When is the last time you shared something personal on Facebook? Not the latest sloth video (see below), or a link to that fascinating NYT piece you just finished reading, but something straight from your life to the keyboard? Chances are, it hasn’t been as recently as it once would have been – and Facebook has noticed.
The Sharing Trend
From 2014 to 2015 original posts (consisting of personal pictures or words) have fallen, and fallen steeply – down 21% according to The Information. Whether due to the rise of alternative social outlets (notably Instagram & Snapchat that don’t cater to the re-share), or maybe because of friend requests from Mom, people just aren’t sharing like they used to with late night musings, or their latest vacation photos.
This isn’t entirely a new trend, as Facebook’s News Feed has looked more and more like a media publisher over the years, a seemingly purposeful shift. As explained by Inc.com:
“It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for Facebook, whose strategic emphasis for the past few years has been on getting media companies and celebrities to put more of their premium content on Facebook. The better (read: more professional) the quality of what’s in your News Feed, the more advertisers would pay to be next to it, went the thinking.”
Being the internet junkie that I am, this was personally a welcomed change. As I followed more and more of my favorite music, news, and sports outlets on Facebook, (plus hiding one or two outspoken soapbox political ideologue types in my friends circle), voila, Facebook News Feed became one of my go-to’s for fresh, and relevant content. On the flip side, it no longer felt like the right venue for much of the personal sharing it once housed!
Now you might ask yourself, what’s the difference? Who cares if I’m here to find media content or personal stories? Millennials are still spending nearly an hour a day scrolling through their News Feed, and that sits just fine with the Facebook sales department (Marketingland)! Undoubtedly though, Facebook is weary of risking the loss of any emotional attachment to the platform that is fostered through personal sharing & online relationships. “Sharing” after all, is at the core of Facebook’s mission & success – without it, they’re just another RSS feed.
With that in mind, this past April, Facebook rolled out a change in its News Feed algorithm to prioritize original posts, ensuring that “content posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it. If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed [further down]” (Facebook).
Some of you may notice this change, some may not. Either way, I’m not sure it solves Facebook’s sharing challenge. I for one, am not planning on posting to Facebook with pictures from my recent trip to Yosemite; find me on Instagram though – they’ll be there!
* Photo credit to GotCredit under CC BY-SA 2.0 license