When Users are Not Customers

The Ideal User Experience

Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant results for ANYONE performing a search within their platform.

Google knows their customer. It’s any person doing a search query, regardless of whether that search is for business or personal reasons.

When Google focuses on providing the best user experience, they are equally serving users and customers.

To be profitable, Google employs a business model to deliver favorable results via organic and paid search. Their focus is providing a user experience that equally serves users and business customers alike.

Businesses want to be ranked highly within search results, and they can accomplish their objective using content marketing or paid search. Some choose both.

Users are indifferent. Their only concern is getting what they want. Their mission is congruent with that of Google.

Contrast this with Facebook.

The Compromised User Experience

You can I are the Facebook users. Though, we are not their customers, and that compromises the experience.

The Facebook model in the early days was designed to create the best experience for users, but those days are gone. Now everything is designed for the true customer – businesses that want to connect with users.

Facebook is not searchable for anything other than your friends or pages that you have liked. To be honest, it does a mediocre job at this at best, despite the fact that Facebook is sitting on a massive treasure trove of valuable, contextual information.


Have you ever wondered why you are limited to 5,000 friends.

Anyone desiring more than 5,000 friends is encouraged to migrate their Facebook experience to a page, thereby assuming a role as a personality or business, one that is encouraged to purchase advertising to stay engaged with their fans.

This is why Facebook is only searchable within the context of ads that target a specific demographic of users.

The Facebook experience is now designed for the benefit of the customer – not the user.

If you have never placed a Facebook ad, give it a try. It will indeed target your desired prospect with laser accuracy.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated at the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference that Facebook will become searchable when they get it right. What he is not saying is this will happen when they can monetize search results.

Here’s what he said. “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on it.”

He goes on further to say, “Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers. I have a specific question, answer this question for me.”

That’s what we have all been waiting on for years – the wisdom of friends. This is now somewhat possible by using Facebook questions, but that is a manufactured approach that ignores the valuable context that everyday, casual conversations within Facebook offer.

The reason that Facebook has met with so many challenges in its short history is they are straddling a line between their users and customers. This will always be a slippery slope.

Why can’t we learn what is REALLY being said in real conversations among our Facebook friends?

Privacy is no doubt the main reason, with the other being their business model.  If Facebook provided free information to users they would have to do the same for businesses.

Users and Customers on The Same Team

Here’s an idea. What if Facebook charged all of its nearly one billion users $5/month for a richer experience. If half of us took the deal, that provides 30 billion dollars of revenue – 15 times what they are generating now!  They could easily add another 20 to that by charging businesses for premium services.

What do you think? Would you pay a little extra to have full access to years of your friends wisdom?

When the needs of the users and customers are mutually served everything works.

Take my profession as a professional speaker. My audience, the meeting planners, and the event sponsors all want the same thing – great value for the audience (the users) that will benefit from the experience. You could say we are all on the same team.

An inclusive model that is focused on the user experience is much easier for a business to manage. If I serve my audience well everyone is happy.

How about you?

Is your business model designed to equally serve all of your users?

Leave a comment below and share this with your community.

Until next time, Jeff

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