Lately I’ve noticed a significant change in what I see on my Facebook newsfeed. Rather than seeing mostly pictures and statuses posted by my friends, I am now overwhelmed by shared videos that automatically start playing as I scroll as well as by silly posts that my friends are tagging each other in.
It turns out that this is a trend occurring on Facebook – personal/original sharing has dropped by 21 percent as of mid-2015. The overall level of sharing has remained fairly steady as users are now posting more news and information from other websites. Nonetheless people are sharing less and less of the vital information that Facebook needs and this could become an issue.
Facebook relies on its users posting and sharing personal content such as vacation pictures and engagement announcements in order to draw in its users. If the content being shared on Facebook is not original, or can be found on other forms of social media, its users will be less inclined to check in. This does not pose an immediate threat, however, if the trend continues Facebook could face serious problems.
Internally, Facebook employees refer to what is happening as “content collapse.” People have created large networks for themselves on Facebook and these often connect them to people who they may not be very close with in real life anymore. Users are also increasingly aware that anything that they post will inevitably be shared to people beyond their close circle of friends, even if they limit their intended audience in their privacy settings. Facebook users very well may want to share more personal information, but only with a more intimate group.
Facebook has started several initiatives in order to try and combat this issue.
On This Day
First, they rolled out “On This Day.” This nostalgia mining feature functions similar to Timehop and allows users to see things they shared and photos they were tagged in on Facebook on that same day a certain number of years ago. Only the user can see their On This Day content unless they choose to share it with their Facebook friends. Facebook has made it so that this does not remind users of bad memories, so it is more likely that people will want to relive and share these memories with their old and new friends. I certainly have seen this feature shared on my newsfeed and I have a feeling that it will only become more and more successful at incentivizing people to share original content as time goes on because users will have an increasing amount of forgotten and treasured memories to share.
Birthday Reminder Banners
Another move that Facebook made was rolling out the banner at the top of people’s newsfeed reminding them of their friends’ birthdays. This friendly reminder makes it harder to forget to post a customary birthday wish on your friend’s timeline. Facebook uses your previous digital interactions in order to determine who your “top friends” are so that this reminder only shows up for people who are important to you. Personally, I don’t think that this feature has caused me to post more on Facebook. If for some reason I did forget one of my good friend’s birthdays and then saw the Facebook reminder, I then took the time to text them. The culture of posting on everyone’s wall for their birthdays has certainly diminished, and if I do post the traditional happy birthday message, its for people who I’m not very close with and would not be considered one of my “top friends” in the eyes of Facebook.
Most recently, Facebook debuted its live video-broadcasting feature. Perhaps this will be the answer – incentivizing users to share their personal information with the novelty of live video as opposed to trying to get users to share text or photos. I have not tested this feature out and I don’t think I will. Hopefully for Facebook my opinion does not represent the thoughts of most users.
What do you think? Have you found yourself posting more original Facebook content because of these three initiatives? What would make you post more?