Is Facebook giving you any friction? You know why your car needs oil, right? There are a lot of moving parts in that engine, and if those parts aren’t properly lubed, the engine struggles. If you never change it or don’t put any oil in it at all, the engine could burn up, and the guys in the tow truck will probably make fun of you when they finally show up.
Facebook is also a collection of moving parts, each requiring their own level of viscosity in order to function at peak performance. But before you go pouring 10W30 all over your MacBook, I’m talking about a different kind of frictionless experience.
Sticking with our car analogy, Facebook drivers tend to have a lead foot. They cruise through the network at maximum speed, checking to see if there are any friend requests, looking for messages or notifications, scanning the News Feed at speeds Greg Biffle would envy. Consequently, it’s best for everything users do on Facebook to be as frictionless as possible.
Friction is basically anything that slows a user down or complicates things to the extent they stop feeling like it’s even worth continuing whatever activity they’re trying to engage in. If you’re not into cars, we can also go with a Sea World analogy. People don’t like to have to jump through too many hoops.
Games are a good example. Facebook is well aware that users pause, and often stop completely, when a big box asking for downloading and permissions pops up. You had them. The user was interested in playing the game. But the formal and deliberate act of downloading an app or saying yes to access requests users may or may not understand makes them stop, reconsider, and very often go away. That’s friction.
Facebook now lets games be played directly from within the News Feed or Timeline story. It as easy as pressing the play button over a thumbnail image of a video. There’s absolutely nothing standing between the user and the fun of popping bubbles or growing fake corn or whatever the game is. These tend to be demo versions of games, the idea being if you let someone play a game a little while, they’ll get addicted enough to jump through some hoops to get the full version. We’ve known for quite awhile with our branded Vitrue Games, which function as tab apps, that letting fans get right to the fun is essential.
Have you noticed the “trending articles” in your Facebook News Feed? The idea here is to automatically surface stories your friends are engaging with so you don’t miss them or have to go digging deep into the feed to find them. They’re now rolling out the same thing with videos your friends are into called, you guessed it, “trending videos.” It’s the content that’s most likely to be relevant, put directly in front of you, with no friction between user and content.
The frictionless experience extends to the other moving parts of Facebook. From trouble-free messaging, to easy sharing and commenting, to smoothly playing video, to flipping through photo albums, to changing your cover photo, to checking into a place…the easier, faster and more intuitive all of these things are, the better the user experience and the more likely users are to engage, and engage often.
The takeaway for brand social marketers: make everything you do as easy, as seamless and as frictionless as possible. If it’s even slightly complicated to you, it’s going to be mind-blowing to your fans. So much so they’ll hem and haw a few seconds, then move on to something else. Your content has to be bite-sized and digestible. Your campaigns’ messages have to be clear and instantly understood. Your Tab apps have to work quickly and reliably.
Always be aware as you’re planning your content and your campaigns that too much friction could leave your brand on the side of the road.