Q&A: Appitalism’s Simon Buckingham On New Facebook

We spoke with Simon Buckingham, chief executive officer of mobile app superstore Appitalism, to get his take on the events of f8 last Thursday.

The extensive changes introduced by Facebook last week will have varying effects on just about every company that uses the social network for marketing purposes. How will application distributors cope?

We spoke with Simon Buckingham, chief executive officer of mobile app superstore Appitalism, to get his take on the events of f8 last Thursday.

Appitalism brings a social element to its online store, which offers more than 10 million apps, songs, books, games, and videos for platforms including smartphones, tablets, PCs, and eBook readers. Here’s what Buckingham had to say.

How will the new newsfeed, the ticker, Timeline, and GraphRank alter your approach to marketing via Facebook?

We here at Appitalism have always adhered to best practices when dealing with Facebook and other social media.

The new changes announced make it even more essential for the content you provide to your users to be extremely high-quality and interactive.

In the past, this would increase your interaction score, and now the new newsfeed will rely even more heavily on the input of a high-quality page, so that someone who has not logged on in a few days will see your content at the top of the most relevant “summary/recap” part of their newsfeed.

The newly announced ability to target users based on media consumption adds another layer of innovation to the already-robust Facebook advertising engine.

Previously, it had relied on stagnant open-graph data to demonstrate that someone at one point had some kind of affinity with a page or interest, but with the ability to fine-tune targeting to only target those people who are actively engaging in media consumption and demonstrating their loyalty to a brand, it will make interest-based advertising all that much more potent.

What’s your take on the (mostly negative, thus far) reaction to the changes the social network introduced last week?

Facebook has always caused an outcry whenever it made a drastic public change in either layout or functionality. It is human nature to resist change, even if that change may be good for you in the long run.

We can safely say that every iteration of Facebook so far has evolved it into a more robust and engaging platform, and so we recommend that developers and page administrators just stay the ship until people get used to the new layout and functionality.

Henry Ford once said that if he had listened to what his customers wanted, he would still be selling them horse and buggies.

To kind of continue on the tangent of the last question, Facebook users have always threatened to leave the service or to boycott the service whenever these major changes have gone in.

That never lasts long because of the intrinsic nature of the service. No one is paying anything to use Facebook, and no one is forcing anyone to use it, either, and so ultimately, there is only so much outcry you can make for a service ran by a corporation that is neither charging you to use it nor forcing you to use it.

How would you compare last Thursday’s changes to alterations Facebook has implemented in the past?

The original introduction of the news feed five years ago created an even larger controversy than the changes recently implemented.

Facebook has become a better platform, especially for businesses. While the average user will not see the benefit of some of the changes, the goal of each change is always to increase user engagement, increase time spent on the site, and to make the user experience intuitively simple.

There’s always going to be an adjustment period after a major change, but the double-pronged advantage that Facebook has is that it has already saturated most social circles and become the only social networking option, where the only way they will lose the users is if the social circle as a whole does a mass exodus to something like Google Plus.

The changes that have been implemented have not been debilitating enough to warrant any kind of noticeable churn to any other alternative.