Why Facebook Always Changes
Tupac once said, “We gotta make a change. It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes”. Tremendous use of foreshadowing Mr. Shakur, for it seems that Mark Zuckerberg and the good people at Facebook have taken you up on your request and continue to change the look, layout, and features of the adored social networking site on a very consistent basis.
Users of Facebook often notice that the site undergoes transformations every now and then, sometimes big, sometimes not so big. Once this occurs, thousands of individuals flock to their profiles to let everyone know from their status updates that “I hate the new Facebook layout. Give me the old one back”, or “Facebook you suck. Why do you keep changing on me?”. Soon groups start springing up labeled “If one million people join, Facebook will change back” or “Petition for the old Facebook”. In the history of “If one bajillion people join, Facebook will…” groups, the company has not taken the call regardless of how many individuals hit “like”. Is this because Zuckerberg does not care about his consumers? Absolutely NOT. Any great company always put its consumers first and listens to their wants and complaints. In this case it is not that Facebook doesn’t care about its customers, it is that it know its customers better than they know themselves.
Think back to the last time you were upset over Facebook changing. Can you remember what the previous layout looked like and what the feature set consisted of? Probably not. You have so quickly adapted to the new version of Facebook that you have forgone your grievances and memories of past versions are like remembering what you had for breakfast three weeks ago. In this day in age life moves quicker than ever. The faster everything moves, the faster we forget the past. That brings up the first point of why Facebook always changes: by the time the consumer is so fed up with Facebook changing that they are considering heading for the hills, they have already become so acclimated with the new version they have lost all ties with versions past.
In order to succeed in the tech/social media world, you need to be innovative. Claiming that Facebook is not innovative would be a far stretch by any means. Facebook triggered the social media revolution and continues to do so, in part by adaptation. The company is able to predict the next big thing, and capitalize on it before the competition. Fast followers can do well in certain industries, but in the world of social media, the company that gets their second has a tough time competing with the original. From here we see the second reason that Facebook always changes: to adapt to a demanding consumer by giving the customer the cutting edge products they desire, before they even realize they want them. Take the “news feed” feature as a prime example. People criticized Facebook when the news feed first came out as being intrusive and completely unnecessary. Why would anyone want constant real-time updates into the lives of their friends and colleagues? Well, it turns out that is exactly what people wanted. Hence, why Twitter later became huge and why RSS feeds and readers are gaining popularity as a go to source for information. Facebook may not have been the first to do so, but they were the first to make it big. Adapt and innovate.
Facebook has its 300 million users hooked. Despite the criticism Zuckerberg may receive from consumers of the product, few will leave because of these changes. Facebook has become embedded into our everyday lives, and until the social media wave has subsided (which does not appear to be anytime in the near future), it will continue its dominance. Say what you will, but until you and thousands of others deactivate your accounts in response to a change in design, Facebook will continue doing what it does best; giving its users a state of the art experience which often requires change.
What is next for Facebook? Rumors say a webmail client may be in the works or a possible purchase of the growing location based social networking site Foursquare. That is neither here nor there, but I can promise you they will be doing something different soon. Remaining unchanged has worked well for the Hershey bar, but chocolate isn’t necessarily as cutting-edge as web technology.
The next time you find yourself grumbling over the latest refinement of Facebook, close your eyes and count to ten. By the time you open them, you will hardly even remember what you were upset about.