Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported at the company’s annual F8 Conference that 100 million people were heavily active users of the platform’s Groups function. This year, he took the stage to report that 400 million people could be counted as that type of user. Given the massive growth and importance of these venues, a redesign toward these gatherings felt inevitable. And last week, we learned that the next iteration of Facebook – called FB5 inside the company – will do precisely this.
“There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook. When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook,” the company wrote in a recent blog post. Given that fact, their latest aesthetic and algorithmic update puts these thriving and vital micro-communities “at the center” of their new strategy. It aligns with the company’s push for more privacy, a move in turn driven by user behavior that shows increasing prioritization of private conversations and less permanent content.
In addition to redesigning the platform, the company’s latest advertising push supports this all-in mindset on groups. Led by new Facebook CMO Antonio Lucio, the new brand campaign is called “More Together,” and aims to “focus on people coming together on Facebook Groups over shared interests and experiences, whether it’s tacos or sci-fi.” The pivot toward groups will also make Events more prominent, another move seemingly geared toward the most popular features of the current platform…and moving away from those which have been most problematic.
An added benefit to this strategy for Facebook executives and engineers, is a natural de-emphasis on the highly scrutinized News Feed. It was there that issues of misinformation and polarization thrived, and has been blamed for several of the company’s latest image challenges. Aiming to get ahead of these critiques as they pertain to groups, the company has already pledged “to take measures to ensure that it is not recommending users to join Groups made for the purpose of spreading misinformation.”
Ultimately, this significant realignment for the frequently embattled company serves two masters. The user, who frequently flocks to these spaces anyway, can now do so with ease of navigation and a means to find new groups of similar interest. In the redesign, the platform is “improving [Group] discovery, making it easier to share from groups, and introducing a slew of new features built specifically for group type, like an anonymous posting option for health-related groups.” And for the company, who faced increasing pressure around (among other things) the perils of their prominent News Feed, they can structure their pivot around a new look and structure for their flagship product.
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