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Faux Facebook fatigue March 3, 2008

Posted by jeremyliew in apps, communications, facebook, social networks.
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Michael Parekh points to the Youtube video below and calls it further evidence of Facebook fatigue.

I disagree. I’m not a diehard Facebook fanboy, but I’ve done enough consumer internet product management to know that you can’t ask users what they think, you have to watch what they do.

There is certainly a growing chorus from the digerati about how Facebook apps are for toddlers, and this is echoed in the video embedded above. Interestingly though, Compete’s stats suggest that app usage is holding steady.

FB apps penetration

The feed, one of Facebook’s core innovations, had similar problems when it first launched. Early on, Facebook users condemned the feed. Today they can’t live without it.

Many of the lightweight Facebook apps live fleeting lives; they grow quickly and fade away just as quickly. That much is true. But their viral growth speaks to them meeting a core need for users of social networks, lightweight communications across increasingly expanded friendship networks:

These lightweight communications are native to social networks. Whether they be exchanging pokes on Facebook or pasting a glittering “thanks for the add” .jpg into a Myspace comment, “content free” communications abound. The meta message is clear though “I’m thinking of you”, and that is often enough of a ping to keep the connection open. Many of the Facebook and Bebo apps fulfill exactly this lightweight communication function, including Hug Me, Zombies and Scrabulous.

The digerati, with their Outlook address books and social network friends lists in the 1000s, bloated by people they met at conferences several years ago, are edge use cases. Their experience is atypical. Normal users of social networks use Facebook apps in the same way that middle America forwards emails to one another. A healthy percentage of the emails that I get from my mother in laws are these forwarded emails (whether remarkable pictures, funny videos, or uplifting stories) and they’ve all been forwarded many times before they get to her. Facebook apps are just another instance of this lightweight communication behavior that we’ve seen online for many years.

More recently we’ve seen more of the app developers turn their attention to increasing engagement and building richer experiences for app users beyond the lightweight communication. But even the lightweight apps are fulfilling a need for users.

Comments»

1. Boris - March 3, 2008

Agreed. Too many people in the tech world lose track of the real world of the average user. Maybe for me it’s easier since I live at a University, but Facebook apps are still used by people here. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, despite what some may say.

2. Deep Jive Interests » links for 2008-03-03 - March 3, 2008

[...] Facebook Fatigue — Sheeea, Right! Jeremy Liew breaks down the argument that people are tired of Facebook, arguing that early adopters might be tired, but they are far from the typical users. An argument that holds a lot of water with me, personally. (tags: jeremyliew lightspeedventures facebook) [...]

3. buckpost - March 3, 2008

Personally, it’s not Facebook applications that have caused me to turn away from Facebook but whether Facebook still has a place within my digital universe. Increasingly, I’m discovered there are other places to find what I want: Twitter, IM and e-mail. The only reason that I still visit Facebook is seeing what friends have recommended in terms of reading and video – and changing my status from time to time.

4. Alex - March 4, 2008

Good post. Thanks for sharing the video.

I’ve never been a FB fan. Frankly, I personally don’t know of many people who do spend much time on FB. Of course I’m in my 30’s so poking my friends who are in the the same peer group may come across as disturbing if not frightening.

Do I think that FB will look the same as it does today in twelve months? Nope, I new executive will come in a slice and dice the business to find a profitable revenue model. In turn, this will cause an internal fiasco and then the spiral south will begin.

5. The Praized Blog » Blog Archive » Twitter is The New Facebook - March 6, 2008

[...] you still care about Facebook? A resounding YES! As Jeremy Liew from Lightspeed Ventures Partners says “The digerati, with their Outlook address books and social network friends lists in the [...]

6. Roundup: Facebook IM?, RateMyCop beats the charges, and more » VentureBeat - March 16, 2008

[...] Poking somebody is an important form of lightweight communication between friends, as Jeremy Liew has pointed out, because it lets friends know they’re thinking about each other without either person having [...]


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