What do you think about the recent changes at Facebook?
Over the past few weeks, Facebook has made some significant changes. These range from the hook-up with Skype, to the addition of a subscribe feature, allowing you to “follow” people in a similar way to Twitter or Google Plus. Today, Facebook has changed the way the news feed looks and works, to include both top news as well as the most recent items.
Many people have questioned whether these sudden changes have been made to improve the user experience, or as a reaction to Google+ and the attention it has gained recently.
The challenge with change
In my experience, people generally embrace progress but they dislike change. They love to see things improve but they value the comfort of familiarity. So, if a change is made to a product or service, it needs to offer a significant improvement to reward the discomfort of the change.
- If Facebook has changed significantly with no real benefit, let alone a drop in user experience, it will lose market share. As we saw with MySpace, no one is too big to fail if they get it wrong. Additionally, Google Plus now offers an interesting alternative for disgruntled Facebook users. Interestingly, Google+ today became open to all, with no invite required.
- If Facebook has changed and improved significantly, it will retain most of it’s current users and attract new users too. It will also increase user engagement; essential for their monetization model.
Personally, I have found Facebook’s changes to be useful. Very useful. Although I am an avid user of Google+ (since day 3 of it’s beta testing), I am connecting and sharing more on Facebook right now, than ever before. You are very welcome to connect with me on my Facebook Page.
What can we learn from this?
All innovation should be driven by a desire to improve the customer experience or product. When the marketplace believes that your intention is to make their experience better, they are massively more likely to be receptive.
However, if they think you are in a feature war, where the changes being made are driven by the need to be newsworthy, rather than the desire to improve, they may feel very different.