Facebook's redesign has created a mini-revolt among Facebook users, prompting <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10201694-2.html">several critics to suggest that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg listen to his customers</a> and switch back to the earlier look.

Michael Hickins, Contributor

March 22, 2009

2 Min Read

Facebook's redesign has created a mini-revolt among Facebook users, prompting several critics to suggest that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg listen to his customers and switch back to the earlier look.Zuckerberg would be a fool to be swayed by the million or so users who have signed a petition demanding the service switch back to its earlier design.

Thus far, Zuckerberg has held firm. As Robert Scoble notes, what users want isn't necessarily in Facebook's best long-term interests.

All those who are saying the new design sucks should NOT be listened to. Yeah, I know a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying that. After all, how can a blogger say to not listen to the masses? Easy: I've seen the advice the masses are giving and most of it isn't very good for Facebook's business interests.

Putting aside for a moment the idea that a company should listen to its customers, the controversy brings to light a rampant misconception about the use of crowd-sourcing that is probably causing companies to make wrong decisions all across the world.

Companies new to the social Web tend to extrapolate from user comments on their Web sites, believing that each comment represents X-number of customers.

But that's the wrong way to go about it. Crowd-sourcing should be used to measure aggregate behavior by a group of people, and not as a way of soliciting opinions. And it's just as important to measure the right things.

For instance, some stock market analysts use games as predictive markets because they believe the results mirror how people would behave in the real world.

You would likely get very different results if you asked people to tell you their favorite stock, or if you read the comments on financial blogs like Seeking Alpha.

In other words, it's not what people say that counts--it's their behaviors. Or to put it yet another way, crowd-sourcing isn't the same thing as herd behavior. Note especially:

Every successful or failed search, every page visited or revisited, every purchase or abandoned cart carries with it valuable information that is typically ignored or relegated to reports with unclear consequences. These natural online behaviors represent your true and unbiased community - the "silent majority" of your website visitors that normally go unspoken for... Through analyzing the patterns embedded in these implicit community behaviors, and then automatically modifying both on-page recommendation links as well as search results, companies can effectively tap into this community wisdom.

Now, as far as listening to its customers, Facebook would do well to sit up and take notice if its members starting closing their accounts in droves. Now that would tell it something that a petition wouldn't.

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