are doing about this, if anyone else is doing this." Then I'd hop on social media and go down the rabbit hole seeing if anyone else was doing it, and in the name of research, but it was way off the beaten path of research.
Susan Boles (00:20:47):
I have been there.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:20:49):
Then I'd do that for a couple of hours, more than I care to admit. Or it would be a way I would procrastinate on writing a podcast episode. Instead of writing a podcast episode, I'd be researching on social media.
Susan Boles (00:21:03):
We don't do that. I have no idea what you're talking about. I feel very attacked right now.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:21:13):
Part of me is like, as I'm saying it, "I hope other people are going to agree with this and I'm not the only one out there that's wasted hours."
Susan Boles (00:21:19):
I 100% do that all the time.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:21:21):
That was a commitment I made when I got off was that if I was hitting up a spot where I didn't want to keep working, where I was procrastinating or I was in the scroll mode, I get up and I leave my office. I go do something else. Then I come back and I finish. Or I buckle down and say, "We've got to finish this." That has dramatically decreased my work day, because I don't have all this filler time anymore.
Susan Boles (00:21:52):
You're showing up, you're doing the work you're supposed to do, and then you're done.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:21:55):
Susan Boles (00:21:56):
And there's no, like, "Should I be posting? Should I help my posting? Should I interact with people? Should I be networking? What should I be doing?" That just really dizzy head space where you're not quite sure what to do next, but you feel like you should be doing something, and I completely relate to that, because that is exactly how I feel about social media.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:22:20):
Susan Boles (00:22:21):
And for the longest time, the beginning of my business, I consciously did not do social media, because I just didn't have time for it, and I wasn't sure that it was going to be effective. I definitely noticed since I quit my full time job and I'm doing work full time, when I'm in Scalespark full time now, I totally fill that up. It's so much harder now to be really clear about what's work and what's not, and what's important and what's not. Having to reestablish those boundaries has been really interesting watching myself ignore doing.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:22:57):
Susan Boles (00:22:58):
It's probably the most accurate way of putting that is that I am aware that I need to put a boundary, and then just not doing it.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:23:06):
Yes. Yeah. Because that was the other thing for me. I know people said, "Oh, just unfollow people that trigger you, or have someone else do your social media and don't get on it." All that just felt like a bandaid on a gaping wound. It wasn't enough for where I was in my relationship with social media, and it was kind of hijacking my business, because I wasn't fully engaged in my business. Social media, I feel like it had its hooks in me, and so I was constantly looking outside of myself for where I need to go next, what needs to happen next, and now I can be like, okay, this is what I'm going to do and I have to be more creative. I've pitched myself to more podcasts, I guess that I've gotten more intentional about my newsletter. All of these ways that I had ditched, because social media was just.
Susan Boles (00:24:06):
Was just taking up all of your time?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:24:07):
Yeah. It was so superior to me in how to do it, and I didn't really realize, until I posted it on the What Works forum that we're both members of, until I posted it on that, and then got the reaction of, "Oh wow, wow, you're cool. She's going off social media." You would have thought I was saying I'm going to give it all up and go live with the monks. It was just so counter-cultural, and I didn't feel it was that counter-cultural. By the time I brought it to the group, I was already pretty far down in the decision making process.
Susan Boles (00:24:40):
And you are definitely further ahead of me on the decision making process than I am, because I'm still definitely, I'm 100% committed to not having Facebook, but I've really never had Face. I have a page, but I haven't posted on it hardly ever other than automated posts from the podcast. Instagram, like you, I have a lot harder time trying to figure out is it a necessary discovery platform? Is it something where my people actually are? Is it something that is going to bring me a return on investment, or are there ways that I could get a better return on the investment of my time as it relates to getting new clients is is it necessary, or is there a better way?
