Something huge happened on June 22nd… Facebook changed its mission statement. So what? you say. Big deal? Well, it is. Seriously. Especially for marketers.
If you remember, Facebook initially set out to make "the world more open and connected." With two billion monthly active users, we can confidently say: mission accomplished.
So why’d they change their mission statement, then? Some might say that it worked too well.
One of the unintended consequences of a world that’s more open and more connected is the question of what it’s more open and more connected to. Last year’s controversial election, and Facebook’s hand in influencing it with ‘fake news’, paired with the fact that Facebook Live has been used to stream extreme acts of violence—all told, nearly 50 of them to date—are proof that the social networking platform had some real soul-searching to do.
Thus, their new mission statement: "To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."
This marks a pretty substantial shift from Facebook’s initial emphasis on the individual to a new one—the community. One might say that Facebook is growing up as a company, taking responsibility for the power and influence it has. In his new manifesto, Mark Zuckerberg stressed the importance of doing more with Facebook.
"It's important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together."
Having a brand-spanking-new mission statement is all well and good, but without a way to execute it, it is, as they say, a bunch of hot air. Which is why Facebook is looking to further develop its Group feature.
Now, group administrators will be equipped with Group Insights, which will give them real-time access to growth, engagement, and membership metrics in their specific communities. They’ll be able to more efficiently sort through membership requests with a filtering tool and have more control over “bad actors”. This internal policing is one way Facebook is looking to address all that inappropriate content floating around out there. Finally, Facebook is experimenting with a tool called group-to-group linking, which will allow administrators to recommend similar groups and encourage stronger relationships between related communities.
So, what does this mean for digital marketers?
Right now, given how early in the game it is, not much. But expect to see some dramatic changes in the way we do business. For one, while marketers will have access to these tightly knit, well-defined groups, the onus will be on them to provide meaningful content that’s extremely specific. In other words relevant, quality content.
We also predict a change in the way companies access their customer bases. Instead of focusing on targeting individuals somewhere in the customer life cycle, companies will be investing in building communities of empowered and engaged people. Not consumers. And that distinction, while not necessarily a new one, will become even more important as we start addressing groups of people and relating to them through topics and issues that matter most to them.
Lastly, and this is something Facebook (and Google) has been looking at addressing for some time now—contextual ad space. This isn’t necessarily tied to Facebook’s mission statement, per se, but it is related. Sort of.
Recently, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson blasted Facebook. In a talk hosted at the Cannes Lions, he said: "in Mark Zuckerberg’s first post about fake news, Facebook managed to serve an ad for fake news next to it. It’s a joke. It’s out of control. There are all sorts of creepy, borderline fraudulent middlemen, this thicket of strange companies, tracking pixels on everything. You couldn’t think of a more dangerous environment for a brand."
Optimistically, Facebook will begin to address these ad space issues. This means if you advertise using the platform, you won’t run the risk of your advertisement appearing, say, next to a jihadi video.
If you have anything to add, maybe your own insights into where you see things going, feel free to comment. If you disagree with anything we’ve said, doubly feel free to comment. We love a good lively debate.