The most popular social network in the world just can’t get a break. They try to be new and innovative (okay, or they’re trying to rip off Twitter), and users hate it. HATE it. And Facebook basically says, “Tough.”
But anyone who’s been on Facebook for a couple years has seen this all before: almost every redesign and tweak has been met with virulent “I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK” groups and discussions. They hated the news feed and mini feed years ago, they hated Beacon, they hated last year’s redesign, and they hate this one, too. Let’s face it: people hate change. But so far, Facebook has stuck to its guns about half the time—and even when they’ve made changes, they’ve modified, but never fully rescinded anything (other than the TOS changes)—and FB continues to flourish through all the fracas.
So will Facebook yield this time, or do they really not care what their users (not “customers,” as Frank rightly points out) are saying? Robert Scoble opines that Facebook can’t care what its users think—they’ve got to start thinking about the businesses entering the social graph. According to Scoble, this is:
when Facebook is really going to find its business model. This is why Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely correct to say he can’t listen to people who wants Facebook to get stuck in Phase Four [without businesses]. It was a nice phase, yes, when Facebook only had people in the social graph, but those days are over.
Don’t get distracted by the current design that looks sort of like Twitter. Twitter showed that businesses can co-exist on the social graph along with people. Zuckerberg is smart. He saw that Twitter was going to make a crapload of money (that’s why he tried to buy Twitter) and instead of being depressed by being turned down by @ev he decided to phase shift Facebook. . . .
Anyway, all those who are saying the new design sucks should NOT be listened to. Yeah, I know a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying that. After all, how can a blogger say to not listen to the masses? Easy: I’ve seen the advice the masses are giving and most of it isn’t very good for Facebook’s business interests. (emphasis added)
Let’s face it: by and large, Facebook’s users aren’t its real customers—the businesses advertising and using Facebook are the “customers,” the ones who are paying FB’s bills. Yes, the users are vital to FB and its customers, but we users like to pretend that the actual customers are not only superfluous but ruining our private community (when really, they’re the only things keeping it running. Well, them and VCs.). Facebook has to cater to its real customers to stay alive.
So a lot of this outrage is probably going to pan out to be all talk. Scoble also points out that though his wife, an avid Facebooker, didn’t care for the redesign, her usage hasn’t lessened at all. People make a lot of noise about canceling accounts and leaving Facebook forever, but I think time will show that very few are so enraged as to make this move.
What do you think? Will this move end up being the death of Facebook, or will it mark its shift to a real business plan?