Have we reached the end of an era? Since Facebook first launched, users have flocked to the platform to reconnect with friends, share life updates and, yes, at times, rant about trending topics of interest. Facebook has been a mainstay in our lives and, in many ways, has defined our social lives. After all if there isn’t a group, status update or photo album about an event, did it ever even happen?
However, despite the fact that Facebook has managed to embed itself into almost every aspect of our lives, we, as users, are changing the ways that we interact with the platform. Whether it’s due to the rise of other social platforms that are making it easy for us to share daily slices of life in real time (we’re looking at you Snapchat and Instagram) or a widespread shift in attitude, Facebook users are increasingly sharing less personal pieces of content on the platform.
The social network has transformed into more than a social network, it’s now also a new age, new media news hub where divisive articles and funny listicles are shared in droves. If it seems like publisher articles are dominating your News Feed, it’s because they are. Facebook users enjoy sharing third-party content that has resonated with them with their friends. However, the proliferation of this kind of content has made Facebook seem somewhat less personal than it did five years ago. It has also seemingly changed the way that we approach the kinds of content that we share on the network.
Recently Tech News Site The Information published findings stating that personal sharing on the social network had dropped 21% year over year. This drop was significant enough to sound alarm bells in Menlo Park and now the platform is actively exploring ways in which it can encourage its global community of users to be social on the platform again. Furthermore, The Information also reported that this decline is particularly prevalent among users under the age of 30.
With a News Feed filled with pop culture think pieces and Presidential debate recaps, it feels less fitting to post consistent and daily updates of the personal events that are shaping our lives, especially because users can now turn to other platforms to share immediate, personal updates with their friends.
Although Facebook has taken strides to support the dissemination of high quality, long-form editorial content on the platform, they also fear that users might begin to move too far away from the platform’s original function, which was to connect with friends through sharing content. Facebook wants the best of both worlds. To ensure that they’re users do not stop being “social” on the social network, the Facebook team is exploring solutions that will entice users to continue sharing life updates. One of those solutions is a Tip Jar. The Tip Jar is a monetization option in which fans and followers would be encouraged to tip creators for sharing their personal content – photos and videos – on the platform. Facebook recently distributed a user survey in which they asked a select group of users to indicate which monetization program they’d be interested in seeing on the platform, including a Tip Jar, revenue share, branded content, and a sponsored marketplace.
While it’s still very early, all signs indicate that Facebook is seriously considering a monetization option. Until now, Facebook has, effectively, paid nothing for the content that is shared on their platform. With the proliferation and evolution of various platforms, as well as shifting user mindsets, it looks like that era might be coming to a close.