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Facebook’s Communications: Fail February 10, 2010

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Marketing and PR.
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It’s amazing how Facebook has managed to become the heavyweight in social media, considering its patent disregard for its 400 million or so active users.

Facebook has established a well-earned reputation for not communicating with the public or its users. A simple blog post will be the only notification most users will get from the company when it makes major policy or user interface changes — which it does on a quarterly basis. The unchecked rumor mill is constantly churning with charges that the company will begin charging for its now-free service. Privacy scandals break out regularly over what information is being shared with advertisers, who owns content, or what user information is made public — and Facebook weighs in, it seems, as little as possible. In fact, when the media covers Facebook and its various scandals, the company has appeared fairly dismissive of its many critics.

Over the past week, Facebook rolled out major changes to its user interface, which many users have complained are counter-intuitive and difficult to use. On top of that, technical issues have plagued the service, resulting in delayed news feeds, disappearing posts and the like. The only acknowledgement Facebook has made in the ensuing firestorm of dissatisfaction was an hour ago, when it notified users that some bugs have been fixed and that the news feeds will gradually return to normal.

The user-interface changes doubtless were in anticipation of yesterday’s debut of Google Buzz. But With Google Buzz aching to go up against Facebook, it will be interesting to see how users react. Are they too invested in Facebook to make a meaningful change in their social media behaviors? Or will Facebook’s lack of commitment toward user satisfaction and acknowledgement of user feedback be its eventual undoing?

Impressive statistics released by Facebook this week in celebration of its sixth anniversary (timed nicely to combat Google Buzz) revealed one interestingly buried fact: On the whole, a notable percentage of Facebook’s users are less engaged with the site than they used to be. Could it be that Facebook’s poor public relations strategy has eroded its core, leaving it vulnerable for other social media leaders such as Google to scoop up its disenfranchised users?

Not only does Facebook have no core principle of what the site should be, but it has also demonstrated repeatedly that it doesn’t care what users think and can’t be bothered by their needs, desires or privacy concerns. Will I stop using it? I haven’t decided yet, but one thing’s for sure: Facebook had better be worried.

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Comments»

1. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - February 10, 2010

Interestingly… after I posted the URL of this blog post on six of Facebook’s blog entries, I was — without warning — notified that I am now banned from commenting on Facebook blogs. I guess Big Brother really is watching!

2. Mike C. - February 10, 2010

“Could it be that Facebook’s poor public relations strategy has eroded its core…”
Yes, absolutely. Facebook feels it can do whatever it wants with no justification or explanation. If you look at the comments after FB posts and on everyone’s pages, thousands, if not millions, of people are up in arms. But FB is saying, since it’s saying nothing at all, if you don’t like it, suck it. That attitude will catch up to them, if not today, soon.

3. YogiBaby - February 10, 2010

Lynn, chances are you posted it numerous times in succession on each blog, and folks reported you for spamming.

4. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - February 10, 2010

Mike: I totally agree with you.

YogiBaby: If that were the case I’d understand. But it literally took four to five minutes for them to ban me (without warning, contrary to their written policy) after I put one comment (accompanied by this url) on six of their individual posts. Make no mistake: this didn’t come from any complaints of me spamming, because, A) I was participating in the “I hate the new layout” discussions that thousands of other people were/are participating in on those comment board, B) I only made one comment on each one, and C) it happened almost immediately. Either they have controls where people can’t post comments in a short period of time on multiple blog posts, or someone on the FB side happened to click on this blog and realized I was criticizing the company on a more public level.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

5. YogiBaby - February 10, 2010

The other possibility, Lynn, is someone who disagreed with you and reported it as cyberbullying or some stronger offense, which results in immediate yanking without investigating thoroughly.
I am so disappointed in FB lately it makes me sad– I suspect very soon all the lovely people I’ve reconnected with will scatter, or I will have to bail out of frustration.

6. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - February 10, 2010

YogiBaby, that’s possible too, but who knows… I said my piece much more nicely (and profanity-free) than a lot of other people.

I agree… I, too, have so much invested in Facebook that they kind of have me over a barrel. I hope your scenario doesn’t happen, but I think it may be inevitable, unfortunately.

7. employee. - February 10, 2010

Lynn, it was the former, absolutely (rate limiting). Have you seen how many negative comments remain there?

8. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - February 10, 2010

Yes! Which is why I posted there. Literally thousands of comments. But of course, FB will never admit there’s a problem, much less address it. Really too bad.


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