There’s a lot wrong with Facebook. This isn’t news. When they realized that the GROUPS were where many people were taking their marketing efforts (because Facebook makes you *pay* to have posts from your fan page seen by the many thousands of people who’ve already asked to see those posts), they started toying with getting us to pay to be seen inside our own groups. Admin and moderator posts are already throttled at the group and that’s why our attempts to keep the mission of the group clear and to put themed posts in the mix feel futile and frustratingly underwhelming in terms of impact.
“The Oatmeal” covered this beautifully just the other day, in fact. We do all this work, lovingly vetting every single member of our community, booting those who come in to trash it or to be promotey blowhards, as we are painstakingly #CreatingTheHollywoodWeWant in this safe space to work out the Self-Management for Actors principles together and Facebook says, “Great. Now that you’ve done all that curating and cultivating for *us* (they LOVE the data this provides them, BTW; you’re so easily advertised to when we’ve done such a good job showing what true engagement can look like with this population vs. in the average Facebook group), we’re gonna hold access to this population hostage ’til you spend money to reach it.”
Fuck you, Facebook.
Of course, they’re running a business and they can do what they want. (Watch this if you want to lose sleep tonight.)
And we’re running a business and we can do what we want, too. 😉
We don’t own Facebook and it can make changes at its whim. This has been an issue in particular with the FILES area of our beloved Facebook group, where massively helpful resources created, curated, and lovingly updated by the group have just gone POOF due to a Facebook database reindexing or format change. We already stay careful discussing too much curriculum in the Facebook group (or in any free space) because they own everything we talk about.
The Facebook algorithm makes fairness a losing battle. And for someone with Libra moon and Libra rising, this is crazymaking. I read everything. EVERY. THING. I hit “like” on it all (and more likely, I hover my mouse over the panel to trigger the extra option, move over the the #SoOnBrand *heart* and hit that instead). And when a question sits out there unanswered, I feel like a failure.
Let’s think about that, when it comes to the world of creatives and the never-ending stream of folks new to the grind and how many times I can be asked, “Is this a good agent?” or “Can I put this extra work on my resume?” — not to mention how many times there are phenomenal questions — next-tier questions being asked by active students of Self-Management for Actors — that make my heart sing to answer… I feel like a failure when I can’t get to it all (and those infernal nested replies are trying to be the death of me, all in service of Facebook being able to charge PER CLICK and those clicks include “see more” every damn where).
What it really means when we’ve reached this level of growth is that there is no way — NO WAY — I will ever see it all. It both makes me happy to have seen our world grow so beautifully and makes me sad to know we can never go back to the days when I knew everyone.
I keep thinking about being a local band that plays the clubs. You know the bouncer and the bartender and everyone in the audience. You all hang out and then there’s a moment at which you go up on stage and do that performing thing. But then there’s a day when you’re at a club where you don’t know as many people… and then at a bigger club where you don’t know anyone… but they still all know you. And you still get up to perform, but without that sweet, intimate time spent before the show, sitting around and hanging out. Shooting the shit.
When I think about what I’ll miss about the SMFA Facebook group while it’s on hiatus, it’s actually all stuff I already miss about it. It’s stuff that we lost as we rapidly crushed through benchmarks like 2000 members, then 5000 members, then 8000 members, and passed the point of no return (11,000 members with another 1000 in waiting, because we simply cannot vet pending members anymore, no matter how many Ninja Angels clock in for the task). All that growth, BTW, it happened within ONE YEAR. For a group that was started in 2008 with every single member VETTED, that’s insane.
On that work of vetting, BTW, let’s talk about how Facebook *is* for most folks vs. how it is for members of Team Cricket Feet. You may visit to get a question answered, to share an awesome new find, to catch up on the world of your family and friends and colleagues and pace cars and targets. At Team Cricket Feet? We go to Facebook clocked in for work. I pay my team to be in the group, vetting members, playing whack-a-mole with rule-breakers, nudging “I don’t have time to read your rules” folks who are otherwise well-meaning but who are promoting or selling someone else’s shit in OUR free group, reminding people of the SMFA principles we’re all here to work out, explaining the WHY behind the WHAT on things like branding survey best practices, discussing policy in a sub-group filled with volunteers whose time at Facebook has forever been changed because they offered to help us lead this massive group, dealing with insipid private messages from people who want to tell us all what’s wrong with us for having — and expecting adherence to — a few simple rules.
In the few times over the years I’ve taken a Facebook hiatus and trusted my amazing team and informal leaders to cover everything, I’ve slept better, I’ve breathed better, I’ve loved my community MORE. Because social media can be an amplifier for the worst in people (yes, and the best as well, of course), a steady diet of it can get toxic if we’re not keeping an eye on BALANCE.
Hence this hiatus.
We’re giving a break to this team that so loves the SMFA community. These leaders whose time would be sooooooo better served sharing breakthroughs from the next tier or inspiring stories that turn into teaching moments for those who look at them as their pace cars… well, they’ve been getting dragged into “broken record” status for a while now, telling everyone to check the FILES area, do a SEARCH for the topics that seriously get posted Every. Damn. Day. but are so easily found if one will simply look (and huge thank you to those who look, truly — we see you and we appreciate you more than you know), or balance out the scales with two GIVES for every ASK. (And let’s not even get into how many fights — yes, full-on fights — our admins, mods, and informal leaders have had with people who really think a casting notice that is plastered all over the internet is a GIVE and not an ASK.)
