Facebook's 1.59 billion users don't log on because they like Facebook. They come at least once a month because of the people they're connected to on the site — so says Facebook marketing guru Michelle Klein.
“They want to see the narrative of their friends' lives,” Klein, the site's head of marketing for North America, said to an audience of marketers and communication managers at Social Media Week at the TimesCenter main stage in New York City on Tuesday.
Facebook has been working to build the largest global network for sharing personal stories and following your friends. Over its 12-year history, the social network has aimed to give users more and more direct communication, through the main site and its messaging apps Messenger and WhatsApp.
Since Facebook split Messenger from the core app in 2014, the messaging app has amassed 800 million monthly active users. Klein highlighted Messenger for its ability to address three levels of communications: one-to-one, scaled and actions.
For Messenger, it’s not just about personal connections. The one-to-one section lets users connect with businesses as well as friends. A way the company has scaled communication is by checking on orders with a retail business and complete transactions. Lastly, an action embedded into Messenger is the ability users have to order an Uber, which was added to the app in December. Facebook plans to introduce advertising into Messenger, TechCrunch reported last week.
The majority of the most-used apps in the U.S. allow messaging capabilities, according to 2015 data from comScore. Whether that's good or bad for us is up for debate. Some psychologists, such as Larry Rosen, an instructor at California State University, have pointed to our use of smartphones as obsessions that pull us away from the real world, whereas Klein positioned Facebook and mobile technology as making us “super humans” with new abilities to connect. “The best use of technology will enable us to be better, faster and more reliable,” Klein said.
For 2016, Facebook is making video a higher priority, via live-streaming with Facebook Live and virtual reality with Oculus. At Mobile World Congress on Sunday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his company's effort to make virtual reality a social experience.
Besides personal connections, Facebook allows its users to connect with celebrities. New features like Facebook Live have allowed users to see and chat with luminaries, such as Zuckerberg, who broadcasted from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Yet, as one audience member noted, some people prefer Twitter over Facebook for high-level connections.
For example, rapper Kanye West recently asked Zuckerberg via tweet to help him out of his $53 million debt. Klein said she could not comment on that — and neither has Zuckerberg. “I might advise [West] on his social media strategy, though,” she said.