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You’ve probably seen the posts on Facebook and may even have gotten dozens or hundreds of happy birthday posts on your wall on your actual birthday as well. The first time I got more than 100 “Happy Birthdays” on my wall by my Facebook friends, that felt great. Then the question came up: How should I thank all those people wishing me a Happy Birthday?
Offline it’s easier. Somebody wishes you a happy birthday in person, you reply right then: “Thank you.” And you might make a joke about how you feel the extra day or something silly like that.
But online, what’s the etiquette? Here’s what I’ve seen:
Thanking by commenting on each post
Some birthday boys or girls have taken the time to respond to each post personally and thank each person individually that way. Clearly, this can take some time depending on how many birthday posts you received. But on the other hand, all those people took the time to wish you a happy birthday. Typically, the person who left the initial note will receive a notification that you liked their post. They know you appreciated it. This option builds connection and shows appreciation.
Thanking by liking
Some people instead of leaving personal comments go through the posts on their wall and like each one. This technique still acknowledges each comment personally, though, no words were “spoken” (aka posted). Typically, the person who left the initial note will receive a notification that you liked their post. They know you appreciated it. I also think that this options builds connection and shows appreciation. A LIKE is not that different from a typed “Thank you.”
Recommended reading: My reaction to Facebook reaction buttons
Thanking by posting one general post as a status update
Perhaps the most common way – from my perception – is the generic post that goes something like this:
Thank you everyone for the birthday messages. I feel so blessed to have such great friends, etc. etc.
This is the quickest way to still officially thank people but it’s not on a personal level. The problem with this very impersonal thank you compared to a personal note is two-fold:
- Just because it’s posted that doesn’t guarantee that people will actually see it. (Remember that Facebook doesn’t show all posts to all people)
- it’s not very personal and seems the easy way out.
I wouldn’t recommend this option. People took the time to congratulate you personally, ya know.
No thank you at all
I’ve seen those, too, or maybe I didn’t because Facebook didn’t show me that particular post. Who knows. Either way, not responding can be seen as rude – likely because it is. Chances are people wouldn’t notice the non-response anyway, but still. I wouldn’t recommend this option.
Recommended reading: Responding quickly is also part of being authentic
Bonus fun story: I do remember one person who automatically responded to each post via his out of office reply. His settings were set that he would receive an email for each post on his wall, an email that was immediately replied to by his out of office email, which read something like this:
Thanks for your email. I’m currently out of the office. Please contact:
(A list of people with specific areas of coverage were listed).
Otherwise I will get back to you once I return.
It was certainly funny to see those responses come back. If your Facebook account is tied to a unique email that you don’t use for anything else, this is certainly a way to automate the response and tell everyone thanks.
Recommended reading: Automation is not always good
What if I don’t want everyone wishing me a Happy Birthday on Facebook?
if you don’t want to decide how to respond to dozens or more birthday wishes (though they are nice to get), the easiest way to do that is to take your birthday off your public profile. Some security experts have also argued that this is a good privacy practice.
Personally, I enjoyed getting birthday wishes, but I did remove my birthday from my profile a few years ago. Here’s how you remove your birthday from your public Facebook profile (as of Feb. 21, 2016).
First, go to your profile page – while logged in – and click on ABOUT. Then CONTACT AND BASIC INFO on the left.
Scroll down to where your birthday is listed. Hover to the far right of it and move the mouse around until you get this:
The lock means that only I can see my birthday on my profile. Once you click on EDIT you get options to show your birthday to the public, friends only, or make it private.
Easy breezy. Of course, remember that if you make it private you will no longer get those dozens or more birthday wishes.
More recommended Facebook reading: