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Facebook Sinks on the User Satisfaction Curve

Facebook Sinks on the User Satisfaction Curve

Facebook users appear increasingly unhappy with their experiences on the social network. They're annoyed by the ads and irritated by the compulsory switch to the Timeline format. Worse, they're left wanting a whole lot more than Facebook is delivering with its lackluster mobile presence. Google+ users, on the other hand, are pretty well satisfied.

By Erika Morphy TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
07/18/12 9:25 AM PT

The hits keep coming for Facebook. The social networking site posted the largest decline in customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report, conducted with customer experience analytics firm ForeSee.

Facebook dropped 8 percent, settling at a score of 61 on a 100-point scale. It is a record low for the social media category and it places Facebook in the bottom five companies of the 230 measured by the index.

At the same time, Google+ -- a social network launched by Google last year whose traction seems to have slowed since its initial burst on the scene -- scored rather well. In its first appearance, it clocked in with a 78.

Google+'s Strengths are Facebook's Weaknesses

The reasons for its relatively high performance, ACSI said, include the absence of traditional advertising and the perception of having a superior mobile product. Conversely, these areas garner complaints from Facebook users -- that is, Facebook has too many ads and doesn't have a strong mobile presence.

The biggest complaint about Facebook, however, is its ever-changing user interface, the survey found -- including the introduction of its Timeline feature.

A Falling Category

Facebook's slip could be attributed in part to the category itself, which trended down in this survey. Social media in general dropped 1.4 percent to 69. Google's other social media property, YouTube, dropped a point to 73. Other companies measured include Pinterest, which received a score of 69; Twitter, which scored 64; and LinkedIn, which scored 63 -- the latter two being well below the category average.

That low category score is indicative of the social media overload that people have been experiencing in the past couple of years, Gabe Donnini, data solutions engineer at Chitika, told TechNewsWorld.

"I am now finding things out about people, brands, and news that I am just not interested in -- there is only so much information any one person can absorb in a day," he said. "When relevancy goes down, so does satisfaction."

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Facebook clearly has a problem, however, and David Johnson, principal with Strategic Vision, diagnoses it as death by a thousand cuts.

"Facebook is an entity we love -- but love to hate as well. It comes across as arrogant, and it positions its changes as something the user has to adapt to, and if they don't like it, too bad," he told TechNewsWorld.

Facebook's numbers, however, are its primary advantage right now, and that will trump its crummy perception of its customer service, Johnson said. In addition, that advantage will keep Facebook afloat and growing for many years.

"People will continue to go where other people are, and right now that is Facebook. It is still the only game in town, despite the existence of other social networks," he said.

However, this survey and others like it show the seeds of what will be Facebook's eventual decline.

"Sooner or later a social network -- and it may be Google+ -- will [have] both the scale of a Facebook but far better customer service," said Johnson.

There are several things that Facebook has done that has led to decreased level of user satisfaction, Donnini noted, the most recent being the introduction of the Timeline feature. "This upset many users because they had to adopt it. Whenever you change the way someone navigates a site, they will not like it."

All that said, at the end of the day Facebook crushes Google in terms of user activity, unique page views, and time spent on the site. "It will not disappear -- and in fact, the competition from Google will just prove to make it more competitive," he predicted.

ASCI, Google and Facebook did not respond to our requests for further details.


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