This certainly puts yesterday’s Facebook Live press-release bonanza in greater perspective. According to the Information, Facebook is experiencing a substantial decline in the number of personal posts that users make on the network. “Personal posts,” in this context, means updates like announcements about engagements, or new jobs — posts lumped into a group known as “original broadcast sharing,” as distinct from links out to other websites or content.
From the Information:
As of mid–2015, total sharing had declined by about 5.5% year over year while “original broadcast sharing” was down 21% year over year, the confidential data show. Original posts are personal in nature as opposed to popular media like links to news sites. Original broadcasts are the most critical kind of content on Facebook because they bring the most engagement.
The result is partially a product of Facebook’s growth. As it has asked users to expand their friends lists, it’s also tasked them with navigating, in their status updates, the many different social circles to which those friends might belong. In other words, your friends from high school, college, work, and elsewhere, don’t all care about the same things, and managing that on a single network can be exhausting.
The company has rolled out a few changes as a result. Those “On This Day” and holiday pop-ups at the top of the news feed are two such examples. The news feed’s sorting process has also been tweaked to boost original sharing more prominently. (People have caught wind of this change — posting keywords like “Congratulations!” or “Exciting news!” appears to enhance reach.)
Facebook’s anxiety about this drop in original sharing — which is the type that users engage with most often — helps explain yesterday’s announcements about Facebook’s livestreaming service: Live video is, for now, a novel way for people to share with their friends.
The “live” aspect also makes it seem temporary, like Snapchat, which I’d wager is part of the appeal. A few years ago, when Facebook rolled out the activity log and made it easier to see every single comment made, and action taken on, the service, it made people more aware of how much data Facebook was really logging. And they’re logging a lot about their users.
In response to the Information’s report, Facebook simply said, “People continue to share a ton on Facebook; the overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years.” Strong rebuttal.