Susan Boles (00:25:28):
So I am loving watching your journey. You're testing my hypothesis for me of what happens if you just bail. Let me ask you, as you are pitching other podcasts and doing other promotion strategies, I know for a lot of bigger podcast guests, they are, and I mean, for this show too, when you are a guest on someone's podcast, part of that social contract is that you are going to share it to your audience, and that's really why I ended up on Instagram to begin with, is just that most of the podcast guests, that's their primary channel. It was never a channel for me, I've never committed to it other than I post there for podcast. Have you had any pushback from that? You sharing it on your email newsletter is plenty? How have you approached that, I guess it's a social contract is maybe the best way to describe that relationship? It's kind of expected, how do you approach that?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:26:43):
That has not been a big deal at all. It was a factor for me. Like, "Oh, people are going to be upset that I'm not going to post it on Instagram," but then it was really, for me, and I had this whole thing written to send to people if it becomes a thing to say i never shared podcasts on my newsletter. Before, I would just post it on Instagram Story, and that would be the end of it. Maybe 50 people saw it on Instagram Story, and a third of those were friends or family. They weren't even people that this was going to be pertinent to them. Now, if I'm on a podcast, I share it in my newsletter, that's eyes that people are clicking on.
Susan Boles (00:27:34):
That's a lot more engagement than randomly, like, "Oh, it's so much fun to be on this podcast."
Nancy Jane Smith (00:27:39):
Yes, yeah. Versus, "Here's a podcast I was on, and this is why, and this is why you need to listen to it." But what I recognized in myself is how many of those social contracts, and I say that in quotes, there were that aren't really beneficial to the other person. I didn't have a huge Instagram following, it wasn't like it was 10,000 people that were seeing it. So I had this smaller following anyway, and then Stories makes it even smaller, and so versus putting it on my newsletter and having it on my website is a very different, they're getting more people than they were before.
Susan Boles (00:28:21):
Right. Interesting. Is there anything else you think we should talk about that we haven't touched on yet? Anything that was either important for you or that you think we should just-
Nancy Jane Smith (00:28:35):
I did what I, because I think those social contract things played a bigger role for me than I recognized in why I couldn't go off. Even someone said to me, there's a few things I want to say about that. One was, and like I said, I got all this influx of followers right after I went off because of the podcast I was on, and I noticed that the number of followers I got did not equal the number of new people to the newsletter. They weren't going to my page and reading my bio to see that I'm no longer on Instagram, go here instead.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:29:11):
Even my last post is my podcast episode explaining why I'm getting off of social media. When I go back to check it, like once a week, I'll hop on just to see what's happening on my page, and I'll have 10 new likes on that podcast episode. Okay, but the podcast episode is saying I'm not here anymore.
Susan Boles (00:29:32):
Like, you don't need to.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:29:33):
You don't need to like it.
Susan Boles (00:29:34):
You don't need to recognize this if I'm not here to get your feedback.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:29:39):
And then they'll follow me. Well, they're just following me blindly, they're not going to the page and reading about me, they're just blindly following me. I think that's another one of those, starting to pay attention to how many of these messages we've received, that we take as, "You can't leave social media," and start questioning them. They all start falling apart.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:30:02):
Another one of those was someone said to me, "Oh, well I think it's very privileged of you to say you can get off of social media and build a slower business, because some people really need to be doing this quicker," and my comment was we've built businesses for years not on social media. Since when did social media become the only way to build a business, and the only method to reach people? I have done all the things except for buy a lot of ads. That's the only thing I didn't do. That is, if I was buying all the ads, that would be privileged in my opinion. I'm just pouring money into ads, and I'm getting this huge following. There is privilege, because not everyone can do that.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:30:51):
I was trying to do it organically, because I didn't want to give them any more of my money. I was trying to do it organically from the get go, and it wasn't working. So that's another one of those things. There are a lot of things that people throw up as resistance as to why you shouldn't give up social media, and really questioning those has brought me a new love of my business. It has re-energized my business to be like, this is my business, and I can do it however I want to do it. If I want to do this experiment and see what happens, let's do it. As of right now, a month in, it has been nothing but great things. I don't even know what I'm missing on social media, that's the beauty of it.
Susan Boles (00:31:36):
[crosstalk 00:31:36] as far as I can tell, nothing. As somebody who's been scrolling for the last month, you haven't missed anything.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:31:47):
And I have a huge, I was really active on Facebook, my personal page of Facebook.
Susan Boles (00:31:54):
Nancy Jane Smith (00:31:55):
I was very active with friends and family, and that has been a huge weight lifted off of me, not to have to engage and like.
