knows it’s got your attention. Every day, over a billion people check the site, thus contributing to its multibillion dollar revenues. Facebook doesn’t want you to forgo experiences in the real world, however. It’d be quite beneficial to them, in fact, if you went to something, then posted about it on Facebook.
In November, Facebook showed a message at the top of users’ News Feeds telling them not to miss the supermoon, a time where the moon was the closest it will be to Earth until 2034. It wasn’t the first time Facebook told its users of a big event, and it won’t be the last.
“We have been working for some time on creating little bits of experiences for people for them to share and experience the product that weâ€™ve been creating,” Briggs told Mashable.Â
But why’s Facebook’s CMO fielding questions about, um, Facebook’s product?
Because this project is marketing. It’s Facebook speaking to youâ€”they don’t just want to connect you to billions of other people. They want Facebook to be a resource in and of itself. At a time when people (especially younger users) are looking to other apps, it’s crucial for the social network to continue to find ways to stand out, attract attention, and now, appeal to usersâ€”not just through new product developments but new developments in their brand’s identity, too. It’s something they might benefit from. After all, this is a brand about to turn 13 years-old. How much do you know about it?
While you know Facebook for highlighting the anniversaries of friendships you forgot about, Google’s been celebrating Kurt Vonnegut, Nettie Stevens and Prince, by inspiring people to visit the homepage of Google.com since the launch of the in 1998.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s has quickly risen to fame, prominence, and general Cool-Kid Status partly by exciting people with a lifestyle brand it’s never been reluctant to assert. Snap Inc., from its home on the beach in California, touts an immediately iconic ghost mascot, sells sunglasses from , and has been sending fun video messages from Team Snapchat to its community via the app since way back in 2013.
The current challenge for Facebook, then, is clear.
“Itâ€™s brand, marketing, communications. This is about how Facebook, as a brand, shows up in the product. You can see that in the tone and manner and what we do with the artwork. We do see this in essence as part of marketing. How does Facebook represent itself?” Briggs said.
Creating Facebook’s Voice
Part of the continued rollout of events involves Facebook further defining its style and individuality to the worldâ€”the brand’s attitude towards people has simply, for the most part, been an incredibly neutral one. Now Facebook’s looking to add more depth to that.
“I think we have a better understanding now of: Whatâ€™s our voice?” Briggs said. “Whatâ€™s our tone? Artistically, whatâ€™s us? What should we show up for? And what do people really respond to and want to share with one another?”
The latest example is a holiday card. Starting Tuesday, all Facebook usersâ€”whether they like it, or notâ€”will see on the top of their News Feeds posts prompting them to “Share a Card.” After clicking on the prompt, they can swipe through 18 different graphics that they can then share on their own timelines or to friends.
The post might look simple, but each individual project and the overall initiative has been quite the investment for Facebook. The group at Facebook responsible for the program is called the Goodwill team. They oversee several projects across the network, including birthdays, Friends Day and anniversary videos and On This Day, when Facebook will surface memories to users.
“Facebook has been so good for so long at being a really effective utility for people to connect with people they care about, but thereâ€™s a certain point where we thought that we wanted to start seeing how do we come forward with more of a voice,” said Alicia Dougherty-Wold, content strategy lead at Facebook.
“With the holiday card experience in particular itâ€™s kind of like an amplified gift giving. In a sense weâ€™re giving a gift to the people that use Facebook in these really gem, beautifully constructed, cut in paper, ink drawn, amazingly crafted cards,” Dougherty-Wold said.
Facebook declined to disclose how big the Goodwill team is, but it involves a substantial cross-section of employees, including marketers, product managers, art directors, content strategists and copywriters.
“This is by hand,” Dougherty-Wold said, “from our hands to yours.” Delivered electronically, of course.
These experiences at the top of News Feed have been part of a longstanding program Facebook’s been testing on and off since 2014, but, Briggs said, “last year is when we started to ramp it up.”
One of the first projects was Year In Review videos from December 2014, but they drew distaste from the Facebook community. Mashable’s story from the time read, “Facebook apologizes after ‘Year in Review’ stirs up bad memories for some users.”
