This year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has resolved to “fix the company,” indicating that users are soon going to see much less News Feed content from other publishers and advertisers and more from people who are in their friends circles.
Though it sounds major, it resonates with changes that the company has announced in the past. Is it going to be different this time? It certainly looks that way. To be specific, Zuckerberg said in a post yesterday that we’ll be seeing “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
What Zuckerberg wants is more quality interaction, which he warns could lead to less time spent on the platform and a drop in other engagement metrics.
Is this move likely to hit Facebook at the top line? It’s definitely possible, especially since the company has been growing its quarterly revenues at or above mid double digits for a long time now.
If advertiser, media and business content is de-prioritized on the News Feed, which Zuckerberg says will be the starting point for the changes, then it’s quite likely that advertisers will move away from the platform.
But there could be a hidden ace in the hand Zuckerberg is holding, and it’s something nobody is talking about when referencing this new major change that’s been announced: Instagram.
Being a purely visual medium that appeals to millennials and Gen Z users, Instagram is already showing the kind of growth that Facebook did back in 2012 when it went public.
Is Zuckerberg now using this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone? The first stone will enhance the Facebook platform’s quality of experience, while the second will drive even more advertisers to Instagram, which already has the highest engagement levels of all social media apps outside China.
That might be an extremely skeptical view of what’s happening, but can you blame us? Facebook – and Zuckerberg – have long been known as opportunistic entities focused solely on growing big and making money. This sudden change of heart is difficult to accept without a generous pinch of salt, which is why we’re even talking about the hidden agenda here.
The one thing that could make this a legitimate bid to take Facebook back to its roots is the fact that Zuckerberg still holds the majority of voting stock in the company. That’s what allowed him to fend off Yahoo’s acquisition bid in 2006. It also allowed him to drop $1 billion on Instagram, which wasn’t making any money at the time but is now one of Facebook’s strongest revenue pillars.
What that means is that Zuckerberg doesn’t need a hidden agenda in Instagram to justify any move that he makes on behalf of the company.
Does that make this change a legitimate “moment of enlightenment” for Facebook’s CEO? Not necessarily, but we find the need to be fair and argue both sides of the case.
In the end, what Zuckerberg decides to do is what Facebook will decide to do. The company is structured that way, and no amount of investor pressure can change that hard fact.
As for whether or not this is a good thing, that’s for users to decide. After all, the whole point of this big decision is to return the Facebook user experience to what it once was: a truly personal and social one.
Below is Zuckerberg’s post on Facebook talking about the upcoming changes, which he says will take “months to make its way through all our products.”
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