When “Bring Back the Old Facebook” Actually Worked

Facebook frustration

Facebook undergoes a lot of criticism and handles tons of complaints whenever a new feature is implemented. Whether it’s something relatively small or very large, with millions of users across the web, Facebook has their work cut out for them in trying to please everyone.

What Happened?

On February 10, Facebook rolled out a new, optional layout for Facebook Pages and Facebook Profiles. The most significant change was removing Tabs from Pages and replacing them with a bar of photos. The bar of photos was added to Facebook Profiles as well.
However, another change was put into place that was a little less noticeable, but quickly became extremely unpopular. Instead of showing Facebook posts in chronological order on Pages’ walls, posts were shown based on popularity using an algorithm.

How the Change Created Issues

Facebook began deciding which comments were the most relevant or “top” posts in order to cut down on spam and general “noise” on the walls. As a Facebook Page Admin, this sounds great, but there were a few major issues:

  1. How do I see which posts to respond to first?
  2. How will newcomers get the information they need if it gets buried beneath a “popular” post?
  3. Why should we coordinate the posts to the calendar and what is happening in “real-time” if it isn’t shown that way?

Facebook believed issue #1 was taken care of by an “Admin View” option where posts were shown in chronological order. One small hitch: it only worked when you were logged in as an Administrator, and as Administrators, we care more about what the Fans see.

Additionally, the algorithm was a complete mystery. In terms of popularity, one would assume the posts with the greatest number of “likes” or comments would surface to the top, but not so. Perhaps multimedia like photos and videos would be “top” — nope. The “Top Posts” option appeared to be completely random.

Then, on the morning of Wednesday, March 2nd, Facebook did something they rarely did in the past…

 

Facebook listened.

They created an option on Facebook Pages that had been strongly suggested by many of these outspoken administrators: the choice to see the most recent posts. Through this timely compromise, Facebook kept the option to display the “top posts” as well.

What If?

The backlash after the change was certainly overwhelming, but I can only imagine what would have happened if this “feature” had been implemented on personal Facebook profiles. I am reminded of the many status updates, groups and threads created when Facebook brought out even the smallest changes in the past. Remember the creation of the Wall? A large percentage of my Facebook friends disliked it. “Bring the old Facebook back!” is posted everywhere when a Facebook change occurs. It’s almost as if Facebook is performing a social experiment to measure and understand people’s reluctance to change. In a few weeks, everyone is over it –and most of the time people end up actually liking the change.

The Importance of Order

I don’t think that could have happened in this case though. It is vital for administrators to be able to see their fans’ responses, questions and other posts in chronological order. This has become as important as responding to client E-mails in the order they were received.

The “Top Posts” option is now only shown as the default for Facebook users who have never viewed the page before, or anyone who is not logged into Facebook and accesses the page via a URL.
However social it may be, Facebook is a business and businesses use Facebook as an important outlet for client service, expression and promotion. Administrators have Facebook ad budgets and contribute to the use of Facebook for business. Based on Facebook’s market value, it’s not a great idea to frustrate the people who continue to fuel that value.

Maybe that’s the reason Facebook listened this time. Whatever it may be, many admins out there were quite glad Facebook took their own clients’ feedback seriously.