Questions: When Facebook fails

Remember “pokes”? How about Facebook Questions? Facebook is famous – or is that “notorious”? – for promoting a ship it fast, fix or kill it, apologize later, development strategy that is common in the cloud computing era. Nothing shocking there. But it’s always worth looking at Facebook flops for indicators of social media uber-trends, as well as what Facebook takes seriously (or not).

Re-positioning Questions as a brand page feature might indicate, as Inside Facebook noted in the linked story above, that it could end up being a premium service for marketers. If Facebook could add meat to such an offering, by adding analysis tools that would give marketers insights into how their fans feel versus the mainstream, it could justify charging. Hard to see how that happens if Questions only occur within brand pages.

Several stories point out that Facebook Questions wasn’t a Quora-killer. Who cares? The nearly-irrelevant Quora is far off of Facebook’s radar. As it should be. Facebook couldn’t make Questions into an easy-to-use communications utility for users. That doesn’t bode well for Facebook’s search efforts, whatever they might be. Regular readers know I don’t think Facebook really wants to challenge Google.

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David Card

VP Research Gigaom Research

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