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Faced with stiff competition, Facebook just can't satisfy – report

And that's before it started inducing moodswings for science

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The latest data on social networks from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows Facebook is about the least popular social network – but that doesn't seem to stop people using the site.

"Even with improvements across the board, e-business—and social media in particular - doesn't do well in terms of user satisfaction," says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder.

"It is rare to see strong growth in an industry with such low customer satisfaction. However, several of the major players seem to have realized that their long-term prospects may be in jeopardy unless they do better."

Pinterest was top of the satisfaction ratings, ahead of Wikipedia and YouTube, with Google+ making a strong showing in fourth. Bottom of the pile was Facebook and LinkedIn, although both sites had improved their satisfaction ratings on last year's survey.

That may not last however. Facebook's satisfaction rating rose eight per cent on the year, but that was based on data taken in May – well before the social network admitted that it had manipulated the emotions of 700,000 users by playing about with their news feeds.

Overall, the results for social media were disappointing. The sector ranked fourth lowest in the US for customer satisfaction, ahead of airlines, subscription TV, and internet service providers. Cramming sites full of advertising was a major turn-off for users is largely to blame for this.

"Advertising continues to be a drag on the social media customer experience, but it is hard to tell if consumers are getting used to the advertising or if these companies have been able to offset disruption with tweaks to the rest of the experience," said ACSI director David VanAmburg.

"I'm surprised at the movement at the bottom of the industry, but it remains to be seen if these scores can hold as social media continues to monetize its users."

The ACSI data also covered search engines and portals, and these proved much more popular with users. While customers only rated social media satisfaction at 71 per cent, this rose to 80 per cent for search, driven by people being happy with Google.

User satisfaction with the Chocolate Factory's core search business rose 8 per cent to 81 per cent overall, driving growth in the sector. The data had bad news for Bing, however – which fell 4 per cent – and worse for Yahoo!, which saw satisfaction ratings fall 7 per cent – the biggest drop since ACSI started collecting data on the company.

"A sharp increase in search engine advertising contributed to a drop in user satisfaction last year, but Google's latest change to the way ads are labeled, along with its focus on the mobile user experience, may be steps in the right direction," said VanAmburg.

"Google has some of the most satisfied customers in all of ACSI, and given its enormous lead in search engines, it is unlikely that the competition is going to dislodge Google's very loyal customer base." ®

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