Mark Zuckerberg On Facebook Organic Reach: We Optimize For Users Not For Businesses


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered the question on every Facebook marketers’ mind today.

What happened to the organic reach on my Facebook Page?

His answer, during an hour-long Q&A With Mark live-streamed from the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, will sound familiar because Facebook has been giving a variation of the same answer all year.

That Facebook’s billion-plus community is sharing more, which means there’s more competition in the News Feed. The average user, Zuckerberg said, trotting out a well-used stat, could see 1,500 updates a day but only sees about 100. So a business Page aiming to make it into that 100, needs to create “really good content that’s going to be compelling to your customers.”

But Zuckerberg didn’t stop there. He said he empathized with businesses trying to reach customers and that Facebook seriously considers product changes that “will have an impact on someone’s business.” But Facebook will always favor, he said, serving relevant information to its users over making sure businesses reach their customers. Here’s an extended excerpt of what he said on the subject:

There’s this inherent conflict in the system though, which is are we trying to optimize news feed to give each person, all of you guys, the best experience when you’re reading? Or are we trying to help businesses just reach as many people as possible?

And in every decision that we make, we optimize for the first, for making it so that the people who we serve, who use Facebook, and who are reading News Feed get the very best experience that they can. And that means that if a business is sharing content that’s going to be useful for them, then we’ll show that. But that means if the business is sharing content that isn’t going to be useful for them, we may not show that.

As the products continue to develop, there’s going to be more people sharing more things and we’re going to try to continue doing our best in showing the best that we can, knowing that there is no way that a person will take the time to go through every one of the 1,500 things that are shared with them every single day.

There are a lot of pages that are doing quite successfully; their organic reach is growing quite a bit because they are delivering content to people that they really want.

So if you are a business owner and you’re thinking about how to use your free page on Facebook, I would just focus on trying to publish really good content that’s going to be compelling to your customers and the people who are following you.

Zuckerberg’s organic reach speech came early in the hour-long session, which was billed as a town-hall meeting with the Facebook community, and modeled after the company’s weekly in-house Q&A sessions. Zuckerberg said it was an effort to bring more of the company’s internal transparency to its community of 1.35 billion users.

He took an equal number of the questions from the live Menlo Park audience, some of whom Facebook flew in for the event, and the Q&A With Mark Facebook page. Among them:

  • Why did you force us all to download the Messenger app? Because Facebook is committed to giving users the best mobile messaging experience and that wasn’t happening on the main Facebook app.
  • What did you think about your portrayal in “The Social Network”? “They made up a bunch of stuff that I found hurtful,” he said. But the company still took a field trip together to view the movie.
  • Why has Facebook become boring? “It’s an interesting question to me because my goal was never to make Facebook cool. I am not a cool person.” He said he wants Facebook to be thought of as a utility rather than a happening place.
  • Why devote Facebook resources to the fight against Ebola? “It could be the next global epidemic, next, HIV or tuberculosis or polio and I think there isn’t enough attention in the world in stopoing those things before they become at that scale. What I would have given to be able to go back to the 70s or 80s before I was born and try to fight to prevent HIV from getting to the scale it got to. I feel like that’s what the world has the opportunity to do for Ebola now.”

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