Looking at Facebook’s “Look Back” Videos

2014-02-facebookFacebook is 10, and they celebrated by releasing a new video app. If you’ve been on Facebook this week, you have undoubtedly seen it—it’s responsible for the “My Facebook Movie” posts that have been ever-present on the site the past couple of days. I’ve seen two dozen of them so far among my circle of friends. And every one of them has been perfectly charming—a beautiful (and often touching) little summary of that user’s life as seen through the lens of Facebook. The videos are spreading like wildfire on the site (and, frankly, I’m amazed that all that video sharing and viewing hasn’t crashed the servers yet).

On my commute into work this morning, I was thinking about why they’ve been so successful and seem to be truly delighting users…

A lot of it comes down to adept use of data—big data, if you’d like—in order to generate content that resonates. Facebook has scads of data at its disposal, including data on each user’s written, photo and video posts: what’s been posted, how many page views and “likes” that post has garnered, how many times each post has been commented on, shared and re-shared. Facebook also knows info about each user: obviously who the user is “friends” with but also who the user is related to, who the user is coupled with, who the user has deemed an important person, who the user talks back and forth with, etc.

With this app, Facebook developers have utilized this user data to generate individual videos that are optimized for that user’s best and most important moments from the past decade, starring each user and their closest friends and loved ones. The resulting videos are strongly resonant as they highlight how each user has connected most strongly with his or her circle. They are curated and personalized for each individual, and the results are captivating. Based on my observations, these little videos are delighting both their subjects and those who view them. And that is a great outcome for Facebook and its community.

As shown here, big data can be used for things beyond giant sales models, market analyses and marketing campaigns. It can be used to help deliver more fine-tuned experiences. Big data can delight. Thank you, Facebook, for showing us one example of how it can be done with panache.

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Erin Leedy

About Erin Leedy

Erin Leedy is a senior vice president of research and consulting in the Technology Research division of Market Strategies. She has been conducting technology research since 1996, focusing on the development of new hardware, software and services for the consumer and business markets. On the qualitative side, Erin is a skilled focus group moderator who specializes in observational and contextual site visits, modified ethnographic approaches, out-of-box and beta testing and product placements in consumer and business environments. Her quantitative expertise includes customer profiling, market exploration, segmentation and choice modeling. She graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in industrial design. When not at work, she’s working hard to live up to her Twitter bio, which currently reads: researcher…designer…mommy…foodie…modernist…mixtapeologist…blogger.

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