Do you love Facebook, or need it?
Ted Leonsis, the former AOL executive and current owner of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, recently posted a blog entry comparing Facebook’s critical development crossroads to that of AOL. He challenges Facebook to make the hard decision of whether they want their brand to be loved (like Apple or Nike) or needed (like Comcast or Microsoft). He concedes that it’s possible to be both, but very few have been able to sustain being at the top for very long. He claims that AOL achieved both for about three years and that Google is currently the best example of being needed and loved.
This question parallels the question we have been asking lately: is Facebook just a (fun) timewaster or is it capable of truly becoming an enterprise productivity tool? Like being needed or loved, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to be both.
I agree with Ted Leonsis that this is an absolutely critical point for Facebook. The company has surely done an impressive job of building a brand that many people love. Facebook has even been able to withstand very public blunders and bad public relations. But, now Facebook needs to decide if it wants to continue to be a lovable brand or become a service that people need in their daily lives?