Once I linked my two accounts, it took all of 5 seconds for me to realize it may have been a bad idea.
A couple days later….
Oh boy… this isn’t what I wanted at all.
It comes down to two things, and they’re not limited to the Spotify integration, but the entire “Read, Watch, Listen” push that Facebook is making (my concerns apply equally to any of the auto-sharing mechanisms Facebook is rolling out). I definitely want the ability to easily share, but what I don’t want are 1) too much clutter, and 2) no context.
More data doesn’t mean a better experience
The last thing Facebook needs is a mechanism to pump more information into people’s news feed. In fact, as the organization of Google+ would suggest, we’re getting to a point where the preference is for easier ways to filter information. Instead Facebook dumps a lot of inconsequential updates into the Ticker and leaves you to sort it out (or worse, they try to do it for you using some magic algorithm – like I trust that…).
The other thing that’s missing is how to use that data. Look again at how the Spotify integration works within my news feed. I listened to nearly 50 songs in a couple days – am I to expect my friends to sort through that entire list and see what they like? Doubtful. More likely is that would be ignored, like all those Farmville updates that plagued profiles for a while.
Just because I consume something doesn’t mean I endorse it
But the biggest issue I have is that there’s no context for my consumption of that music. I use Spotify to not only listen to my favorites but also to test out new artists or songs. However, the way it’s presented in Facebook, it appears as though I’m endorsing everything I’m listening to. And that list of songs inherently gets linked to my online persona, whether or not it’s an accurate representation of who I am.
What I would much rather have is a mechanism within Spotify to share the songs I want to – and provide commentary around that. For example, maybe while testing out a new artist, I come across something I love. That’s when I want to broadcast to my network what I found. Right now there’s no way for someone to know that I loved that artist, and hated the other five that popped up right next to it.
For Facebook, all of this data about what I’m consuming is great for their marketing partners. But it’s not great for the user. I had 50 songs come through in a couple days. My friends presumably see that, plus the 50 (or more or less) songs from the hundreds of other people in their networks. Now we’ve got thousands of songs being put out there with nothing more than the fact that someone listened to them. Helpful? Not really.
What I’d rather see is that data captured behind the scenes and presented to me in an aggregate way so I can get a glimpse at what is going on within my network. If 30 of my friends are listening to a particular song, I may check it out. But I won’t notice that kind of trend by seeing individual updates.
Or better yet, how about I self-select 10 or so friends (or however many you want) that I identify as influential to me. These are the people that I look to for tips on what’s hot (because let’s face it, all friends in our network aren’t created equal). Then I could see the aggregate activity of my entire network as well as the activity of my most influential friends.
Not only would this create a more useful user experience, it would also help Facebook and marketers to identify the true influentials (because they’d be identified by users) and provide an avenue for optimal micro-targeting.
I would also like to be able to filter the information that’s shared back to Facebook. The auto share is pushing the privacy envelope too far for me. I don’t have privacy concerns when I’m ultimately the one that decides to share something. But when it’s shared on my behalf, without a way for me to filter it, I simply won’t use it.
And this is Facebook’s biggest potential problem. People won’t use this. I got creeped out by Spotify after only a few days. And I was pumped to use that! No way I’m giving Facebook the ability to share every article I read, every mouse click I make. Nope, no thank you.
There’s some great potential here, but some serious checks and balances need to be put in place before it’s usable, in my opinion.
UPDATE: Spotify has rolled out a private listening feature that allows users to not publish every last song to their Facebook profile. That’s good. Now I can keep Spotify connected to Facebook, which I like because it allows me to see friends’ playlists (which they control whether it is shared or not). Nice job Spotify, you reacted well to the outcry and provided an acceptable solution. We’re BFF’s once again.