Should Marketers Quiet Quit Meta?

When use of a social media platform no longer aligns with an institution’s brand or message, quiet quitting may be more effective than simply abandoning valuable audiences.

5 minutes
By: Andrew Cassel
featured-image

Just enter “declining engagement on Instagram” into your favorite open source search engine on your open source browser, and you’ll quickly find significant reporting about how platform engagement on Instagram is on the decline. 

No need to even search about declining engagement on Facebook. Higher education social media managers have known for years that using this platform for our work is, to be a bit harsh, a waste of time. Our prospective students are not there, and our current students are not there. 

It’s a work-your-wage world at the moment, and most of us in higher education marketing and communications are not being paid a wage by Meta to beta test and grow audiences for Facebook or Instagram. So, why work for them at all?

Community building with parents and alumni are the primary reasons for continuing to share content to the Meta product Facebook. Let’s address that particular challenge first as we discuss quiet quitting the platform.

Changing Audience Preferences 

Parents and alumni have a vested interest in knowing about the community. Keep in mind, this is quiet quitting, not simply shutting off a switch and closing the doors on groups and pages that have value. For these important and essential audiences, change management is the name of the game. A two-year campaign, at least, to direct and welcome existing audiences to a new place is probably a good idea to think about. 

Engage with audiences on legacy social media platforms with gentle prompts to find more answers and resources in the developing communities. 

Change will happen even as we are suggesting change. New platforms will come — and maybe go — as we work with our audiences to find community homes away from Meta products. And perhaps part of your quiet quitting is to leave these communities in place on the Facebook product, monitor as necessary and focus your community building efforts and energy on a new home outside of Meta. Engage with audiences on legacy social media platforms with gentle prompts to find more answers and resources in the developing communities. 

Where to send them and how to get them to move will be conversations that you’ll have with your team as you begin considering taking this action. There’s no doubt that this will require  the audiences finding a new platform and learning new skills to interact and engage. They have a vested interest in doing these things because, when something is important to them, they will do it. For caregivers of the students, we serve as a place to connect with each other and to answer questions, which is very important. How about a new Slack workspace created and moderated by alumni relations or family relations offices? If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, create a Channel on your Discord Server that would provide a space for these audiences to connect.

To Use Is to Condone

What’s the harm in staying on the Meta product Facebook, you may ask.

The harm is that, no matter what you post on that platform, you’re communicating to your audiences that you support the company behind it. Even easier than finding media reports about the declining platform engagement on Instagram is finding a litany of stories about choices Meta has made when choosing growth over the safety of its users. 

As part of your change management when working with caregivers and alumni to find a new, welcoming community on another platform, focus on the why for the change. This is not about causing difficulties or setting up obstacles, it’s about creating a safer place for community members. 

Facebook is more divisive than unifying. It plays fast and loose with our data; it’s home to misinformation and outright propaganda. If Meta’s Facebook was a brick and mortar store on a corner in the town where you live, you would more than likely have learned to avoid it long ago. It’s familiarity bias that keeps us there as professionals. 

We are comfortable with what’s familiar, and we will manage to see many reasons to not embrace something that’s unfamiliar. The unknown is dangerous, everyone else is here, it’s been the standard for years, we’ll stick with what we know. That’s what Meta is counting on.

This is not about causing difficulties or setting up obstacles, it’s about creating a safer place for community members. … If Meta’s Facebook was a brick and mortar store on a corner in the town where you live, you would more than likely have learned to avoid it long ago.

How to Quiet Quit

A last thought about parents and alumni. Those audiences are changing as well. As we work diligently to push back against the systemic inequities in higher education, the caregivers and support groups that exist for the students we hope will join us also change. We need to anticipate and strategize for that change. Since we’re changing anyway, let’s make quiet quitting Meta products, such as Facebook, and eventually abandoning it all together a part of that change.

Quiet quitting Meta’s Facebook involves distinct steps. 

