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January 17, 2018
Why You Should Be Wary of Facebook's Latest Changes
 
It’s Zuckerberg’s world. We must accept, adjust and suck up to his desired zigs and zags. The announcement of yet another change in the composition of the Facebook News Feed reminds us that Zuck & Company are curating our experiences, our information flow and maybe even social and psychological aspects of our lives.
 
The question is … where’s our input?
 
Maybe, his motives are pure and his most recent decision derives from excessive complaints about unwanted publisher content, too many ads and too cutesy and half-right Facebook scrapbooks and videos intended to stoke our Facebook addictions. The data rich company surely has the facts that engagement and repeat viewing falls as irrelevant and annoying content increases. But do data-driven inferences reflect our genuine experience or desired expectations?
 
For brands, the new moves are the latest in a series of financial policy decisions to make audiences less available at higher prices. Facebook initially encouraged brands to accumulate fans and likes. Then they gated and monetized access to the audiences brands built up. Next, Facebook created segmented and custom audience segments and channels that were accessed at premium prices to precisely target best prospects and most likely brand advocates. This new move to throttle back access will increase demand and prices for advertising.
 
The Big Brother, guardian angel posturing of Zuckerberg & Company hardly rings true. In his latest missive, Zuck says, “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use but also good for people’s well-being.” Really? In the wake of criticism about fake news, foreign manipulation, hate content and potential psychological or behavioral damage from social media usage, Facebook is now focused on our well-being.
 
But it feels like Facebook is focused on its own well-being by reconstructing the user experience to yield fewer ads at higher margins. Maybe I’m too skeptical. But Facebook has clothed its business strategy in benign and philanthropic terms again and again as it racked up users and profits and outdistanced competitors.
 
Given the rich data sets that grow exponentially daily, why can’t Facebook give its users the choice of a personalized News Feed composition. Ask us what we want; how much friends and family, how much news, how much video, how many ads and from whom.  Don’t just lump us into segments and assume that what we rolled over, liked or clicked on previously is predictive of what we want next.
 
Facebook has the technology to make the News Feed and the entire experience more personalized, useful, relevant and easy to use. Why not make that the objective of the next News Feed iteration?
 

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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