Susan Boles (00:32:06):
That I agree with. I stopped engaging. My page exists, I'm still there, but I haven't engaged in anything on Facebook probably for a year and a half or so. You're right, as soon as I stopped opening Facebook and stopped, like, I turned off my notifications, I was just like, it doesn't exist anymore. It was so freeing. It's one of those platforms where for me, there's so many emotional triggers that come from Facebook.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:32:40):
Susan Boles (00:32:42):
That don't happen to me necessarily on my other platforms, because my other platforms are all business people. I don't have a lot of personal connections on any of the other platforms, it's all on Facebook. Leaving Facebook, even though I technically have not left, I'm not on it either. I'm in the gray area where I haven't really pulled the trigger to delete it, but also, it doesn't exist for me as a social media platform anymore. I was only there because I had a group that I wanted to be active in, I wanted to participate in, and they were hosted on Facebook.
Susan Boles (00:33:25):
Gradually, I realized I just stopped engaging with the group because it was so painful to just go on, to just even open the app that I just stopped. Luckily, they have just now left Facebook and I'm so thrilled, because I'm like, "Oh I can be engaged in this again, this is great."
Nancy Jane Smith (00:33:42):
Yeah. Because it is amazing how it makes you so, it makes me really self-centered to be like, "Oh, I've got to like this person's, because they're going to be mad at me if I don't like them." Really? Are they even noticing?
Susan Boles (00:33:53):
They don't notice.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:33:54):
They don't notice. All of that mental gymnastics would take up head space that is now gone. I would have that same thing on Instagram of, "Oh, they're going to see that I'm seeing their Story and they're going to wonder why I didn't comment." I'm not the center of the universe here. People aren't tracking me all the time, but somewhere in my head...
Susan Boles (00:34:15):
I mean, they are tracking you. That's a thing.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:34:18):
Exactly. Because when I put my phone number in, they found me.
Susan Boles (00:34:22):
Oh, that is so weird. Facebook texted me the other day, and I was like, "Are you trying to get me to delete my account? Because I feel like that's what happening here. You were not happening with the gray space of me existing but not participating, and now you're trying to get me to just pull the plug." That felt so creepy.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:34:43):
Yeah, that is.
Susan Boles (00:34:44):
They're like, "Hey, you have a friend request," I'm like, "Oh wait a second. This is not what I signed up for. Uh-uh, don't text me." All right. Where can our listeners find you if they want to connect and learn more, because I know it's not Instagram or Facebook?
Nancy Jane Smith (00:35:00):
Right, exactly, yes. That's the other big thing is changing all of that around on my podcast, removing all the references. They can find me at my website, which is live-happier.com, and they can find me at my podcast called The Happier Approach.
Susan Boles (00:35:14):
And you have a fabulous episode that we will link to that you did talking about all of this when you decided to leave. That is a fabulous episode, so thank you so much for being here. This was really fun.
Nancy Jane Smith (00:35:28):
Susan Boles (00:35:31):
For Nancy, the right call was just leaving altogether. The decision to leave was in sync with her personal values, and her desire not to support Facebook as a company. But that decision also came from a place of health. Not just hers, but her clients' health too. She looked at who her clients were, what they struggled with, and she assessed the potential financial risks to her business and decided it was probably possible to leave the platform with pretty minimal impacts to the overall financial health of her business.
Susan Boles (00:36:06):
Is it worth it? Every small business owner wants to know that the money they spend on their businesses is worth it. That their investments produce results and help them grow. But if you don't know your business finances in and out, it's hard to know whether those expenses and investments are really worth it. Plenty of business owners, even the successful ones, feel like they're shooting in the dark when it comes to how they spend, save, and invest their money. Like you, they wonder if the ads they're buying, the software they're investing in, or the people they're paying are really paying off, and that's stressful.
Susan Boles (00:36:47):
Feeling unsure about how you're spending or investing your money might be common, but it sure isn't fun. I want something different for you. I want you to feel confident that every decision you make is guided by your financial intel. I want you to be able to decide what actions to take to grow your business from a place of confidence and purpose, not panic, so that you can feel masterful at managing your money instead of inept or just plain scared. I want you to know exactly what's working so you can go all in and make your money make more money.
