Infrastructure
Commentary
7/20/2010
03:31 PM
Michele Warren
Michele Warren
Commentary
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Is Facebook Headed For Trouble?

Facebook's ranks continue to grow, while the business world looks to cash in on the social media frenzy. But everything isn't peaches and cream for the social networking titan.

Facebook's ranks continue to grow, while the business world looks to cash in on the social media frenzy. But everything isn't peaches and cream for the social networking titan.This may be one of the most visited websites on the Internet, but, according to the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business report, unveiled today, it's definitely not the best loved. The ACSI has been around for more than 20 years, but this is the first time it's taken the pulse of the social media market.

This time around, four such sites -- Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, and YouTube -- were added to the mix. Consumers were asked to rate their satisfaction with these players on a scale of 1 to 100. Wikipedia garnered the highest score in the group (77), and MySpace earned the lowest (63). But Facebook's score of 64 failed to impress. (YouTube scored a 73.) Of the 30 online companies rated in the ACSI, Facebook and MySpace got the two lowest customer satisfaction ratings. Of the total 223 companies rated (both online and bricks-and-mortar), only 10 scored 65 or below. That puts the two social networking sites in the bottom 5% of all the private-sector companies in the survey. Ouch.

So, what is it about Facebook that people don't like? There's a laundry list, and it includes the following: 1) privacy and security setups; 2) advertisements; 3) always-changing interfaces; 4) spam; and 5) "annoying applications with constant notifications." (OK, I have to interject here to say that I was somewhat relieved to hear all of this. The reason I'm hardly ever on Facebook, despite frequent badgering from friends, is that I get frustrated every time I go to the site. It's not user-friendly; it hangs; and it's not easy to navigate. I was beginning to suspect that my age was the culprit, but now I feel redeemed - at least a little.)

It makes you wonder what all the Facebook hullabaloo is about, doesn't it? How can a website with such a poor customer sat showing be one of the most popular places to go online? ForeSee Results, which captured and analyzed the ACSI data, has a few theories.

For one thing, Facebook has a monopoly on the social media market. With more than 500 million users, it's the only place to go if you wanna be where your peeps are. Second, customer satisfaction appears to vary somewhat by age group. Generation Y'ers are more satisfied with Facebook than, say, their parents (Gen X'ers), and it's the younger folks, after all, who really propelled Facebook into the stratosphere. But this is something that Facebook won't be able to ignore for long. Older adults comprise the fastest-growing Facebook segment, so their dissatisfaction with the site could really complicate matters. Third, and I'll quote right from the report: "Customers are willing to suffer through a poor experience in return for the benefits Facebook provides." Fourth, it's just too darn inconvenient to move all of our photos and videos to another social networking site.

OK, so what's the take-away here? In a nutshell, I think Facebook better take some steps to increase its customer satisfaction -- and fast. Business apps and plug-ins that capitalize on social media are being developed in droves, and Facebook certainly won't want to miss that boat.

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