Post-IPO, enthusiasm for Facebook seems to have dropped off (maybe you were never a fan) but one thing is for certain: the social media platform has changed the way my generation pursues, perceives and defines relationships. We’re talking our relationship with brands, with our own public image and, of course, with our friends and significant others.
So what does it mean to be “Facebook Official”? How much of our online, social self is a reflection of the real-world? Is all of the posturing, image-padding and deception that people are concerned with online really any different from what we go through in real life?
A hypothetical for today’s world: you’ve been dating someone for a few months and everything is going great. So, hold on, why aren’t you “Facebook Official”?! Why aren’t you “in a relationship” and connected to your better half’s Facebook profile. Seems silly, but this simple definition has ruined perfectly great relationships in a blink of an eye.
For most women my age, your Facebook relationship status is the equivalent of a high school promise ring. Not only does it affect the start of a relationship, but it affects the end of relationships too. When do you “change your status to single”? How quickly do you rebound, both publicly and privately? Do you de-friend your ex?
According to a recent study, 38 percent of people surveyed changed their relationship status immediately for a new relationship and 52 percent changed their relationship status immediately after a break-up. For a new relationship, 24 percent wait for their significant other to change their relationship status, and after a break-up only 9 percent of people wait for their significant other to change their relationship status.
But here’s a truth that Millennials have embraced: with or without Facebook, those anxieties, doubts and uncertainties swirling around relationships still exist. Why worry about privacy in this context? Gossip has been around just as long as jealousy and desire.
What has changed is how people meet and vet potential friends and lovers.
Social networking has made it so much easier to contact someone you’re interested in and scope them out before a first date. Twenty-four percent of people surveyed use Facebook to ask the person they are interested in on a first date. Facebook is the second most popular way to ask someone out, just trailing “in person.” After the first date or meeting, 57 percent of people friend the person on Facebook and 11 percent follow them on Twitter.
What you say and do on your social media channel is, in essence, self-branding. Some people play it cool and mysterious. Some go with a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” level of authenticity. Others peacock.
The trick – as with dating – is to cut to the chase. We’ve learned to see through these presentation styles; what other people are saying about you and posting on your wall also counts. Reputation matters. Facebook allows us to flag inconsistencies; to spot poseurs and cheats.
And the online dating world isn’t too far off from the way we process branded messages. The Millennial generation expects access, information and the ability to render our own decisions. Posturing and overt advertisements are suspect. A shady past requires incredible effort and/or unbelievable charisma to overcome.
For brands: we may “like” you on Facebook but it isn’t “Facebook Official” until we’ve gone out of our way to shout our love from a status bar and share our euphoria with all of our friends.
Article by: Ashley McElduff, Summer 2012 Imagineer | email@example.com