Zuckerberg’s open letter calls for more Groups, more features, and AI moderators
This week I have just one topic for you, but it’s a huge one: Mark Zuckerberg’s open letter.
Here’s the TLDR; (it’s a loooong letter):
- Facebook has a responsibility to the global community to start attacking problems like terrorism, climate change and pandemics, and it’s strongly pro-globalization.
For the first time ever, he seems to be open to the fact that Facebook is creating echo-chambers for people who see and read only opinions and news that agree with their worldview – and the negative consequences that those bubbles create.
- Zucks says that he believes that the core of human connection happens through communities like local clubs and organizations. He says that membership in those groups in declining and has been going down for decades, so it’s up to Facebook to stand in as the platform that re-ignites those communities.
- To be successful, those communities must be (in his words): Supportive, Safe, Informed, Civically-Engaged, and Inclusive.
What the next 1000 words or so got around to explaining is that, right now, there are millions of vibrant communities taking place within Facebook Groups. He gives a few key examples, but then points out the limited features that Groups offer:
He talks about whole schools, political systems and support groups that communicate exclusively through Groups, or similar technology.
He then gets into what the opportunities are for Group-features, which can be roughly categorized in the following ways:
- Increased admin privileges (think: Forum admins)
- Better chat capabilities
- Tiered Groups, with sub-Groups. He gives the example of a school that may have 1 Group now, but could use a variety of different communication communities
- He then compares the leap to online communities that will connect us to the move from tribes to cities to nations.
Finally, he talks at length about the increased need for monitoring for offensive or dangerous content and the positive role that AI could play, especially in regional content. Examples include nudity standards in Western Europe being much different than the Middle East, and important Black Lives Matter videos that may include violence versus recruiting videos for hate groups.
What will all of that mean for us in our jobs in the near term?
Expect big feature additions from Facebook very soon, especially in the ways that it uses Groups.
We’ll likely see the tiered groups feature roll out very soon, and a push towards increased adoption of the Group-chat capability.
Don’t expect that Pages will be getting a lot of new toys, but the move is a key indicator for all of us, and one that we’ve been talking about for a while: Social Media is no longer just the news feed. In fact, the widening majority of social media is now happening away from the watchful eye of the feed. Instead, it’s happening in clusters, where people can chat and share in a much more natural way: With their communities.
That means that we, as brands, have to stop using words like “community” and “engagement” to describe this fluffy ideas like Followers and Likes, and instead start finding ways that we can legitimately be offering value to these groups of people.
The winners will be brands like The Juice Truck, Tight Club, Brainstation and Unbounce that are legitimately building relationships, making people feel like they’re a part of something, and contributing not for clicks and likes, but because it’s an integral part of what makes them who they are.
Each of us can do the same (this email is one of my humble attempts to offer value and contribute), but short-term campaigns, or Ads spends aren’t going to cut it.
Zuckerberg’s letter, and the underlying trend, is great news for the ones who create stuff worth sharing as second nature. It’s terrible news for the brands skating by on pretty, soul-less photos and hashtag-hacks.