Facebook wants focus on communities, not consumption

Mark-ZuckerbergFacebook has again emphasised its video ambitions, but said its aim is to foster communities around content rather than encourage “passive consumption”.

Speaking on the company’s third quarter earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) predicted that over the next three years “the biggest trend in our products will be the growth of video”.

He said that Facebook is uniquely positioned to focus on building communities around the video that people share and watch, but stressed that viewing time in its own right is not the goal.

“As video grows, it’s important to remember that Facebook is about bringing people closer together and enabling meaningful social interactions; it’s not primarily about consuming content passively,” said Zuckerberg.

“Research shows that interacting with friends and family on social media tends to be more meaningful and can be good for our well-being, and that’s time well spent, but when we just passively consume content, that may be less true.”

The Facebook boss said that when “done well” video brings people closer together, claiming that TV shows and sports can create a “greater sense of belonging than many other kinds of communities”.

“We’ve found that [Facebook] Live videos generate ten-times the number of interactions and comments as other videos. But too often right now, watching video is just a passive consumption experience,” he said.

“Time spent is not a goal by itself. We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions.”

Facebook recently launched a new Watch platform in the US where users can discover shows, follow creators and connect with other people who are watching an episode of a programme.

Facebook CFO David Whener said on the earnings call that Facebook is “investing aggressively” in video content to support its Watch tab.

This spend will go towards ‘lighthouse content’ that is “centred around things that people want to talk and connect around, that give people sense of pride and bring people together,” added Zuckerberg.

“We’re going to invest as much in just making sure that we build out the community features around that. And that, I think, is going to be the thing that differentiates this over time.”

For the quarter Facebook reported a 47% year-on-year increase in revenue to US$10.3 billion – of which US$10.1 billion was ad revenue. Net income was up 79% to US$4.7 billion.

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