In a stunning about turn, Mark Zuckerberg published a privacy manifesto that essentially changes Facebook as we know it.
By moving to end-to-end encrypted messaging, the public newsfeed that everyone has been using for the last 10+ years has basically been side-stepped.
While Zuckerberg states that “public Facebook” will continue in some form, he sees private, one-to-one or one-to-few conversations as the new standard.
If this is the case, the implications for all users of Facebook – individuals, brands, advertisers, and more – could be huge.
In this week’s episode of Marketing on Tap, we look at why Zuckerberg may be initiating this pivot, what encrypted messaging means for the future of the platform, and how businesses can get ahead of the curve before the chance is gone.
Settle back and enjoy this week’s topic, brought to you in the usual unscripted manner that you’ve come to expect when Sam and Danny take the mic.
If you prefer to listen on the go, the audio version of this week’s episode can be listened to below.
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This week’s beer is Special Pale Ale from Wellington Brewery.
Intro: Join marketers, authors, and craft beer enthusiasts, Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown for a hoppy discussion on all things digital over a cheeky pint or two. Topics on the menu include influence marketing, social media, brand advocacy, and a taste testing of real world digital marketing campaigns. Some are smooth, others don’t sit so well. Don’t forget to stick around for last call, where the boys will serve you up one final marketing take away that you can go out and apply in the real world. It’s a great primer before the weekend.
Sam Fiorella: Welcome back everybody to another episode of Marketing on Tap. My name is Sam Fiorella, this is my mate Danny Brown. Today Danny, I wanna talk about Facebook. They have been much maligned in the media lately, they got lawsuits happening all over the place, inquiries happening all over the place. And I think that’s led to a pretty stunning about face this week from Mark Zuckerberg, who put out this manifesto that lays out the future of the company, or at least what the direction that he wants the company to go at. And he’s suggesting in this that their going to be moving towards a encrypted one to one messaging platform which everybody is reading as they’re getting rid of the newsfeed, which is … this is pretty shocking stuff here, because their entire business is that newsfeed, and advertising through that newsfeed, and collecting data about us through that newsfeed. If they start moving into a one to one communication platform that’s going to turn our industry, at least on the social media side, on its ear – let alone their industry.
Sam Fiorella: So I wanna explore that a little bit today, and see where is this going. Might they actually do this? Are they being pressured into it and what does it mean for marketing? And maybe just us as human beings, as general society, what’s this going to do?
Danny Brown: Okay.
Sam Fiorella: So that’s what we’re talking about today, stay tuned I think it’s going to be a really fascinating conversation, but as always…
Danny Brown: We have some beer! Which is nice, this like a … a new one. I don’t think we’ve had a Wellington on this show-
Sam Fiorella: I don’t believe we have no.
Danny Brown: I can’t see by all these cans, so who knows. We may have.
Sam Fiorella: We can’t see much of anything at this point.
Danny Brown: But any who, this is Wellington’s Special Pale Ale, or SPA to everybody that drinks it. It’s roasted malt, with subtle apricot aromas. So it doesn’t smell to hoppy and I think Robert might like it, and it also has malt flavored beer, it’s got biscuit and caramel flavors up front. It’s pretty low ABV, 4.5% so session able and IBU 22. So really, this should be a really easy drinking beer. But we shall soon find out. Robert’s back on Robert cam this week.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, so that’s why, for those of you who have been following along, we’ve had Anna for the last little while visiting us, because Anna likes a real beer. And so Robert is here today, so we’ve got a lighter beer. Although this might be a little… Actually you’re okay with a red beer right?
Danny Brown: I smelled caramel, definitely caramel and malt there.
Sam Fiorella: Alright, let’s take a look. Cheers guys!
Danny Brown: Cheers!
Sam Fiorella: We’ll get the … I’ll have the Robert cam going.
Danny Brown: Cheers there, Rob.
Sam Fiorella: Hold on Rob.
Danny Brown: That is approved, first week back and it’s Robert approved.
