Facebook's Achilles' Heel

What are some of the most popular actions you can take on Facebook? Tagging people is a big one – letting them know that you found something you thought they would find interesting. Sharing posts is also something a lot of people like to do, especially when people see images or “memes” that they want to share on their own page. On the web version of Facebook, these actions are not only popular, they’re extremely easy to do. Sharing is simply a matter of clicking “share.” Tagging someone requires nothing more than starting to type that person’s name. Sharing and tagging increase your ability to interact with other Facebook users, and it’s also a great way to introduce members of your community to each other.

Given how far ahead of the curve Mark Zuckerberg was when he started Facebook, you would probably assume that Facebook would be all set for the mobile world.You can hardly go anywhere without hearing something about how swiftly the mobile market is growing, and in fact you are probably a part of that growth. Do you go anywhere without a smart phone, an iPad, or both? Oddly, however, the Facebook application available on iPhones and iPads is more of a pain than a benefit. One of the biggest deterrents to using Facebook on a mobile device is that you cannot share posts or tag people from a smart phone or iPad.

[Note] After more conversation about this, we’ve discovered that some versions of the app support tagging and sharing, others support tagging but not in an intuitive way, and some versions of the app suffer extreme lag time but are ok in other areas. Regardless, it’s clear the app is less convenient to use than it should be!

Other Social Media Platforms Living In A Mobile World

From our perspective, these flaws in the Facebook app are serious problems, not only because it represents a serious usage problem for regular Facebook users but also because Facebook is well behind other social media platforms in creating a strong mobile environment. The only other significant problem currently existing in the world of iPhones is that Google Plus does not work in an ideal fashion, but that is likely more about the vitriolic relationship between Google and Apple. Twitter works well on most smart phones, and clients like Hootsuite offer all of the same functionality the web platform offers. Even Pinterest, which is the newest hot spot in the world of social media, has created apps for the iPhone and iPad that have pleased their community.

Building On A Rocky Foundation

Facebook, in trying to treat its revenue problem, is talking about integrating more ads into the mobile environment. Several news organizations have reported that Facebook will be experimenting with advertiser messages dropped into users’ news feeds, even if users haven’t “liked” that company’s page. To us, this seems like putting the cart before the horse. Even assuming you see an advertising message you appreciate on your mobile phone (and let’s face it – that’s not highly likely), you wouldn’t be able to share the message, nor would you be able to tag anyone to draw their attention to the ad. Given that these are two of the best ways to spread messages throughout Facebook, how will advertisers experience any kind of success in the mobile environment?

Going After Facebook

On Wednesday we’ll talk briefly about app.net, a social media platform that would charge $50/year so that you could operate in an ad-free environment. While this may be one effective way to compete against Facebook, it seems the best approach would be to create an effective social networking platform that would operate as well, if not better, in a mobile environment than it does on the web. Facebook is leaving itself wide open for attack. The question is whether or not they will address their weak mobile presence before another company jumps on the opportunity.

What do you think? Is Facebook leaving themselves vulnerable with such a poor mobile app? Why or why not?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/986497463/ via Creative Commons


30 comments on “Facebook's Achilles' Heel

  1. The Mobile Facebook App for iPhone/iPad absolutely reeks in comparison to the Google+ App on both devices. Most of my friends interact a lot more often on Facebook, but the fact that I have to open up Safari to Tag or Share borders on the moronic at this stage of the game. They had a headstart on Google+ and still bungled it. The iPad app for Google+ borders on the “visually captivating” relative to Facebook in my opinion.

  2. I actually ended up learning a lot today about the different experiences people have depending on their operating system. And Mila Araujo taught me how to tag on my iPhone – it *is* possible, just not highly obvious. But a lot of people have even more serious problems like crashes and super slow loading times. I think Mila maybe the only person on the planet who is happy with the Facebook app 😀

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