What’s on Mark’s Mind

Zuck's first public Q.&A.

Zuck’s first public Q.&A.

Mark Zuckerberg spent about an hour recently, engaging with Facebook users from company headquarters, answering questions gathered in advance. If you have the time you may watch the video here.
I apologize for losing track of the site where the following excerpt of his remarks appeared but I guarantee the content is exactly as copied from the site. So here is Mark in his own words:

“So, with that said, the…and I think it’s also important to kind of keep in mind that Facebook is this huge service, and more than a billion people use it. So even though there are these shifts on a day-to-day or a month-to-month basis, and you’ll find that your business might get more or less traffic, it’s probably still overall a very good, organic and free way to reach and communicate with your customers overall. So I don’t want to lose track of that.”

“Now, in terms of what’s going on here, there are two primary trends that I think are affecting the organic reach of fan pages. The first is that as time goes on, people are just sharing more things on Facebook, so each person who’s consuming content in their News Feed, they might read a hundred stories from their friends and pages that day, and as their friends share more content, and as they follow more pages, and as those pages share more content, there’s just more competition. The average person – there are about fifteen hundred stories a day that they could see in News Feed, and they only see about a hundred, so that means that less than ten percent of what people are posting, the person will actually get to in their feed. And that’s important in terms of thinking about how we design News Feed and how we give people the best experience, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind – just that there are these two trends: one is that the population of the community on Facebook is growing, so you’ll reach more people that way, but there’s also more competition for what they see, so only the highest quality content is actually going to get through and shown to those people, so you really need to focus on continuing to make sure that you’re pushing out good content and communicating effectively with your customers.”

That point about people only seeing the highest quality content is certainly debatable, and there is plenty of high quality content that never gets the reach.
Zuckerberg continued, “The other thing is a more philosophical way that we think about the products that we build. So News Feed – our goal is to build the perfect, personalized newspaper for every person in the world. We think about the way the newspaper media industry has evolved over time, and there are lots of different newspaper or media channels that people can plug into, and they tend not to be personalized. You can read your local newspaper or a national newspaper or a TV station, and they’re kind of showing the same thing to hundreds of thousands or millions of people. What we’re trying to do with Facebook and News Feed in particular is personalize it, and show you the stuff that’s going to be the most interesting to you whether that’s global news through Pages that you might be following or things that are really personal to you, so updates about your friends. One of my friends just this morning had a baby, and I learned about that the baby is healthy on News Feed, and it made me really happy. And that might be relevant to me, but not relevant to a lot of other people in the world, and that’s one thing that we try to deliver through News Feed.”

“So there’s this inherent conflict in the system though, which is are we trying to optimize News Feed to give each person – all of you guys the best experience when you’re reading or are we trying to help businesses just reach as many people as possible? And in every decision that we make, we optimize for the first. We’re making it so that for the people who we serve, who use Facebook, and are reading News Feed get the very best experience that they can. And that means that if a business is sharing content that’s going to be useful for them, then we’ll show that, but that means that if the business is sharing content that isn’t going to be useful for them, we may not show that because it’s probably more important that they learn about their friend who had a baby and their baby is healthy.”

Of course, those two scenarios are pretty much the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there’s a lot more that comes into question in the middle.
“So that’s an important guiding principle for how we think about this stuff,” he continued. “And as the products continue to develop, there’s just gonna be more people sharing more things, and we’re going to continue to try to do our best at showing the best things that we can, understanding that there’s no way that a person will ever take the time to go through every one of the 1,500 things that are shared with them every single day. That’s kind of how I think about organic reach, and there are a lot of pages that are doing quite successfully, and their organic reach is growing quite a bit because they’re delivering content to people that they really want.”

“So if you’re a business owner and you’re thinking about how to use your free Page on Facebook, I would just focus on trying to publish really good content that’s going to be compelling to your customers and the people who are following you.”

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