I’m discombobulated. Things are not as they were. Facebook, I want a faster horse not a car. (Henry Ford, you were right.) Don’t know what I’m talking about read this: (More info about Facebook’s changes.) As usual….no true warning, no questions about my preferences, no time to educate myself on the changes and no money out of my pocket. Huh?
I don’t advertise on Facebook. I provide only data. No direct revenue. What do they care if I can’t figure out my stream? And truly what’s the long-term effect on my life if I miss one of my friend’s posting a picture of her puppy falling asleep standing up? Absolutely nothing. And maybe, just maybe, one of those changes will become a favorite feature of mine.
However, when these changes alter your corporate or association profile on Facebook, it’s a lot more serious. Whenever Facebook sees a reason “to make things easier” or “more user friendly” I cringe. It means for those of us who use it for business purposes we have no time to get ahead of our members/followers. The learning curve is a steep one and we are given little or no advanced warning (short of what Mashable and other tech sites tell us) to figure out just what these changes mean and how best to incorporate them.
When you base your business communication strategy around a site that doesn’t belong to you – or one you don’t have a service agreement with — and one you give absolutely no revenue to, it’s hard to expect that they will give you any notice of changes or buy-in to product development. (Read more about that at Smart Blogs Social Media.)
That’s a bitter pill for us to swallow as social media has increased our expectations of what it means to be a customer. We expect to be heard. We expect to be able to make a difference on a product just because we tweet our dissatisfaction. And when companies do cater to our social media rants, it only drives us to do it more frequently and increases our expectations of the same result in the future.
But the newsflash here is that we are not Facebook’s customers. This is not a situation of a company changing its logo and consumers protesting until change is made (or things return to as they were). In that case, should the company not cater to our demands, we can go elsewhere and purchase another product. But where will you go without Facebook if your primary social media profile is on this public site?
Member-centric organizations should have some buy-in into their online community. They should know of changes before they occur so that they can communicate this to their members. It’s the difference between your community being an extension of you and you merely squatting on someone else’s land.
Your online community should be about features and content not based on the location of a site you don’t even own. It’s not necessary to “own” the social media landscape that your community is on as that can be costly but there are a lot of vendor partners who will work with you in creating an online community that is affordable and a reflection of you, your mission and your brand. Select someone you can trust, who understands your business needs and promises to meet your expectations (i.e., a service agreement). After all, you are investing a huge amount of time in your community. It would be nice if the place you chose to do so, valued you in return.
Is your membership/follower count dependent on location or would they migrate with you? If your member numbers are based on a location and not interaction, at least ensure that your primary social network is housed somewhere that your opinion matters and you have due course of action.