As the web2.0 frenzy gets even more worked up, the next big piece of hype is becoming Facebook. I've had a lot of thoughts about these guys, and I figured this was the time to put it out there.
The Facebook network was built with trust. This trust was mostly fostered by the fact that it was a closed system based on the users being associated with certain colleges, and the limited access outside of that system gave people (especially ones new to the social networking scene) the extra sense of trust needed to build a deep social network. This trust has various benefits:
- Finding your friends - on facebook, I can find my friends by searching for their names ,while on Myspace almost no one uses a remotely recognizable name.
- Publishing Information - on facebook people know the audience that will be reading their information (except for the small hiccup that occered when News Feeds where released), and they feel comfortable publishing more details about their lives. This makes it a good source of information, that i want to continue using to keep in touch with people.
Facebook is continually innovating and creating new features. Not only do they create great new features, but they make announcements about these features and educate their users about these new features. Here are some examples:
- Facebook Mobile - now i'll admit, I use Tmobile, and Tmobile is not a supported carrier for this feature. Despite this fact, I knew right away on my "home" page that this feature had been released and should I want to take advantage of these capabilities that I needed to see if my carrier was supported and fill out the sign-up form.
- News Feed - this one cause quite a splash, and I can sympathize with the people that complained, but this backlash is indicative of how powerful this new feature really is. No other has the trust within their user base to pull something like this off.
- Security Measures - on several occasions I can remember logging into facebook and seeing right there on my main "home" page a notice about confirming personal data, or setting a new security password. Some of the features they release are too sophisticated for their users, but they make them very visible and introduce them in a non-threatening manner.
Facebook has always had a better design than Myspace. Visually speaking Facebook is elegant and simple, while Myspace is trashy and cluttered (though you can make it bearable with this). There are a couple of different areas to consider:
- Advertising - I've almost never noticed Facebook had advertising (though I consistently catch myself skimming the modest ad on the left hand side), and when I did, it was usually something I was interested in. My experiences with Myspace have lead me to believe that its single handedly supported by an online dating site with an endless supply of scantily clad models as members. Its visually painful and not practical to me as a consumer. This also reflects what advertisers think users are doing when they are visiting these particular sites.
- Layout - Facebook has a very intuitive layout making all the different pages and features accesible from any page. Myspace has a flat horizontal bar across the top, and the member specific tools for each user could be almost anywhere on a page once they start meddling with the layout. I will admit that Myspace is allowing their users to be more creative, but on several occasions this has actually prevented me from being able to send a friend a message.
My points here overlap a bit with what was said about trust. Because facebook focused on existing social networks that had time and a reason to go online (college). These same users have more of a reason to continue to visit the site and to keep using the site for different reasons. The college bond is a strong one that enforces user's loyalty to facebook and keeps brining them back.