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An open letter to Facebook
Posted on June 12th 2012
Today, like many of you, I logged into my Facebook, and it asked me to take a suvey.
At the end of the survey, it asked me for additional feedback. What follows is my response.
Facebook, you have done a wonderful job of fixing what was never broken, and have not given enough credit or focus to the areas where you have been truly innovative and potentially game changing.
Timeline was a good idea in theory, and personally I kind of like it, but it was never something your user base asked for, and in my opinion, was a very transparent (and flimsy) attempt to differentiate at a time when Google+ was off to a quick launch.
It appeared as though you were worried about standing out, and being different, when really you had nothing to be concerned about because people were satisfied with the platform as it was.
Changing everything when there was no viable competition was fine, because people's options were to either suck it up, or delete their account when there was no real mainstream alternative.
But with Timeline change, there was a viable alternative in Google+ (which let's face it, it's really just a clone with a lot of white space), and from what I've read, your growth numbers in a few key markets plateaued while Google+ only grew.
The only real difference between Google+ and Facebook is Hangouts, and well, they've got your old design, but that's really about it... isn't it?
But that's in the past, and all we can really do is look forward, right?
My suggestion would be to stop trying to iterate on the profile and the news feed for a while. As soon as we hit an equilibrium, you switch it up. Please stop.
Instead, find more innovative ways to use your ad matching technology. Buy Pandora, buy Netflix, make deals with the movie & television studios.
Use your ad technology to match media content with media I might actually like.
Use the treasure trove of "like" data that you have to cross reference the media interests of other users similar to me to recommend content I'll actually enjoy. Compete with iTunes, compete with Youtube.
Actually use your video platform and your music player platform to create a media library & become the largest distribution network on the planet.
Make it free (with ads) or give me the ability to purchase movies or music on a one on one basis.
Buy Airtime (Like you aren't going to already) and let me watch or listen with my friends, and meet new people who have similar interests.
Get into search. Use that "like" data that you have to cross reference my likes with others like me. Don't just show me the news, but show me the news in the way I like to read it, or would best absorb it.
Open up your ad platform to outside websites.
Use your "like" data to make ads contextually relevant across the entire internet. Google can't do this in the same way that you can, because you've had first mover advantage with the "like" button and your ad platform, and profile data.
Stop being scared of what you're truly capable of Facebook.
Stop making asinine changes that only make people mad, or disappointed, or mistrusting.
Stop doing things that nobody really understands, and show us why it's important for the world to be a more open and connected place.