Sam Fiorella: I like that. Alright well cool.
Danny Brown: Good job Wellington. And they’re up in … Where are Wellington anyway? They’re up Guelph. Guelph, Ontario. I can never remember. Guelph, Ontario.
Sam Fiorella: Well this is your old hunting ground isn’t it? Didn’t you go to university up there?
Sam Fiorella: Waterloo, alright close enough. Okay so let’s get back to this. Zuckerberg, presented a completely and entirely new philosophy on where Facebook is going based on what it has been doing since its inception. So basically for the last 15 years, Facebook has been talking about a world that’s more open, more connected, more people can gather in these “public squares”, I guess was the analogy that was always driven, that was always used. And now, this change that he’s trying to inspire within his organization is now being called “living room conversations”, as opposed to “public square conversations” because they’re going to be more “closed group” encrypted, so we kind of saw where this was coming because he already announced that they were going to be combining a few of their platforms.
Danny Brown: Mm-hmm (affirmative), co-platforms, yeah.
Sam Fiorella: So Snapchat, and Messenger, and Instagram Messaging, were all going to basically become one platform, one application. The cynic in me says that that isn’t because he saw something that would make this a better platform by amalgamating it. There’s been so much talk about anti-trust in the United States, that they’re taking about breaking up the company, so in my mind he’s doing this because he wants to make it one application that can’t be broken up.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: Right, so that he can gain control of that, and not have to sell off parts of his business, and basically maintain competition for himself. But on the other side, there’s been a lot of backlash, let’s talk about the back lash that’s happened against his company, why is Facebook under so much fire right now by government bodies around the world?
Danny Brown: Well, you just need to look at the tragedy in New Zealand, the massacre at the Muslim Mosque, and that was live streamed on Facebook for at least, was it 17 minutes?
Sam Fiorella: Yeah.
Danny Brown: Something like that, before it got taken down.
Sam Fiorella: I don’t think they’ve actually gotten all of them down yet.
Danny Brown: No, they’ve already said they’ve taken down or stopped the upload of about 1.2 million versions of it so far.
Sam Fiorella: Crazy.
Danny Brown: But it’s hard for them to keep up to that scale.
Sam Fiorella: That’s nuts.
Danny Brown: But that’s one of the problems is the fact that is has been used so much for stuff like that, and for spreading [inaudible 00:06:01] or radicalism, and et cetera. They’ve also got their privacy issues, and kids getting bullies, suicides happening because of bullying via private messaging, images getting shared, stuff like that. And it’s not just Facebook, but from the major platforms of all being criticized, Facebook is the biggest for not taking enough actions to stop this.
Sam Fiorella: Well, and there’s also the issue that Facebook now, there’s potentially going to be either fines or a lawsuit about their- or at least an inquiry into the use of their data sharing practices.
Danny Brown: Yeah, with the Cambridge Analytica thing last year.
Sam Fiorella: Cambridge Analytica and stuff, and now I know the government of France is going after them for something about their revenue and their taxes. And now in the United States there’s this whole anti-trust thing that we were just talking about, so clearly there’s a lot of pressure. Although let’s not even forget the pressure he came under when it came to not clamping down on the Russians, who we’re using the platform to spread whatever message they wanted to spread, to sway the US elections, and not just in the US, apparently this is something that’s been happening all around the world through Facebook, as well as other platforms. So there’s obviously the business and the political pressure on Facebook right now, he’s not been seen as an effective leader.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: You know, he’s coming out with these epic long blood posts right now trying to explain away everything, and that doesn’t seem to be helping his public image. But then there’s also the news that’s coming up recently about the effects- we talked about this the other day, on one of these episodes, and that was the effect on our mental health.
