Hey Facebook : Imitation Of Success Does Not Guarantee Success

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By now you have seen the various articles regarding Facebook‘s homepage redesign. If not, go take the tour to see what is coming. As you can see, Facebook has copied some of the most loved features from both FriendFeed and Twitter.

Facebook may be a massive social network, but it wants to be the main destination where you spend your time on the internet. There are a few problems with this. First, they may have copied the popular features of other social sites, but they did not realize why they are successful.

Twitter is gaining celebrity acceptance because they get to chat with some of their fans. Facebook’s social network basis makes the status updates harder to follow. The new homepage redesign may make this easier to work with, but many people use Facebook differently. Also, Twitter strokes the ego.

I have said before that ego plays a very big part in why social sites are successful. Because Twitter is not a social network, people use it for a different purpose. Some people may use it for quick organization (i.e. can we meet for dinner) and simple replies to questions. Users are looking for people with something interesting to say, without the usual trappings of a social network.

FriendFeed is almost on the opposite end of the spectrum. It is mostly about discussion and sharing of interesting blog posts or other items. There is not as much ego stroking as there is on Twitter. On FriendFeed, the conversation is easier to follow because the comments on an item are grouped together. In some cases, there are many comments (more than 50) on blog posts or even just simple questions that get asked. FriendFeed can easily become a type of blogging platform for some people. The key for FriendFeed is that the context is not easily lost. Even links shared by multiple people get grouped together so that you can see what other conversations are occurring for that same story.

Facebook may have copied many of these features, but one core feature that they have missed is search. Twitter and FriendFeed have become treasure troves of information. Both also have very powerful search capabilities. Many people are already talking about “real time search” as the next frontier. Twitter and FriendFeed are primed for that battle and tend to be complementary services. There are several brand management and social search applications that have appeared as well. Obviously, social search and real time search are gaining a lot of hype.

However, Facebook is moving in the right direction so far. With Facebook Connect and their developer API, they are trying to be more open to social applications. By providing a capable search API, Facebook can become the leading destination for social and real time search information.

The guest post is by Rob Diana blogging at Regular Geek.

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