Susan Boles (00:37:22):
This is what I do for business owners when I step in as their chief financial officer on demand. I help them parse the numbers, look for opportunities, and invest where it counts. We get clear on when they're getting in their own way, and where the math just doesn't add up. Now I want to teach you to do the same for your own business, because trust me, you can.
Susan Boles (00:37:44):
Join me for Think Like a CFO. It's a four month accelerator online workshop and small group coaching program where I'll work alongside you so you can start thinking like a CFO and know that every penny you spend on your business is worth it. You'll dig into your relationship to money, put your financial data at your fingertips, and build systems of cash flow, taxes, and budgeting.
Susan Boles (00:38:08):
I'll help you integrate your financial knowledge into your operational systems and technology, so that your whole business works better. By the end, you'll feel wildly capable with your money. Think Like a CFO is starting soon, so go to skillspark.co/CFO to get all the information and sign up. I can't wait to work with you.
Susan Boles (00:38:33):
My next guest is Bonnie Gillespie. Bonnie works with actors and creatives. As a weekly columnist, she began demystifying the casting process for actors back in 1999. Her most popular book is Self-Management for Actors, the curriculum upon which her teaching is based. As a producer and Emmy-honored casting director, Bonnie specializes in indy darlings, whether casting, coaching, or exploring the woo, as the astrologer's daughter, she's passionate about leaving this world better than she found it.
Susan Boles (00:39:07):
Bonnie's perspective on Facebook is pretty different from Nancy's. She still disagrees with Zuckerberg and with Facebook's platform in general, but she decided to use the platform to increase the amount of good she can do in the world. For her, Facebook and Instagram are tools she can use to find exactly the right people that she can help, and since those people are on the platforms, she needs to be there too. Hey Bonnie, thanks so much for being here today.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:39:35):
Oh Susan, it's my pleasure, thanks for having me.
Susan Boles (00:39:37):
Can you describe how you are using Facebook and Instagram in your business right now?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:39:43):
We currently have a fabulous ads person who puts us up through Facebook and Instagram with very well-targeted ads for our flagship program. We're growing in our business and have a couple of other areas that we're about to move into, and we're taking what we've learned in working with her for the past few months about advertising and growth, and we're going to start applying that to other areas in our business, which I'm very excited about, because I'm able to then see where you can track spikes in our profits and in our revenue alongside investment in ads at Facebook and Instagram.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:40:27):
We are active advertising right now. We did not advertise at all in our business until October, November of 2019, so I'm new to advertising. But we went in knowing we had money to spend, and we're going to be devoted to it for enough of a period of time to really know if it works before we started changing things, and I think we really figured out what works for our audience, which has me very excited.
Susan Boles (00:40:53):
Yeah, so how long did you guys decide, when you were starting, how long did you decide you needed to invest to be able to tell if it was going to work for you or not? What was your timeline?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:41:04):
A quarter. A quarter. [crosstalk 00:41:06]. Yep, I said I want to go all in on ads for quarter four 2019. I know we're going to spend five figures, I'm so okay with this being $10,000, $12,000, $14,000. I don't want to go much higher than that, because I don't want to just burn through money if something's not working, but I know that the ads get smarter the longer they run, and it's kind of like a Furby, of anybody remembers a Furby from the '90s or the early 2000s, where there was this creature that got smarter the more you talked to it, and it would learn the language. It's a little bit like that, the more the advertising is happening, the pixel gets smarter. The tracking gets clearer. The data gets more refined, and that really helps with finding the right people.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:41:58):
We can track where someone comes in, and we're able to see that they're coming through an ad, previously did not know we exist, and they take the steps through our funnel that we hope that they will, and then at the end of that process, spend the money to join our flagship program. Then they are in the program loving it. They are having an amazing time, and it is giving them all the benefits that we know are possible. That ride, and being able to track it is something that is so thrilling, because it shows us that this actually does work, when we get the pixels smarter, and the ads smarter.
