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How would you improve Facebook Birthdays?
To start, please confirm Facebook Birthdays product is the list of upcoming friends birthdays you can see when you tab on Events > Birthdays. As a FB user, you can then write a birthday message for your friends that will appear on their feed. You can also see your friendship history and include photos and gifs as part of your message. The person whose birthday is that day, gets these messages on his/her feed. They can respond just like any other post. Is that correct? Am I missing anything?
To answer this question, I will use this framework:
Why are Facebook Birthdays important? What is the goal or purpose?
Who are the users?
What are their needs, pain points?
How will we improve the experience. Come up with a few ideas.
Finally, I will prioritize from the solutions, discuss tradeoffs and align it back to the goal for a final proposal.
Does that sound like an Ok approach?
Okay, then starting with the Goal. Facebook’s mission is to build communities and bring people together. Birthdays and other occasions are great ways to build connections and engagements, thereby bringing people together. So, to sum it up, I would say Goal of FB Birthdays is to “Build communities and bring people together during birthdays.”
When I think about the users, I think there are two main buckets. Friends - who are wishing and the Birthday Person - who is consuming the wishes. Friends can be further divided into acquaintances, close friends, family, coworkers, etc. For now, I would like to think of needs and solutions that go across all these segments.
Thinking about their needs. As a friend, 1) I would want to feel connected with my friends, sense of belonging, especially with friends that are not close by. 2) Remind friends that you are there, thinking about them on big occasions. 3) I want to appear genuine. I want to make sure friends perceive me as “I am being myself”. 4) And lastly, I would like my conversations to be timely and relevant. Thinking about some pain points and frustrations, I can add, friends also want this to be as easy as possible. While some scenarios will require them to go above and beyond, friends usually want to stay connected without adding too much on their already full plates.
From a birthday person user segment, I would say they want to express appreciation, they want to relive old friendships and again want to do this with ease. They don’t want to send hundreds of “Thank you” back from their post, even though they might feel appreciated receiving those messages.
Looking at these needs, I would like to focus on solutions for friends who are not close by and think of some ideas on possible improvements/ new solutions for Facebook Birthdays now that we understand their needs and pain points.
We already have a way to see friendship history - photos and post between you and your friend. So will skip that. Some other ideas are here.
- Group Video Message. Have friends upload a 10 seconds birthday message that gets connected to provide a longer >5 minutes Video message for the birthday person.
- Surprise Birthday Party. Host a virtual event for your friend - like an online gaming event, Cocktail hour, escape room, etc. A little bit more fun than a simple text message and opportunity to get the group back together. We could also include VR/AR for friends that are far.
- How well do you know your friend? Friendship score quiz. Friends can take a quiz about the birthday person and learn new facts that they might not know in the process. Great additional material to talk about in the birthday message.
- Hangout on Friend’s Birthday: Plan your day and then invite friends to hangout even if only virtually. They can follow the birthday person as they spend their birthday. Buy their lunch or morning coffee. Meet them Live at the next destination.
- I think we have a good list. Let’s prioritize based on impact to our original goal of - “building connections during birthday” and effort to implement.
- I believe the group video message is fairly easy to do. It would make a great birthday message for the birthday person. It would be easier and more fun to consume. However, it is still just one way messages so limited in providing the connection that some of these others solutions might provide.
- Surprise birthday party is a good one in terms of building connections, however, with zoom for virtual and other events planning including FB events, fairly easy to integrate. If we include VR/AR, that would make it more interesting but will increase the effort significantly.
- is also fairly easy to implement and would be great for friends who might have lost touch or acquaintances. We need to make sure we are not showing any private information and birthday person approves the quiz, which might not make it an easy to publish, one step process.
- this is the one I really like and you can start planning even before the birthday, so build some build-up to the birthday. We can help friends suggest locations, have business show open slots. We can show the path and add location so it is easy to track your friend, provide integration points for Facebook Live and add images to their insta accounts. So I think there is a lot here, fairly easy to do and can be great way to make the birthday special for friends.
So, for that reason and the fact that it meets our goal to build communities and bring people together during birthdays, I recommend building a “Birthday Hangout Plan/Map” feature.