The status update was Facebook’s bread and butter for most of its early life, but people have started to move away from using the social media behemoth to send out brief statements about what they are doing or what’s on their mind. Instead, users are sharing articles, videos, and memes.
Facebook’s first response to this trend was to add colorful backgrounds to regular, text-based status updates in an effort to make them stand out amongst the much more attention-grabbing images filling up users’ feeds.
Now, Facebook has debuted a new feature called “Did You Know,” and it’s hoping the tweak will get users to share more about themselves again.
The feature is set up like a dating profile questionnaire, where users answer simple, silly questions about themselves. Their answers are then shared directly with their feed. Examples include:
- The superpower I want most is…
- The first thing I’d do after winning the lottery is…
- A guilty pleasure that I’m willing to admit to is…
- Mondays make me feel like…
Once a user answers the questions, they go live as a colorful status update.
It’s evident that Facebook is trying to get its users to share more personal information on their platform again, as that makes it far easier to entice advertisers to market their products to laser-focused user groups. But the broader implication of this new feature is that Facebook’s business model needs to evolve to cater to the changing trends of how people use the platform.
Facebook's business model needs to evolve to cater to the changing trends of how people use the platform.
The idea of answering questions like the ones populating the “Did You Know” feature is very reminiscent of the app tbh (the text-speak abbreviation for “to be honest”), which Facebook acquired in October of this year. However, tbh’s success was built on answering questions about your friends; Facebook has flipped the formula and brought it back to the user.
The question remains whether or not Facebookers are going to comply with the company trying to gently push them in specific directions. The modern quandary that many social media apps face is how to evolve their platform in ways that shareholders and advertisers need to make money, without alienating the users that made the company a megastar in the first place. Although Facebook has the least amount of worries due to the sheer size of its base (2 billion monthly users), it would be foolish to assume that it is immune to people abandoning apps when the network no longer functions the way they want.
Twitter, of course, is facing the same battle of changing with the tides of its user base’s wants and needs, while simultaneously keeping the original spirit of Twitter integral. Time will tell whether things like “Did You Know” will shield Facebook from being stuck in the same situation.