Facebook admitted to making a mistake, again. “We know that in the very first experiences we didnâ€™t always get that right, and we worked very closely with some of the people who had bigger reactions or negative experiences… [We] have tried to proceed more carefully to add more compassionate communication into these experiences over time,” Dougherty-Wold said.
In early 2015, Facebook created the Goodwill team. They’ve since been working diligently to improve the process. Following the backlash from the first Year In Review videos, the team added the ability to edit videos, introduced a system to memorialize accounts in February 2015, and created a feature to help with breakups in November 2015.
“We looked to signal around those very things to make sure we arenâ€™t showing content that is off putting. Now you can edit it. And, the last thing, if you donâ€™t want to share it, donâ€™t share it,” Briggs said.
“If you donâ€™t want to share it, donâ€™t share it.”
According to Facebook, the intention of the feature is to bring something “useful and interesting” to the top of the News Feed. To decide on what moments to show, at a time when millions of posts are shared each day on the social network, the team looked at what’s already popular.
The supermoon post, for example, was inspired by the way so many of Facebook’s users already post photos of sunsets, sunrises and the moon. “We thought: let’s amplify something that people are already sharing,” Dougherty-Wold said.
New Year, New Chance
For 2017, Facebook has a calendar of planned events, but the team’s also prepped itself for what it calls “rapid response” moments. The first time the team ever created one was to honor the death of famed boxer and activist Muhammad Ali.
“We wanted to be careful for how it would be received so we just shipped it to the United States,” said Molly Shah, a product marketing manager at Facebook.
Why Ali, when so many other celebrities died in 2016? “What we have been doing right now as weâ€™re relaunching this program is trying to think carefully about how this can just be the most meaningful, and I think weâ€™ve been proceeding in a cautious way of just being thoughtful as we proceed into that,” Dougherty-Wold said.
“Itâ€™s early,” Briggs said.
Facebook makes choices. These choices are, unsurprising for a tech company, determined by data. Similar to how the company chose to enact Safety Check after the Paris attacks last year and not previously for an act of terrorism, the company selected Muhammad Ali for this particular feature.
“We look at signals in products, like the possibility of dismiss rates and share rates. If something isnâ€™t well-received, we wonâ€™t repeat it,” Shah said.
The ability Facebook has to notify users of a talked-about event occurring in the present moment, be it a scientific phenomenon or a celebrity death, is powerful. Facebook helped more than 2 million people register to vote ahead of the recent U.S. elections, by running a campaign at the top of the News Feed, as announced by Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Events, Power, and Scale
By creating events, Facebook does more than simply service its users (and convince them to engage with the social network more). It’s also a demonstration of the size, scale, and potential of the monolithic network’s reach. Thisâ€”Facebook’s outsized power and scaleâ€”is exactly what advertisers envy, covet, and spends millions to achieve.
“Brands, news outlets and service providers all have reason to seek the distribution and the ‘referral effect’ of a social network’s audience,” Joe Anthony,Â partner atÂ Gregory FCA, a public relations firm, told Mashable.
“Media brands will recognize more fully that they need Facebook’s distribution as much as Facebook needs the credible content of those leading organizations to keep their users on app or on page,” Anthony continued.
Is this a sign of Facebook building itself even more towards becoming its own media company?
Not so fast, said Dougherty-Wald (echoing a common refrain of the company). “The intention is really to reach people where they are,” she explained. “If they are celebrating and if itâ€™s a meaningful moment in a particularly country or globally, we want to be celebrating with them. If thereâ€™s a great loss, we want to be expressing how we feel it as well.”
For now, these messages won’t be an everyday occurrence on Facebook. “It’s probably two or three times a month,” Shah said, noting that the frequency of these messages will also depend on how often you use Facebook, and may be more frequent for users in the United States, at least initially.
But regardless of how much you like it, or don’t, you can’t unfriend Facebook. And Facebook wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I think it’s a good statement of investment for caring for people and wanting to express that to our community,” Dougherty-Wold said. “I expect people to see that the quality of the experience should only be getting better over the next year.”
“It’s been a lot of work, and a lot of things to consider to get here,” Briggs said.
Source byÂ mashable…