Suggestions for Facebook: How to Triple Value of Friend Suggestions

Facebook_suggest2While I admire many Facebook features, the site is woefully weak in adding value to “Facebook suggestions,” (right) which are those frustrating messages that appear on the upper right column of your Home Page. It would be easy to write off if they were just a waste, but what’s more provocative is that Facebook is missing a huge opportunity, which I’ll discuss briefly here. Secondly, I’ll show that most Facebook members are missing the chance to get some help from this feature, as lame as it currently is.

Facebook’s Point of View

facebookFacebook wants to deliver more value to members by helping them to make productive friends or connections. Therefore, Facebook has a collaborative filtering type of algorithm that makes suggestions based on your transactions on the site, which Friends you have, social actions, etc. By the way, I write this as an observer of many social networks and their value propositions, not as someone with behind-the-curtain knowledge.

Simplistically, let’s say there are two kinds of people on Facebook: Group A wants to meet more people they don’t know while Group B just uses Facebook to keep in touch with those people they already know (and they could care less about meeting new people). Currently, Facebook is alienating both groups with its lame suggestion feature. If Facebook helped Group A make useful friends, it would add significantly more value. For example, my readers have a strong business focus, and they would appreciate suggestions. They are peeved because 90% of “suggestions” are useless since suggested people have too little information on their profiles (so you don’t have enough info to know whether you’d like to invite the person or not), so it ends up being wasted real estate on the page. Group B is irritated because suggestions wastes their space and is not in sync with their interests.

Simple Suggestions for Facebook

  1. Cancel the feature, but relaunch it as a value-added option to which Group A can opt in if they want to meet new people. Group B will no longer be irritated by suggestions.
  2. When people opt in, give them guidance and recommend that they include useful information on their public profiles (see suggestions for members below). Also advise writing personal invitations when inviting people.
  3. Group B will appreciate its absence from their right columns.
  4. Everyone can turn the suggestions feature on and off at will.

Simple Suggestions for Members

  1. Ask yourself if you would be interested in meeting new people.
  2. If so, include more information on your Facebook Profile, for example, paste in some info from your LinkedIn Profile, which is publicly available unless you’ve turned it off. The information you provide will attract some and not others, so be thoughtful about what you include on your public profile. That way, when Facebook suggests you to others, they will be able to evaluate you and invite you if appropriate.
  3. This would help you meet higher quality people who are discriminating enough to want to look at your profile. Scammers don’t care, they’ll just invite you anyway. You are only keeping away good people.
  4. You are not really protecting your privacy by having no public information available. If in doubt, Google yourself.

Parting Shots

  • That’s my piece, so now, what do you think?
  • Have you gotten some good introductions on Facebook?

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