Back in February I wrote that Facebook must handle the Twitter threat and as part of that begin the second Facebook movement. That movement has begun and suddenly the bloggers have returned back to reality and are confessing their love for the fledgling social network again. Robert Scoble goes so far as to compare Facebook to a finely tuned Porsche and then says Mark Zuckerberg shouldn’t listen to the users.
Jesse Stay, the author of a book about FBML and developer behind SocialToo, which is heavily dedicated to expanding its Twitter services, appears to be back on the Facebook bandwagon. In his article, Jesse writes about the future of search for Facebook and their ever improving Lexicon tool.
Twitter has become the shiny object for many of us but there is no doubt that Facebook’s present value is much greater with their hundreds of millions of users.
Is Facebook the Next Google?
In his post, Robert Scoble write about Facebook’s future killer app:
You pull out your iPhone or Palm Pre or Android or Blackberry or Windows Mobile doohickey and click open the Facebook application. Then you type “sushi near me.”
It answers back “within walking distance are two sushi restaurants that more than 20 of your friends have liked.”
Robert, the application already exists. It’s called Restaurants and it was developed by LivingSocial, a D.C. based startup which was also funded by Steve Case, Grotech Ventures, and a number of other investors. While it’s not at the level Robert writes about yet since not everybody is using it, the technology is there.
In regards to delivering a massive blow to Google and providing a solution that bests Twitter search, I think we’ll have to wait and see but I think the rationales used by Rob Diana and Chris Messina are both accurate. Facebook’s ability to associate real identities with reviews and online activity in combination with the massive amount of other data they have about us generates a ton of value.
Should Facebook Listen To Its Users?
So we’ve figured out that yes, Facebook has a ton of value and a bazillion and one ways (yes, bazillion) to monetize their data. The only risk they have then is that all the existing users go running for the exists. I can guarantee you that Facebook will not take any action that will compromise their growth and while you, I, and even Facebook employees can debate about whether or not the new design is pretty, none of it matters.
At the end of the day, Facebook is sitting on a ton of metrics (literally a ton if you printed it on paper ;)) that will tell them if users are running for the door because of the redesign. Mark Zuckerberg is not dumb enough to compromise the future value of Facebook. While millions of users are bitching about the new changes, the numbers are the only thing that matters when deciding what action to take.
My guess is that engagement is up and since my mom told me that she prefers the new design, I’d have to say that Facebook probably made a good decision to switch. Yes, there are some changes that need to be made, and I have no doubt that they will be. Regardless, Facebook is listening, not to us bitching but instead to how we are interacting. Rest assured, they will figure it out with or without our complaints.
Facebook’s Next Movement Is Arriving
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there is a second movement coming for Facebook and that is part of their strategy toward increasing openness. There will be more access to data for developers and there will be numerous ways for businesses to benefit. This redesign was just one step along the way and at the end of the day the users will come along for the ride, kicking and screaming if they have to.
While Mark Zuckerberg could theoretically write a nice apology letter to let users know Facebook is listening, that’s not what’s most important. What’s most important is that the second movement (or what Robert Scoble calls the “fifth phase”) has begun and despite the hiccups, Facebook will emerge victorious. As I’ve already said, businesses need to assume that Facebook will be open and start positioning yourself for that shift.