Susan Boles (00:42:36):
What kinds of results have you been seeing in your business based on the way that you've decided to use ads and Facebook?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:42:44):
Very definitely an increase in mailing list members. Every time we have an active ad out in the world, and when I say ad singular, I actually mean somewhere in the neighborhood of six to 15 different ads that are testing out different copy, and different images, and different audiences, and they're all tweaked in certain ways that are just constantly testing, testing, testing, testing, I always see an increase in mailing list numbers. We're only advertising free things, that's all we ever advertise. Free stuff, free stuff, free stuff.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:43:21):
We're just getting your email address, and then once you're in, it's on us to be able to communicate with you in a way that hopefully will lead to sales at some point. Because we've never advertised until 2019, I am used to a very long, nurturing process before someone actually purchases something, if ever. There are some people who will be with me for a decade before they actually spend any kind of money. What Facebook ads and Instagram ads have allowed us to do is shorten that process, that timeline, by quite a bit.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:43:55):
I always see an increase in mailing list numbers, and I see an increase in social media following, and I see an increase in members of our Facebook group, which has gone to 13,000, almost 14,000 members, and we vet every member. So it's not that we just open, accept everyone. We regularly remove people who are not a right fit for it, so the numbers have increased quite a bit with the right kind of person, which we're really excited about.
Susan Boles (00:44:27):
Talk to me a little bit just generally about how you feel about Facebook, Instagram, either as a platform, or as a company as it relates to you, or your business.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:44:39):
Well, I'm always, I don't want to say cautious, because I know Zuckerberg is always listening, so I'm mindful, not cautious, but I'm always mindful that when I say Mark Zuckerberg is the devil, that he's listening, and is keenly aware of my opinion about him and what he has contributed to the downfall in our society in so many ways. I'm not an idealist in that I am keenly aware of Mark Zuckerberg's power and influence and where it's been used in some really negative ways.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:45:19):
I personally am not a fan of the platform of Facebook, and less and less I am a fan of Instagram. I was late to the Instagram party, I didn't get on Instagram until, I wasn't to say late 2015, early 2016, so I didn't jump on that right away. I was like, "I have a Flickr account, why do I need Instagram?" Did not understand that those were different things.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:45:44):
But I know that there are reasons to use the tools, there are ways that they work, and so I am under no illusion of, "No, no, no, it's great, it's fine, it's not all that bad." I'm like, "Oh no, no, no, it is evil. And I am able to do really good things with that evil platform for now." So yeah.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:46:06):
I have a friends list account at Facebook, which is something that really interests people, because I have such a big following there. My business page has 11,000 followers, the Facebook group itself as I mentioned has 13,000, 14,000 people. But I have no friends. That is the status of my account since 2010 at Facebook, and I really love that, because it means that I don't actually go into Facebook as anything other than a business person there to do business.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:46:35):
I don't have connections with people that I'm related to, or friends with in real life. I don't have a feed, all it is is groups because I admin groups and am a member of groups. It really makes my time on Facebook very specifically focused to the cause, which is grow my business, do more good in the world, and then when we're at a tipping point of the evil of Facebook and Instagram has now outweighed the amount of work that I'm able to do that is good in the world, I will tap out. Or, when my reach has gotten so great that I don't need them anymore, I'll tap out. So I don't even want to call it a necessary evil, but it's very definitely an evil.
Susan Boles (00:47:17):
So as you are evaluating tools that you could use to market your business, you could use to drive sales, how does your evaluation of using Facebook and Instagram play into that evaluation versus all of the other tools that are out there available for you?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:47:35):
Yeah. That's a really good question, because we had examined absolutely zero advertising prior to deciding to do Facebook ads in 2019. What I mean by that is our entire business has been grown over 20 plus years in word of mouth, and great reviews for my book at Amazon, or best kept secret. So many people saying, "Oh, you've got to work with Bonnie Gillespie, oh you need to get Self-Management for Actors," the word out in such a way that we trusted people were coming to us, and the right people, because it was word of mouth, which meant it was always being mentioned along with a here's what to actually expect, so it kept bring us the right people, it just was a slow growth investment. It's not so much an advertising method, right?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:48:34):
When I look at other options are out there, I can't see anything that seems as effective in the short term as the Facebook and Instagram option, and that's part of why we hired someone who specifically has that as her zone of genius, so that we didn't have to learn all the ins and outs and stay up on the algorithm, and the changes, and the pixel, we didn't want to learn that. We wanted to be able to have someone who is a genius about that, and who stays on top of all the changes, and just invest in that person. Honestly, if that person tells us, "I'm seeing less effective things happening in the world of Facebook and Instagram," we would defer to her and where she believes we might be better off in spending our resources for advertising, rather than me investigating for myself what all the options are.
