Social media giant Facebook hasn’t enjoyed the same amount of growth as Instagram in recent years. In fact, the platform has only experienced a small increase in usage of around 4.3%, as reported by eMarketer. However, this is much better than expected, as for the previous two years Facebook usage has been on a slow decline as other, newer platforms like Instagram and TikTok began to draw the attention of the younger generation.
However, Facebook’s recent growth hasn’t just come due to the increased number of people staying at home. Facebook has gone a step further and set out to combat one of the biggest issues currently facing us, social distancing. People are finding it harder and harder to feel content due to the fact that they aren’t as connected to friends and family as usual; they feel alone. The solution to this has been group video calls. Zoom have done a great job of scaling their business almost overnight, but there have been growing concerns with privacy and security when using Zoom. Enter Facebook and their new group video service called ‘Rooms’. Already available in certain countries, ‘Rooms’ is similar to Zoom and allows lots of friends to partake in a group video chat through the Facebook messenger app. Why might it be better than Zoom though? ‘Rooms’ creates a unique link for every chat with a string of randomly generated numbers and letters that make it almost impossible for hackers to guess and listen in to your conversation. As this was one of the biggest concerns with Zoom, ‘Rooms’ could take social media by storm over the coming weeks.
A huge concern with the increase in use of social media, however, is the link between social media and social comparison which can trigger depression or other mental health issues. Social comparison is something we all fall victim to on social media. We see the lives of the people we follow and compare them to our own, often with negative repercussions; the problem being that people generally only post the very best of themselves online, curating airbrushed version of their lives. Subscribers see these “perfect” images and imagine the posters’ lives are perfect all the time. Recent studies by leading Facebook researchers Moira Burke, Justin Cheng, and Bethany de Gant delivered some interesting findings. The study, which involved 37,000 people from 18 countries, was dubbed the “largest survey on social comparison ever done.” The findings suggested that the actions most likely to cause social comparison and as a result, the most harm, were:
- Seeing posts that have a higher number of likes or comments compared to yours.
- Seeing more positivity in others’ posts compared to yours.
- Spending more time looking at user profiles, especially your own.
- Seeing content from people around the same age as you.
Interestingly, the study found that not everyone is affected by social comparison in the same way or by the same amount. For example, the research found that women tend to experience more social comparison than men, however this wasn’t true in all countries. In some eastern countries, males reported experiencing more social comparison than females. One might conclude from this data that we should seek to avoid social comparison posts whenever possible. However, when the researchers asked participants if they wished they hadn’t seen the post they found that,
“Only half said they wished they hadn’t seen it, while a third felt very happy for the poster. People have complex feelings about this, so there is no one easy answer.”
In response, the researchers set out goals to help Facebook alleviate some of the problems caused by social comparison, recommending that Facebook consider helping to reduce social comparison by:
- Helping people change what they see in their feeds.
- Reducing the focus on engagement counts on other people’s posts.
- Using filters for topics and people, such as: promote, unfollow, snooze.
- Supporting meaningful interactions so people are less affected by comparisons.
- Encouraging the creation of more positive shared experiences, such as following along on someone’s journey towards a goal.
It is important to make sure we use social media as responsibly as possible in these times to avoid any negative social comparisons. This study should go a long way towards improving the situation, but there are things you can do to help spread a positive message in the business world. For example, instead of saying how well you are coping with the situation, why not show how well one of your clients is doing? Similarly, show how your team are coping in these times. Anything inspirational is worth so much more in times like these, so spread as much positivity as you can with your posts.