Social Networking Happy Birthday Stats

    October 28, 2008

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Last year, I took an analytical approach to my birthday – hardly surprising to those who know me. When I learned in first grade how to take surveys and make tally marks, I did a poll around school of preferences for Doritos, Fritos, or Cheetos (Doritos won handily).

This year, two birthday well-wishers mentioned they were eager to see how things would track for 2008 chart. Given the anticipation, and my own curiosity, I kept better track of the metrics. Nothing makes for birthday fun than opening up a spreadsheet whenever someone says happy birthday to you.

Here are a few observations about this year’s birthday greetings:

  • Facebook well surpassed in-person greetings this year. Even with birthday drinks with friends, celebrating the day in the office, and a family lunch on Sunday. Some other personal greetings came the night before my birthday, which was coincidentally the party for 360i’s tenth birthday (see the MediaPost coverage and Kelly Samardak’s Flickr photos).
  • Facebook does so well feeding on itself. Someone wishes me happy birthday, it appears on my wall. That action may show up in their friends’ news feeds. I’ll then write on their walls to thank them (or I might do so via Facebook email), and then anyone who visits those walls will see the exchange. Of course, the biggest driver is the prominent space on the homepage Facebook provides to alert people of their friends’ birthdays. Then there are apps like Birthday Calendar that provide other notifications.
  • Dropping off the list from last year: MySpace and Friendster. My network has fully migrated.  Also, no Skype this time, but I don’t keep it open as much.
  • New to the list: Twitter, with four mentions (first one, thanks @andrewnevelos, and then a quick burst of a few, @danperry, @worleygirl, and @gregory – thanks all around there too). Also, I received my first note on geneaology service Geni (thanks Aunt Aida).
  • Not yet on the list: LinkedIn wasn’t used for birthday greetings at all, nor was FriendFeed.
  • I kept a few new tallies – including greetings from:
    • People I kind of know: 4
    • People I can’t remember how I know: 7
    • People I know but am kind of embarrassed to be friends with or don’t like very much: 3
  • Time zones also played a fun role:
    • Ryan Govindan in India was the first to wish me happy birthday on my actual birthday; it was only 2:30pm in New York but my birthday was underway then.
    • My brother emailed me happy birthday while on business in China. Yet at the time, it was his birthday (I’m eight years, 364 days his junior). 
  • Marketers to send birthday greetings this year included Michael C. Fina (like last year, with a 15% coupon for the month), Borders (with a 15% coupon for the day), Facebook (just on the site), Eons (wow, I must be getting old), and this themed cruise outfit in Atlanta called Sixthman that I hadn’t heard of before.

And now, this year’s chart. The one channel I included was in-person, which was much harder to track; again, Facebook still would have come out on top.

Birthday greetings oct 08