In Facebook… sigh and bye, I shared with you my rationale for reducing my Facebook account from a busy stream to a business card. Here are some thoughts I’ve had about how Facebook could have managed its transitions better:

  • Give users options. Rather than forcing wholescale, confusing change on us all, why not roll out the features as clickable account options? Go into your user account and click “Timeline” or “Subscriptions.” Instead, these and other changes were shoved down our already full throats.
  • Create user levels. Some of us just use Facebook for networking. Others use it for communicating. Others are more regular with status updates than a diet of bran and Exlax could create. Regardless, there are different kinds of users. Why not offer user levels in which some of the options above are possible?
  • Paid services. Some of the things being rolled out right now are unwanted by a significant segment of Facebook. Others are reacting with great enthusiasm. So much enthusiasm, in fact, that I believe many would pay a small fee for the features. It’s been a long-held speculation that Facebook might charge in the future. This would be a painless way for Facebook to introduce a Premium fee structure.
  • Respect our privacy. This has been a constant offense, Facebook. Fool us once, shame on us. Fool us… four times and counting, and shame on Facebook. Every new feature rollout puts our identities, information, images and ideas on the sacrificial altar of Facebook’s wanton pursuit of digital dominion.
  • Ask us. I know it’s crazy, but we might respond in ways that you don’t like. If we do, don’t pretend that your product is like making a kid eat green beans. You’re not “good for us.”
  • A choice to upgrade. Think software. I still use Macromedia’s Freehand instead of Adobe Illustrator, even though Freehand is defunct. (Adobe bought out Macromedia and then killed Freehand.) Why? Because I feel like it’s superior to what Illustrator offers for why I use it. I also knowFreehand, well.In addition, I enjoy the option of not upgrading at times – whether because I don’t want to spend the money, or because a new iteration of the software is actually worse than the previous version. This actually happened when Apple released iMovie 2008 in its iLife ’08 suite. It was a major rewrite of the popular video production software, but… everyone hated it. Many Mac users deleted it, and soon Apple provided the prior version for download on its site.
  • Say you’re sorry. Coca Cola introduced “New Coke” in 1985, and it flopped. Rather quickly (77 days), the company announced the return of the original formula in “Coke Classic.” They acknowledged their mistake. And there’s interesting things to be learned from that fiasco/conspiracy.

Consider these observations from the Wikipedia article about the New Coke episode:

Coke spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out where it had made a mistake, ultimately concluding that it had underestimated the public impact of the portion of the customer base that would be alienated by the switch.

In the end, Coke wound up with a larger market share than it had when it introduced New Coke. Some speculated that Coke executives knew all along that the fervor was actually good for sales.

Allowing itself to be portrayed as a somewhat clueless large corporation forced to back off a big change by overwhelming public pressure flattered customers.

These people felt like Coke had listened to them. In fact, it did. Coke CEO Donald Keough went on TV to say:

Once we realized that we had made a mistake, I went on television and simply said that we don’t own this brand, you do. You’ve made it clear that you want the original formula back, and you’re getting it back. (Source)

Finally

A little humility goes a long way. Forbes reported this month that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg edged out Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as the 14th richest person in America. His estimated worth? $17.5 billion dollars.

Am I appreciative that Facebook is a free service? Yes. But it’s free to me only in our checkbooks. We had no idea how much we’re worth, did we? Mark did, and he’s making a killing off our faces, places, images and ideas.

Maybe with the new changes, the site should be renamed Facebookie.

On this day...

Table of contents for Facebook Follies

  1. Facebook… sigh and bye
  2. Facebookie