Friday, August 1, 2008

Facebook S.W.O.T Part 4 - Threats

This is part 4 of a four part series that explores the new look facebook and examines it using a S.W.O.T analysis

Part 1 - Strengths

Part 2 - Weaknesses

Part 3 - Opportunities

Part 4 - Threats

Facebook Is Now In Control

Facebook now has total control over what people see when they land on your page. So whatever is currently in your wall/mini feed will be there for all to see. You might not want what either you or some of your friends are doing presented so openly to the world. A spammy wall post or an embarrassing photo that someone tagged you in might not look so good to a potential employer, client or JV partner. Of Course facebook may argue that you can adjust your settings but how many normal users ever take the time to explore the maze of controls and adjustments.


Wall spam has now become a much bigger issue with the merging of the mini feed and wall. Before any ugly links and signature tags could be relegated to the bottom of your profile now they are brought to the forefront. And its up to you to take the time to edit them and delete anything inappropriate.

Go away on holiday for a couple of weeks and who knows what might have been on display for all to see. Also users who are less active on facebook but who want to keep a presence can't safely leave their profiles unattended unless they set their privacy restrictions so high that no one can see anything.

Allow More Choice

This is a major design flaw in the new system and I think it would be a good option to allow users to decide if they want their news feed to be merged with the wall and at least have an option to display them separately, maybe even on different tabs.

Self Expression

To be able to pick exactly what page is displayed to new visitors would also be a good option to add. The more sociable people could have the standard layout with the wall as the landing page. People who want to express more creativity and express their individuality or those who want to present a carefully designed business profile could have the option to do so. I believe user control and choice is what made the old facebook so great.


There is also a bigger danger in upsetting you friends when you tag them in a note, this goes directly into their profile page so you need to become more sensitive and take a few moments to decide if its appropriate. I discussed this issue in my previous blog post. If you want to restrict what comes into your newsfeed from a certain person but don't want to take the drastic step of removing them as a friend you can adjust your wall settings. Your news feed can be adjusted by scrolling to the bottom of the Home page. Click on preference for top stories .From there you have the options to adjust who you want to hear more about and who you want to restrict.

No Email Controls

Facebook still haven't implemented proper filters and controls for messages and emails that it sends. Consequently facebook's message service can no longer be relied upon as many users who have not kept up to date with their inbox are overwhelmed. Important messages are being lost and users are moving away to use other services such a twitter or skype. I often switch to these services when I want to be sure a message gets through or just to receive a confirmation. Skype is also much faster are more reliable than facebooks in-house IM service

What Happens if Facebook Sell out

If Facebook choose to sell to another company all the structures are in place to turn it into a much more commercialised network like myspace. Full of animated flash graphics and a constant bombardment of offers and advertisements. Utube is also set to go this way too with adsense being presented along with their videos. If you have built your business within facebook you face the real danger of losing all your customers if they choose to migrate to another service. And also you lose the control to decide what adverts will be presented alongside your products. For people with strong ethical principles this may be an issue.

Build Your Business Outside Facebook

It makes it even more imperative if you have a prescence on facebook to build your business outside its walls. That way if anything too drastic happens you still have everything in place to switch activities to greener pastures. It seems clear to me the direction facebook is moving in and it is aimed at monetising the masses of normal users who just use facebook to communicate with their friends and stay connected. People who use facebook for business are in a small minority. This will probably increase over time once more people realise the opportunities that are available but You should not expect facebook to design the system solely for your needs.

A Missed Opportunity

Facebook had the opportunity for setting the new standards for social networks in the future. But I believe they have fallen far short of the mark. While I agree there is some improvements with the new design it is far from perfect and could be made much more intuitive and user friendly. The new profile layout is confusing and many features are hard to find and difficult to configure.

An Open Market

This market is still wide open and I wouldn't be surprised that a new contender emerges in the next few years that utilises facebook connect and integrates all the social networks into one place or control panel. The new browser by flock and services such as Ping FM and Hellotxt are maybe precursors to this next generation of web 3.0 tools.

If You Still Really Hate It...

For some people change is difficult to adapt to, I myself got very frustrated when I first saw the new profile and thought that Facebook had unknowingly castrated this amazingly powerful tool . If you still hate it with a passion you can switch back by clicking in the top right hand corner. I myself will be staying. I believe facebook are intent on forcing all its users to adopt the new look profile so the quicker I learn to adapt and discover how to utilise the hidden potentials the better.

Please take the time to make your comment on this subject, its important to know the threats that might affect us all so we can take the necessary precautions.

Part 1 - Strengths

Part 2 - Weaknesses

Part 3 - Opportunities

Part 4 - Threats

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Anonymous said...

Hi, I notice that you are in my weblog and have wanted to come over to check your blog out. I am glad that I picked today, because the article on Facebook sort of made my mind up that I really don't find the need to sign up with them. I have felt like I was out of the loop by not signing up with Facebook,but now I think I'm going to pass for the moment. So thanks for reaffirming what I had felt already. I might have misinterpret what you intended to say, but I thank you for helping make my mind up. Next time you drop by, give me a shout!! Thanks

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to throw my hand in the air as another facebook user who is not particularly pleased with the changes. Of course I know it's human nature not to like something initially just because it's different, and therefore I'll be sticking with the new look FB and learning to work it just like you do when you've had NOKIA phones forever and switch to Ericsson - it took me 3 days to get used to sending a text message without accidentally deleting it instead!
But just to get off my chest why I'm annoyed: I don't use FB for my business, as such, but it is definitely one of many platforms for self-promotion. I had only JUST updated my 'work' information relating to my new business and the next day I log in and BOOM! that stuff is not on display anymore! I also dislike the wall posts being intermixed with comments on photos, groups you've joined etc.. and I would really love the option to have my blogger RSS feeds featured prominently on my profile page. I'm fairly handy when it comes to navigating my own settings, and maybe this is a change I CAN make. But all in all, fiddling with settings is a bit tricky (and time consuming) so you end up left with what you're served.
And just one other thing, which is not really related to this topic but, why has myspace chosen to (poorly) emulate FB? Maybe if they'd stuck with their own original look and not jumped on the bandwagon to copy stuff like: 'what are you doing right now?' people who had left myspace to follow all the cool kids to facebook (like I did, baah! - that's a sheep noise) would be considering a return to their original cyber-stomping ground. They'd have to clean up their act with the advertising, though. At least FB is still doing that in an unobtrusive, clean manner... for now.