It’s the User Experience, Stupid.

by Karen E. Lynn

What gives social platforms their value?

You do.

Users and engagement give the network value, just like the best parties have fun guests, the most interesting conversations, and party-goers all report they “had a good time” at the event. Remember, it’s the “social” that makes the party fun.

Facebook seems to have forgotten all about this. Let me share with you my Facebook stream from this morning. Don’t worry, I will condense it so you won’t have to scroll through the nonsense like it had to. The Reader’s Digest version of postings in my stream and how I felt about each post:

1.)Ad for Facebook Games–don’t care
2.)Ad for a crappy show on NBC–don’t care
3.)Update for a page I “liked” –barely care
4.)Update for another page I “liked” -don’t care
5.)Friend shared a political/humanitarian campaign –while I agree, I’ve seen it a million times already
6.)ACTUAL STATUS UPDATE FROM A FRIEND. –She’s not having a great day
7.)Article from Entertainment Weekly because a friend “liked” it--don’t care
8.)Article from the Conan O’Brien show because a friend “liked” it –don’t care
9.)A Wall Conversation between a stranger and a “friend” –totally irrelevant to me–feel a little voyeuristic and inappropriate to have access to it. I also don’t care.
10.)Article a friend shared –don’t care
11.)Ad for ETRADE. –don’t care

If less that 10% of what I have to scroll through my feed is an actual status update from a friend (who is having a crappy morning), why should I continue to spend time on this “social” platform?  

I know, I know, I can “hide” these postings and tell Facebook I never want to see them again. But that’s just not how I want to spend my time, especially because it’s not like I can turn off all the ads. The ads will never stop. But cluttering my stream with so many varied experiences that are not relevant to me and that I have little to no investment in is exactly why I don’t log in as much as I used to, and is why I don’t engage with the platform as much as I used to. I can see my other friends don’t engage as much either, which is why out of 11 posts, I only got one that was personal and unique to that friend. Disappointingly, she was complaining about her morning, and you guessed it, that’s a common theme for this particular friend (you know the type–we all have them).

Facebook has been reduced to a tabloidish rag of ads, “articles” from brands, and redundant political campaigns. It used to be a powerful vortex.  I’d get sucked in and spend way too much time there. It was a great party and I didn’t want to leave. It used to be fun.

No one wants to throw the baby out with the bath water, so what can Facebook do to prevent itself from going the way of MySpace?

1.) Better Target Ads.  Allegedly they have done a ton of data mining on me and my personal wants and needs. Get it right Facebook! I put myself out there enough. We live in America so I know I’m going to have to deal with ads and you need to produce a revenue stream for your stockholders. But Christ, stop subjecting me to THINGS I DON’T CARE ABOUT.

2.) Tighten up general privacy standards.  It creeps me out that I stumble across conversations between a friend and a complete strangers, and it makes me even less inclined to want to share anything that’s real and unique to me and my social circle. Creepy. Intrusive. Voyueristic. Not cool.

3.) Stop posting articles that my friends “like” in my stream.  I can be friends with people who read Entertainment Magazine, but that doesn’t mean I have to spend my time sifting through celebrity headlines. I can also be friends with Republicans (not good friends, but still…), but I don’t want to see any more hateful PR from Fox News either.

I do like sharing information and think that’s where as a user, I have to just pick and chose. I’m OK with the effort I use to do this. Because it’s my friends DECIDING to share it. They chose to share it. The platform didn’t do it for them.

Too much of Facebook has become arbitrary and in it’s quest to automate revenue and create more engagement by sharing more things, it’s achieving the opposite result. Users aren’t using anymore. Facebook can boast it has 845+million users (and counting), but I’d be more interested to know how many are actual users, and how many are just dormant or seldom used accounts. Because everyone at this party is heads down, checking their phones to find a better place to hang out.


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