OK, OK, I tried to avoid the whole Facebook thing. After all, I’m not a college student so don’t really think it applies to me but their community is in the middle of a major revolt.
The Facebook team has shown very little astuteness about how to deal with communities, though.
When the users talk, you should listen. And listening is hard sometimes.
Other notable discussion of this issue:
Jack Schofield in the Guardian Unlimited, writes “Facebook’s giant blunder.”
Mark Canter takes Facebook’s side (but explains that Facebook should cry Uncle and listen to its users) in a post titled “Facebook gets dissed by its users for providing coolio new features.”
Kristin Maverick, who writes the BitePR blog, penned this headline: Facebook rightfully earns the name Stalkerbook with new features.
And, of course, there are more, many more, posts over on TechMeme.
Drew Meyers is reporting that in just 30 minutes tonight that more than 20,000 people joined the protest page.
This doesn’t seem to be something small or containable.
What should Facebook do?
1) Get out of text. Use video to talk with your community. Video is better than text because it is more human, more connecting, and more likely to get links. Also, you can make your case much better to the community in video than in text. But, basically, I’d recommend giving them what they want. The feedback is so overwhelming that you need to turn off the new features by default and add more granularity to the tracking behavior.
2) Build a community group with a good cross-section of your users. That you can talk with in a small room. Include both “Z list” and “A list” and a few inbetween too in this group. Make it as diverse as you can. Include people from around the world. PAY THEM to fly into meet with you. Then have them ask your development teams what they are doing on their behalf. Video that to the world live and encourage them to blog and podcast whatever they want to the world. Demonstrate that you’re humble, listening, and able to make decisions on their behalf right there and then.
3) Open up your company to real, interactive, blogging. Demonstrate you are listening. Listen. Listen. Listen. If you don’t know what I mean by that, open up Google Blog Search or Technorati. Type “Facebook” into there. Then start writing on your blog where you link to EVERYONE who has something nasty to say about you and answer their questions honestly and openly. Word on the street is that Facebook is a very conservative company internally when it comes to blogging. Now is the time to open that up and get everyone to make a human connection to your users.
4) Engage with bloggers. Directly. In their comments. I’m seeing way too many blogs without ANY comment from Facebook employees, especially the negative ones. Don’t just talk with TechCrunch and Scoble and other “A listers.” Get out to EVERYONE if you want to turn this around.
Good luck, you’re gonna need it. You’re in for a wild ride.