Friday, September 12, 2008

Hey Facebookers... Quit Your Bitchin'

A million people have blogged about this already this week, but I'm still happy to weigh in myself. What am I talking about? The new Facebook. With your friend's Facebook status updates ever-present in your life, whether it be through your IM client, browser, iPhone, WAP, etc., you instantly know when there is either a major newsworthy event, or Facebook has done something to upset their users. In this case, the final roll out of the new Facebook has been one of those events that everyone has to voice their opinion on. And you know what? I don't really care what anyone thinks about the new Facebook, so please quit your bitchin' and stop spamming me with your whining. It's just something new to get used to, and this, like most things will pass, and in the long run you will find yourself better served.

Someone yesterday wrote a fairly objective post about how a significant site redesign always incites a reaction (the source escapes me for the moment), and Facebook is actually lucky that so many users are paying such close attention. The same thing happened when USA Today integrated their social elements throughout their website as a part of a significant redesign. As I cruised through the feedback, the large majority of it was NOT good. But did USA Today crumble, give in, and revert back? No, as any good publisher would do, they reviewed the comments, separated the emotional and passionate comments from the invaluable, objective feedback. As a former product guy, I'm sure they weighed this feedback with their business objectives and have slotted some items as future product changes, and others as "good ideas, but will require more justification to implement.

What I find interesting throughout this whole process is where Facebook stands on these changes and what their users are saying. I am a big proponent of interacting with your users and not only listening to what they are saying, but talking back. Having a conversation with your users. For large publishers, this is no small task and it may require additional resources to sort through the feedback, or it may require the business owners to spend a little more time with their product, but in the end it not only gets to the root of the problem, it reinforces the brand-user relationship. So where IS Facebook on this whole change? From what I have observed thus far, invisible, not that this won't change.

I write this because I find how strongly people have reacted to this change, and how public the dissent has been to the change funny. But as anyone knows, the people who like the change will more than likely keep quiet because they are happy and can go about their business. It's only the relative "handful" of users that have been upset. "Relative" meaning that only a few hundred thousand out of the multi-millions of users have joined the various groups to protest (this figure I also read somewhere but can't remember where).

I ask all of you to accept the change, know that Facebook IS taking note in some way, and understand that progress cannot come without some short term cost. The minor inconvenience that you are suffering from at this time IS that cost... deal with it and find somewhere more product to direct your energy - perhaps by offering actual constructive feedback. Now THAT'S a new idea.

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