The decline in sharing on Facebook has emerged as a problem in the past year. Less human activity across the social platform means less organic media consumption and this is not a good news for advertisers who believe that their promotions are seen by real people but not by paid bots.
Technology-news website The Information reported earlier this month that “original broadcast sharing” on Facebook was down 21% as of mid-2015, compared with the prior year.
In the first quarter of 2016, 33% of Facebook users polled by market researcher GlobalWebIndex said they updated their profile status in the past month and 37% said they uploaded or shared their own photos. A year ago, 44% said they updated their profile status in the prior month and 46% said they uploaded or shared their photos.
A new camera app that is currently in a development stage is just one way Facebook plans to tackle the issue. The stand-alone camera app will aim to encourage users to create, and share, more photos and videos. A prototype of the app developed by Facebook’s “friend-sharing” team in London opens to a camera, similar to disappearing photo app Snapchat. Another planned feature allows a user recording video through the app to begin live streaming, and this feature may directly compete with YouTube and affect Google’s advertising network up to some extend.
By comparison, Facebook’s flagship mobile app opens to a personalized feed of articles, status updates and ads that encourages users to consume content, but not necessarily create it.
Earlier, in an attempt to rekindle users interest, the company started to display prompts, or “reminders,” at the top of some users’ news feeds last year. Many prompts are based on a user’s interests and location; others are for holidays like Father’s Day, football games or television show premieres.
Facebook has also attempted to re-engage users with new features such as “On This Day,” which lets users relive and share past posts. This and similar features appear may have prompted more users to “like” Facebook posts, according to GlobalWebIndex, which said that in the first quarter of 2016, 82% of Facebook users clicked “like” at least once in the prior month, up from 73% during the same period a year earlier.
More recently, Facebook gave some users the option to post pre-made collages from their recently taken photographs. Last month, the company bought video-sharing app MSQRD, which lets users enhance videos through filters and offers the ability to “swap” faces with others in the picture. Snapchat has a similar feature in its main app.
The new camera app under consideration is also intended to spur creation. The content could then be shared to Facebook or its other properties, including Instagram.
However, any new app will face a challenge among users increasingly reluctant to download more apps.
Last year, Facebook shut its in-house app incubator, Creative Labs, and removed three of the unit’s unpopular apps from the Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store. Facebook said it would continue to develop stand-alone apps.