Danny Brown: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sam Fiorella: What’s happening in terms of the negativity, the AI that they’re building is basically keeping up more and more addicted, but then they’re not doing enough on the other side. I know one of the things we talked about is how responsible should we as marketers, or should social media companies be, to the negative mental health that they’re creating out there by gamifying us to be more addicted to this. I’ve been reading over the last couple days while this story’s been blowing up that some people are actually giving him credit, they’re saying that he’s grown a conscious.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: You know what I mean? Just like Gates did, he’s made his millions, he can’t make any more money, so let me start giving my money away while he’s still making-
Danny Brown: Sure, he also became a father, not that it’s changed [crosstalk 00:08:29]
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, that’s true, and he became a father, so maybe for a second let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and, is some of the kudos he’s getting, how much of this might be because, hey, I realize my role or my company’s role in all of the crap that’s happening out there to people’s mental health, as well as to our society as a whole, and there is no future for these open public square social media anymore, it has to be private to protect people. Do you think there’s any of that in it?
Danny Brown: There may be, it’s interesting- I mean obviously their Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, he’s left the company, and he said it’s based on the new pivot that Facebook has taken, in the new direction, there’s he-say, she-says about that, and obviously each publication’s got a different take on why Chris Cox left. But if your Chief Product Officer is leaving because of a pivot, does that mean that he sees something that obviously we don’t? And the direction it’s taken isn’t an altruistic one, it’s more- even more [crosstalk 00:09:33]
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, so this is why, well I don’t know, maybe I would argue the other point though Danny because, if their Chief Product Officer left, and he hasn’t said anything about why he left.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: He’s one of the most popular executives in that company, he’s been around for over 10 years, he’s been basically heading this newsfeed development to great effect, they’re making all kinds of money off of it, and collecting crazy amounts of data. If he’s leaving because of a change in direction of how the newsfeed is going to be, less public, more private, to me that means that he’s departing his vision- his original vision, what he was building, is no longer what he wants. So I’m thinking that maybe there is some altruism on Zuckerberg’s part, or at a minimum he’s reacting to the negative publicity. So if it’s not because I want to do something that’s good for society, he might be, “You know what, we as a company, cannot sustain-
Danny Brown: All of the negativity.
Sam Fiorella: All of this negativity, because it’s only gonna get worse, he’s seeing the writing on the wall, and maybe unlike the product manager, maybe this guy- maybe he’s the smartest of all of them over there, based on what he’s built you have to give him that credit.
Danny Brown: Oh yeah.
Sam Fiorella: He’s smarter than anybody else, and he realizes, “You know what? If we have an other two-three years of this, we’re never going to be able to rebound from it, our name’s going to be mud.” Competitors, upstarts are gonna come up, they’re going to be the ones offering these encrypted, smaller, dark social, an other episode we did a couple of weeks back, on how dark social is growing. And I know you and I speak a lot more on dark social media publicly, on all of the various groups that we’re in for football and others. Maybe he’s seeing that, and that’s going to be the way to go, to me that makes sense, but that is really the crux of this.
Sam Fiorella: Is it possible that these open forums are gonna go away? Can you envision a world five years from now where Facebook of today, where anybody can join and anybody can talk to anybody, is gonna go away?
Danny Brown: It’s possible, you think of MySpace, back 10 years ago, biggest platform until Facebook came over and blow them out the water, but Myspace, he just got bought for 530 million by [crosstalk 00:11:55] I think, and then they sold it for 35 million, six-seven years later.
Sam Fiorella: Didn’t Justin Timberlake buy it or something like that recently? [crosstalk 00:12:00]
Danny Brown: I think so, [crosstalk 00:12:01] all the recordings went up, so there is Google Plus, that is the big caught of Google, and you’ve got a huge company like Google, putting all this money behind it, to create an other social platform. Couldn’t go up against Facebook though, Facebook’s got monopoly but nothing lasts forever, really. So it could go, I mean Zuckerberg’s got-
Sam Fiorella: Talk to the people of Blackberry about that.
Danny Brown: Well yeah exactly.
Sam Fiorella: The biggest smartphone company in the world one quarter, and basically dead the next quarter.
