Facebook Adds New Birthday Video Tool to Prompt More Personal Sharing
A few months back, reports circulated that sharing of personal posts on Facebook was on the decline - a significant problem for a business that's largely built its revenue model on the back of personal data.
According to a report published by The Information, overall sharing on Facebook fell 5.5% between mid-2014 and mid-2015, while the sharing of personal posts - like people's own thoughts and photos - fell a massive 21% in the same period.
Since then, Facebook's release a range of features and tools to get people sharing more often. You may have noticed an increase in "On This Day" reminders, for example - those prompts, originally introduced in March 2015, have proven to be a great way to get people posting more personal updates, with more than 60 million Facebook users visiting their personal "On This Day" page every day (and 155 million opting to receive dedicated notifications for the feature).
Snapchat is where Facebook seems to believe those personal updates are being posted instead - those 10 billion videos posted via Snap every day have to be coming from somewhere.
Given the emphasis on promoting more personal sharing, it was also no surprise to see their latest News Feed algorithm update give more priority to updates from friends and family. Seeing more of these types of posts will, ideally, increase the prospect of other users commenting and sharing more of their own, similar updates, helping Facebook's data collection get back on track.
And the next point of focus in the personal information push appears to be birthdays.
As per TechCrunch, Facebook's releasing a new feature which will amalgamate all your birthday messages from friends into an auto-generated video clip.
"As long as you list your birthday in you profile and receive at least three wall posts or tags in posts on your birthday, the next day you'll receive one of these recap videos."
After you've watched your video, you can edit it, replacing the photos or posts, then (of course) share it with friends.
And while it may seem a bit cheap and cheesy to some, there is solid logic behind why Facebook would want to push birthday messages, and their flow-on effect to increased personal sharing.
According to a study conducted by The Association for Computing Machinery on the evolution of Facebook interaction, a birthday greeting is one of the key ways people connect on the platform.
"We found that over 39% of [people's] first wall posts contained either "birthday" or "bday", suggesting that these wall posts are birthday messages. In fact, wall posts related to birthday greetings are even more prevalent if we consider wall posts other than the first: 54% of the user pairs in the low-rate interaction group exchanged at least one wall post related to birthday wishes.
In other words, a significant amount of personal interactions, particularly between people who don't communicate often, happen because of birthdays. That's likely what Facebook's trying to tap into here - if they can prompt more users to generate engagement and discussion on the back of those initial connections, that could increase the amount of personal sharing.
And as per The Ringer, there are already more than 100 million birthday related updates on Facebook every day.
"These new bells and whistles - and the arguably more aggressive notifications - [will] surely drive more posting and pictures, something Facebook absolutely needs."
In a broader sense, Facebook's emphasis on personal updates doesn't necessarily bode well for Pages.
As noted, the latest News Feed algorithm shift to emphasize more personal updates is likely a step in this direction - which makes sense, Facebook needs people sharing more personal updates in order to fuel both their algorithm (to boost engagement) and their ad products (for targeting). But as The Social Network puts more emphasis on this element, it also, conversely, reduces the reach and shares of brand content.
Facebook needs to maintain a balance on this, of course, but Page managers will need to keep a close eye on their metrics and ensure they're working to develop stronger ties within their Facebook communities (through shares and comments) in order to keep a hold on the attention they do have as Facebook looks to put more focus on these personal interactive elements.
Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter