Facebook Battles Shift Away From Personal Sharing

Posted on April 10, 2016

Example of person sharing penguin trip photograph

Facebook is reportedly battling a shift away from personal sharing by its users. There are reports that Facebook users are posting less than they used to. There have also been noted moves by Facebook to try and boost user sharing of personal events and photographs in an attempt to counter the drop.

A Bloomberg story says Facebook staff call the decline in personal sharing "context collapse." The article says this type of sharing has shifted to social networks where users may have a smaller group of followers such as Snapchat and Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram so in at least one way they are battling themselves.

One of the problems is that as Facebook has matured its users have acquired larger and larger groups of followers. These followers may include family members, high school friends, current friends, coworkers, etc. Facebook users may not want to share everything thing they do with their large pool of followers. Facebook does have a Groups feature but many users may not be aware of it or feel like using it. The Bloomberg story says Facebook users are sharing more news and information from other websites instead of personal type photos and stories.

Bloomberg says personal sharing on Facebook has plunged 21%. However, Facebook says in a statement that the "overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years." Sharing may be continuing but Facebook really needs people to share the personal content to thrive and stay original.

Robert Scoble notes another possible explanation for a drop-off in users posting original material on Facebook. He says, "As audience sizes have grown you get to the point where you want to feed your audience something really worthwhile."

It could be users are waiting to post something truly novel so they don't disappoint friends and family. It could also be that things like selfies and day-to-day activities have become no longer worth the effort to share because they get less and less feedback. We are used to the technology now and don't need to use it quite as much. The novelty has worn off. Whether this reduction hurts Facebook in the long run or not remains to be seen.
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