Noah J Nelson on Wednesday, Jun. 27th
Opinions in Game of Buzz are those of the author alone.
Time to grow up, guys.
You just got spanked by Wall Street for your over-hyped IPO. Why? Because your product way underperforms. I’m not talking about how poor your iPhone app is– although don’t think I didn’t notice that you’re having to rewrite that– or the way that you keep changing the rules for how your social network works. I’m talking about your real customers: businesses. They keep abandoning you.
Because for the biggest social network, the largest single aggregator of human attention on the planet, you do a hideous job of actually communicating with your users. Which begs the question: if you don’t know how to communicate with your own captive audience, how the hell is anyone supposed to believe that they can talk to your user base using your own system,
Look at the rollout on Timeline. Sure, you tried. You thought you were pulling an Apple when you made your f8 announcement. That you were giving everyone a good head start on getting ready of the change. What did you get in response? Ridicule, parody and anger. The conventional wisdom is that you blindsided your users with the change. Not guys like me, mind you, I was ready and excited. Guys like me are the exception. We’re tech geeks for the love of Kibo, always on the make for the latest and greatest. I’ll spend all day ridiculing Google’s Project Glass today while simultaneously salivating over the prospect of strapping that thing to my face. My cousins? Not so much.
My cousins are the important people here. They need to be informed. Have some of the old fashioned marketing mojo used to get them excited about the prospect. This is something that you should be thinking about with your own products. Hard. Your users shouldn’t wake up on a Monday to find out that their contact information has been changed without their consent. That’s a juvenile move. It shows a lack of respect for your user base. The one group you should fear.
And fear them you should. You may have tapped into a winning formula for aggregating attention, but the platform has fallen far from its potential for aggregating action. Point to the Arab Spring and Egypt if you want. That’s change that doesn’t seem to be lasting, and while I won’t lay the failures there at your feet I don’t think anyone should be celebrating your role either. Too much of a double-edged symbol.
You’ve fallen into a classic Internet trap: you’ve become more noise than signal. Where you should be discovering new ways to help us manage our digital shadows, instead you’ve been pioneering new ways to clutter up our virtual shelves. Putting a premium on the dredging up of our electronic ids so that we can be manipulated better by those who have a bird’s eye view on the data.
If you really, really want to last you’ll flip the script here. Take a page from Apple and realize that the big sustainable marketplace is to be found in running the marketplace and taking your cut of the game. Quit trying to drag everyone into the Facebook dashboard. It’s become a horrible place to be. Become the air. Be invisible. If you want me to have a Facebook email let me access it the way I get to the rest of my email.
If any of you read this take this part to heart: learn how to use Facebook to communicate with your users. Do that, and at the very least you’ll stop bleeding advertisers.