My column this week at Forbes.com is on my business's experience with Facebook and what it might mean for Facebook's valuation. An excerpt:
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 main web site. I could do more interesting things, but I have absolutely no confidence that whatever hooks I take advantage of into the Facebook system will still be supported tomorrow.
Now, one could easily argue that this is all fixable. And it is. Some simple steps might include:
- Create an internal advocacy group for enterprise users.
- Stabilize the user interface. Communicate a long-term plan and revision history to enterprise users.
- As in other publishing engines, allow multiple levels of editorial rights for pages (today there is just one choice: administrator)
- Allow more control of page layouts, perhaps in conjunction with a paid model, up to and including ability to eliminate ads and the patented Facebook clutter.
Over time, however, I have lost confidence that Facebook culturally is up to the task. No, that’s not quite right. I have lost confidence that Facebook evenwants to take on the task. In Facebook, pages were meant for fans who wanted to create homages to their favorite band. My gut feels is that the Facebook culture can’t get past the notion that corporations are “icky” and have hijacked the pages for crass commercial purposes. Perhaps I am overly pessimistic, but all the Facebook changes I have observed over the last two years have actually taken the platform backwards as far as my business needs are concerned.