Facebook’s Rose: Content Discovery Has Always Been Social, and It Always Will Be
Facebook likes to think of itself as a gateway to the huge markets that have arisen around the social graphs of its users. There’s no arguing with that. Facebook’s audience is a massive one, and there’s obvious value in reaching it. The question is, how do companies do that, and do it effectively? As VP of partnerships at Facebook, Dan Rose is charged with convincing media companies that Facebook’s audience is one worth reaching, and then delivering on that promise. Not always a sure thing, as Facebook’s high-profile falling out with General Motors last year shows.
During a wide-ranging interview at D: Dive Into Media, Rose talked about how Facebook views media, and how media should view Facebook.
“Facebook is primarily two core pillars — identity and sharing,” Rose said, adding that both pillars are part of Facebook’s media pitch.
“From an identity perspective, so much of who we are and how we identify ourselves comes from what we read and what we watch,” Rose continued. “So our identity platform can’t be complete without media being part of it. Similarly, the sharing piece can’t be complete without status updates about news stories, music friends are listening to, updates about movies people are seeing.”
The high-level principle driving this is the idea of finding the perfect balance between great user experience and delivering audience to platform partners.
“At its core, what we’re really striving to do is find the perfect equilibrium from a great user experience and a strong platform that developers and partners will continue to invest in,” Rose said. “… We need to keep the news feed interesting, and one of the ways we do that is through media.”
At the same time, however, Rose said Facebook must “honor” content, and presumably appetite for audience and buzz that’s ever-present behind it.
“We think it’s our job to honor content,” Rose said. “Media content deserves to be honored and respected in the news feed. For example, we recently increased the size of images from media partners. That’s more engaging for users, and for partners it’s great, because click-throughs and engagement increased.”
Media content also deserves to be consumed, says Rose. And here, too, Facebook plays a big role, and hopes to play an even bigger one in the future.
“How did you hear about ‘Downton Abbey’?” Rose asked. “I discovered it on Facebook. I kept seeing it pop up in my news feed. The simple fact is most of us find the TV shows we enjoy by listening to suggestions from our friends. That’s the primary discovery mechanism for content right now. Imagine a future, though, in which you turn on the TV and see a feed of all the shows your friends watch. We think that’s a very compelling idea. Content discovery always has been and always will be social.”
Additional Notes From the Session
- On mobile: “So many things are unlocked on mobile. You don’t bring your computer to a restaurant or a party.”
- On Zynga: “I don’t think we walked away from Zynga at all. They built a large and successful business on our platform. … We still spend a lot of time with Zynga.”
- On Instagram: In the past, Facebook acquired small companies for talent, with Instagram being the first company it bought for the product. However, Rose said that more deals for product and technologies are likely.