Susan Boles (00:49:28):
In the discussion that we were having prior to this discussion now, you talked about having a mindset of being in the place where you can do the most good. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:49:45):
Our ideal buyer, our perfect person, the one who's going to come into the Self-Management for Actors world thrilled to learn that my book and my methods exist, is on Instagram. Is on Twitter, is on Facebook. They are using social media. They're not on LinkedIn, because they're actors, they're creatives, they're in the movie business. They're not necessarily building connections in a corporate world, so there are just certain platforms that are a part of our perfect person's world.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:50:27):
They may use those platforms to build their brand as an artist and as a creative, and as a contact creator, and they too are aware that it's not necessarily the place that they want to be because they love it. In fact, they're aware that it's anxiety-producing, and sometimes downright criminal in terms of what it puts in front of everyone. However, they're aware that that ability to build a fan base is something that serves them.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:50:59):
So when they're able to see in their feed our brand and me as someone who can instruct them in the mindset and business side of running a creative business and being in show business and all the things that are not taught in a conservatory, or even getting a masters of art in theater. You're not being taught how to run your business and handle the mindset of being rejected every day. If I can connect with people who have felt that absence in their lives, I'm actually helping them then build their business and stay in the world of creating art that heals, which allows us to, as a group, do more good in the world than Facebook could ever do harm.
Susan Boles (00:51:51):
Yeah, I love-
Bonnie Gillespie (00:51:52):
I just see the role of artists as we heal the world with our art. Story telling is a healing art. So when we have artists who are called to perform and to tell stories of the voices that are otherwise not amplified, and they know what an important platform entertainment can be, and they're in it for those reasons, not because they want to get famous, that's my right person. It's almost like we've both agreed to rendezvous on these platforms that we know we have to use for our businesses, but we also know that there's a greater good that we're able to do, and a greater reach that we're able to get by using these as our tools, rather than being used by them.
Susan Boles (00:52:36):
I like that. I really love your perspective of this being this tool that you can use to bring the right people to you really efficiently, to increase the overall good that you can do with your business, up until the point where your future business maybe doesn't need this tool anymore, or you have enough reach. Talk to me a little bit about what that might look like, or that thought process.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:53:00):
Yeah, it's interesting, because there's the part of the brain that goes, well if not Facebook, then what? If not Instagram, then what? What's the platform? So I go, "Well, let's segregate what it is that we're looking to replace," and for me, if it's a place where, for instance, we have an online community for Self-Management for Actors. We have a flagship membership with hundreds of active members in it consistently, and a very, very active behind the paywall community and space where members are having conversations every day. We're not on mighty networks, we're not on Facebook. We are in fact a community that is within the curriculum space on our own website, on our own server. That's how much we are dedicated to this is our space. I never want to build an empire on somebody else's land.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:53:52):
The way that I see the whole world of when we're at a tipping point for no longer needing a Facebook or an Instagram or even a Twitter space that is out there in front of eyeballs that don't know our little world exists is when there are enough people in that space, we call it the dojo, because it's where we're in there to just work out, and to get more ninja in our treks. How can we be more resourceful, more aware of what's going on in the industry? How can we pull back the curtain and really have that transparency of fighting the ills that exist and really staying in it and keeping our mindset healthy for the long haul of a creative career?
Bonnie Gillespie (00:54:41):
When we have enough people in there that word of mouth is then again the more effective advertising tactic, we can close off the free Facebook group, the business page, the Instagram space, even the Twitter account. All of those platforms could go poof at any moment if anybody wanted to shut them down, and so we are already always building toward a world where we can have, I don't know what the critical mass is for that, but we always say 1,000 people in the dojo. Once there's 1,000 people in the dojo, that 1,000 true fans concept, and I want to say his name's Kyle Keller that came up with that from Wired Magazine a decade plus ago.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:55:30):
Having that many people actively working on the process of what we do means the word of mouth then has that amplified effect that social media now doesn't even come close to tackling, because that just has that authentic experience of people saying, "No, no, no, you have to do this. This is great. This has changed my life. You want to do it too." I just think that gets bigger over time, which Facebook of course helps us contribute to, through the ads.
