As per my previous post there has been a huge uproar on Facebook among the pet owner community as Facebook started deleting pet profiles. One interesting result from this has been the birth of a new social media network, Furiends, set up by the owner of a dog whose profile was deleted from Facebook. So far it looks great, and mirrors the Facebook functionalities – and it has been designed specially for all the pets whom Facebook has rejected.
There are a number of interesting elements here. Firstly there is the fact that, yet again, Facebook has demonstrated a total lack of interest in what its users, and in this case a particularly active bunch of users, want. It has ignored the petitions and the pleas. It has also failed, as per usual, to communicate any clear reasoning behind this latest move. It never fails to amaze me that a business built up on user engagement and relationships fails so miserably to engage and respect relationships. It is rather noteworthy, IMHO, that the Facebook Facebook page does not allow for people to post directly to the wall but only comment on posts. I would have thought that Facebook of all the companies out there should have this functionality enabled to encourage the engagement on which it has been built.
The second noteworthy thing here is that pet owners, through their pet profiles, are a particularly active and engage group of users. One of the reasons I tend to use Don’s Facebook page over my own is not only that it is more fun and interesting but also because people still engage, comment and have conversations on Facebook. Some people argue that this is one of the signs of Facebook’s “beginning of the end” – the fact that people are no longer as active and as engaging as they used to be. People are now splitting their time across platforms – each of which competes for a slice of our time and engagement. Yet here is a group who blows engagement numbers through the roof! This group posts daily, comments can run into double numbers on a regular basis – just for a “bog standard” post.
This point leads into the next point – that from a revenue point of view you surely want to encourage people to stay on your platform and visit as often as possible. You want to encourage these sorts of loyal followers – and not through them off! When you are seeing other groups becoming less active you want to do all you can to encourage the groups that are still highly active. You want to listen to them and make them feel welcome – not start shutting their accounts down.
The final point is that behind the pet profiles you have owners who are willing to spend money on their pets. You have a clearly labelled audience who are sitting on your platform and who are open to spending money for their pets. Given that one element of Facebook’s revenue generation is advertising and that the more accurately targeted the advert the better one would have thought were you have a group with a very clear, stated interest would be a god-send to Facebook. I know from personal experience but also from many, many interactions with other pet owners and “pets” on Facebook that we are interested in seeing adverts for pet products and we are interested in buying pet products over the internet. The only adverts I ever really click on are when they are accurately targeted at me – and on Don’s page they invariable are not! Don’s adverts seem to be a random selection of adverts for men (Don is masculine so I get that) and other bizarre stuff (like a recent add in Arabic for some film festival). If they were targeted at what Don really is – a cat – chances are I would not only click on them but also buy the odd thing too.
Rather than removing pet accounts, and alienating their owners in the process and cut off a potentially lucrative revenue stream, why doesn’t Facebook just simply introduce a “pet” tick box and actually enable, and encourage, pet owners to be open and engage even more on Facebook? Instead what has happened is that Facebook has enraged a large, and active group of highly engaged and passionate users. It has closed a door on an opportunity that now lies open for Furiends to grab with both paws.
Furiends has been set up as a refuge for all these Facebook refugees – set up not to make money but to welcome, with open arms this community. To provide a safe refuge for these highly engage, committed and loyal group. This is a social media network that is founded on the pure principles of engagement, based on the elements that make social media so special. It is a network that is very open and human in it’s about us section – apologising that it is set up by one person and there will be problems. It is a network that is actively asking its users for input – and I am sure will be reacting to this input.
I am honoured to have been here for the birth of this network, and I am excited to be part of something that potentially will be fantastic, and finally provide something other than Facebook for me and my friends. I also think, if this small network reaches out to all of us pet owners, and asks for help, we can build up a great platform, with a steady revenue stream, and a very happy, engaged user group. I have been a very loyal Facebook user for years (after all I do have two accounts!) but I think finally I have to join on the bandwagon that says Facebook has had its day. It is time for the next generation to grab the opportunities that big networks like Facebook are ignoring, and I am happy to be part of one of these communities.