The Facebook Conundrum

Here is my business problem:

On the positive side for Facebook, it is the only platform we have tried, from static web pages to blogs to Google to whatever, where we really get a good real-time interaction going with our campground customers.  Its an easy platform for them to ask questions, provide feedback, and upload useful content about the campground (from pictures to reviews to videos).  Many of my older employees are flummoxed by even the simplest computer tasks (I have had folks it has taken days of effort to teach how to get into their corporate Gmail account) but it is relatively easy to learn how to add an update or answer a query on a Facebook page  (and by "page" I mean the corporate or business pages like this one here:  http://www.facebook.com/RockCreekCanyon, not one's individual page).

But here is the problem:  The Facebook staff changes FB's layout and user interface faster than a sugar-overloaded ADD 7-year-old gets tired of a new toy.  I swear they have no reason for some of the changes other than "we're kind of bored with the user interface staying the same more than 3 months and some junior guy coded this timeline thing so let's make him feel good and put it up".

The shifting user interface is a training nightmare for my non-computer savvy managers.  What used to be tabs across the top are now text links on the left.  The Page admin panel changes almost every time I log on.  And don't even get me started on the simply stupid dueling column format of the new pages, or the fact that useless information like number of people who liked the site in a given month take up enormous amounts of the timeline's real estate now.  Just look at the page I linked above.  For the first 2-3 scrolls, the right hand column is different data than the left column, but then suddenly it becomes an alternating home for data that at the top only showed up on the left.    I am told that I can now pin a status update to the top, which will be nice, but at the cost of losing the custom landing page we used to have.

And woe be to he who actually develops for the platform, because he may soon find out that it all became wasted effort at the next over-caffeinated random user interface change.  I just did a tiny, minor bit of coding (less than a few hours) that takes my page administrators' status updates and posts them as a news feed on our web site  (ie here for the FB page above).  I could do more interesting things but I have absolutely no confidence that, for example, the FB page RSS feed I used will still be supported tomorrow.

  • Joseph K

    Your recreation.gov link doesn't work. Looks like you misspelled it "recreaton" in the link.

  • Bob Smith

    Youtube does the same stupid things. For example, their dropdown for playlists no longer sorts alphabetically, it now sorts by the date you created the playlist. They even have the gall to claim this works better for the average user.

  • http://www.horton-brasses.com Orion

    I agree with your assessment of the new FB business page. It doesn't make sense to admin it and it doesn't make sense from the POV of the "fan". Some things stick at the top for no apparent reason-though you can feature certain posts- and it may change tomorrow. On one hand-you get what you pay for-on the other if Facebook wants to be a dominant company they need businesses to have pages. Businesses need consistency in the page admin and layout. Customers need consistency in the usage. If neither happens soon Facebook will fade away like so many others. Anyway, here is my company page (shameless plug):

    http://www.facebook.com/HortonBrasses

    I heard a great quote on social media the other day. In social media you are not the customer, you are the product. Personal accounts are the product that Facebook and all the rest sell.

  • Allen

    I don't blame you for being cautious and even slightly cynical. But, in all seriousness, what is it about the FB's API and RSS feeds that have you so worried? If you really are that worried, why not pay a 3rd party to deal with the headaches.

    As for the timeline change, I can see why that's a big deal. It's a different paradigm than their previous one. They've introducing a 2nd way of getting at information. They've been very in-the-present, news feed oriented up until the timeline paradigm. Now they have something that they can build on that's more oriented to seeing things other than the present.

  • EarlW

    Welcome to the internet age.
    Hire a younger person (or two) to handle the email and internet updates. One person could also handle multiple sites.
    I know it's tough to let older people go, but you benefit by having a broader reach at less cost. (If I ever visit Arizona, I would certainly stay at some of your campgrounds).

    You probably do your reservations, confirmations and payments over the internet.
    You are saving on stamps, paper, labor, etc.

    I know that I have not snail mailed an invoice for years. It's all email now.

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