I’ve been a reader of Fast Company Magazine from issue number one. I’ve always found the smart blend of writing about small, entrepreneurial minded businesses; large entrepreneurial and innovative businesses and a great mix of in-between (individuals, politicians, culture and more) gives the audience rich information from month to month.
From the very beginning I belonged to the Fast Company, Company of Friends (CoF), a networking group, hosted and launched by Fast Company. The CoF was
is geographically segment by cities/regions all over the US and the world.
In these groups you could find a job, get a solution to a hiring dilemma, post a job offer, discuss a business concern and more importantly find smart, like minded people to help you grow your business. Through this simple email discussion list, I met dozens and dozens of great people – whose friendship I cherish and have forged long lasting relationships and partnerships with many.
But Fast Company got the social networking buzz over the last few months and destroyed what was a great thing.
Instead of giving users what they wanted, a simple way to network and discuss (via email), Fast Company launched a new social media platform where one could have profiles, write blogs and do all the cheesy things that FaceBook, MySpace and LInkedIn enable you to do.
I understand why Fast Company did this – to increase page views and content on their site and in some way to build a community. However, from several CoF members I’ve talked to – what we all want was what we had: a simple way to communicate – which Fast Company has now destroyed.
Evolving your technology is great and must needed, but always consider your customers/employees – those affected by your change. What they want and what works for them.
Does this mean “the customer is always right”? Of course not. But this does mean that if all your customers prefer to email you questions and you insist that all questions must now go through a web portal, and then if all your customers are not using the web portal and still insisting on what they want – YOU should take a step back and re-consider.
Either you have not done a good job of selling the new solution. You are wrong. Or you need to offer a combination of communication options.
Fast Company thought that since many of their media peers are building social networking sites – that they should too. Maybe they should. But this does not mean they should have replaced the CoF email based discussion list in the process.