On Facebook’s most recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg shared some fascinating thoughts about how he understands the core purpose of Facebook and how that will impact the platform in the future. Here’s what he said:
Video is growing incredibly quickly, and that goes across both social content and more passive public consumption of content. And they create different dynamics in the system, and I think that’s an important thing to understand.
When your friend posts something and you get to engage with it, it might inform you and entertain you. But you also, if you interact with it, you’re building a relationship with that person or you feel closer to that person, and that is a really important part of what social networking is supposed to do. Whereas when you engage with public content, you might get informed or be entertained, but it’s not necessarily increasing social capital in the same way or building relationships between people.
We’re going to focus a lot more on helping people share videos of their moments in their lives. Because in a lot of ways, I think if you take a video of yourself and your family out trick-or-treating, that’s more engaging than a photo and a better representation of that than writing it out in text.
Overall, I would say not all time spent is created equal. … What we really want to go for is time well spent. And what the research that we found shows is that when you’re actually engaging with people and having meaningful connections, that’s time well spent, and that’s the thing that we want to focus on.
I have said it a dozen times, but I’ll say it again: Facebook’s primary goal is to make money, despite all of the lip service Zuckerberg and others give to “community building.” I don’t doubt that Zuckerberg and co. want to build community, but I do doubt that building community is their ultimate goal.
Social Capital > Information and Entertainment
Based on Zuckerberg’s comments in this latest earnings call, it also seems like they are more concerned in building “social capital” among its users rather than informing or entertaining them.
That’s understandable. Facebook is a social network after all, not Google News or Netflix, or other platforms that simply seek to inform or entertain.
It is also convenient that focusing on social capital and increasing the need for publishers to purchase ads can both be accomplished with the same action. In the future, Facebook is going to prioritize content from Profiles over Pages more and more.
It’s simple: this change accomplishes both of Facebook’s goals. It allows them to emphasize social capital among people who know each other, which limits the reach of Pages and leads to more ad sales.
How This Affects Strategy
So, how does this affect the strategy on our Pages? In a number of ways, to be sure, but primarily, we should be doing everything we can to be building community with the people who like our pages. How do we do that? We create engaging content that addresses the felt needs of our audience in such a way that they like, comment, or share it.
The tried-and-true way to adapt to all of the changes at Facebook remains the same: create valuable content that addresses the felt needs of your target audience.