To promote transparency within the company, chief executive and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg participated in Facebook’s first ever town hall question-and-answer session recently. There were questions about Facebook Messenger, The Social Network movie and Mark Zuckerberg’s fashion choices. The most popular question was about the Facebook Messenger app.
Earlier this year, Facebook decided to turn off the messaging feature in its main mobile app and redirect users to a separate app called Messenger. Many users were outraged because they did not want to have to use a separate app for messaging. Despite the protest against the separate app, Facebook Messenger hit 500 million monthly active users as of yesterday.
Why did Facebook force users to download a separate Messenger app? Ten billion messages are sent through Facebook per day and mobile users had to open a separate tab within the main Facebook app to see them. Facebook wanted to simplify the process for Messenger users.
“The reason why we wanted to do this is because we really believe that this is a better experience and we think that messaging is becoming increasingly important. And messaging was this behavior that people were doing more and more. There are more than 10 billion messages sent every day on Facebook, said Zuckerberg. “But in order to get to your messages, you had to open up the app — which could take a few seconds — and then go to a separate tab. And what we saw was that all of the messaging apps that people were using and they relied on the most were — kind of — these dedicated, focused experiences. So whether it’s the SMS app, or iMessage on your phone or something like WhatsApp — which has grown a lot in a lot of countries.”
I think that forcing users to switch to the separate Messenger app will be better in the long run. Having to open the separate messaging tab in the main Facebook app whenever you receive a message just seems inefficient. Whenever you receive a message through the Facebook Messenger app, it sends a notification to your phone so that you can quickly pull up that conversation.
Question About Fan Page Reach
At the town hall, Mark Zuckerberg was also asked about the decrease in organic traffic that Facebook Pages administrators are noticing. There is a belief that changes in the News Feed algorithm are negatively affecting Facebook Pages. Zuckerberg said “as time goes on, people are just sharing more things on Facebook. So each person who is consuming content in their News Feed — they might read 100 stories from their friends and Pages a day. And as their friends share more content and as they follow more Pages and as those Pages share more content, there’s just more competition.”
There are an average of 1,500 stories that float through the News Feed of each user. Each Facebook user “sees” about 100 of those stories per day based on the News Feed algorithm. Those 100 posts are selected to show up at the top of the News Feed based on engagement algorithms. Only the highest quality content with the highest engagement will make it to the top.
Question About The Social Network Movie
The Social Network is a movie directed by David Fincher, which was about the story of Facebook’s launch. The movie portrayed Mark Zuckerberg as villain-like. The plot of the movie was about how Zuckerberg allegedly stole the idea of Facebook from the Winklevoss twins and turned his back on his best friend Eduardo Saverin once Sean Parker was hired to set up meetings with venture capitalists. An audience member that traveled from Provo, Utah to attend the Facebook Q&A town hall in California asked Mark Zuckerberg about the accuracy of The Social Network.
“You know, I think that the reality is that writing code and building a product and then building a company actually is not a glamorous enough thing to make a movie about. So you could imagine that a lot of the stuff they probably had to embellish and make up because if they were really making a movie, it would have been of me sitting at a computer coding for two hours straight, which probably would have just not been that good of a movie,” said Zuckerberg. “But on the overarching plot, in terms of why we’re building Facebook – to help connect the world or how we did it — they just kind of made up a bunch of stuff that I found kind of hurtful. You know, I take our mission very seriously.”
Question About Facebook Losing Its Charm
Someone in the audience at the town hall event asked a question about whether Facebook was losing its charm because it seems to be primarily used simply as a photo and video sharing website nowadays. Zuckerberg said that he has been asked by multiple people if Facebook is “getting less cool.” Mark Zuckerberg said that for Facebook was never to make it “cool.” He wanted it to be useful and a basic thing that people rely on like electricity or water.
About five years ago, Facebook was mostly text and status messages. Now it is primarily used for tagging people in photos. Five years from now, Facebook will be mostly video.
Why are people saying that Facebook is less “cool?” I have read numerous studies about teenagers switching away from Facebook in favor of other social media platforms. For example, Piper Jaffray conducted a survey between August 25th and September 30th about the social media platforms that teenagers prefer. Instagram’s usage jumped from 69% to 76% between the spring and fall of this year. Facebook dropped from 72% to 45%. Fortunately, Facebook owns Instagram and has started the process of monetizing the mobile photo sharing service.
Even though Facebook seems less “cool” than before, you cannot argue against its growth. Today Facebook has 1.35 billion users. Facebook hit the 500 million user mark about four years ago. Even though Facebook launched in 2004, its user base more than doubled in the last few years.
Question About Zuckerberg Wearing The Same Gray T-Shirt All The Time
From the Q&A thread, a Facebook user in Italy asked why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same gray t-shirt every day. Zuckerberg said that he wanted to make as few decisions as possible about anything except serving the Facebook community. This question was interesting because it addresses the psychology behind why billionaires repeatedly wear the same outfit when they can afford all kinds of fancy apparel. I always wondered why Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck and jeans too.
“I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life so that way I can dedicate all of my energy towards just building the best products and services and helping us reach our goal and achieve this mission of helping to connect everyone in the world and giving them the ability to stay connected with the people that they love and care about,” said Zuckerberg. “So even though it kind of sounds silly that this is my reason for wearing a gray t-shirt everyday, it also is true. And I think there are a number of people throughout history who have — kind of — had the same approach. I think Steve Jobs did. I don’t think President Obama chooses what he wears every day — kind of — for the same psychological reason.”
One Billion Messaging Users
Now that Facebook Messenger passed 500 million monthly active users and the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging app said that it hit 600 million active users as of August 2014, it means that Facebook’s messaging apps have over 1 billion aggregate monthly users. The overlap in users between WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger is unknown because they are independent services. Facebook Messenger is a major focus for the company and they ship an update to the app every two weeks now.
Do you think that the reason for forcing users to switch to a separate Messenger app makes sense? Let us know in the comments below!