Ellen Lee did a great wrap-up article over at SFGate on Facebook in 2007, she called me up for my opinion on the company over the last year. I suggested that Facebook is very innovative (the first to lead an application platform, and to do social based ads) yet remains very arrogant. (twice not including customers to make decisions over their very own privacy of the newspage and beacon).
Having betrayed the trust of it’s users twice, a third time is going to result in mutiny, and users will start leaving, it wont be hard for some users to organize and move.
What could Facebook do better? Involve it’s
customers members (Update: See Doc Searls comment) in testing and decision making. I would advise them to bring customers members closer and involve them in the testing and decision making process. Create a small private group of members that really understand the program and involve them in the decision maker process. This group would be empowered to talk to the product team, test out new features, and provide honest and thoughtful research. You can reward them with insider knowledge (they won’t need to be paid) and many of them will become advocates and help promote (and sometimes defend) the feature releases and the brand in general.
To Facebook’s defense, I’ll bet they didn’t know the full ramifications of their innovative actions (or didn’t think it all the way through), and as a result, were learning about it from reading blogs.
With Facebook being a community or “social utility” it will be nice to see them living some of these values we hold dear before they release their next feature.
Get closer to members, and be more successful, a social network is only as good as the collective of it’s members.
Please chime in with your suggestions for Facebook.