If you’re a Facebook user, then you know that these two facts hold true:
First fact: You get greetings on your birthday. Sometimes a whole lot of them!
Second fact: You’re prompted to give birthday wishes to your friends
These types of messages appear often in your Notifications:
It’s Frank’s birthday today. Help him celebrate!
And this type of message often appears at the top of your feed:
We made this birthday video for James. Help him celebrate by sharing it with him!
Facebook is quite effective at getting users to spread the birthday love.
On my birthday, I receive birthday wishes from nearly 40% of my friends. That’s a high percentage!
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy it and appreciate it. That being said, it can be repetitive:
- Friend writes on my wall, “Happy birthday!”
- I reply, “Thanks!”
- This cycle goes on for 30+ friends
What if there was a better way?
Signed Birthday Card
What if Facebook had a feature where a user’s friends are solicited to offer a birthday greeting:
- Pick from a number of handwriting-style fonts
- Write a greeting, with a character limit imposed (140 characters, maybe?)
- The name associated with your Facebook account is automatically placed as the “signer” of the greeter
At a certain time (e.g. perhaps early evening in the recipient’s local timezone), all of the greetings would be assembled into an e-card. The birthday girl/boy would receive a notification to view the card.
Think of the group-signed birthday cards we see in the real world (although minus the monkey theme ;-):
Some things to consider:
Low turnout: what if only a few friends leave greetings? A card with three greetings would look underwhelming and might cause feelings of angst for the recipient.
Bad actors: what if a friend left a greeting with vulgarities or insults? The friend’s name is listed next to the greeting, so perhaps that would prevent this. Would Facebook need to build in sentiment analysis or human moderation?
Opt in vs. opt out: some users might have negative associations with their birthday. This feature ought to be inactive by default and require users to enable it in their account settings.
What do you think?
Addendum: Birthday Video
I just had a birthday and was flattered to have friends post birthday greetings to my wall. The next day, Facebook generated a video featuring some of my friends’ posts.
This is similar to the concept I’m proposing, though without the actual posts to my wall. Here’s a static image of the video: