Everyone has an opinion about Facebook. Love it, “like” it or hate it, Facebook has a billion and a quarter users, and roughly half of them use it daily. For public relations practitioners, Facebook is an extremely useful tool for creating relationships with targeted audiences. In fact, Facebook and other social media platforms have forever changed the practice of public relations in countless ways.
I recently heard a sociologist say that people are using Facebook to prove to their friends and themselves that they have a wonderful life. He said users rarely share personal tragedy or misery; it’s a center for self-promotion and even Pollyanna-like personal deception. He believes that people use Facebook to tell others (and I’m paraphrasing), “follow me, look at me, be jealous of me.”
I put this question to my Facebook friends, sharing this theory and asking for reactions. The feedback was interesting. Here’s a sampling; I’m using first names only:
Wendy: “That perspective has been pondered as long as FB has existed. There is a growing body of research that supports social media perceptions of relationships, and depression in young people.”
Lisa: “Not always true. Our generation connects to old friends, relatives and people with whom we have lost contact. We share our lives, including sad and happy stories.”
Mindy: “I do believe that people tend to amplify their ‘great’ lives on FB and minimize their trials and tribulations. On the flip side, there are those who share every hangnail and belch.”
Alicia: “I love to share and to see how my friends are doing in this hectic selfish and dangerous world we now live in…I will take as much good news as I can get.”
Ellen: “I think Facebook is the place where you can share, catch up and keep in touch. Only silly people think it’s something other than that!”
Flo: “All I know is, my life is better than your life.”
For PR people, using Facebook effectively often yields positive outcomes for their clients. Are we, in fact, using the same techniques for our own personal PR? Your thoughts?