Facebook does $118 billion in revenue a year. It's owner, Mark Zuckerberg, is worth $71 billion. But he is prepared to bet the farm on a new form of Facebook called Meta.
I don't know how successful your company is, but if you were worth $71 billion, I have a feeling you wouldn't be inclined to change anything.
What is the lesson here for your company, your Nebraska community and your state?
Let's back up...
Facebook has become so powerful that it creates its own problems, especially with micro-targeted advertising and its version of citizen journalism.
Zuckerberg and his COO, Sheryl Sandberg, quickly learned that controversial, provocative postings infused with anger and supported by misinformation stimulated lots of new visitor traffic and more views by the public. Facebook fans would share the postings with others and the base of users would grow exponentially.
The more people that viewed the outrageous disinformation, the pricier the advertising became.
The Facebook postings ('journalism') became juicier and more polarizing as time went on. Facebook even published postings that fueled collective plans for the January 6th assault on the Capital. The issue became identity: Was Facebook a media organization or just a distribution system? Who are these people who say such irresponsible things? Is Facebook responsible for the content? Are they responsible for the emotions that stir readers/viewers up? Should Facebook minimize or maximize the culture wars? While these questions were being endlessly debated, viewership was climbing and pricier ads were being sold. And sold. And sold...
While everyone else lost money in 2020 and 2021, Facebook enjoyed sales increases. Boom.
But the very best business owners and CEOs know when a pattern of activity has worn itself out. They pay attention to symbols - emerging events that portend change even though everything currently looks like it did last week or even last year.
The symbol and the pattern-breaker at Facebook is the departure of COO Sheryl Sandberg. She defended Zuckerberg from criticisms about data abuse (again, another way to optimize advertising), Instagram's negative impact on teenage girls, the tendency of Facebook to pit people against each other, the weaponizing of political events and more. Because of its success in the world of advertising, Facebook has always been under siege and Sandberg took the majority of the slings and arrows.
Sandberg's decision to leave Facebook didn't come overnight. Each one of the issues listed above had to take something out of her. Zuckerberg knew it was coming; thus, he put on his visionary-strategy hat a few years ago and asked, "What is the next step in marketing?" The answer is 'the brand experience.'
Customers are no longer thrilled with a good product at a great price. Anyone can do that. The way to create value and foster loyalty is to appeal to the senses while the sales journey is unfolding. To emphasize emotions and memories. To co-create - making the product or service in conjunction with the end user. To create a selling-and-using environment - even if it's virtual - that is exciting, deeply personal and unrepeatable.
Welcome to the Metaverse. It is Zuckerberg's 'Big Change.' Bet the farm!
Zuckerberg knows 'meta' is the next wave of marketing, but he also knows he probably can't exploit it and package it without an advisor like Sheryl Sandberg at his side. He needs at least one or two people who can see around the corner and inspire employees to get back on the horse and ride, ride, ride into a trillion dollar future.
NEWbraska Partners understands Blue Ocean Strategy
Zuckerberg (a former Harvard grad) hopes to borrow another page from the Harvard professors who 'created' Blue Ocean Strategy years ago. Using Blue Ocean strategy, a business owner can differentiate a product from competitors while driving down costs at the same time.(In conventional business, it's impossible to differentiate and be more cost efficient at the same time. The two objectives normally fight each other.) Zuckerberg needs an advisor or a couple sidekicks who can flesh out the big picture and articulate the psychology of the Meta-driven marketplace.
Make a timely change like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg
NEWbraska Partners specialize in helping business owners inside Nebraska step forward and initiate much-needed change which often leads to innovation.
Sometimes, a project begins with research with existing customers in order to understand industry trends. Much like the 'Meta' rebranding and repositioning process at Facebook, NEWbraska clients are then coached, stimulated and challenged to think broadly about underserved segments of the marketplace.
Just as Facebook linked itself to a new trend - the brand experience - your firm may be ripe for a similar rethink of what it feels like to co-create with your team. This could change the look, tone and feel of your entire company for the better. (Ask NEWbraska for a specific example and case study of this type of transformation.)
Mark Zuckerberg's visionary view of a changing digital future may inspire some helpful strategic dialogues with NEWbraska Partners. As Sheryl Sandberg discovered, this is a time for transition and a more thoughtful response to business, community and social issues.