Susan Boles (00:56:00):
No, I love that perspective as a whole, that it is a tool that you're using, that you're mindful of, I guess mindful and aware of the implications of what's happening on the platform and what's happening with the company behind the platform, and still making a choice that it's a conscious choice for you. It's not, "We should be on Facebook because we should be on Facebook," it's, "We should be on Facebook because that is where our people are. That is where we can get the most visibility. That's where we can do the most good, because that's where our people are." I love that it's a conscious choice but you're still really thinking about the implications, and thinking about how to eventually transition away from this platform, and what that might look like and when that might look like.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:56:52):
This is true no matter how big a platform you've created for your own business, or one has created for his or her, their own business. There's always got to be that I toward, I am using things out there that I don't own. That I didn't create. That can get taken away. It's like if you've got a course and you put it on a platform like Kajabi or Teachable, or something like that. What happens if the terms of service change, and suddenly you lose access to your curriculum and all the comments? If the switch gets flipped and suddenly, you're not in control of what happens in that space, I am a terms of service junky. I love reading the fine print. I am keenly aware of what rights I'm granting, and what I'm trading for my being in a space.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:57:52):
Especially in show business, this is one that's really important, because if it's something like a site like YouTube, when you upload a video, you're telling YouTube you have permission to sell this to anyone, and you don't have to ask me, and you don't have to pay me. Where we saw this play out, gosh, I want to say a decade ago now, maybe even more like 11, 12 years ago was someone had a video that they had uploaded to YouTube, and they saw it on the opening monologue during one of the Late Night talk shows, that it was one of the bits before they went to the interview and guest portion. He was like, "What the hell?" Because he of course had never given permission, he had never signed anything saying you can use this, ABC or whichever network it was that the show was on.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:58:38):
He immediately calls his attorney and says that this was used, I need to get paid for this. Of course, the producers of the show and the network and the parent company all said take it up with YouTube, because YouTube can do that with your footage. Of course, this is a big conversation that we have to have in show business, because we have actors and artists and these brilliant creatives uploading things because they need to be seen, and they need to build the fan base, but at the same time, they need to retain the rights to what they've put up so that they can go to a Sundance Film Festival or sell their short that they've created to a network or to a streaming service or to a distribution entity, and just being aware of the fine print is such a part of how I do my business already that I knew getting into bed with Zuckerberg and doing ads would mean that I was saying yes to something akin to big pharma.
Bonnie Gillespie (00:59:39):
I like, well yeah, but if I'm dealing with a disease that is best served with western medicine and I need to take this prescription in order to get well enough that I no longer need that prescription, I'm going to go on that ride in the short term, because in the big picture, it does help.
Susan Boles (00:59:56):
I love that analogy. Is there anything you think we should talk about that we haven't touched on yet?
Bonnie Gillespie (01:00:02):
I want to go back to how you started with me, which is about the investment that we decided upon before we entered the world of ads. This is something that I'm so glad I prepared for, and I would love for anyone who's considering advertising for the first time or going back to advertising after a hiatus to consider see it as an investment that once you're doing it, you're doing it for the long haul. I mean long haul in the short term, because I know that we're not looking at technology in terms of and forever, and forever, amen. We're married to each other, Zuckerberg. I don't mean like that.
Bonnie Gillespie (01:00:46):
What I mean is budget for months, not a single campaign. Like, "Oh, we have this launch, and we know that we have these numbers that we want. We want to make sure that we get the ads in front of this many people because our conversion rate with this copy is this percentage, and then when we get that percentage of people into our funnel, then we convert this many into buyers, therefore this is a correct ad spend." I mean, yes, do all that math, work with the guru who knows her stuff if that's not you, which in this case, it was definitely not me. I mean, I do know a lot of my stuff. This stuff, I knew there's someone better equipped to handle all the ins and outs of the ads.
