300px MarkZuckerberg The Future of Facebooks Newsfeed: An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mark,

Congrats! You’ve created a giant. And for the most part, people love it. Well, they might not say that, but their actions show they do. They use Facebook a lot.

But you see, I live in a slightly different world. I’m a marketer who works with businesses, and one of my jobs is to help them use Facebook to reach their customers and potential customers. There’s been a lot of grumbling lately over recent changes to your Facebook newsfeed algorithm that has apparently reduced the reach of posts by business pages. This isn’t new. We are a grumbly lot. If we had our way, every Facebook user would see every post from every one of our business clients. You’ll probably never make us happy on that count.

And of course we get grumblier because it seems the only way we can really reach your customers is to pay you to run ads for us. We don’t like spending money, especially on Facebook, because, you know, it’s “free.”

According to an article over at Inc. Magazine, this is all due to a bit of a philosophical battle related to your vision of Facebook. It seems a lot of users want to spend their time posting pictures of cats, dogs, kids, food, and of course, the occasional selfie. You, on the other hand, want the newsfeed to be just that: a feed of the news. You want us to get our news from Facebook. You know, the serious stuff, like news about Obamacare, the situation in Syria, and Miley’s twerkathon.

I get that. In fact, Facebook, along with that other service that begins with “Tw” and rhymes with “bitter,” are my top sources for finding out about breaking news. I love that. But I have to admit, I also love the occasional dog picture, along with perhaps a picture of some delicious food. And I love seeing what my favorite local businesses are up to.

So it seems you are at loggerheads (I love that word!) with your users, but in the end, you’re the one that makes the decisions. Let me help you out. I have an idea.

Do nothing.

That’s right, stop tweaking around with the newsfeed algorithm and let social media Darwinism take control. Hands off. Laissez faire.

In other words, let the users (both individual users and businesses) do their thing, and let them decide what the newsfeed serves up. Between their own personal privacy and newsfeed settings, and their choices as to which things to like/share/etc. Let it evolve and I have a strange feeling everyone will end up being happy. Even my group of grumbly marketing compatriots.

That whole idea of becoming a source for news? Let the people decide how they want to get their news. Everyone has their own preference already. Some might subscribe to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, while others might rely on the Weekly World News. Some prefer MSNBC while others like Fox News, Comedy Central, or perhaps some obscure cable channel. The point is, we choose them, they don’t choose us.

This might be a rather novel idea, but howsabout you be social?

Let us live our lives out on Facebook the way want, without telling us how to do it, or dangling carrots, or beating us with sticks. Don’t make us conform to your mold. We’re all individuals, so treat us like individuals. And as businesses, our experiences are different from other businesses. Let “our lives on Facebook mirror our lives in this thing some call “the real world.” When we get together with our friends in person, we talk about everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sure we’ll chat about Nelson Mandela, but we’ll also start singing “What Does the Fox Say?” together. Yeah, we’re a pretty wacky bunch.

And you know which businesses I frequent? The ones with a great product and great customer service. Think about that.

Let this happen, and I’ll bet your numbers go up. More people. More time spent on Facebook. And then more advertisers. And then you make more money.This will also allow for more targeted niche advertising for businesses, which is what we really want anyway.

So when it comes to you (and your investors), individual users, and businesses, it’s a win-win-win situation, eh?

Give it a thought. Do the math. Crunch some numbers. I think you’ll be happy with what you find.

Oh, and this one’s on me. No charge. If you go through with my idea, I promise not to pull a Winklevoss on you.

Though, if you could give my clients a bit more play in the newsfeed, I wouldn’t complain…and I’m sure you already know who they are.


Socially yours,

Ken Mueller