An new American Consumer Satisfaction Index report shows Facebook was among the least popular businesses in the land.Facebook scored lower than everyone except the dreaded cable companies and airlines, and the news got lots of pickup in the media.
“Facebook Consumer Satisfaction in the Dumps” declared CBS. Wired cited the report as a reason an open, distributed network like Diaspora might supplant Facebook. Yesterday, we even saw the talking heads on CNBC mulling over the news with long faces.
Obviously, it would be great for Facebook if everyone had wonderful things to say about it. But this is a non-issue, for a number of reasons:
- This is the first time the ACSI has included social networks and related web businesses, so there is no trend line here.
- ACSI scores are compiled from a number of different survey questions. Only paying customers know the details, but, importantly, the questions are (sensibly) tailored to the specific industries. That they are scaled in such a way to make comparisons across different industries meaningful is an article of faith.
- ForSee Results, the company behind the ACSI, talks up the predictive power of its rankings within industries. Facebook only has one direct competitor, MySpace, which scored even worse on the survey.
- It’s fun to hate cable companies and airlines, but everyone keeps flying and watching television. It’s good for an airline to score better than other airlines, but the performance of the industry as a whole doesn’t amount to much.
Again, Facebook should certainly do its best to get people to like it. But the story out of this report is that on the heels of a massive PR headache, Facebook scored (very slightly) higher than its only rival, in an industry that appears to perform poorly by this measure. And the other industries that perform poorly by this measure provide services people feel they can’t live without.
That sounds like pretty good news to us.