Thursday, September 22, 2011

Consumers May Prefer Facebook Classic

In the world of marketing there are many ways to regenerate interest and boost sales for a product or brand. Through special discounts, rebates or coupons you can effectively reduce the price consumers pay. As HP recently found out, even defunct products will fly off the shelf at the right price point.

A very popular technique is a relaunch. Wrap the product in new packaging and slap the ubiquitous new and improved stamp on it and you can breath new life into almost any old product. Line extensions which introduce new variants of a product such as new sizes or flavors will also stimulate sales and produce growth.

But years ago what the greatest marketing minds at Coca Cola discovered is that you don't change a successful product. Some of you may remember and many will have read the now legendary product faux pas of actually introducing the New Coke as a replacement for the tried and true, much beloved original Coke beverage. It was not well received by the public. This was quickly followed by the introduction of a line extension, Classic Coke, bringing back the original product under a new name.

Perhaps the folks on the Z-Team missed that lecture in Marketing 101. Facebook is radically changing its look and feel and the way it functions. A few weeks back the chat function was suddenly totally different. Now the news feed has changed and "friends" are grouped in new ways. The security model has become more complex and we can now subscribe to friends not just pages. This is not your father's Facebook. Break out the user guides, tutorials and cheat sheets.

Earlier this week Facebook notified me they had modified my settings to reduce the amount of email and make the service work better for me, but I could put it back the other way if I wanted to. Gee, thanks, Facebook. Clearly I welcome the opportunity to waste hours finding where these controls now hide so I can try to recall how they were set before and put things back to the way I liked having them.

I can't comment on all the new features because, well, frankly, I haven't spent much time on Facebook lately. I still post to reach my friends but my posts almost always originate from Foursquare, Twitter and Google Plus. Of course when I receive an email alert I will respond, comment or "like" a Facebook post. But unless I can sort out how to turn that back on, I guess I won't be doing as much of that any more.

Watching the rivalry among all the social networks has been interesting. I have already expressed the view that Facebook is going to alienate more people than it will please with these massive changes. I agree with others that people will tolerate these changes because all their friends are presently on Facebook. But the ability to create content and have it flow to and from other networks will erode this advantage and eventually people will head off towards their social network of choice. For some, that may not be Facebook.

By the way, I have always preferred Diet Pepsi.

Captain Joe

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