Social media return on investment: when to delete and move on

So I just deleted one of my Google communities with nearly 6,500 “members”.

It had been on deck for deletion for awhile. I’d been carefully watching it for awhile. Today some person decided to make a “grandiose” statement about leaving my community because I moderated some other page’s link (which went against my guideline of “add a short description or the link may be removed” – also I saw the link was a, from a business to a commercial link. I had no clue so out it went – I guess, I moderate so darn much). Her rant went on from there, I replied. Then I asked myself why I was spending any time on this issue or community in general. Why on earth am I justifying some pretty logical (or so I think) rules that are clearly posted on the front of the community? Why am I doing this daily moderation in the first place?

The problems

  • I was at the point where this community had over 20 posts per day in a moderation queue to look at.
  • This community doesn’t bring me anything tangible: enjoyment, learning, clicks, or anything else.
  • This community is now bringing me strife (or occasionally annoying messages from businesses asking me to bend my “no advertising” rule).
  • This trolly post. It was the last straw.

This could be considered “de-cluttering your social media presence”. I recently read an article that mentioned looking at everything in your house, and ask “does this bring joy”… and if not, get rid of it. I decided to start applying this idea to my online life: communities I’m a member of, communities I run, and where I spend time building any kind of presence.

“Does this thing I spend time on result in ____”. Fill in the blank: joy, learning, clicks, money, clients, camaraderie, leads, feedback on photos, or whatever else that holds meaning to you. Do you get something out of it that adds, not subtracts, from your life.

Google+ Communities was earning a big fat zero in that department, and (at least with this platform) there is little advantage to “owning” a community. It seems to simply result in a lot of work for no reward, and I was holding onto it for a number. A number. So that dog community is gone, and the others that use even less of my time might soon follow. And deleting it felt good.

Thoughts to consider

  • Do you analyze whether something is worth it? How?
  • Do you carefully watch your return on time investment? If so, in what ways?
  • How long do you wait for something to “prove itself” or “turn around” if you try to fix it/not sure if the platform is worthwhile?
  • When do you make the call?

Author Jen deHaan

Jen deHaan is a freelance graphic and web designer, fascinated with great layout and usability. She has been working in the software industry since 2001, and has held positions with Macromedia, Adobe, and Motorola in the Silicon Valley area near San Francisco. Jen has written and contributed to over 20 print publications on web design that have been published by Peachpit, Adobe Press, and Wiley. She now lives on a farm with her family and dogs in central Vancouver Island, Canada.

More posts by Jen deHaan

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Adam says:

    This is a common issue for webmasters or social community builders. I see a lot of community managers talk BS about how moderators need to be committed to the people in the community. Let’s be real here, if you don’t get anything out of running a community ie money, joy, recognition, traffic… why run it?

    Did you consider selling it or handing it off to someone else Jen?

    • Jen says:

      So true – and true for everything I consider these days. It\’s partly why I personally limit Facebook \”anything\” for both personal and business.I did consider handing off the group, or whether it\’d be \”worth\” anything. I couldn\’t in good conscious sell it, if that\’s even allowed (no clue). Then I thought about how there\’d be effort involved in finding a new home and then transferring the group, and couldn\’t really find the energy to do that either (not to mention the value is, from what I can tell, nil – I couldn\’t imagine how it would benefit anyone else \”here\’s this thing I think is garbage, do you want to take hours out of your week to maintain it for zero benefit to you or your site?\”). Not to say someone couldn\’t do it better, though. Suppose the main point is I was feeling pretty negative about the whole thing and wanted it gone and fast :)I\’m starting to feel the pain with another G+ community I haven\’t killed (yet) – it seems to hit pretty big at the 2K mark. I\’m trying a new tactic of ignoring all the moderated-by-Google content, and just watching what passes through for garbage. If that works, might keep it around. At any rate I think Google needs to take a long, hard look at the Community platform in general.

      • Adam says:

        If there were companies that wanted to advertise in the Google Community it sounds like you could have monetized it. Why didn’t you?

        I’ve seen it work a few times where the webmasters or moderators are upfront with the community about the time that is required and invested. A majority of the time they understand why you need to monetize. Of course it can not work.

        • Jen says:

          Two reasons – The first is that most businesses who approach me to advertise on channels I actually own (my blog, etc) are not planning to pay, and cannot be converted in most cases. I certainly describe the work that\’s put in, but it doesn\’t shift a thing – most are looking for \”free promotion\” even when they\’re asking you to do hours of work. While I could potentially expend more effort, I truly believe it is not using cycles efficiently – these are in most cases not potential clients. There are better, more efficient ways to make a living. The second is this is a Google Community, one of many, where people can freely post (as opposed to a FB page or G+ page that can be more moderated or completely moderated). People who are \”spamming\” there are posting their content on your community but also dozens of others. I can\’t imagine much of any incentive to pay you to approve the post when they\’re already posting it in dozens of other places, especially so if these are the same kind of people I\’m dealing with for sponsored blog material. Not to mention the traffic/engagement is not fantastic as it is (why I shut it down), so I think the tactic here is to blanket it across as many communities as possible as opposed to any benefit from one in particular. The other complexity is that most of these social networks actually forbid it – I know Facebook has a rule against this that I reckon they don\’t enforce much. From what I understand \”sponsored\” posts on Facebook are actually against the ToS despite most of us doing it from time to time. So it\’s not something I\’d really feel comfortable making a specific business venture out of, especially if it was the actual thing you were selling as opposed to social promotion of a post you write elsewhere. With all social media I truly believe that to have significant metrics off of an account you need either a highly engaged audience (significantly so), or real big numbers. Anil Dash recently shared his metrics, which were about 0.07% CTR on his 500K Twitter account. It\’s all a fickle beast! IMO, anyway 🙂

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