Mitch Joel is a marketing and communications visionary, interactive expert, and community leader. He is also an author, journalist, broadcaster, and passionate speaker who connects with people worldwide by sharing his insights on business transformation, who has been named one of the top 100 online marketers in the world, and who was awarded the highly prestigious “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” award. Marketing Magazine dubbed him the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” and called him, “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries.”
In a recent story for Maclean’s, Joel delves into the reasons Mark Zuckerberg has for retooling how Facebook’s feed will work going forward. He offers a few compelling explanations: that it makes us unhappy as it currently exists, cleaning it up will be good for Facebook’s bottom line, and that they might even have an altruistic driver—that they want us to have a high quality experience.
Here are some highlights from Joel’s piece:
Social makes us unhappy
Facebook knew it had a problem. Zuckerberg himself cites research that has been done (by Facebook and other sources) about the impact of social media on the population, and the results are not great. In December, Facebook admitted in a post titled, “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?” that it poses a mental health risk: “…when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information—reading but not interacting with people—they report feeling worse afterward…researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison—and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering.”
Cleaning up has been good for business to date
Facebook’s throttling of business content has actually driven their stock price north for many quarters to a US$526.33 billion market cap (and it does not look to be slowing down in a media world where ad spend is expected to hit about $580 billion with 4 per cent growth from last year, and the dollars continue to shift towards Facebook).
This is the true conundrum. Does Facebook see advertising revenue as their core business model or are they realizing that the pervasive flow of fake news in recent years is just another form of bad advertisement (like male enhancement pills or get-rich-quick schemes)? With that, is Facebook realizing that more ads (and, in turn, more corporate content that is being paid to be in the news feed) are not really helping Facebook accomplish its overarching business goal?
Facebook wants you to have more quality social time
Zuckerberg concluded in his post that “by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”
Companies will no longer be able to simply pay to reach any audience, by the sound of this. Companies will be able to pay to reach an audience that cares, but it will cost these businesses much more to do that, in terms of paying for access to such a premium audience and paying (in time, effort and energy) to create something that will resonate with this audience.
It’s definitely worth reading the full article for a complete overview of where Facebook is going and what it means for businesses.