  • Connect your Instagram to Facebook
  • Dial down the amount of time and content you spend on the platform 
  • Maximize the Posts & Stories > Mentions & Notifications tool inside Meta Business Suite 
  • Add some context to what you are resharing
  • Move on with your very busy day to more valuable platforms

Please, don’t ignore the platform as you quiet quit. Maintain platform hygiene, check for spam posts and ban trolls. Most importantly, look forward to the day very soon when that platform is as much a part of your strategy as Tumblr is.

For current and prospective students, they won’t notice the difference. Where they will notice the difference is on Meta’s Instagram. We’ve used Meta’s photo and video sharing platform for over a decade. It’s become almost synonymous with the words “social media”. It’s time to stop.

The platform is so busy and clogged with brands and influencers that it is no longer what we hope it will be. A place where you can authentically show who you are and what you believe in. If it ever was. It’s not the steadily decreasing engagement with the platform that should be a real concern for higher education communicators and marketers. The real concerns are the bad actors who are preying on the very vulnerable people we encourage to use the platform.

Extremist groups are there on Meta right now hunting that same prospective student you are: The 16-year-old, high-performing, BIPOC, first-generation student who was just told at a college fair they should go on the platform to see what your school is like. Frightening isn’t even the right word. It’s terrifying how these extremist groups use these platforms to recruit people who feel isolated, unappreciated and a little bit scared for reasons they don’t fully understand — in other words, a high school student.

Telling myself “the internet is bad, what’s the difference, we’re using these tools for good” didn’t work for me any more. I was ignoring my ethical responsibility. I can step away and avoid encouraging young, vulnerable people to spend time on a platform that can be bad for their mental health and can indoctrinate them into a world of violence and anger.

It is not the steadily decreasing engagement with the platform that should be a real concern for higher education communicators and marketers, rather the bad actors who are preying on the very vulnerable people we encourage to use the platform.


Make a Plan, Stay Dedicated

Again, it’s not flipping the switch and turning off your Instagram. There would be a lot of backlash from your campus partners. This is going to take some serious change management to accomplish. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t something that I thought in all seriousness that we must do. It will take time, planning and dedication.

First, quiet quit Meta’s Instagram, which can look like focusing on Stories rather than chasing the Feed or Reels algorithm. We have zero control over that. Adam Mosseri said as much in the summer of 2022. He went on Instagram to say the platform would be feeding fewer photos to users and that users who wanted to continue to see reach and impressions should lean into Reels. Thanks, no problem — we will certainly test yet another product for you to see how Meta can better use it to extract data from teenagers.

Over the years higher education Instagram accounts have been gatekeeping student content. Posts that live far outside the brand colors, voice, style and typeface. These are barely even accessible. 

That’s what can change as your institution quiet quits Meta’s Instagram. Uplift those voices. Share those club recruitment posts and event fliers into your Story. Add a link so users can sign up for the event, join the club, or get information about the speaker coming to campus. 

Since 2020, we have worked much harder to bring more equity to whose voices are heard on social media platforms, and we have a long way to go. The straightforward tactic of sharing a club’s post into the main channel’s Story contributes slightly to those efforts.

It’s going to feel very strange. Like you’re violating every best practice you’ve learned. And it is. Those best practices have only served to maintain a status quo that upholds systemic inequity in higher education.

Enrollment is down, trust in higher education is on the wane, the very industry that can contribute great efforts to mitigating the dreadful effects of the climate crisis just over the horizon is often dismissed as unimportant.

If we want to change that, it’s time to transform how we work. The transformation is best started by divesting from Meta. And that very discomforting, but extremely important effort, begins with quiet quitting the platforms.

Andrew Cassel

Andrew Cassel

Contributor

Andrew Cassel has been creating and curating social media content for higher ed since 2011. Cassel speaks regularly about social media content at conferences and symposiums. He was awarded a best in track Red Stapler and is a five-time winner of Aurora Awards of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America – Alaska. In 2019, he was a host for Higher Ed Live – Marketing Live. His paper based on his HEWeb 2019 session was published in the spring 2021 peer reviewed Journal of Education Advancement & Marketing. Cassel is currently the Senior Social Strategist and Content Producer at Middlebury College.


Newsletter Sign up!

Stay current in digital strategy, brand amplication, design thinking, and more.


Recent in

Also in Social Media