The fine line between force and encouragement
There has been talk in the office about the new Facebook Messenger app!
I have so far avoided hitting any download buttons whilst using my Facebook messages (private), whereas two of my colleagues insist their Fb account compelled them to install the app, else they could not send instant private messages – aka chat. Whatever the wheeze Facebook has built to funnel people to use their “next reason to never leave Facebook” Messenger app, it is clear my colleagues didn’t like having their hands forced and haven’t yet seen any value in this new collection of Fb flavoured buttons. I don’t use chat, so I resisted the download because I judged Messenger to have no relevance for me.
I felt the app had been offered to me too much seeing as I have already pressed Cancel several times, but my colleagues both described annoyance at – their words – having been “forced” to download it. This negative experience puzzled me – why would Facebook treat two such die-hard users like this? How had this happened?
According to the app store, the features of Facebook Messenger are as follows:
- Text / SMS – chat
- Send photos instantly
- Free calls
As I have access to all those features on my phone already, I understand my colleagues’ distaste at being compelled to download what they currently feel is a superfluous app. It seems they are not the only ones disappointed to lose a feature within the original Fb app. Another one of the benefits listed by Facebook for the new app is “Get your messages without opening Facebook”. Is Fb suggesting it is a struggle to open Fb and read one’s messages and chats?
Most of the feedback for the new Messenger app in the App Store isn’t very good at all – it appears switching between two apps to use the same network is not popular with Facebookers. The sentiment ranges from anger to disbelief at various aspects of this change, particularly having to switch between apps during their interaction with their Fb network but the one thing they all dislike is the manner in which this roll-out has been done. Users report feeling cornered to download a whole app’s worth of buttons they probably don’t want or need, in order to continue using the chat feature with their Fb friends.
I see what Facebook are trying to do: bring everything into the Facebook places, ensuring people interact and share on the king of social networks. Google+ also gathered users and worked to drive trial of their social network in the early days with a healthy slice of strong arming, such as integrating Maps and Local with G+. Google even compelled users to have a G+ profile in order to comment on Youtube videos, but after a massive uproar on Reddit and across the web communities, this was reversed. I think Facebook should heed the mistakes of Google+; the manner in which social networks introduce new features to users, significantly impacts the reputation of the feature but also the network as a whole.
I heard in the last few days WhatsApp removed itself from the Windows app store due to a technical issue – it has now been returned after the notifications functionality was revised. Facebook – what are you doing with WhatsApp? First you buy the big chat app and now you release your own version?
First impressions do count and by the screams emitting from the reviews underneath the Messenger listing in the App Store, it appears Fb’s new addition has not been well received. I cannot believe it is for lack of insights or research – clearly we are using these features in every day life and Facebook can provide them. There is always resistance when new features are rolled out as the social media users have a trust relationship with their account – this is “their space”, customised to them, accessible only with their password and connected to friends, family, colleagues and more. Because of this personal attachment to one’s profile, giving users an invitation to optionally download an additional app or select the start date for a new layout/design for their profile, is absolutely the right approach. The early adopters will always be there first – they lead discovery and buzz building – but then take time to educate, remind, encourage and invite the audience to embrace changes with any new feature, product or service – that way you won’t upset your core users / customers as Fb appear to have done with Messenger.
Have you been forced or encouraged to download the new Fb Messenger app? Please let me know over on Twiitter @GertrudeAndIvy.