All is not well in the world’s largest social network.

A recent study claims Facebook has a negative effect on its users’ sense of well-being.

The study was conducted in Michigan and published by the Public Library of Science. During the study period, 82 volunteers in their late-teens and 20s reported their social interactions and Facebook use. Then participants rated their levels of loneliness and anxiety. Participants were also periodically asked throughout the day to rate their feelings on a scale of 0 to 100 with 0 being very negative and 100 being very positive.

The bottom line: the more the volunteers used Facebook, the worse they felt about themselves. The study further argued that gender, number of Facebook friends, and existing depression, loneliness or other motivations for Facebook use had no influence on the study results.

Another study conducted in Germany surveyed 584 German Facebook users. This study found the most common emotion evoked by Facebook was envy.

Why does Facebook elicit such negative feelings from users? It’s because all of your friends are having fun and you aren’t.

All of your friends are having fun and you aren’t.

Or at least, that’s the illusion Facebook creates. Users only display the best parts of their day and edit out the tedium. So users who see their “friends” leading successful and happy lives suffer by comparison. And so follow the feelings of envy and personal dissatisfaction.

first tuesday insight

For real estate agents using social media as a marketing tool, it’s important to maintain a professional public face and web presence.

While these studies won’t win any prizes for adherence to the scientific method (over a billion Facebook users, but a tiny sample size), there’s something to be said for avoiding the obnoxious “me-me-me” attitude plaguing social media.

Businesses using Facebook for pure self-promotion are only adding more noise to a digital stream. In place of professionalism, users opt for narcissism. Though self-obsession is bad PR, causing emotional anxiety in potential clients is worse.

Agent advice

Remember, Facebook is a means to an end – a marketing tool. Your goal is to make a face-to-face connection with potential clients, and the best strategy is engagement.

No one wants to see what exotic dishes you eat in your spare time. Instead, post photos of your clients in front of their brand new home. What potential clients want to know is how you can help them. Can you market their property or are you only going to talk about your latest gym run?

Stay current on real estate news affecting your region. Is it a seller’s market? Then let potential sellers know by way of a link. Did anyone else see these luxury renovations? Inform and entertain so that you engage your client rather than indulging yourself.

Facebook depresses users when they are left to act as observers. If you are using Facebook as a personal billboard, you’re just contributing to the sinkhole effect of social media.

However, if you are using it to present ideas and information to clients while engendering a meaningful conversation, then you’re doing it right.


RE Facebook is bad for you from The Economist