I cannot tell you the number of times I've deactivated Facebook, re-joined, and deactivated again, only to repeat the process.
It began last fall, where much of social media was full of contention and -- as it was later revealed -- dripping with promoted political content with links to Russia.
Everyone was digitally screaming at each other, loathing and lamenting until, come November, I thought to myself, "Enough already. I'm outta here."
Sound familiar to anyone?
If so, you're not alone, and you certainly aren't limited to being joined by experience. After running a consumer survey in Australia, the UK, and the U.S., we discovered that out of six social networks -- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube -- 43% percent of respondents said that Facebook makes them feel the worst.
So, why is this happening -- besides the personal reasons listed above? And for marketers who rely on Facebook to maintain and build an audience, what are you supposed to do with this information?
Hey. We've got you. Let's take a look at some of our additional data, and see what you can do from here.
Facebook Makes Us Feel the Worst: What That Means and What to Do About It
So, we hate to break it to you, but while Facebook might make us feel worse than other social media networks, it seems like these digital communities are making us generally unhappy.
On average, about a third of respondents say that they "feel awful," or close to it, after visiting social media sites -- remember, this is across the board, not just Facebook. While that may not seem like too much more than the average 12% who say they "feel great," it's still not exactly an encouraging number.
After all, our optimism dictates that these networks weren't created to divide, even if that's how some groups have leveraged them within the past two years. Rather, they were created to keep friends and family connected, and eventually evolved as platforms to promote shareable content.
That could be why, when we asked respondents which type of content stands out most to them on Facebook, the primary response was "posts from friends and family." Whether that content makes them feel good or bad isn't clear -- but I imagine that, among the noise and ads (which an average of 45% of respondents say they "really dislike"), content from familiar faces might be welcome for consumption.
What to Do With This Information
I know -- this data is kind of a downer. After all, if people start to stray from Facebook because it makes them so unhappy, then it might not be of much use to your brand.
But it's not all bad news, if you'll excuse the pun. People are still using Facebook -- after all, just look at this user data:
In a way, our findings create an opportunity for marketers on Facebook. You can modify your brand's presence to stand out among the content that could be making users unhappy, and instead, draws them to your page and makes them want to share your content. And no, that doesn't mean you have to shift your Facebook strategy to dog videos and riddles -- although, if someone could get on that, I certainly wouldn't mind having a look.
However, it does mean that you can revisit the idea of what drew your audience to your brand in the first place. You can build upon the more positive elements of the answer to that question to provide content that stands out among the more negative noise.
But what does that content look like? Here are three key characteristics to start with.
While it's tempting, you don't have to pretend that bad things don't happen and that unhappiness doesn't exist. However, you can address it on your Facebook Page in a way that emphasizes and encourages optimism.
Do you have employees who are volunteering to help with hurricane relief efforts? Are you donating a portion of your proceeds to an organization that does so? You can draw attention to those things without bragging about them by emphasizing a sense of solidarity. After all, there's a reason why these Pages and networks are sometimes called "communities": They're groups of users that share a common interest.
That said, you still have to maintain relevance to your brand and the product or service it provides, as well as the world-at-large. One of the primary tenets of inbound marketing is to create content that is both aligned with your product or service, and answers the questions that your audience is likely to have. Don't abandon that. Rather, continue to establish yourself as an authentic, helpful Page that, despite all of the other less-than-awesome stuff that appears on Facebook, stands out as an oasis with resources that serve and assist.
Remember those data points about content from friends and family standing out the most? In a way, that goes back to the idea of your Page serving as a community of people with a shared interest. Again, what drew this audience to your brand in the first place? How do they feel when they see your name or your other creative assets? You may need to ask these questions of your users to truly know how you're perceived, but in these troubled times, it can pay to maintain consistency and stability in the type of content you distribute, and the way you do so. Keep that in mind as you create the copy that you share with Facebook posts, like videos or images.
And, if all else fails, don't be afraid to check in with your audience. Try something like, "It's Friday! How's everyone doing?" It's neutral, friendly, and conveys that you care.
So, how does everyone feel now? Tinker around with these ideas and see how they go.
Oh, and about those dog videos ...
Originally published Oct 20, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated November 29 2017