What you can learn from Facebook: Personalize your site

August 13, 2008

I had a birthday recently and was struck yet again by how well (and yet simply) Facebook does birthdays.

You can, of course, choose to hide your birthday, in which case none of this applies. But for those of us who keep our birthday on our profile, there’s a lot of attention to be had. Not only does Facebook itself wish you a happy birthday, but since friends’ upcoming birthdays show up on everyone’s main news feed, you typically end up with a lot of birthday wishes, often from people who wouldn’t call, send a card or even remember your birthday otherwise.

On the one hand, it’s close to meaningless – it doesn’t take much for people to write a quick note. But on the other hand, it’s a reminder of the power of social networking tools. I know that the people who wished me a happy birthday were reminded by Facebook; even so, it was nice to get all those birthday wishes.

The lesson? A little personalization (and some minor programming) can go a long way to make your readers feel like part of your community. It’s worth thinking about how you can make your site’s tools interact in a more personal way with your audience.

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