Friday, September 23, 2011

Change is Good. Facebook Makes Changes. Users Not Pleased. What Happens Next?

Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes…everyone is posting about "it"; been two days now. Most of the comments are negative. Facebook, knock knock; open up your complaint department door. A mini-me time line or “ticker” whizzing by at an alarming rate with only a few posts visible at a time? The “main” timeline, “top stories” containing only what Facebook think you’d be interested in? Your smiling mug glaring at you from the upper right side of the page?

What’s going on here?

Facebook is trying to be Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all at once. With Wednesday’s changes plus the other recent revisions, including making the list feature easier to use and the new “subscribe” feature, Facebook has managed to baffle more people than please them.

Think about who a typical user is. A lot of folks who are a part of the (rumored) 750 million that are on Facebook know little about computers and the technology that makes them tick. They merely want to meet up with friends, see what’s new, and extend a little loyalty to some of their favorite brands. They are not there to eagerly go through a learning curve every couple of days so that they can get to do what matters to them.

Many Facebook users have never been on Twitter or Google+. In fact, many of them haven’t even HEARD of Google+. This is your core group, Facebook, the social media challenged.
So Facebook, why are you ignoring the heart and soul of your “people” and making changes that only a person with some technical background would easily be able to figure out and work with?

Heck, I’ve even written computer programs and conducted boatloads of analytical work in my past, and I’m baffled too! Change is okay; don’t get me wrong. But why make it so complicated?
Are these changes about the users? No.

Surprise; it’s about revenue. It’s about having advertisers on the site. But hey, that’s not all of it. It’s a cry for power, to be the biggest, to attack the competition and keep them at bay; you listening Google? Google+, with users somewhere between 25 and 32 million (depending on source), is a mosquito, yet Facebook already feels stung. Will they admit that? No and I wouldn’t either. But observe Facebook’s behavior over the past few weeks; it is reactive, not proactive.

Oh, and did you know? Just announced on The Forbes annual “Richest People in America” list: Zuckerberg is wealthier than Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page with 17.5 billion in his net worth coffers. Sweet.

Here’s a thought: Wouldn’t it be nice if Facebook created a group of say 100 users that would be representative of all Facebook users? They can use this group to test new ideas with instead of just assuming that users will understand the changes. Perhaps they already have some internal personnel testing the changes. People that are likely below the age of 35 and grew up with a computer in their cribs…not representative of the U.S. Population!

On the Facebook page on Facebook, there are currently over 60,000 comments about the changes. Facebook, your users are trying to talk to you. Facebook, you have an opportunity to prevent abandonment by connecting with and engaging the users you already have. Talk to them. Listen to them. Announce changes before they happen. Provide videos that will take users through the changes in advance. Stop shutting out the users.

As Google+ continues to streamline and improve their social network, and it appears that they’ve put a lot of thought into it in regards to ease of use. As they become more known to the public at large, expect Facebook users to test the waters. One of my friends declared she was leaving Facebook on Wednesday, and guess what? She deactivated this morning.

Jimmy Buffet sang:

It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane 

Conclusion: Expect change. And try to move along with it. Have a laugh while you’re experiencing it.

Wonder if anyone will see my post on Facebook?

No comments: