Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

How’s everything going? From the looks of the Facebook blog, I wouldn’t say it’s going well. Let me just give you a few highlights from the war zone.

  • “Thank you so much for these changes. I now have even less reason to come to Facebook.” -Karen
  • “Seriously, How can Facebook remain silent in the face of 94% displeasure with the redesign?” -Tanzil
  • “If 90% of McDonald’s customers didn’t like the new Big Mac, they’d change it back. Come on Facebook, learn from New Coke. Admit an error and give us classic Facebook back.” -Ben

And there are approximately 14,000 more comments where those came from.

I returned from spring break on Saturday to see your new design. I must admit, I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t logged on Twitter. It seems you redesigned Facebook to oust your competition. But with 75 million users, I don’t see how Twitter’s two million can be considered competition. Some could even see this decision as a retaliation against Twitter for not allowing you to buy the company with $500 million in cash and stocks back in November.

It’s clear that the masses you serve aren’t happy with the latest changes. Besides the 14,000 comments I browsed through on the Facebook blog, your users have created a new application to vote on the new design. The result? Over one million users voted AGAINST the new Facebook, and 560,000 of them left negative comments.

From the reports I’ve read online, it seems your own employees aren’t happy with the new look either, but you don’t seem to be listening to them. Owen Thomas from Valleywag wrote an article entitled Even Facebook Employees Hate the Redesign. Read this excerpt from the article:

The feedback on Facebook’s new look, which emphasizes a stream of Twitter-like status updates, is almost universally, howlingly negative. Why isn’t CEO Mark Zuckerberg listening to users? Because he doesn’t have to, he’s told employees.

A tipster tells us that Zuckerberg sent an email to Facebook staff reacting to criticism of the changes: “He said something like ‘the most disruptive companies don’t listen to their customers.’”

Really, Mark? Is that what you think? Because your public relations people are telling us “Facebook is attentively listening to user feedback.” You obviously have a public relations nightmare on your hands. Truthfully, I’m not exactly sure how you’re going to handle it. But Facebook users are not going to become magically satisfied overnight.

Perhaps Joe, a commenter on your blog, said it best. “How much negative feedback before you rethink this decision?”

Since its founding in December of 2004, Facebook has pioneered social media usage. With the additions of photo albums, applications and status updates, you have remained at the forefront, but as you drastically change the layout you are only doing a disservice to your site, your users and yourself. Before the recent change, Facebook had its own identity in the social media world that set it apart from its competitors. I suggest capitalizing on Facebook’s unique identity by restoring its prior layout, thus satisfying its users and maintaining its superiority above the rest.

Sincerely,
Kayla Anthony

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

  1. PCWorld reported today that “Facebook Caves to User Gripes.” They will change, if only begrudgingly. http://is.gd/oT3p

    “Chris Cox, Facebook Director of Product, posted last night on the Facebook Blog a lengthy explanation of the features the social network is going to look into tweaking after the colossal user feedback.” – PCWorld

    Facebook has never had a PR identity or strategy, IMO … nor do they research very well, in advance, to predict responses.

    Your article refers to Facebook not listening today. My suggestion is that they should have been listening (and researching) months ago. I’m guessing they didn’t then, and aren’t now.

    This is the new experience of a developing product (essentially in Beta, perpetually — and no solid business plan) having become so immersed and intertwined in its user base’s lives … we’ve never seen anything like this before (the sheer volume of users/traffic in Facebook and MySpace, for instance).

    Still, Facebook could become Friendster. Hey, some people got so caught up in Friendster, they thought it would never die. Look at Friendster today. Hmm?

    So, Facebook has to continually adapt. The way to do it is to undertake the processes and practices that too few PR firms truly embrace — research. True research.

    We’ll see if Facebook wakes up.

  2. Laura Crochetiere

    Hi there,

    I respect your argument, and I agree that it seems many people are having difficulty adjusting. However, Facebook is a business, it’s going to evolve. And, every time there is a new Facebook design, people complain. Now, since Facebook actually is a business, and it is HUGE, it seems like it’s a worse change than ever before, because there are more people using it. However, we get used to it and we move on!

    I personally don’t mind Facebook’s new design. It is always changing and reinventing itself, trying to become the best it can be. As for these polls going around about the new design… 94% of people feel passionate about it enough to login to that application, install it on their Facebook and vote. I was going to go in and vote to say I didn’t mind it, and I saw it was an app (where they get access to your personal information), I was not interested. When Facebook changes, most people are not overly passionate about LOVING it.. most people don’t care and adapt to the change. Those people don’t vote. I would say many more people probably don’t care, or maybe even prefer it. That poll is not valid.

    In order for a poll to be accurate, people have to be randomly selected. They cannot CHOOSE to be answering the poll. Only passionate people choose to answer the poll, and I don’t see why someone LOVING the new Facebook would make them want to install an unneeded application.

    Just my two cents! 🙂

  3. jamorris

    Tell us how you, and the rest of the world, really feel, Kayla. As I type with sarcastic undertones and a smile on my face (agree with and love the article), I wonder how Zuckerberg is doing the same thing – he can’t possibly be serious! For him to make a suggestion of not listening to customers to his staff is befuddling. I guess as one of the world’s youngest, if not the youngest, and most recent billionaires, life can be a little more relaxed for his kind. Though if he would like to stay there — as he seemingly does by trying to purchase Twitter — I would recommend not only rethinking Facebook’s new layout, but rethinking his relationship status with it’s users. And until that happens, “it’s complicated” isn’t likely to be updated anytime soon.

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