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New Facebook: Change is Hard, But Life Goes On

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The New Facebook: Change is Hard, But Life Goes On

Facebook recently made some big changes to the user interface that will alter how users share, curate and publish content online. Users have already experienced changes to their home page and will continue to see bigger changes rolled out in the coming weeks. 360i’s Report on Facebook’s F8 2011 Updates dives into how marketers should approach the change – but what about its 800 million users? 360i’s Insights & Planning team took a close look at the chatter to find out.

 
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Source: Posted by Twitter user Owlneko

One tweet describes the sentiment towards the new Facebook changes the best:  “More Facebook changes, Mark Zuckerberg?! Would you like me to go to your house and move around all your furniture and see if you like it?!” 

The part of the quote that stands out the most is the comparison of someone’s home to Facebook.  In many ways this analogy works perfectly for Facebook and is the reason so many people are expressing negativity over the changes. Facebook is completely personalized to the user, which cultivates the emotional connection of a home. Not surprisingly, these rapid changes are met with some apprehension and confusion, but will ultimately lead to acceptance.

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Source: 360i analysis of the social media landscape conducted September 2011 for data spanning September 19, 2011 – September 25, 2011. Full population of posts from blogs, forums, public Facebook profiles and Twitter

360i conducted a sentiment analysis on the new Facebook changes to get a better look at consumers’ opinions during the week surrounding the first changes.  We found that 44% of the conversations were negative, 43% were neutral/informational and 10% were positive.  Below is a breakout of their sentiment and a conversation cloud.

SENTIMENT ANALYSIS FOR ‘NEW FACEBOOK’ AND ‘FACEBOOK CHANGES’ CONVERSATION

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Source: 360i analysis of the social media landscape conducted September 2011 for data spanning September 19, 2011 – September 25, 2011. Sample size: 150 posts from forums, public Facebook profiles and Twitter

CONVERSATION CLOUD FOR ‘NEW FACEBOOK’ AND ‘FACEBOOK CHANGES’ CONVERSATION

 
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Source: 360i analysis of the social media landscape conducted September 2011 for data spanning September 19, 2011 – September 25, 2011. Sample size: 150 posts from forums, public Facebook profiles and Twitter

Although, it seems there is an overwhelming dislike for the changes, most of the conversations were about the homepage changes with the real-time ticker, and not the new Timeline feature.  The posts that discussed the Timeline actually convey positivity and excitement.  (Additional analysis is planned to see what happens once most of the Facebook users actually receive the Timeline change on their profile page.)

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The main complaint by consumers is about changes happening too rapidly and too often.  People feel once they get used to one format there is a new one right around the corner.  This discontent creates opportunity for other social platforms to come into play.  There was discussion about how Twitter is better, and discussion about switching from Facebook to Google+.

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We also believe the negativity will blow over quickly because of how the posts were written.  Almost 20% of the negative posts were written as comic relief or in a sarcastic manner.  This type of humor makes us think that if people can laugh about it, then they can’t be that upset over it.  See sample posts below:

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Facebook users are critical of changes to the platform in general, but it’s the element of surprise in this latest wave of changes that’s driving negativity. Most users have been building up their network on Facebook for years; it will take quite a bit more for them to ditch their Facebook personas and start clean somewhere else.  For now everything seems rearranged, yet as the new features become familiar, consumers will settle right back in at home.  The chatter has calmed down already with a large initial spike on Wednesday, Sept. 21 and sharp decrease right after.

BUZZ VOLUME TREND FOR ‘NEW FACEBOOK’ AND ‘FACEBOOK CHANGES’ CONVERSATION

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Source: 360i analysis of the social media landscape conducted September 2011 for data spanning September 19, 2011 – September 25, 2011. Full population of posts from blogs, forums, public Facebook profiles and Twitter

While people may not welcome the Facebook updates with open arms – something tells us they’ll get over it. More than half of Facebook’s 800 million users log onto the site every day (stat via Facebook), so while it may take some time to get used to the changes, the acclimation period shouldn’t be long… probably just in time for a new change in the layout to take place.

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-Marc Geffen & Jenn Nasta contributed to this report.