Facebook’s earnings call laid out a vision for the platform’s future that’s very different than its present state. CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared an update that Facebook plans to start relying less on the News Feed to generate revenue and plans to encourage users to spend less time there as well. The News Feed has been an albatross, albeit a very profitable one, for Facebook throughout 2018 as its been used by foreign agents to spread misinformation, clickbait websites to generate clicks and governments to spread lies and propagate xenophobia.
Now, there are signs that the News Feed is at least being talked about as being potentially on its way out. That’s a lot of hedging of bets for one sentence but with good reason. The News Feed is incredibly profitable, and Facebook’s made a reputation for itself on Wall Street that its able to not only consistently meet expectations but, more often than not, exceed them. But Facebook needs to change, and it seems to know that’s the case. It’s lost control of the News Feed, and it appears that no matter how much AI and even human curation Facebook throws at it, it can’t be controlled.
The Post-Feed World is About Control and Intimacy
Facebook claims its mission is to connect people, but instead of connecting people, the News Feed gave everyone a pedestal—a pedestal to share their own thoughts, a pedestal to share the thoughts of others, a pedestal that was meant for good but was all too often abused for ill. Getting out of the News Feed means emphasizing other products, specifically Stories, Watch and Messenger, each of which gives Facebook more control.
Stories are ephemeral and limited in reach. They disappear and are shared amongst friends. Stories aren’t about the pedestal, they’re about sharing the moment.
Watch is curated. Watch content is carefully managed by Facebook, and Watch is really where Facebook is placing its biggest bet for next year. It wants and needs Watch to be successful, not only because it greatly expands Facebook’s ad inventory but also because it creates an environment that Facebook can all but guarantee is brand safe.
Messenger is intimate. It’s conversations between friends. Again, the pedestal is removed.
Get There Before Facebook
Advertisers are investing incredible amounts into Facebook and its properties, and what Facebook revealed in its Q3 earnings was that it does not see its future in the News Feed. Its future lies in Stories, Watch, Messenger and other Facebook channels. If that’s where Facebook’s eyes are, marketers’ should be as well because Facebook will tip the scales. Brush up on these features and channels. Start investing now while experimentation can take place because when Facebook tips the scales, it will be time to leave the News Feed behind.