Facebook has long been a reliable way to keep track of friends’ and family members’ birthdays. But with the company de-emphasizing sharing to the News Feed, some people — particularly in North America — have begun to opt out of posting daily birthday greetings. (Disclosure: I am one of those people.) Today, Facebook announced a new feature designed to get everyone posting birthday wishes again: birthday stories, a new set of templates for posting well wishes as ephemeral Facebook stories.
Facebook announced this month that 500 million people are using its version of the stories product. That can be a little hard to believe in North America, where many of those trays at the top of the app have barely a handful of stories to look at. But Facebook says stories is among its fastest-growing format for sharing stories, and that means gradually porting over core features of the old News Feed into the new one.
When birthday stories roll out and a close friend has a birthday, you’ll see a tile in the stories tray inviting you to post a greeting. Tap it and you can take a picture or short video and customize it with your well wishes. (You can also use the music sticker to add a soundtrack.) Or you can choose from a selection of digital birthday cards created by Facebook.
Not every friend who is having a birthday will appear as a birthday story in your feed, the company said. Instead, Facebook will attempt to identify your close friends and show only their birthday stories. And if one of your friends adds to a mutual friend’s story, it will appear in your stories feed as well.
While Facebook stories have clearly caught on in some parts of the world, in other regions people are still scratching their heads about why they might use the product. Bringing in birthday greetings could give those people a good reason to try it — or, if they’ve tried it already, to use it more.
Birthday stories will begin rolling out globally today, the company said.