The image within the banner above was humorous. It was the “Top News” selected for me at different times during the day. It was hilarious because different friends were sharing it, so the “Top News From The Last __ Hours” section served as a constant reminder to me that many of those I am friends with on Facebook weren’t taking too kindly to the changes.
“Google+, here I come!” posted one friend.
“This is the last straw, Zuckerberg. I’m out!” posted another.
“(long rant)… this place is getting old, fast.” Yet another complaint.
This “new and improved” view of Facebook was clearly getting panned. I went to the blogosphere to see more rants, only more in depth. I didn’t read them. Despite all of the negativity and turmoil, one thing was clear to me.
These changes were the smartest thing Facebook has done in a while. WAIT! Don’t close the tab yet. Hear me out.
The Easiest Way to Draw Eyes is Through Outrage
Sometimes, the easiest way to put out a raging fire is with a bigger one. You can contain a fire (if the wind is cooperating) by burning off the fuel (trees, grass, etc) in its path.
Facebook is prone to panicking, and while they didn’t need to make the move, it was clear that they felt they did. You see, too many eyes had a chance of looking at Google+. Eventually, the eyes will look there, but just when Google+ opened up to the public and made tremendous changes to demonstrate why their social networking platform was far superior to Facebook in so many ways (other than user base), Facebook farted.
Had Google+ not made their announcement to open to the public and make the changes that they made, the Facebook changes would have been launched at or after F8. Of that, I’m absolutely certain.
They did what they felt they had to do, even if it meant making their users unhappy. You see, unhappy users are still users who are looking in your direction. The looks they’re giving may be glares fitted with poison and lightning bolts, but as long as they’re training their eyes on Facebook out of anger and frustration, at least they’re not looking at the shiny bouncing object over at Google+.
“But JD, won’t this drive more people to Google+”
There is a common theme amongst the 25 million or so people using Google+ right now. It’s awesome compared to Facebook, but most of us are waiting before fully diving in. We’re waiting for our friends. We’re waiting for our family. We’re waiting for the masses to embrace the platform before we let go of Facebook altogether.
Certainly there will be a “mass” exodus, but the “mass” that will leave Facebook for Google+ based upon the changes will be absolutely miniscule compared to their user base. How many will leave? Tens of thousands? Yes. Hundreds of thousands? Probably not. Millions? No.
While I believe Facebook overestimated the amount of buzz that a public Google+ and the recent changes received, they felt that they needed to take something that was obviously meant for further testing and tinkering and release it prematurely to trump the Google+ news trends.
You might be wanting to switch to Google+. You might actually do it. Still, losing you is less important to Facebook than having millions of people looking into the shiny object at Google. They farted to keep the masses from smelling the roses.
Google+ is far from perfect, but there’s not enough room in this article to go into detail about why it’s 100X better than Facebook… other than the all-important user base. We may be mad, but we’re venting our anger on Facebook right now. The hundreds of millions of people around the world who use social networks are not aware of Google+ other than a “few” (80 million or so). That’s why this was such a smart move by Facebook. It prolonged the inevitable. It bought them time. Without the news feed faux pas that they just did, there’s a good chance that people may have read about and possibly joined Google+.
The people that they’ll lose as a result of the change are people they were going to lose eventually anyway. The vast majority of us, as mad as we are, will still be using Facebook next week, next month, and next year… but maybe not the year after that.