Housework Outranks Facebook On Happiness Meter

Only activity people like less than using Facebook is recovering from illness, study says. There's a lesson here for businesses.

Debra Donston-Miller

November 21, 2012

3 Min Read
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5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels

5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels

5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

There is no shortage of studies that conclude what is obvious to most of the planet. Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed said they don't want a hot poker in the eye! One percent of those surveyed said they like the smell of bad milk! You know the ones. But sometimes it's possible to glean a little "aha" nugget from studies that otherwise don't have much to tell us.

A recent study from The University of Canterbury at New Zealand shows that those surveyed like sex. A lot. Other top-ranked activities -- based on levels of pleasure, meaning, happiness and engagement -- include drinking alcohol, volunteering, meditating/religion, and caring for children. Again, no big revelations.

[ Read Facebook Overload: Just Getting Worse. ]

What was a bit surprising was how Facebook fared: It placed 29th out of 30 daily behaviors that study participants were asked to rank. In fact, it would seem, the only thing that makes people happy less than Facebook is recovering from illness. Facebook ranked 28th in engagement and 24th in pleasure. It ranked dead last in meaning.

Ranking higher than Facebook on the happiness, meaning and engagement meter were housework, studying, and paid work. This actually makes sense to me, and I think there is a lesson here for businesses that are making use not only of Facebook but of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr -- any social network, really.

Let's take housework for example. I'm not a huge housework fan, but when it comes to happiness, meaning and engagement, I get more out of housework than I get from Facebook. After I clean the kitchen, for example, I am happy with how nice it looks. There's meaning in what I did: My family has clean dishes and a clean workspace. We don't worry about food poisoning. I'm not as clear on the engagement part (I want to spend more time in the kitchen?), but I think the point is that activities with purpose give us happiness, meaning and a sense of engagement -- and Facebook all too often seems to serve none of these areas. That should worry businesses who hope to use Facebook to their benefit.

Do you have employees dedicated to communicating with customers over social media? Are you offering coupons and special offers that are exclusive to customers who have liked or followed you? Are you developing content such as articles and videos that customers can actually use to make their lives better or easier?

If all you've done is throw up a page and plop your company info into whatever fields were required, then you are not providing your customers with happiness, meaning, engagement, or even a little bit of pleasure.

Facebook and other social media might never outrank sex (here's hoping), but we can shoot to get it past housework.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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