Responding to Facebook Birthday Posts

Growing up, my mom was notorious for making my two siblings and myself write thank you notes whenever we got something for our birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion where we received something from someone else. This practice started very young as I remember drawing pictures on a sheet of paper and scribbling out the words “thank you” before I could even dream of putting sentences together. On Christmas morning did we ever receive cool trinkets, candy, or toys in our stockings? NO! We received thank you notes.

Of course this proper form of acknowledgement that my mom taught me at a young age translated into a dutiful habit as I entered into my adult life. I have thank you notes stock piled both at home and in my office and I always try to write them the same day that I receive something or have something nice done for me. While back in my toddler years I may have gotten the pardon of my understanding relatives if I did not send them a thank you note (even though my mom would never let it happen) there is no such thing as a free pass in adulthood. It is expected to send thank you notes whenever someone goes out of their way for you, both personally and professionally.

And I couldn’t agree anymore with this standard. A thank you note shows gratitude, recognition, and appreciation towards the person or entity that did something nice for you. Not sending a thank you note shows laziness and ungratefulness. Now I know that not everyone had my mom and not everyone received the same strict teachings from her but if you can’t figure out the necessity of sending a thank you note by the time you turn twenty-one you need to have a crash course with Miss Manners herself.

So because of my strong upbringing with thank you notes, when it comes to other displays of gratitude I make sure to be on top of my game as well. Now people take completely different approaches to this situation, and I am not saying my approach is right, but there is always that question of how to respond with Facebook birthday wishes.

As I said, people respond to this conundrum very differently. Some will go through and like every single birthday wish post. Others will post an all-accompanying status update thanking everyone for the birthday wishes, saying how they had such a good day, talking about how loved they feel, etc . Still others will like certain posts, comment on others, and maybe even delete some. Some people will do absolutely nothing (why even have a Facebook if this is the case?). I like to take the more time consuming approach…

I make sure to respond to each and every person who posts a birthday wish on my wall. As has been my personal policy since I was twenty years old, I make it a priority to thank everyone. My birthday fell on a Monday this year and because of the high volume of traffic social media sites receive at the beginning of the week combined with the large push I got from Sunday night, by the end of my birthday I had around 140 posts on my wall. After my birthday celebration died down and I got through the work day on Tuesday, I started to go to work.

Now back when I was a Facebook rookie, you could not reply to posts on the same page. Crazy, huh? Instead, if someone wished me a birthday on my wall I had to go to that person’s wall and leave my thank you. These days things are much more easier as I can just go down my wall and reply to each person without leaving my own profile. Man, we had it so hard back in the day!

Although it does take over two hours of my time, I actually enjoy individually responding to each person. Birthdays are a great excuse to reconnect with people you haven’t talked to in a long time. I did get some satisfaction out of viewing the posts from people I have not talked to since high school. It is just a little reminder that they still care a tiny bit about you to write a sentence or two on your wall. Responding to each birthday wish is also a great conversation starter. Some interesting, successful, and let’s be honest here, very good looking people post on my wall for my birthday. When thanking them for wishing me a happy date of birth I have no qualms asking them a question about how life is going or if they are going to be at a certain event. They will then reply and a little conversation has started. On my birthday my notifications jump about 12X for a normal day….each day thereafter for the next week I see about a 6X increase in notifications for a normal day. This is because of all the people “liking” and responding to my follow ups.

For each birthday post I get, I make sure to write at least two sentences in response. Depending on how much effort is put into the post will translate into how much I put into my thank you response. I would estimate that 40% of my birthday posts say no more than “Happy Birthday Brent.” Of that 40%, probably half of those responses just say “Happy Birthday.” The people who just say “happy birthday” and don’t even recognize me by my name will get the minimum two sentence response. I am not criticizing these people at all, I am just trying to explain my methodology. The people who wish me a happy birthday in ten different languages, write out the words to the birthday song, bring up an inside joke, or post a meaningful message will get longer and more thoughtful messages from me. Sometimes, the posts might even get a “like” from me as well.

I am not here to call out anyone’s Facebook practices on such a silly issue as this. However, I am saying that you can never go wrong with always trying to show gratitude no matter what the situation or no matter how much of a pain in the ass it might be. Unfortunately, birthdays will continue to come until we die. That means we all have many more birthdays to come. In one of these next birthdays, I challenge you to respond to everyone who wishes you a happy birthday and just see how cool the result really is. Now I know many of you have way more Facebook friends than I could ever dream of having so it will be much more time draining for you but I still recommend you give it a try. But most of all, if you never do respond to every birthday post you get on Facebook please make sure to still write thank you notes. Don’t Blink.