In my casual surveys of architecture students from first year to final, I’ve been surprised to discover how few engage professionally with social media. While Facebook is ubiquitous and many have Instagram accounts jammed full of selfies, there is little interest to extend this activity into the professional sphere.
This is the 4th of eight articles exploring the major social media outlets, how I engage with them, and how they might be of interest to students. An archive of the series can be accessed here.
Joined: March 2012
Total users: 1.5 billion
Purpose: Like the rest of the planet, I have a personal Facebook page littered with the occasional embarrassing photo from nights out on the town. I also maintain our professional Facebook page, whose primary purpose is to act as a virtual declaration of existence.
Community: Identifying my Facebook community is harder to do than on Twitter and Instagram. The likes I’ve received arrive from all over the world, which is intriguing, but then the engagement usually falls silent. More valuable is the backlink that pushes my professional posts onto my personal page. This means my friends (most of whom come from other walks of life) see my posts, hopefully creating a slow burn that might one day lead to a commission.
Posting: I rarely post directly to Facebook anymore. My blog posts do so automatically, which represents around three quarters of my Facebook activity. I also push a lot of my Instagram photos to Facebook, and the occasional business announcement. While Twitter and even Instagram can handle repetitive posts, a Facebook community is unlikely to tolerate this. As a result, I keep my posts more stretched out.
Groups: I belong to one professional group only, not out of austerity, just lack of conviction. I think it’s important that we be on Facebook, but have found Twitter and Instagram better tools to connect with my desired communities. I should aim to be more active however. As my Facebook network mostly comprises non-architects, it can be a useful soapbox from which to preach the value of good design.
Procrastination: Facebook offers an endless supply of procrastination-worthy entertainment, but I’ve rarely found it to be professionally enriching.
For students: Perhaps the most useful characteristic of Facebook is the way it authenticates your identity. Like LinkedIn, it’s a way of proving that you exist and that you’ve done things. It’s also positioning itself more and more as a gateway service to the rest of the internet, making it almost necessary to belong. Professionally however, I’m not interested in knowing what you got up to on your 21st.
- Mid-century Domestic Architecture. My only Facebook group, sharing news of mid-century modernism in Australia.
5 / 10
- Leading social networks worldwide as of January 2016; Statista; January 2016
- Facebook, logo copyright Facebook. Composition by author.