Hey, Facebook: Relax

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Food for thought
Tags: , , ,

[cross-posted from PR Connections]

Facebook has a pattern of innovation by (knee-jerk) reaction. The newest Facebook feature? The Subscribe option.

Here is why it sucks, and here is why innovation by knee-jerking is a bad idea, and unnecessary, especially for Facebook.

Facebook is, by far, the SNS market leader.

SNS adoption

As market leader, it is unnecessary to freak out and patch-up your product with random features, in an effort to compete with Google+, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, etc. You’re in no danger. You can afford to think and be strategic about what features you add. You’re not going to lose market share to Google+ overnight. SNS migration is slow, and for so many people, FB is mainstream, it’s become a habit. Early adopters may migrate, but the majority will stay put.

Speaking of the majority: All these new features confuse them. They don’t know what Google+ is. They have heard of Twitter, but it is more foreign to them than Romania. They know exactly what they use Facebook for, and they are happy seeing what the crazy cousin is up to, and sharing photos of the baby with extended family. I bet you the majority, which form Facebook’s biggest market and ARE its strategic advantage, can’t keep track with all these innovations and don’t even understand them. So, by adding new, confusing, features, you’re confusing your main market. Bad idea. I do informal research whenever I present to student groups. I ask them if they’re aware of and use certain (new) Facebook features. They’re not. And these are your Digital Natives. If they can’t keep up, how about auntie Mae?!

As MacManus points out, Facebook started off as a private social network. This IS was Facebook’s strategic advantage. As Facebook adds Google+ and Twitter-like features, it loses its strategic advantage and its definition. What is Facebook these days, exactly? What does it want to be – besides “the biggest, most popular SNS in the Western hemisphere”? A product without a unique proposition is diluted, confusing. Rather than trying to be everything to everybody, I think Facebook should step back to search and find its soul (too late for that) defining, unique proposition. The danger of knee-jerk responsive innovation is that you dilute a product and forget its strategic advantage and position in the marketplace. Rather then be Google+ AND Twitter AND Foursquare AND Instagram, Facebook should figure out what it is and what it is not – and how it is different from all of the above. From the market leader position, it can afford to relax and think strategically.

* Image captured from a slideshare presentation about social media adoption and uses around the world:

  1. Geovon says:

    “So, by adding new, confusing, features, you’re confusing your main market. Bad idea.”

    This morning I logged into my Facebook account and found an assortment of random, confusing pop-ups: “new changes,” “increased privacy,” and somethingsomething about “special groups.” I didn’t know what to do, nor did I *want* to know what to do. It was 7:00 AM-ish and I was enjoying my extra-bold coffee. “None of this ‘confusing’ noise, Mark Z. Too early, dude. Look!, Twitter’s nice and clean this morn. Bye!”

    Then I logged out.

    It felt really good to log out. Like, it felt like a real life Facebook . I “liked” myself logging out.


    I want to “like” myself logging in. My friends and family are there. 😥

    I hope Mark Z. reads this post.

  2. I completely agree. I feel like Facebook needs to calm down sometimes and realize that what they have is actually liked by the general public!

    It’s the sudden changes that seem to be the larger problem for Facebook users are more upset with.

  3. george-b says:

    In full agreement, thanks.

    • Mihaela says:

      In fact, what better way to lose customers to the competition than to confuse, annoy, and alienate them? I see talk on FB about people wanting to move to G+ *because* of these changes!