Danny Brown: Yeah, and that’s it so it shows you, especially [inaudible 00:12:32] things happen that fast, and Zuckerberg’s got all the data, and I think it was many a verge publication or something, that it mentioned that he seen Instagram as it is, and the Facebook newsfeed as it is, may only have an other couple of years, it’s already peeking with usage, and interaction et cetera, and monetization options, so maybe it will and then-
Sam Fiorella: Well again he’s got the data, take a look at the number of millennials, and the new gen…
Danny Brown: Gen Z?
Sam Fiorella: The Gen Z.
Danny Brown: Or “Genials”.
Sam Fiorella: Genials.
Danny Brown: Not genitals, totally different subject.
Sam Fiorella: No, not genitals, it’s funny that you said that, that just make me realize that Shaqiri, a Liverpool player didn’t play for the Swiss team, did you hear why?
Danny Brown: No.
Sam Fiorella: Because the Swiss soccer team reported that he’s got “engorged pelvic area” and as a result he can’t play.
Danny Brown: Oh, okay.
Sam Fiorella: You just made me think of that when you started talking about genitals.
Danny Brown: Anyway, back to Zuck.
Sam Fiorella: National Team
Robert: [inaudible 00:13:38]
Sam Fiorella: No, no, anyway we’re not here to talk about football, proper football, soccer, we are here to talk about Zuckerberg. So you know what, when you take a look at this next generation, this next generation is definitely more and more going off of platforms like Facebook, and moving more into the Snapchats of the world, for that reason. Short term content that gets deleted, for a variety of reasons. So it could very well be as you said, that he’s got the data, he’s seeing the writing on the wall, if it wasn’t the drop in usage of this next generation, who are looking for something different, it’s the political pressure, and the business pressure, and all the lawsuits, and everything else. Maybe these two things combined.
Sam Fiorella: So let’s talk about what that will do, let’s assume that his vision is actually gonna happen, and there’s lots of speculation that this is just him ranting right now because of all the pressure, it’s never gonna happen. Because he actually did say, when a journalist, I think it was in Wired Magazine asked him, “How are you going to monetize this?”
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: “If you’re getting rid of your newsfeed, how are you going to monetize a platform?” And his reaction was, “We first build it, then we figure out how to monetize it, which is frankly how we built Facebook in the first place.”
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: He built it first, then monetized it.
Danny Brown: Well you look at Messenger now, you get adds in Messenger.
Sam Fiorella: Right, so it’s not- well funny enough, I was talking to my trainer, I was just having this conversation with a client visit, just to show you how scary technology is, I’m going to put on my tinfoil hat for a moment. I was talking to my trainer about these supplements I’m supposed to be taking.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: You know, ADP supplements, T-Alpha, they’re called ADP T-Alpha, so I’m supposed to be taking these, I didn’t do a search because I bought them right there at the club, so I didn’t have to go look at pricing or where it’s available. He and I we’re talking about it, my phone was in my pocket, in my shorts, we had just finished a workout and throughout the workout I was talking to him about these supplements. I went down, I bought them at the store, and I put it on my account so I didn’t even use a Visa or anything like that, because we know that they grab data from these of which you’re buying. So I didn’t even use my Visa, I put it on my account at the club, the next day I started having all these T-Alpha ADP supplements popping up on my screen.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: You know what I mean? So I’m not quite sure how important this-
Danny Brown: Encrypted stuff is or?
Sam Fiorella: Well no not the encrypted- how important the newsfeed is going to be for Zuckerberg and Facebook and all the others, to actually sell us adds, we don’t need to be, clearly in these public forums. Again, tinfoil hat on, my phone was damn well listening to me, I can guarantee that it was listening to what I was saying, because there’s no way out of the blue, that all of a sudden I’m going to be getting served up adds for something that I was talking about the day before, and never searched, and never put on my card. So clearly they can do that.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: But anyway, that’s he said he’s gonna try and find a way to monetize it, what’s gonna be the impact of that though on businesses? I know one of the criticisms of Facebook by news media, is that they love Facebook because they want to advertise through Facebook, they want to get their news stories on Facebook, because a lot of people go there and read the news. But then Facebook makes the money in the advertising, like the Wall Street Journal, the Toronto Star, they’re producing the content that goes on Facebook, but Facebook makes the money.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: Is there a chance that the advertising might actually come back to the news media now?
