The f-factor: how Facebook makes me depressed

A clever lady once told me that advertising is not a science and that people should stop trying to turn it into a set of equations. She has a first class degree in biochemistry so she may have had a point.

But given how profitable it is to apply mathematics to other subjects, I thought I’d give it a go. And when I combined mathematics with Facebook, I knew I was onto a winner. Mr Sorrell, don’t forget your monogrammed stapler on the way out!

“So, what have you got?” I hear you asking, kicking yourself in the shin for not having come up with something equally ambitious and brilliant.

Well, it’s quite simple really. The f-factor can tell you exactly how depressed Facebook makes you. Let me explain: I have many “friends”. I don’t like to brag but I’m talking hundreds here (468). And many of these “friends” (not to be confused with friends, of which I have about four) seem to find it important to show off about all the great stuff they’re doing whilst I sit in my gloomy office thinking I should be a surf instructor in Laos.

So, let me take you through the simple process of calculating your very own f-factor.

Facebook makes me Depressed  ‘The f-factor’

Let’s start with the depressing bits: $ is the relative wealth of your acquaintances on a scale of 1 to 10. This directly influences how much time they spend on holiday “finding themselves”, where they go and what they do. I’ve put this in because my girlfriend insists that her friends’ updates revolve primarily around the Great British Bake-Off and the cost of pies in Wakefield.

n is the total number of friends. This quickly reaches critical mass as thanks to the Facebook algorithms, you only ever see the same few people’s updates. But if you’ve only got three, then the f-factor is less strong and you should probably reconsider your requirement for a “social” network.

t is the time you spend on Facebook in hours per day. Being in advertising, mine is obviously about 6.

R is the time in months since you made your New Years’ resolutions. Did you not promise yourself to “make the most of life” or “do more crazy shit”?

And then there’s the uplifting stuff: p, the frequency of your own posts (1-5), e, the perceived levels of excitement you have in your own life (1-10) and j, your job satisfaction (1-5).

So, now that you have all the ingredients to calculate your very own f-factor, you may be wondering how this bears any relevance to your work and the brands you look after. The answer is simple: brands should use their social media presence too positively (well, technically negatively) affect their audience’s f-factor.

Increase their “e” score by giving them the experiences and rewards they crave. Improve their “p” score by encouraging and enabling them to show off those real-world experiences. You could even go as far as making them spend less time on social networks and more time experiencing the real world, by providing them with ideas and inspiration.

Some brands are already embracing the fact that experiences and adventures are more important to many audiences than materialistic wants (this is especially true for the much-researched “Millennials”).

Orange Rockcorps has been successfully getting people into volunteering by offering experiences they couldn’t get elsewhere: an intimate gig and the chance to meet and greet the artists they love. With “Get your wings” Red Bull has opened up the opportunity for some (admittedly few, lucky) people to learn from the extreme sport pros. And Britvic & PepsiCo’s “Transform your patch” got people all around the country fighting for something they’re passionate about: turning local wasteland into skate parks, picnic areas and green spaces.

All of these helped people do new, exciting and rewarding things that they wouldn’t otherwise have done (thus increasing their “e”) and gave them something to shout about (improving their “p”).

So why not calculate your own f-factor HERE and think about how you’d like brands to influence your score? Who knows, it might just help you find a purpose for your social presence and could inspire you to do some exciting stuff.

Tweet your score to @aguycalledkim, for the chance to win a free signed photograph of me dressed in my elf Onesie. That’ll definitely cheer you up.

Kim Jordan is a planner at Arnold KLP