I woke up on Friday morning to a message from Facebook, when I tried to login, that my account was showing signs of suspicious activity and that I had to upload a photo of my face to verify my identity.

I did as I was told, but the next message made my blood run cold “Your account has been disabled due to suspicious activity”.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I kept trying to log in – nothing. Same message. I checked my emails constantly for some sort of answer – also nothing.

And thus my Facebook “jail” time began.

I tried to set up another account, but after a couple of hours that too got shut down and I never got the confirmation email needed to verify that account.

Then finally, on Saturday afternoon, as I tried once again to log in – Allelujah! I was in! My Facebook ban was lifted and I felt alive again. My headache disappeared and all was well with the world.

I didn’t get any explanation as to why my account was disabled, so I still don’t know what I did, but I was back, baby!

So what did I learn?

First – I am addicted to Facebook.

As far as addictions go, it is a pretty benign one. I am yet to rob petrol stations and convenience stores to get my “fix”. My children don’t go hungry and I can still pay my rent.

Why am I addicted? Is it for the validation of others’ attention? No. Most significantly, my Facebook addiction is a soothing mechanism for my anxiety and depression. I check it constantly, so that I don’t have to think about the myriad things I’m anxious about or to feel any pesky feelings.

The clue to the other reason lies in the name of my business, A Connected Life. Connection is huge priority and a value in my life. I need to feel connected to the rest of the world, or I feel adrift in time and space. Also, I need connection to help me deal with my mental health issues.

Don’t get me wrong. I connect with people in other ways than just social media. Last week I attended three networking events and missed out on a fourth because I slept in on Saturday. If I don’t have anything scheduled, I try to catch up for coffee with a friend at least once a week. I don’t do phone calls, but am in regular communication via email and FB messenger with a number of people for both business and friendship.

Being without Facebook for 36 hours made me feel alone and disconnected, although I was grateful for the few friends who queried the friend requests from my new account and checked on me to make sure I hadn’t been hacked.

Lesson learnt? I probably need to get out more during the week and not rely on scheduled networking events. It can be hard as all of my friends work during the day and my night time excursions are restricted as I’m a sole parent.

Second lesson and the one most relevant to you – don’t rely on Facebook for all your marketing and client communication.

Imagine if you only ever communicated with your clients through FB messages. What happens when you or your client are sent to Facebook “jail”? Or what happens if Facebook disappears one day? All your communication is lost. There is no more record of what has been said throughout your relationship with your client. Your email is a much safer option for communicating with your clients.

I meet many people who tell me that they don’t need a website, because they get all their clients from Facebook. What happens when Facebook disappears? So do all your clients.

If you don’t have a website and a mailing list, you basically have to start form scratch. And I am somewhat guilty of this. In recent times, I have been doing all my marketing through my Facebook page and groups. When I suddenly lost access, all was not lost, because I still had my website and I still had my mailing list. I immediately wrote two emails to promote my new services to two of my client groups and scheduled them for sending on Monday. Yes, I am back on Facebook, but landing in my clients’ inboxes is a far more effective way of reaching them, than placing all my faith in the Facebook algorithm.

So – if you don’t already have a website, now is the time to get one made. And start collecting those email addresses through an effective opt-in.

How about you? Have you ever been in Facebook “jail”? What did it teach you?

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