the twitterizing of facebook

March 19, 2009 ·

the internet is in uproar about the latest facebook redesign. i wanted to wait until i was able to use it for a while before i weighed in. well, i'm not alone in disliking it as a poll application on facebook has tallied 94% 'thumbs down.'

my issue with the change is how facebook is attempting to be more twitter-like. forget about how they're so openly scared of what twitter could do to their business, it's about moving away from what made them so successful and ingrained with people's lives in the first place.

the new redesign puts increased emphasis on the status update, attempting to match the tweet as a real-time lifestreaming tool. but it's been done to the detriment of everything else facebook is used for. i think this is too narrow for facebook users.

see, tweets were always far more reaching than "what are you doing now" as twitter purports to be the question driving what people do in the community. instead it's part 'what am i doing now', part sharing, part dialogue, part breaking news, part mobilizing people and part self promotion. facebook status was never that and would say still isn't except for those people who direct import their tweets as their status.

one thing facebook did add was the ability to comment on a status or 'like' it. great addition and one that i use heavily. it's great for conversation threads around a particular topic/status. where they fell short is that comments, which are the conversation and the power of social media, are not propagated in the message stream. no one knows you commented unless they happened to see the original update. a bit of a miss.

back on track. the part of the change that bothers me is that everything other than status updates and wall posts are in the news-feed. everything else is shunted into the never read right-side column. to me, this is a terrible move. facebook is so much more than a status update and yet that's all that matters now.

facebook was great because it was multi-functional. it allowed people to share so much of themselves and had great utility across all the interest points of social media. photos, link sharing, messaging, events, video, applications, notes, gifts, and chat amongst others. apparently these don't matter as much anymore. facebook long sold that they were the largest photo sharing site on the internet and now you're not alerted as well that people are posting them. you can still get at them and all that other stuff, it's just a lot less obvious.

my point in all this is why make for another twitter when you already have something unique and good already? other twitter clones have failed (pownce, jaiku) so why try to be somehting you're not? to alienate your user base? because that's what you're doing. if facebook users wanted twitter, they'd go to twitter. or maybe they think because they are so big now, they can force this on people and instantly create a viable twitter competitor where the others failed.

it makes even less sense when you factor in that facebook is a walled-garden. users can't get at the breadth of streams they can in an open environment like twitter. you can't hear from news sources, personalities, companies, celebrities, or non-friends in your profession on facebook as you can on twitter. yes, the new fan pages open up message streams, but generally people don't have that many fan pages (we ad types do because we're seeing what's going out there). certainly no one has fanned the number of people twitterers tend to follow.

it seems pretty unanimous that facebook should revert to what it was and leave twitter to their niche. facebook is so much more than twitter and that's a competitive advantage. what is wrong with the existing ability to integrate twitter into your status? just because the update didn't originate with facebook doesn't diminish it. the coming months should be interesting as twitter continues to explode.

in the end it boils down to how people will use facebook status. will they start using it like a tweet? will it ever become the twitter equivalent of all the reasons why people use twitter now? my guess is no. at least not in the immediate future because it's not how they've used facebook and, again, if they wanted to do twitter-like posting, they'd just go to twitter.

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