7 reasons why Threadless rules Funny, I was just ordering t-shirts today. Heather got me the subscription for my birthday, which totally rules. This site really is the model for community run websites. The product is created by the community, voted on by the community, modeled by the community, marketed by the community – it might make you wonder what the company actually does.
(of course this link is from 37 Signals… is there a Chicago conspiracy going on here?)
The Facebook lesson A post on the Church of the Customer focuses on how Threadless handled a mishap on the site that could have been a total fiasco. They contrast that with Facebook’s stumble a few weeks ago. A great lesson in building online community.
Social Networking sites: you don’t own the commmunity Biz Hack follows up the Church of the Customer post with some great insight here. “Intent counts more than technique,” is the quote that stuck with me. Threadless handled their mishap upfront and honestly, Facebook didn’t. It makes people love Threadless even more.
Threadless on Sale Last, but not least, Threadless is having a sale until tomorrow, so stock up on new duds.
Support my Threadless habit by clicking the link and buying a shirt!
We really messed this one up. When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I’d like to try to correct those errors now.
Well, they didn’t roll it back but they did make changes. We’ll see what the Facebook community has to say about it. Hopefully, the storm is over.
Congrats for the milestone, Facebook. I think that it happens to all communities when they get big enough. In every online community, there are people who complain. In some cases, like Slashdot, they do it all the time. Running a community website is hard. Sure, users are basically creating all the content for you, but there are countless tough business and product decisions that need to be made to change and improve sites and people in general, hate change.
Yesterday, Facebook rolled out two new features that they seemed to be quite happy with. Here’s a description of the new features from the PM, Ruchi Sangvhi.
News Feed highlights what’s happening in your social circles on Facebook. It updates a personalized list of news stories throughout the day, so you’ll know when Mark adds Britney Spears to his Favorites or when your crush is single again.
Mini-Feed is similar, except that it centers around one person. Each person’s Mini-Feed shows what has changed recently in their profile and what content (notes, photos, etc.) they’ve added.
Now the problem is that many Facebook users like the privacy that they have on the site and weren’t too pleased to see these new features.
When we join facebook, we automatically give up a little bit of our privacy. To use Facebook has always been “socially-acceptable stalking.” Now, though, they’ve just gone too damned far. No one wants their girlfriend or boyfriend knowing when they’ve commented on a photo, written on a wall, or anything else. No one wants people to see that they’ve left a group; it could offend someone. No one really wants to see the change in status of someone’s love life.
And as a result of the member’s revolt, here is a bit of Facebook’s reaction from the CEO.
We’ve been getting a lot of feedback about Mini-Feed and News Feed. We think they are great products, but we know that many of you are not immediate fans, and have found them overwhelming and cluttered. Other people are concerned that non-friends can see too much about them. We are listening to all your suggestions about how to improve the product; it’s brand new and still evolving.
Oh boy. There are whole slew of community lessons here.
First, don’t launch new features until you have the “leadership” of the community sign off on it. I don’t know a lot about Facebook, but as with all community sites, there are people who are their biggest users and usually that means they are your biggest fans.
These people should get previews of new features and other privileges. You need to treat these people like royalty because they are your front line both when you need to deliver a bitter pill and when you are delivering great news. Better yet, they should serve as a both a sounding board and a microcosm for the larger community.
Second, community websites aren’t a lot without any members. If all or a significant part of the user base takes their ball and goes home, it would be devastating for Facebook. Pete Cashmore over at Mashable said it best, “The revolt also underlines that with social networks, the users are in control.”
What Facebook does in the next few days is crucial to their survival. People will always remember this incident on the site and it will affect their perception going forward. 10-20k users out of 9 million protesting is not insubstantial number, especially for the amount of noise they are making. Fortunately, Facebook did react immediately with comments. Now they need to respond with action.
What should the do next? If it were me, I’d roll the feature back. Issue a mea culpa. Go back to the drawing board. Listen to the users. Design the feature around their needs. At the very least, make the feature opt-in only. That would likely castrate the product, but I’d take this as a very valuable lesson and warning.