It’s obvious that Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has been having trouble sleeping… particularly as of late. So much so that in one swoop he has taken the worlds most well known and easy-to-use social network and turned it into a complicated, convoluted mess. Now, before you jump at me for just joining in with the crowd of angry mom’s and confused teenagers, let me explain.
Facebook has seen success from two key factors in their business model. The first and most well known is that they launched only to a powerful niche: college students. This exclusivity is exactly what college kids ate up and what proceeded was a large influx of eager sorority guys and gals. What happened next resulted in an immediate domino effect, they all started to announce that they were “officially” leaving MySpace for Facebook and this in turn created quite a hype across the MySpace network. Long story short, Facebook gained momentum by first launching to a small niche… brilliant.
The second key to Facebook’s success was how simple and easy it was to use. It made sense and it wasn’t bogged down with custom pages or loud ads. More importantly, when you visited someone’s profile you weren’t blasted with whatever song that person had on their profile for that day. This simplicity combined with the exclusivity the network offered to college students is what created the Facebook-trend. It was trendy to be on Facebook, and when it opened for the world the mass exodus that MySpace faced was irreversible.
So, what’s keeping Mark Zuckerberg up at night? Most expect my answer to be Google Plus (Google+?), but while that is one of the reasons he may be losing some shut eye… it isn’t the real problem he needs solved to get more sleep. The real problem he’s having at night is the struggle he’s facing with the ever growing pressure from his executive team. He surrounded himself with very successful top executives from some of the worlds largest brands and they’re all panicked, more than likely due to the instant success of G+. Their panic is transitioning into a pressure for Zuck he’s never had to face before. All of this has accumulated into the mess that Facebook introduced the other day which just so happened to be around the same time G+ opened to the public… serendipitous. Mark now faces an ever familiar problem that MySpace faced years ago… a mass exodus. However, because Facebook ingrained itself into almost every site on the internet and the years they spent building a sustainable brand for soccer moms, teenagers and granddads… it will take a lot longer for people to just abandon everything they’ve come to know.
If I were to answer the question I proposed, it would be that Mark Zuckerberg knows what he’s doing is wrong… and that’s what’s keeping him up at night. He knows the simple product he introduced was what won so many people over, and he knows that the latest release and “improvements” they’ve made are blacking out the very people that have just started to grow comfortable with the service. He’s turned a simple and easy-to-use social network into a complicated web application for people who don’t have the time to figure it out, which just so happens to be the mass majority of his users. Not to mention the recent updates also introduced “improved” privacy features… the very features we just figured out how to use. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back and set things as FRIENDS ONLY, it seems I have to with every new update. The majority of Facebook users are losing faith and it’s hard to feel secure sharing your information there anymore. In my own opinion, for what it’s worth, once people start moving to G+ and seeing how easy it is to use, Facebook will really lose its luster. All it will take is a few soccer mom’s, granddads and some college students to make the move and leave Facebook for the real shift to take place.
Zuck is losing sleep because he is struggling with his own executive team and their fears. If he were smart, he’d take control of his own business, cool down on the updates, do a better job explaining the new features and go back to the simple product that worked… and do it all with an apology to the hundreds of millions of people he just pissed off. More importantly, fire those around him who are influencing fear. Have faith in the product you’ve built and move forward in the direction of your original vision… and don’t do it because of fear.
I haven’t completely left Facebook just yet, but it’s becoming easier with every new update they roll out. What will you do and how have the changes effected your Facebook experience?