it's about the mechanics of change....
Following yesterday's changes, Facebook is defending them, saying it makes for a better user experience. Users, meanwhile, continue to deride them, saying it makes for a worse user experience. I've already seen several defections among Facebook users to Google Plus and I imagine there will be more.
What's it all about for everyone involved in business social media? Are there lessons to be learned here and if so, what are they?
First of all, it's about change. Change is inevitable...and as the Borg used to say on Star Trek: Next Generation, "resistance is futile." Change is required to move forward, though, if it's done badly, it can move you backward. A happy balance needs to be struck. Yesterday I related the sad story of New Coke. That was indeed change, but it was change done badly. Business social media is a living, breathing organism and it's going to change, and Facebook is no different - but, as in New Coke, the more users/consumers you have who are happy with the product, the harder it is to do any sort of change without upsetting a lot of people. For Facebook to survive, it has to change and grow, or else it becomes irrelevant and staid.
For those practicing business social media, think about change in your operations or perspectives. Maybe when you started out it was simply to get public awareness of your product or business. Now, you are actively searching for customers, or offering freebies, or any of a thousand other things to drive business to your door through the medium of business social media. That's change.
Without that change, your business would no longer grow. Unless an organism changes to meet current conditions, it fails. Do you remember MySpace? How many of you are now operating your business social media through that network?
Now for question two: Are there lessons to be learned here? Sure. First, you need to take into account your customer base. Coke did test studies that led them to believe New Coke would be a hit. I'm sure Facebook also did something similar (I hope they did, anyway). However, test groups have been known to give skewed results. In the past on this blog we've discussed the need to really, REALLY think something through, and that continues to be important.
Second, look at your competition, and we can't stress this enough. What are they doing? Are they really out in front of you, or are you still leading? Trying to do a massive catch up from behind can cause more harm than good; you're perceived as being behind, or worse, perceived as being a leader who fell from grace. For more on that angle, do a search on Research in Motion (RIM) and their disaster with handheld devices after being the industry leader for many years.
So in the end, utilizing business social media correctly DOES involve change. It has to, or you will fail. Who knows which platform will be carrying your message next year or even next month? If you are going to stay in the hunt, it's time to branch out and hit Google Plus (www.plus.google.com) or try your wings on another platform. The more you're out there, the more chances you have - you can't win the lottery without buying a ticket.
And no matter what change you make, you need to recognize the change you need to make before you implement that change. If Disney suddenly decided to crop Mickey's ears from round to little fox ears, that would be a change.
You decide if it would be a change Disney's fans could live with!