They say that a picture tell a thousand words and this one released by Facebook falls into that bracket for me. To set the scene for you all, it is basically some of Facebook's top executives - including CEO Mark Zuckerber and COO Sheryl Sandberg - meeting with the management of Walmart where they are on a working "field trip" trying to broaden the partnership between the two companies. One is the biggest social network in the world, the other is the biggest retailer in America and both can clearly see a huge future together. For me, the photo sums up where Facebook is right now and could be seen in one of two different ways.
The Future Of Social Commerce?
For all the advances in social media and the technology behind it, there are still a lot of people wondering where the money is? How do brands actually get ROI on all this investment they're putting in? Nobody has really cracked social commerce yet, but if anybody is going to do it, you would probably have to bet that Facebook and Walmart would be at the front of the pack.
It's not just some low-level engineers from Facebook either discussing adverts. This is the senior management team working with one of the most successful and calculating retailers in the world. We are not there yet, but one way of looking at this photo is to think of the huge potential that this sort of partnership could bring about, and the amount of money that could start flowing through Facebook if people did actually start shopping there. If Facebook is to justify their lofty valuation, it needs to get companies like Walmart spending hundreds of millions of dollars on it and to do that, it needs to crack social commerce, which is clearly what this meeting was about.
Giving Into The Brands?
Mark Zuckerberg is well known for the fact that he has always pushed back on advertisers and puts the users and the product first. Having said that here he is sitting in a photograph with one of the biggest corporates around playing up for the cameras. Have things changed at Facebook? Are they bowing to the pressure of being a public company and having to report revenue every quarter? Is it chasing the advertising dollars and using the appeal of their CEO to get the job done and the deals signed?
Its PR people can trot out all the usual stuff about "moving fast and breaking things," but this story tells me a very different story. The game has changed for the world's biggest social network and it's having to get out there and "sell" a little like the rest of us. I'm not saying that is a bad thing because it does need to start making more money, but we haven't seen these pictures in the past and every second that Mark Zuckerberg spends in a meeting like this is a minute where he's not improving their core product.
What do you think? Facebook starting to focus on corporate side of the business or just part of it growing up?
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