Danny Brown: But then, who do they advertise to if they’re not- so if we’re talking about one to one encrypted messages, and people creating these micro-communities, how do these guys, like the news guys get in front of them? Do they get- cause you’re gonna have to be invited in essentially, right?
Sam Fiorella: I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity to sponsor private groups, like news groups?
Danny Brown: So up and coming journalist students for example?
Sam Fiorella: Something like that, [crosstalk 00:17:31] or Canada News, like private news groups where you have the ability to either join or whatever, and they’re sponsored by a newspaper or something like that.
Danny Brown: Maybe pay a minimum fee or something to be a part, and get access to the journalists at the paper.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah that’s sort of what I’m thinking, and that’s actually fascinating because again, last week or two weeks ago we talked about Netflix, and what streaming media services want to do to traditional distribution channels. This is actually a really interesting segway, why isn’t content, news content that was originally free, and newspapers have been trying to find a way to monetize forever, because if you’re gonna get the best reporting, you gotta pay for that.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: Right, maybe this is where the start of the evolution of this is gonna happen, maybe we’re gonna start seeing on social platforms, maybe like Facebook might become more of a Netflix style business, where it will sell you access to premium content, or access to premium groups. You know, there’s obviously going to be some free in there, because they’re never gonna get away from that. But that might be an interesting business [crosstalk 00:18:37]
Danny Brown: Kind of like what Medium’s doing at the moment, with the members and their writers, five bucks a month and the writer gets so much of that et cetera, or the Patreon service where you can support your favorite podcasters, or artists or whatever, with Patreon. So that’s definitely an option.
Sam Fiorella: That’s fascinating, I’m wondering if that’s the new business model for them, so Zuck, you’re listening? There you go, you’re welcome. I should go buy a few more Facebook stocks now that we’re talking about that. Interesting though, what is this going to do to the artificial intelligence? So we’re working on some AI products right now, within our own toolkit here at Sensei, but I know one of the things that they’re working on, and have been working on for a number of years is developing their artificial intelligence, that will not only predict what people are doing, but better analyze how people use the platform, what they’re doing when they do certain things, and of course that informs their advertising.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Danny Brown: Right, Facebook can obviously.
Sam Fiorella: Facebook can.
Danny Brown: We can’t as marketers.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, but just thinking even the government, like right now the government can listen in and identify who on social channels is taking about blowing up a building.
Danny Brown: Right, yeah.
Sam Fiorella: You know what I mean? Or talking about bullying somebody else, so the police can look at that stuff, and maybe identify a crime, or some problem before it happens. If all this information is now moving into the private domaine, meaning encrypted, one to one or small group conversations, that’s gone.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: There’s a real trade-off here between the need for privacy, and everybody’s demand for privacy, and what law enforcement, and government, and others have been able to do to identify some of these people before they commit these crimes.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: I don’t know, that’s an interesting play out on what’s gonna happen.
Danny Brown: So I wonder then if that can be used a little bit, if Facebook is gonna still give some data to marketers? Can they, so you’ve got your little groups now, and you’ve got obviously your leaders, your followers, and your influencers if you’d like within these groups, I wonder if that’s a way to still work with brands and say, “Okay, you’re interesting in a journalism group, so the two people that most spark up a journalist discussion, or a controversial point of view and get people all flared up, et cetera, this is what they’re interested in. This is the kind of stuff that they generally post, and who posts it, at weekends.”
Sam Fiorella: Yeah.
Danny Brown: I don’t know, it’s tough to say because one is behind, encrypted and you don’t or shouldn’t know what’s going on.
