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I’m a glutton for punishment, and now I know I’m not alone.

In the past few months, I’ve started to steadily wean myself off Facebook, ignoring those annoying pop-ups like: “Jane Doe (a.k.a. the mean girl from junior high) uploaded a picture;” and “It’s John Smith (who you haven’t spoken to for more than a decade)’s birthday, let him know you’re thinking of him.”

I’m on a break with Facebook because I don’t like how it makes me feel: jealous, petty, vindictive... That said, I haven’t gone as far as delete the app from my phone and I still occasionally log on in small doses.

They say misery loves company, and it looks like I have a lot of it.

HubSpot recently shared the results of its Consumer Sentiment Survey. The takeaway: 43% of respondents said that of six social networks—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Snapchat—Facebook makes them feel the most depressed.

When it comes to social media in general, happiness seems to be the exception, not the rule. On average, roughly a third of respondents say they “feel awful” or close to it after visiting social media sites, and only 12% say they “feel great.”

It’s actually a rare point of consensus among our English-speaking pals across the Atlantic and Pacific. Americans, Aussies and Britons responded to the survey in almost identical numbers.

That doesn’t mean brands should simply abandon ship. Facebook is still the No. 1 social network and users continue to flock to the site in astounding numbers (FB reached its 2 billion monthly user milestone in June).

But if knowledge is power, marketers can use this depressing information to focus on content that uplifts, providing a respite from the incessant humblebragging and political sparring. Here are some ways that brands can change the conversation.

Keep it Light.

There’s a reason why cat videos are so popular. Even if your brand isn’t immediately associated with babies or cuddly kittens, there’s usually a way to engage with your community in a more lighthearted way. Take ALS’ ice bucket challenge. By aligning with a fun concept tailor-made for social media, the ALS community was able to shine a light on a serious disease and raise a lot of money in the process. Find the light at the end of the tunnel. Your community with thank you.

Be a Resource.

BuzzFeed Tasty videos always get me to stop and watch. They’re simple and highly engaging. But most important, they’re useful. (How often can you say that about something you come across on social media?) Look for ways to add value. Does your product or service lend itself to an explainer or how-to video? Making someone’s life a little bit easier is the best way to break through the dark cloud hovering over your social media feeds.

Have a Conversation.

When I’m out in the world and someone stops to ask for directions, I help if I can, even if I’m in a bad mood. Most of us would do the same—whether it’s pointing a tourist to a landmark or offering our sincere opinion on a product or service. Use your social media platforms to spark a true conversation. Ask a question that will get your stakeholders thinking. Set up a Twitter poll. Create a contest that calls for user-generated content. After all, social media is best when it’s used for dialogue, not a monologue.   

Brands shouldn’t have to give away anti-depressants to get followers to engage on their social media channels. If you think about what people are looking for at their core—laughter, support and connection—you’ll become the one bright spot in an otherwise dreary feed. 

Time to Get Social

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