Bonnie Gillespie (01:01:24):
But going in knowing I am not just going to spend for this launch, but I am going to always have something floating out in front of people to keep me top of mind, to keep me in their feed, to keep me relevant. I believe knowing that that is a part of how you get the pixels smarter, you get the ads working better, you get the copy tweaks so that then on your next launch, you just turn up the volume. You turn up the reach. You do more of the ads, but you never actually turn them off, you just turn them down to a maintenance mode.
Bonnie Gillespie (01:01:59):
Budgeting for that I think is what really makes a difference in terms of how effective they can be, and how they end up costing you less overall, because you end up making them smarter without they're more effective, and they're bring you the right people. They're not bringing you people that you are not a good fit with for the final product, they're not asking for refunds, they're the kinds of people that you're like, "Gosh, if I could have hand picked the perfect person in a country where I never had a buyer before, this is what she would look like."
Bonnie Gillespie (01:02:29):
And then the ad goes and gets her, and then she thanks you for being in her feed, because she was just about to lose hope, and then saw your ad, and then you were able to bring her into this world where she's now having her eyes wide open to all the opportunity that exists for her because of what you've created and the good that now you together can do in the world.
Bonnie Gillespie (01:02:51):
Really having that big picture view, even as you're making short term decisions, I think helps a great deal, so I would just say have a budget in mind for a quarter at least, and then even have a when we're not advertising, what is our advertising budget part of the conversation, which is just enough ads to be out there so that they're not turned off and on, because that off and on is what makes ads more expensive over time. We think, "Oh I'm saving money because I'm not actively launching something right now." It's like, yeah but you're always brand building. And that brand building is some of the best stuff that you can be doing for lower pricing on the ads during non-launch periods that allow your launch periods to be way more effective and not crazy expensive.
Susan Boles (01:03:36):
Awesome. Where can our listeners find you if they want to connect or learn more about what you do?
Bonnie Gillespie (01:03:43):
BonnieGillespie.com is going to be the main hub for all the things. We are in a period of growth right now, so I can't tell you what that place looks like when you get there. Like the web, it's forever changing. But BonnieGillespie.com will be your place for finding out all that I do with actors and creatives in show biz as well as my new astrology business and oh my gosh, the options are endless. I work on a lot of nuffness. What I mean by that is because I work with a generation of people who get rejected every day for a living, it can still help them know I am enough at my core. We're taking that enoughness work now out to a greater, larger population, and it's really thrilling to me to get to see this at work in a much larger way.
Susan Boles (01:04:33):
That sounds exciting.
Bonnie Gillespie (01:04:34):
It's yummy, I'm having fun. I'm enjoying the growth, and the ads are allowing me to grow, because I now have this nice, humming in the background thing for what I have already built and I know works and it's allowing me to have leverage to make new decisions and try new things, and explore what my next chapter might be, and I wouldn't have that freedom if I didn't know I have humming in the background this system that's bringing people in.
Susan Boles (01:05:01):
Perfect. Thank you so much for being here today, Bonnie.
Bonnie Gillespie (01:05:04):
Thank you for having me, Susan. This was fun.
Susan Boles (01:05:07):
Well, Nancy and Bonnie didn't choose the same path here, they both do disagree with Facebook's policies. Both consciously evaluated how that value should impact their investment in advertising dollars, and in presence on those platforms. They weighted who they worked with, what potential risk there was to their income, and whether or not their business could survive that risk. They weighed whether or not pulling off the platform would ultimately impact their ability to grow their business. Then they made a decision about their investment accordingly.
Susan Boles (01:05:41):
Both Nancy and Bonnie considered their values as part of that decision to invest in the platform or not. Their evaluation of the investment included their values in the decision making process, and that's the takeaway here. When you're deciding whether or not to make an investment, considering whether or not that investment is aligned with your values is an important part of that decision making process, and it's not a piece that you should skip.
Susan Boles (01:06:08):
Next week, we're talking about measuring and evaluating your investments, so once you've made an investment, how do you decide if it really did pay off. Hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss it. Break the Ceiling is produced by Yellow House Media. Our production coordinator is Sean McMullin. This episode is edited by Marty Seefeldt with production assistance by Kristin Runvik.