So today I’m celebrating my 50th birthday by writing a blog post about celebrating birthdays…on Facebook.
Birthdays on Facebook are like getting everyone in your high school class to sign your yearbook. It is exciting to hear from everyone. It is typically the most liked/commented event/post all year.
Facebook makes it easy. They always remind you when you go to check your feed.
So why is it so successful at getting your FB friends to wish you a happy birthday?
Well looking at Robert Cialdini’s Six Key Principles of Influence, you can see why it is so successful. Let’s look at each individually.
Starting off easy. If you wished them a happy birthday, they most likely will reciprocate. Even if you missed it, they probably aren’t sure so they’ll probably still do it (also covered in another principle – Social Proof).
Commitment and Consistency
If they wish one person in their friends list a happy birthday, they’re likely to do the same for all of their friends if prompted (they must remain consistent with an earlier established pattern).
We are social animals. If you are shunned, you die. You see this with people who retire and lose their social network (it used to be the average retiree would die within two years of retirement – note to self, better get more social lol). Facebook makes this extra noticeable to draw out those introverts out. Birthday wishes show on that person’s wall for everyone to see. Do you want to be the one who forgot???
People tend to obey authority figures (like policemen before all the bad press). In this instance the authority figure is the all-knowing-Facebook. They prompt you from your home page in case you forgot. And they make it easy by letting you post from your home page itself. Really easy.
This is the old classic – popularity. Are you likeable? This is probably less noticeable in the actual response of your Facebook friends but is more obvious in how many friends they have. Are all friends the same? Probably not as in real life. But you certainly won’t have a large friends list if you stay in your cave (unless it is a cool man-cave…then you’ll have lots of friends).
Your birthday is only one day a year so scarcity is built in. Even Facebook doesn’t remind you if you’re a day late to the party. You snooze, you lose. So you must act fast. Nothing more frustrating than finding out a day late…do you give a belated wish?…or just hope they didn’t notice? Ah the quandaries of the 21st century.
So to everyone out there, thank you all for the Happy Birthday Wishes. And at 50 years old I hope the next 50 are just as good (might as well shoot for 100 right???)