Bait and switch triggers disappointment, bait and betrayal triggers retaliation
Does Facebook need a facelift now that it has lost so much face?
I don't think a facelift will do. Facebook needs a makeover of its mission and values and then a do over.
How did Facebook get into so much difficulty?
It was derailed by hubris, thirst for power and greed.
It's not just that Facebook got too big for its britches, it's that: a) its mission was corrupted by its "real" core values; b) it betrayed its members/users; c) it underestimated the power of betrayal to turn people off -- and against -- you.
Its mission was corrupted by current "real" core values
Facebook's original mission back to its roots at Harvard with Zuckerberg, et al, was, "Let's build a community where people can connect, stay in contact and build relationships with their friends and find out who the hot chicks are." That was a terrific mission because even as technology has provided a means to connect with our friends there wasn't a truly successful site on the web that was both dedicated to connectedness and could execute it in a scalable fashion.
As the numbers of members/users increased exponentially, it attracted the attention of Wall Street who couldn't care less about connectedness. They saw a potential gold mine. The elephant in the room that has been hinting for years of the risk of the path Facebook was on was all but screaming, "My community is not your market!"
What finally came out with the IPO was the realization that Facebook's brand, promise and pledge had been corrupted by hubris ("We can do anything we want because we're Facebook" and we don't have to wear suits to Wall Street"), thirst for power ("I am the king of the world!" = Titanic), and greed ("Do you know how much money and ROI we can make from Facebook?" -- Wall Street, et al). The unstated new mission was corrupted by its corrupted values and is not spoken but is clearly: "We will help (a.k.a. use) you to build a connection and community with your friends... and then we will mine their information and offer the "deep pocketed" companies to advertise to and sell the heck out of them."
It betrayed its members/users
Its community didn't just feel a bait and switch which can lead to disappointment, it experienced a bait and betrayal which at the much touted and inflated IPO price made people a la the movie, Network (interesting coincident in title wouldn't you say), "Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" retaliation.
It underestimated the power of betrayal to turn people off and against you
There is a saying that people will forgive and honest mistake, but they will never forgive or forget if you lied to them. Why is being lied to so powerful? When you are lied to in decimates your ability to trust and you immediately look at the liar through the eyes of distrust. To make matters worse, people think just as you can't be a little pregnant, you can't be a little liar. So people think, if you're lying to me about this, then what else are you lying about.
Here is the challenge to Facebook. How do you earn back trust when people feel betrayed by you?
When you betray people you trigger the 4 H's:
If you, Facebook, are fortunate to have your community give you a second chance, be transparent about your mission and values. If it turns out you are unable to offer the 4 R's above, then at least admit to and say your mission and values are to help people build communities of connectedness where big companies find out more about them and then sell to. People might be disappointed, but at least they'll see that you are telling the truth.
Here is the other opportunity. Myspace are you listening? It may not be too late for you. You might have the chance to do it right and do it pure, it if you want to offer that to the world.
Follow Mark Goulston, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markgoulston