Facebook less popular than filing a tax return

People may be using Facebook more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they like it.

Despite the fact that it’s now the most widely-used website in the US, it has a lower satisfaction level than IRS e-filing sites.

Given that the site passed the 500 million-user mark last week, that’s one helluva lot of disgruntled people.

According to the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report, produced with ForeSee Results,  Facebook scored 64 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. 

This puts it in the bottom five percent of all measured private sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies – two industries with perennially terrible customer satisfaction levels.

“Facebook is a phenomenal success, so we were not expecting to see it score so poorly with consumers,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. 

“At the same time, our research shows that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the website, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience.  Compare that to Wikipedia, which is a non-profit that has had the same user interface for years, and it’s clear that while innovation is critical, sometimes consumers prefer evolution to revolution.”

It’s the first time ACSI has monitored social media sites, and it looked at Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube.  Twitter wasn’t included because so  many users access it through third party applications. 

Wikipedia leads the category at 77, followed by YouTube at 73, Facebook at 64 and MySpace at 63.

“Social media has become too big to ignore, so we added it to our list of e-business measures,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and professor of business at the University of Michigan.  “We are quite surprised to find that satisfaction with the category defies its popularity.”

Google fell by seven percent, but continued to top the portals and search engines category with a score of 80.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine had a score of 77, trailed by Yahoo at 76, AOL at 74 and Ask.com at 73.

“Google may be suffering from trying to be too many things to too many people, but it still has the most loyal following, with 80 percent of its users citing Google as their primary search engine,” said Freed. 

“That said, Bing’s first measure is impressive and could put some pressure on Google.  The new search engine is already making gains in market share and using clever marketing and advertising to distinguish itself from the market leader.”