Fortune telling on Mark Zuckerberg

    A month ago, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he wants to switch from a social network format for friends and family to a global social infrastructure format. Many trampled on it then - for abstract ideas, for contradictory desires, for a great contribution to the creation of problems that I now intend to solve ...

    But in fact, the February statement did not so much announce as consolidate the direction in which Mark has been going for more than a month. The inconsistency and confusion of the manifesto only says that he feels the direction in which it is time to change the network, but he still does not see specific paths. In general, for this, there is a construction of a “mission” in business terminology. This is something like a goal that cannot be expressed in specific directions, but you can try to invest in a certain image. Zuckerberg on the example of competitors, the main of which Snapchat, saw that users do not have much to do together - they need a window into the world. But Zuckerberg himself said: “if you use Facebook, you usually have 30 or 40 groups, of which only one or two really important ones that you actively use them. People are not looking for other people to communicate. ”

    If you look from the perspective of marketing, then Facebook has reached the limit of saturation of the main markets, the life cycle of the network has reached its peak. You can stay at the maximum (?) Of the audience for a long time, but the specific term depends on the success of competitors and their ability to respond to new requests and user habits, which Facebook will not be able to fully realize. This is a well-known leader's dilemma - there is a risk of losing by chasing changes early; and there is a risk of being late, giving the future functionality to competitors. It is only necessary to recognize him.

    Mark recognizes trends well, judging by the purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, but he does not launch very well. For several years, the transfer of users from the application to the messenger is an example of this. Perhaps it’s all about betting on a conservative audience retention with gradual growth, rather than growth through experimentation. Losing 1% of 2 billion users to attract even 10%, but out of the 100 million who showed interest in the new functionality in a separate application, a competitor is a luxury that a stock company cannot afford. For this reason, Mark cannot offer anything dramatic in his social network, but he brings the Internet and Facebook to poor and remote countries, and also expands the product line within his brand, quickly retreating if the audience does not pick them up. The usual scenario of behavior sits firmly in their heads and few people succeed in changing their behavior on the network. People do not join the entire functionality of the social network, but to a familiar audience and to a specific familiar way of dialogue.

    In recent years, one can recall such ideas of Mark as:

    • make the network a platform for news from the media and entertainment from media companies
    • make the network a video content provider
    • make the network a channel for online video reporting
    • opening of specialized groups for the sale of goods

    All these features work, but they are not “anchor”. Even a gaming hub or connecting applications does not bring any significant profit.

    So what about the new mission and manifesto?

    In a sense, a mission is a business plan in the maximum capacious form. No specifics, but employees receive a benchmark by which to verify many small decisions. The descent of the search for solutions to the level of employees is the goal of forming a new mission. Mark himself has no holistic perception. The manifesto turned out to be big, confusing and controversial. And it does not at all resemble a clear vision of new directions of development, although some common priorities are outlined there.

    Some ridiculed Mark for arrogance and ambition, others criticized for technological determinism. In particular, Mark was rewarded on this occasion by a rebuke from a rather famous writer on the topic of information technology Nicholas Carr. According to Nicholas, faith in short-sighted technology, and most importantly, no single infrastructure can unite in a single network such local communities as religious denominations or sports fans, which are so different with respect to the idea of ​​external communications. Not to mention the integration of the communication goals of xenophobic and criminal associations. Meanwhile, the involvement of various cultures and opinions in the dialogue is one of the 5 priorities of the mission of the social network.

    These priorities do not form a holistic product:

    • development of mutual support
    • security
    • awareness (break the cocoon of filters in which the user communicates within the network, mark fake news)
    • civic engagement
    • involvement of representatives of different cultures and views

    As far as I understand, any project manager or product scientist will criticize this plan as passionately as Mark got from publicists and sociologists. So the projects are not described, and the products do not start. The plan must be clarified, removed contradictions, draw the connection. Once again, the impression that Mark feels the direction, but nothing more.

    In many of the areas there is already activity. Alerts about the dangers and health of acquaintances, labeling of dubious news, suicide prevention - all this is being implemented. Mark has a lot of experiments - from a virtual stadium for joint viewing of competitions to a fresh ban on application developers, banks and advertisers from collecting information about user behavior. Here again we have to mention Snapchat. All its improvements become growth drivers, the Facebook audience is growing due to market power - the leader’s snowball involves familiar users of existing ones. Tired of trying to independently track and reproduce, Mark wants to involve the whole mass of his employees in the creative-copying generation of ideas.

    In management and marketing, they even came up with a special essence - the company's mission. This is the image that must be equaled in constant action. You can wean from specific instructions, but you need to give new ones, plus follow the processes of change. It is much safer to do this smoothly, leaving employees to gently and gradually change their work procedures.

    Two things seem interesting in the manifesto - the desire to become a window into the world and some practical steps to form groups. Namely, the development of medical groups uniting patients on the basis of similar diseases. Artificial intelligence may be given to help group members to test their symptoms. Read more Mark did not voice. However, taking into account another large-scale project - the intention to solve all diseases (of course I do not believe this) and some funding allocated by the Mark Foundation for medical research, such groups may just become the basis for the future telemedicine network, when the core of Facebook users reaches 50-60 years. In the end, if Mark doesn’t figure out how to rejuvenate his network and cede new generations to other tools, the medical platform will be a very valuable asset.

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