During Get in Gear for the New Year — our revolutionary free year-end training series — it got crystal clear this year. For the first time since we started offering this 11-day curriculum intensive in 2014, we had theft (yep, someone actually STOLE another actor’s word cloud and put it up as her own rather than creating her own out of her own collected and analyzed brand survey data), bullying (the screengrabs of some of the responses in surveys would make you weep for the cruelty), and the blatant offering up of our now for-sale curriculum, forwarded for free (uh-huh, “Hey! I’ll help you take money out of Bonnie’s pockets! Just get me your email address. Fuck her!” type stuff) all over the place.
Showing up when we’re experiencing the busiest 11 days of our year. After six weeks of prep with the team. After decades of love went into creating and refining these delicious bits of curriculum offered up as a GIFT this one time a year. Something we invested *thousands* into this year in particular was met with feedback (I’m being kind, calling it “feedback”) about how unfair it is that “I filled out 20 surveys and only got 4 responses on mine” (again, Facebook algorithm… not mine to fix) and suggestions that I should create a separate Facebook group for people *really* doing the work vs. the lookiloos. Um… keep in mind, these 11 days are a form of advertising for the level of work we’re able to do with the Self-Management for Actors curriculum. When someone new to us experiences this intense but phenomenal program and it resonates, it fills in that gap that previously existed in their creative pursuit, they *may* stick around in our community and perhaps will even spend a few bucks going deeper with us.
So, the idea of creating a segregated place for people who are already down with what we do is to keep playing the venue at which we’re doing shots with the bouncer before the show and never venturing to the larger clubs where we don’t know anyone (but they all know us). Oh, and of course, we have a private space for our membership group to do this — and much deeper — work. It’s called the SMFA Dojo and your 100-day journey to being a part of it starts with the life-changing online course Get in Gear for the Next Tier.
But, the fact that more than a few people suggested private — smaller — groups for doing a more “I *get* this” version of the free year-end homework got me thinking. There may be pop-up groups in our future. Dedicated specifically to deep-dives in our curriculum. Not sure. Because, really, I don’t want to segregate things. There’s nothing more exciting than that connection that comes from someone who discovers the Self-Management for Actors work and says, “OMG! THIS!! This is what I’ve been searching for! YES!!!!!!” and we lose that if we only gather with those already down with what we do. We *like* connecting with those who toss up a branding survey and then learn, “Wow. There’s SO much more. I had no idea.”
That said, when I visit the group and see hundreds of branding surveys — very few of which were placed up after a tour through my free tutorial, so they’re not even really working the Self-Management for Actors principles, just taking advantage of getting free data — I see gradeschool level work happening in a world where I know what we’re capable of in grad school.
NO SHADE on the foundational work! OMG, of course not. It’s foundational for a reason! And even though you can only *coach* with me at a certain point in alumni status, I’m never going to block off my most accessible materials to only those who’ve hit a certain tier!! But when so many leaders of the SMFA Ninjas Facebook group have become fatigued at all the nudging and role modeling and whack-a-mole-ing, they’re not engaging in upper-tier convos as much. Because it’s a little insane when they DO share about a very targeted, strategically obtained meeting with a HELL YES rep and some of the comments are, “I need an agent. Help me,” or, “Refer me!” or, “How do I get an agent,” instead of, “Ooooooh, you are SO working those SMFA principles, girl! Way to GO! I see you! You’re a role model for me. I’m inspired and ON it.” Yes, those comments come too, but the noise from the “never gonna get it” population make it challenging to keep sharing. This won’t change as the group continues to grow. In fact, it’ll get louder.
So the space becomes a showcase of the most BASIC things we can do, as a population. But we’re leading the new Hollywood, here. We’ve got to be able to showcase the most leading-edge of what it is we’re capable of. ALL OF US.
Leadership has emerged in so many places over the years with our lovely group (and beyond). There are high-quality unofficial SMFA subgroups that are inspired and inspiring! A list of those groups is here (and we’ll continue to update this list as you inform us of the new ones you’ve created while we’re on hiatus). We’re all #CreatingTheHollywoodWeWant and that includes you being able to cultivate the community that inspires you. We cannot wait to see what your spinoff looks like! 🙂
Just like with hiatus in showbiz, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR THE SMFA FACEBOOK GROUP.
We’re on hiatus.
Execs are continuing to meet to determine the best course of action. Do we do a retooling? (This is the equivalent of recasting a role, reprogramming to another time slot, changing up the storyline a bit.) Do we come back refreshed after a break? (This is the equivalent of that long-awaited return for the next season, while all the actors can shoot films during the break. Or just REST.) Or do we cancel the show? Don’t know. Not deciding what comes after hiatus yet. Just going on hiatus. We’ll let you know when we’ve decided to come back (and in what form). Asking for status updates won’t help. When we know, you’ll know. Promise!
And like I advise my clients whose shows get placed on hiatus: Enjoy it. Take the downtime and really sit fully in it. Because the pace at which you’ve been working has been TOUGH and it’s been a part of your every single day life to have this at the forefront… see how it feels to NOT have these hours all wrapped up in this endeavor. Let your creative muscles stretch a little differently. That’s a note for my leaders and lifers, really. I so appreciate y’all and how much a part you are of what we’ve built together since the group first opened in 2008 as a way to stay connected with people in the in-person class of Self-Management for Actors, 15 people in a circle, jamming casually about what is now an empire.
Surprise yourself with all you’ll learn about who you are. And build *your* empire.
Hiatus is nothing to be scared of.
Reflect. Grow. Come back better than before.
That’s what we’re gonna do. We’ll keep you posted on how.
All my love,