Oh yes tell me about it, my friends and colleagues keep expressing their frustration and distress over the ever changing layout of the Facebook and honestly its quite irksome. Ever since Facebook has existed since 2005, it has undergone changes every single year and at times as much as over 2 times in the same year. Yes it has been a long and irritable journey 2005 - 2011, and I believe its going to continue for quite some time to come. Irrespective of how much people hate Facebook’s habit of changing their layout way too often, it has shown a constant positive growth in its user. Question is if people hate the change so often, how does does Facebook survive still?
Some of the observations with respect to Facebook and its change has been as follows :
1. More the change = More annoyance = More the discussion with peers and friends.
Like we all know, ” There is no thing such as bad publicity”, now imagine millions of people using your application talking about your product with their peers, some who are active others not, so obviously people who are using it can participate in the discussion and be one of the “in” or “cool” people. Others who feel left behind start checking out what is the buzz all about, and well the change isn’t that bad that people stop using it. Repeating this over and over again creates free publicity for the product at virtually no associated advertising cost!
2. Regular users = Brand Ambassadors = Cool People = Increased Stickiness to product.
Like we discussed in the above paragraph, only the people who use the application on the daily basis are aware of the change and can participate in conversations with peers, so people start using the product to be able to participate in social conversation offline. Hence, willingness of people to use the product irrespective and wait for the next change to take place.
3. Regular change = Incremental newness = Improved interest.
On contrary to the annoyance to the change of its layout and some features, Facebook manages an incremental newness(novelty) to its product, and hence there is a minor learning curve just when people were getting used to the product and getting comfortable. Just before the product becomes rudimentary and loses its novelty factor, a newness is introduced by the Facebook in terms of the changes and despite the dislike to the change and the fact again something needs to be learned people complain and unknowing renew their interest in the product. I made a rough sketch to explain the effect.
In short, the change might or might not have been a positive additions each time, but certainly it has ensured continual growth over the period of years and promises to be a trait to watch out for the upcoming cloud based products. I wont be saying that its applicable to social products alone and not business, because over the period of time the line separating social and business would be getting thinner and thinner. People spend equal amount of time and sometimes more on trying to catch up with others from their work and who says mixing work and pleasure is a bad thing?
An important point remains for discussion and a critical one too, how to select the point of introduction for a new feature? Too early and you leave your previous feature short of being appreciated fully, too late and people are already bored and some might have even moved on to the next shiny novelty around the corner. In the fast changing world of business and cloud applications, “change” remains a critical component, being able to deliver new features, new tweaks every now and then to their customers and results into a self driven marketing engine for the product. What better can any product want? Like the FMCG’s say - All new and improved and whats better is Facebook doesn’t even need to spend a penny to let people know.