At more than 800 million users, Facebook is generally considered one a major success story. But that doesn’t mean the social behemoth gets everything right. In fact, Facebook has a long history of mistakes and failed features.
Elisa Gabbert over at WordStream has pulled together an infographic with a list of Facebook’s “criticisms, missteps and outright failures. This includes everything from Facebook’s privacy snafus to the short-lived Facebook Deals.
The WordStream infographic is a bit less data-heavy than I usually like. However, I think it provides a pretty good object lesson for other companies.
Lessons Learned from Facebook Failures
Companies should take (at least) two lessons from this litany of Facebook failures. The first is that being a copycat doesn’t usually pan out too well. Many of Facebook’s failed efforts are “me too” efforts where the social giant tried to horn in on other services. Facebook Messages haven’t caught on at all. I don’t think I’ve received a single email from an “@facebook.com” address. Facebook Places have not put a dent in Foursquare. Facebook Deals, a Groupon/LivingSocial clone, lasted a whopping four months before the plug was pulled. The lesson? Despite Facebook’s size, it’s not guaranteed to succeed when it tries to horn in on other companies’ core offerings. Companies should learn from this and think twice before trying to ape competitors instead of offering something original.
The second and more positive lesson is that Facebook fails fast. A lot of the feature flops have been pulled within a few months. Companies often get a lot of heat for shuttering services or pulling back features, but there’s no virtue in flogging an obvious failure. There’s a difference between a failure and a slow starter, of course – the important thing is to be able to tell the difference.