Facebook Scores Below IRS, at Level of Disliked Airlines
Although Facebook is rapidly approaching 500 million members, a new survey indicates consumers aren't too pleased with the social-networking site. According to an American Customer Satisfaction Index report, Facebook's score fell well below rankings achieved by some of the world's top portals, search engines, and online news sites.
Among the four social-media web sites added to the annual survey released Tuesday, Facebook came in third with a score of 64 on the ACSI's 100-point scale and only one point higher than rival MySpace.
"Facebook is a phenomenal success, so we were not expecting to see it score so poorly with consumers," said Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results, which supports the production of the ACSI report founded by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. "At the same time, our research shows that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the web site, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience."
Evolution Versus Revolution
Overall, the Internet social-media category generated an average ACSI score of 70, versus 77 for Internet portals and search engines, and 74 for Internet news and information. "Social media has become too big to ignore, so we added it to our list of e-business measures," said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and a professor of business at the university. "We are quite surprised to find that satisfaction with the [social-networking] category defies its popularity."
Wikipedia led the social-networking category with an ACSI score of 77, followed by YouTube at 73. By contrast, Facebook and MySpace scored consumer satisfaction levels that were even lower than IRS e-filer web sites, researchers said.
What's more, Facebook and MySpace ranked in the bottom five percent of all measured private-sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies -- two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction, Freed observed. "Compare that to Wikipedia -- a nonprofit that has had the same user interface for years -- and it's clear that while innovation is critical, sometimes consumers prefer evolution to revolution," Freed added.
Google's Popularity Slide
The recent uproar regarding privacy changes and reported leaks of customer information at Facebook underscores that security and privacy form the bedrock on which solid online -- and mobile -- customer relationships are built, noted Forrester Research Senior Analyst Emmett Higdon. "Seventy-one percent of online consumers surveyed by Forrester say they have little to no interest in accessing their bank accounts through social-networking sites like Facebook," Higdon wrote in a blog.
On the other hand, businesses looking to deploy social-media analytics are concerned about the data they can mine about their products from social-networking sites rather than the reputation of individual sites, noted Forrester Senior Analyst James Kobielus. Nevertheless, they still need to pay attention to what is happening at specific online properties. "I think it is important to keep track of what people are saying they groove to in the social-media universe," Kobielus said.
Surveys like the ACSI's give businesses the opportunity to periodically reconsider their marketing strategies, Kobielus observed.
"There is no clear feeling that the current constellation of social media will remain forever or remain in the same pecking order," he said. "There is an ongoing churn, and some things up this year will be down the next."