Commentary

If You Can't Beat 'Em... Copy 'Em!

I am an avid Facebook user. To be honest, I don’t think I have made it through an entire day without at least checking my notifications or news feed in almost 2 years. That being said, I still get as frustrated as anyone every time the social networking giant changes its layout. Usually this only lasts about a week, though, and then I see the changes as improvements and can go on as if nothing is different at all. But this time, I think Zuckerberg’s team took the wrong approach to the problem.

I’ve been told that the latest Facebook changes came about in attempts to better compete with the new Google +, but from what I have heard this “competitive move” is really more of an imitation. Since the changes, my friends who use Google + have actually used their Facebook pages as recruitment for their friends list on the newer network, posting statuses such as “Everyone should get Google+ and add me on it! It’s not that hard to use, considering now it’s pretty much the same thing as what you’re already using.”

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So why would Facebook, a well-established and developed social networking site, choose to compete with a new, still developing, one? I don’t have a Google+ account, but if the new Facebook layout is as similar to that as people are saying, then it seems like Google still has some kinks to work out. Kinks that Facebook has now adopted, which seems to only move the site backward. Statuses updates now require more work; the user either has to refresh their page or click on an update link to see more recent statuses, whereas before all they had to do was move their cursor just a little bit on the page; and the news ticker, now the only part of the home page that automatically updates, shows up next to the main news feed, but on no other pages. Would it not make more sense to have a newsfeed ticker on all of the pages EXCEPT for the main news feed page?

From the statuses I’ve seen and conversations I’ve heard regarding this new layout, it would seem that the Facebook team managed to do the complete opposite of what they were attempting to do, which was keep users on their site and off Google+. Instead of examining potential flaws in Google +’s layout and features, and using those observations to get ahead of the game, the Facebook creators chose to take a step back and allow Google+ to start out on their level. As upset as users seem to be about these changes, and as many of them that have started using Google+ due to these changes, too many of Facebook’s users are loyal to the site – or possibly more to their friends who continue to use it – that these changes shouldn’t cause too big of a problem. Or at least not yet.

1 comment about "If You Can't Beat 'Em... Copy 'Em!".
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  1. Joe Huber from Ball State, September 30, 2011 at 1:06 p.m.

    I love Google. I'm one of those "Google can do no wrong" types... But here's the thing: Google has NEVER been able to compete or even come close to what Facebook has done. I agree completely with you about how they've simply come up with a "Facebook2.0" type of design... Something I'm not interested in at all.

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