Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why Facebook “Circles” Would Fail

 
Circles are Google+’s key distinguishing feature in the realm of social media. They allow you to share anything with any level of privacy you determine to be appropriate. Most importantly, they offer a stark contrast to Facebook’s innately confusing privacy settings that pressure users to share everything with everyone with the added caveat that everyone on Facebook should be your friend anyways. I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook responds sooner than later with its own version of Circles…but it won’t work. Here are 5 reasons why:
Start-Up Costs
I have over 2,500 friends on Facebook. It’s a HUGE ask to tell me to reorganize them into convenient circles to match Google+’s functionality. If I only had 500 friends I still wouldn’t take the time to place them. Even if I didn’t put everyone in a group I’d still have to sift through a giant, alphabetically organized list to find my close friends and work friends. It’s annoying enough when you invite certain people to groups (and some people are consistently forgotten by design). Facebook isn’t supposed to take work. When I joined Google+ I was able to add each person, one by one, which leads me to my next point…
Facebook Can’t Make You Do It
With Google+, you have to add people. And they have to be put into a circle. A new user is immediately encouraged to create circles for each group because it seems manageable. There’s very little effort required to build an eventually robust and complicated social ecosystem. It’s what makes Google+ so successful.
Facebook however, can’t possibly make the current users create this system. While upgrading to “the new Facebook” was not a choice, it also didn’t require something different for each user. Additionally, Circles work so well because everyone is in one and every user uses them. They become much less relevant when you only have 10 friends in them.
Facebook Won’t Tell You 
Okay, maybe they’ll tell you about the update, but not the right way. Facebook has never been good at updating its user base about changes to its privacy settings or to new features. Did you hear on Facebook that there was a new chat? No, not really. What about the move from groups to pages? Again, kind of. Until social media sites find a new, awesome, and unobtrusive way to inform its users, huge changes to social media sites will go largely unnoticed. Which leads me to…
You Won’t Listen
Even if Facebook did put that box on top of your newsfeed as has been customary, you won’t listen. Remember every time Facebook updated their privacy settings and you x’ed out of that little informative box? Users don’t read them. On top of that, people are stubborn. They know how to use Facebook and they don’t take too kindly to using it differently. And while a few dedicated users may find new privacy groups worthwhile, a circles feature would be seen as an extra to most, not as the vital feature Facebook would surely promote it as. And on top of that…
Users Won’t See a Need for Them
Facebook is “a place for friends.” There’s the mentality that if someone isn’t your friend, you don’t add them. And if you don’t want someone to see your posts, you don’t add them. This is primarily because of Facebook’s needlessly complex privacy system, which has created and perpetuated that mentality. You can’t think of Google+ like Facebook, and in turn, you can’t use Facebook like Google+. It’s not the type of collaborative community that would require many separate groups.

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