Sam Fiorella: You know what? Yeah you’re right, but I’m also thinking, do you remember what I enjoyed the most about Google Plus? Was the niche communities that they had. And again, referencing back what- I spend most of my time on Facebook right now, in a variety of soccer groups. I have a couple of Liverpool groups that I’m part of, an EPL group I’m part of, a Toronto FC soccer group that I’m part of it, with just guys. And these niche communities, that we get to sort of chat back and forth, share articles, share opinions, banter back and forth. So I’m wondering, this is going back to what I think made Google Plus so popular. It’d be kind of ironic that if anything takes down Facebook-
Danny Brown: It’d be Google.
Sam Fiorella: Well not even Google, it’s gonna be Facebook itself, it’s making a decision to shut itself down, as opposed to some other network just being better at it, but just by doing what Google Plus did better than it did in the first place. I’m sure there’s a lot of people at Google that are just ringing their hands right now.
Sam Fiorella: Okay, so we are running out of town and I realize we don’t have our bell here.
Danny Brown: You didn’t bring the bell?
Sam Fiorella: Where’s our bell?
Sam Fiorella: Robert you had one job, so our time’s coming up so last call. This one was a little bit difficult, Danny to do a last call because there really isn’t a specific takeaway here, because we’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen. This is a sign of things to come right? Zuckerberg is laying out what may happen. So what would you leave as a final takeaway? What should marketers, or business owners out there be thinking about in terms of what might happen?
Danny Brown: Well, they should try to get their dogs in buildings.
Sam Fiorella: We have dogs in our offices so,
Danny Brown: And I’m just wondering if this is an opportunity for brands to actually get ahead of Facebook for a change, and start thinking about creating their own micro-communities, and niche communities on their platforms, and their storefronts, and bringing their funds in from Zuck, instead of handling them, and then create their community of buyers, influencers, whatever you want to say.
Sam Fiorella: It’s funny cause I was thinking around the same lines, selfishly because we build them, like that’s part of what we do for a living is build these communities that build stronger bonds with clients, and customers, and prospects, and staff and things like that. So one of my biggest criticisms about marketing in social channels has always been that they own it, you’re building the content, you’re building the community, but they own it, and they have the right to monetize it. Right so that’s always been a problem for me, which is why we built Bondai within our own company.
Sam Fiorella: So for me, that’s what I’d be looking at, I agree with you, if I was the marketer, I would be looking at, how does this trend of micro-communities, how does this trend of dark social, which is now becoming a recurring theme in a number of these, clearly this is the way that it’s going, so am I going to then be jumping onto what Facebook and others are doing? And find a way, get a head of the curve, in terms of how do I leverage these private communities for me? How do I market? Like I remember when Snapchat became a thing, everything was like “How do I use Snapchat to market my business and make money?”
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: Well maybe this is where we need to start thinking about this dark social thing I think is gonna become the topic of the next two to three years, for marketers how do I monetize this? But to your point, how do we maybe build these communities on our own? Where we’re not reliant on a social network, where they’re owning the data, where they’re owning the content.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: So that might be where I would leave it. Anyway that’s it for today, thank you everybody for listening, if you’re listening on our podcast or watching, if you are on YouTube, I know it’s very difficult to watch Danny live, I think that’s why we have a much bigger audience on our podcast.
Danny Brown: That’s why the YouTube goes up two days after the podcast goes up, give you a bit more [crosstalk 00:25:39]
Sam Fiorella: We don’t want to scare people out. So yeah definitely make sure that you’re subscribing to us.
Danny Brown: Yeah, and if you listen to the podcast by all means give us feedback of what you’re thinking, and if you like it and you think someone else would like it to, feel free to share with them.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah by all means, until next time everybody, cheers!
Danny Brown: Cheers guys!
Outro: You’ve been listening to Marketing on Tap with Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown, if you enjoyed this episode make sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss the next one, and please feel free to leave a show review, that’s always worth a cheers.