The recent changes at Facebook seem to have caused no little uproar. It is a well-known fact that the FB community are reluctant to accept changes, so it was hardly going to be a surprise to anyone that, when a change was made, it would be greeted with outrage. However, the latest changes (which are apparently just the start of many) have been seen to be Twitteresque in character and that in itself has been the cause of much of the anguish being expressed. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but why would FB need to imitate Twitter?
For those not used to Twitter, it is a constant stream of ‘noise’, with some people posting what they had for breakfast, whilst others use it as a marketing tool. You choose who you follow with care on Twitter or the noise can become unbearable. However, it is a very different experience, with different uses, and different demographics of users, from Facebook.
As a company, FB has failed to make money. How that is possible with 175 million registered users (or as someone pointed out today, just shy of the population of Brazil) remains a mystery to many. Twitter on the other hand, with far less users, although it is growing rapidly, is attempting to monetize its service and may yet succeed.
Should Facebook ignore Twitter’s so-called threat to FB, and therefore not attempt to imitate it, or should FB continue to follow the path it deems to be appropriate for future financial stability and potential profitability? In short, should it listen to its users and sort out the problems many are moaning about and revert to its previous incarnation?
Any business that has already taken out the competition (Myspace), has the equivalent population of a not inconsiderably sized country on its books, and whose users are perfectly capable of decamping to the next available alternative should IMHO LISTEN TO ITS USERS.
The advertisers who seek space on FB will have to follow their audience. Should the FB population start to dwindle (and let’s face it, it doesn’t take much to dissipate or fragment an entire community on the internet by creating alternative websites for them to inhabit), so will advertising revenue begin to drop. Not only that, but FB makes it onto the news far too often because the community ‘get vocal’ and this type of PR is never good for business. It implies a lack of clear thought and management at the top, and that always undermines investor confidence.
If you were Mark Zuckerberg right now, what would you do? The lessons being illustrated by this CEO are salutory for many we feel, and as a small or medium sized business, let alone one as potentially huge and global as FB, surely you should listen to your customers?