According to the numbers accessed by The Information, “total sharing had declined by about 5.5% year over the year,” for mid-2015, and overall original broadcast sharing was “down 21 per cent year on year”.
Another report by Bloomberg says Facebook employees are calling this decline a “context collapse”, and notes that more personal sharing has shifted to “smaller audiences”, such as apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. In India, WhatsApp is where a lot more personal sharing now happens, especially on Family, Friends Groups.
The Information notes that ‘original posts’ are “critical for increasing engagement on Facebook” and the problem “was particularly acute with Facebook users under 30 years of age”. However, Facebook doesn’t agree on the decline of personal sharing, and a spokesperson is quoted in the report as saying that people continue to “share a ton of stuff.”
To some extent, Facebook itself has given a stronger push to news publishing, videos, etc, so the decline is not surprising. But based on The Information report, Facebook it seems is worried about this decline and has been taking steps to stem it.
The social media site has been sending reminders to people about holidays. In India, users might have noticed Facebook wishing them a ‘Happy Mahashivratri’, or even Good Evening or Good Morning, in its attempts to get them to share more personal updates.
The report also says that for Facebook users what was once considered ‘normal’ behaviour has now changed. This is true to some extent; users now have a wide circle of friends on the site, typically over 500 plus for the daily active users, and a lot of these might be colleagues, their current and former bosses, even former teachers from schools etc. And people don’t want the truly personal stuff to be available for this entire circle.
Plus given that there have been reports of how companies now trawl social networks, including Facebook updates while assessing a future employee, people know that it is not a wise decision to be entirely free on Facebook.
Witty updates, jokes, political rants (which can result in a long, at times nasty comments war), even an update about a bad day, were once the norm for many users. But as the numbers show that’s not the case any more.
Even publishers have started seeing the platform as a source of revenue and traffic. More recently Facebook turned on Live videos for all users, in its attempt to encourage them to share more. For Facebook, the decline in so-called ‘personal updates’ is a reflection of how the site has evolved.