If you’ve spent much time on Facebook lately, you’ve likely spent a good bit of that time being less than thrilled. Some of the recent news surrounding the rapid rise in Google+ users may be less about how great Google+ is and speak more to Facebook user dissatisfaction. After all, when was the last time you really loved a change that Facebook made? Every time Facebook does some kind of revamp I mostly hear complaints. And a big chunk of Facebook users give it an F as well, as seen in a recent social media satisfaction survey . Facebook scored a dismal 64% satisfaction rating from the users in the survey.
Facebook’s current strategy doesn’t look promising. They seem to believe that if they continue to load Facebook with features that the platform will remain relevant. Their recent integration of Skype may prove a success, but I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why having Skype as part of a social media platform is better than me running it in my browser in addition to my Facebook page. I can’t see any big benefits. I’m not going to go to my Facebook page to video chat. I doubt there are any huge negatives to integrating Skype except that it does point to some interesting questions.
Is Facebook just adding features in the blind hope that an average user will spend more time on Facebook? Facebook may be trying to compete with other influences in our lives for our time—which is finite. But adding features willy-nilly doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. And the news that Spotify will be integrated into Facebook seems like gimmickry of the highest order. It may be that Facebook worries that other services like Skype and Spotify may threaten the total computer time that the average user spends on Facebook—and consequently, near the Facebook advertisements. Or maybe I’m being cynical.
Regardless, the addition of these features seems to promise no added value for Facebook users. Facebook may view the addition of new features merely as a means to keep users on their site in an increasingly fragmented postmodern digital world. That would justify a measure of cynicism.
Facebook might be able to increase user satisfaction by a different method. If they scaled back in terms of features and just refined what they have, they might have a plausible shot at success, depending on how one quantifies success. It would likely be more expensive than their current approach and contain an element of risk as well. The hurdle Facebook hasn’t yet conquered is the fact that their platform will never have the inherent potential for sophistication and nuance in imitating human communities in a virtual way like Google+ does. If they want to keep their users happy, they may be forced to take some risks to compete.
Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University and has a keen interest in blogging and social media. He also writes for www.professionalintern.com.