Facebook really wants to be the place where you discuss & share your opinions on… well, everything.
This was a key focus for The Social Network earlier this year after leaked reports recommended that sharing of personal updates on the network – people’s own thoughts & photos – had fallen by 22% between mid-2014 & mid-2015. Facebook has not confirmed / denied those figures, though the company’s VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri has noticed that shares of publisher content have developed at a faster rate than original sharing, which is a concern for a network which has built it is all powerful ad platform on the back of its knowledge & insights – information gained via on-platform user interaction.
Facebook reportedly put together a team to tackle what they would labeled “context collapse”, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg calling on staff to come up with new ideas to inspire more personal sharing. This is why you have seen an increase in ‘On This Day’ reminders & notes about seasonal events this year, little nudges to get you thinking about staying in touch with the connections. Facebook’s push on live-streaming has some ties to this, while they added a new birthday video tool back in July.
FB knows that their key strength is in personal sharing – it is the platform where you catch up with friends & stay in touch with the happenings in their lives. If people stop interacting in this way, FB risks not only losing data context, but losing ground to competitors, alternate platforms that people can also interact.
Along this line, FB has today announced a new initiative aimed to getting someone talking, this time with prompts inserted into the top of people’s News Feeds that remind users of major events / happenings that they might want to post about.
You have actually probably seen these around for a while, notices like the above of a seasonal event or topic, but FB’s now looking to amplify those further in an effort to boost activity on the platform.
As per FB:
“Messages from FB will appear at the top of News Feed about a specific moment. Our aim is to:
- Give people ways to connect & share with friends during holidays and events
- Help people discover fun & interesting cultural moments
- Celebrate moments in history that continue to make the world more open & connected”
FB’s latest initiative on this front is an option to create a holiday card that you can share with your Facebook friends.
Once you click on the prompt in the news Feed, you can scroll through the various card options & share them as an update or with specific connections.
FB’s announcement suggests that prompts like this will be appearing more regularly in future – TechCrunch has compared the tool to Google’s ‘doodle’ element, in which the Google logo is changed to different patterns & interpretations based on the major event/s of the day, boosting cognizance of such happenings.
While it may seem like a minor addition and that such tools are not of significant interest / widely used by you or your friends, the fact that FB’s rolling them out more widely could suggest that user response has been positive, and that they have worked in prompting additional activity and engagement.
Personal sharing is crucially important to Facebook and may be even more so given the backlash about the part the network plays in sharing of news content. Connecting people isn’t only more in line with FB’s wider mission, it provides them with more data & insights into what is of interest to you, what you like – and what products you are more likely to purchase as a result. That is where the real value lies for FB, in understanding your day-to-day activities & interests. They need you sharing personal updates.
If the new prompts work to facilitate such, you can bet you will see more of them in future.