Facebook Governance Results: Well Under 1 Million Votes

Facebook’s Governance vote ends today and it appears as though they will fall short of the 60 million votes they were hoping to attract, attracting around 650,000 votes. Last week I suggested that the odds of the vote working was next to nothing. That doesn’t mean Facebook didn’t make a noble effort to attract the votes. Facebook actually made a substantial investment in attracting users.

According to Barry Schnitt of Facebook, the company promoted “the vote to users in a number of ways, including messages at the top of everyone’s profile (in multiple languages), ads, virtual gifts, stream stories from users who vote, and reminders on the blog and Official Facebook Page.” Unfortunately the effort didn’t pay off but it most definitely squashed the uproar that took place in response to a Consumerist article, months ago.

Over 1.5 million users visited the Facebook Governance Vote application and less than half of those users actually decided to vote. While the Facebook Governance Vote was taking place, Ashton Kutcher was doing some lobbying of his own, trying to get internet users to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. The result was that over 1 million users ended up becoming a fan of his public profile.

The bottom line is that Facebook users are much more reactionary and don’t take action unless Facebook crosses an invisible line. That’s why protest groups against the Facebook redesign and against Facebook’s terms of service change were able to attract more users than Facebook was able to attract even with a large promotional campaign.

The results of the Facebook Governance Vote illustrates how an effective call to action with some slick marketing copy can drastically improve results. Facebook’s decision to put the terms of service proved one thing effectively: a sensationalistic headline can attract many more users than a subtle call to action ever will.

Had Facebook launched the vote in the middle of the hoopla over the terms change, I’m sure the results would have been different. The company could have easily attracted millions of users to vote with a notification atop the homepage stating “Don’t Like the New Terms? Vote On It!” Instead, days turned to weeks, turned to months and now most people don’t even remember why they’re voting.

Facebook’s updated terms will pass through smoothly with under 175,000 users voting against the latest revision. Now comes the more important question: should Facebook put their latest redesign up for a vote?