Facebook tests design and wording changes to encourage users to post more

Facebook appears to be testing a number of changes to the News Feed publisher box aimed at getting users to post more frequently.

Some users are seeing stats beneath the publisher about how long it has been since their last update or about how many friends have recently logged in. These additions could lead users to feel a small sense of obligation to post more frequently.

We’ve also seen design and wording changes that seem to make posting a status more about personal expression. For example, instead of simply saying “What’s on your mind?” within the publisher, Facebook is testing a version that includes a user’s first name: “John, what’s on your mind?” The social network is also trying a design that brings a user’s profile picture closer to the publisher to create what appears to be a speech bubble. These slight changes could have an effect on how often users make status updates or what type of thoughts they share with friends.

Facebook regularly tweaks the site to optimize engagement. It’s interesting to see the company place an emphasis on getting users to post status updates as user behavior seems to be shifting toward mobile photo uploads and inactive sharing through Open Graph. However, if News Feed becomes filled with more activity stories — Spotify listens, Pinterest pins, articles read — and doesn’t include more personal updates, users might not feel the same connection with their friends or the site. With Facebook introducing Sponsored Stories and promoted posts to the feed, it is important for users to still regularly see relevant and interesting stories from their friends. It is also likely that users who make more updates are more satisfied with the site. When users make posts and receive feedback, they feel rewarded and are likely to value Facebook more highly.

Image credit: the first two screenshots are from Techie Buzz.

Update 6/28/12 3:29 p.m. PT – Luigi Montanez tells us his publisher prompts him with the question, “What did you learn today?”