Facebook stock decline proves goodwill important to companies’ long-term success

I don’t know anyone who really likes Facebook. Sure, it has close to a billion users who enjoy connecting with old and new friends alike. But I’m talking about the company itself. I think most of us use the service grudgingly, mainly because it’s the best available option. But just wait until something better comes along and watch how quickly we jump ship. Here’s why:

  • Their decisions seem arbitrary and capricious. Personally, I often feel jerked around by changes that appear to be made on a whim. Maybe it’s because they don’t do a good job of explaining why it benefits me. My suspicion is that it only benefits them.
  • I don’t trust them. Again, it might be a simple lack of communication. But I can’t help believing that they are selling all of my personal data (and yours) for big bucks.
  • The movie. If “The Social Network” is even close to accurate, Zuckerburg is a sociopath. And he runs his company accordingly, not caring about his customers or (now) investors. The lack of empathy is palpable. Which goes hand-in-hand with …
  • Arrogance.

That’s why so many of us are thrilled to see the stock underperform. Until now, the organization and its founder appeared to live charmed lives, whether they deserved it or not. So it’s nice to see a crack in the armor. They could use a dose of humility.

It all adds up to a lack of goodwill, which is one of the most important attributes of long-term business success. It doesn’t happen naturally; it has to be earned. Think of the companies that give you a nice warm feeling. Zappos. Nordstrom (for those who can afford it).  Trader Joe’s. Apple. Southwest Airlines. In-N-Out. Google. It’s because they treat you like a person, not just a credit card holder. And they go out of their way to show they care. That’s why we like them. Never underestimate the value of likeability, whether it’s a business or a politician or a spouse.

Not so Facebook. And the IPO is proof.

Brian Rouff serves as managing partner for Imagine Communications. Contact Brian at brouff@weareimagine.com.

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