“Facebook is dying.”
That was the subject line of Protocol’s recent Source Code newsletter that led with the headline, “It’s the beginning of the end of Facebook.”
My father died last year, and if he looked as good as Facebook does right now, I don’t think any doctors would have been calling my family telling us we better come over soon to say goodbye.
Facebook, by every standard except the stock market’s, looks like a scarily strong, vibrant, healthy company.
If you’ll humor me for this quick ride, I’m not talking about any moral or ethical issues here. For this one exercise, let’s put that aside and not concern ourselves with whether Meta’s business model is more akin to curing cancer or dealing arms.
What I’m concerned with is how the press, analysts, investors, and way too many people in general define success.
This has bothered me for decades. You see company after company achieving milestones that few ever dream of realizing, and instead of reflecting on how well the company has achieved its goals, it seems like the only concern is if the business is growing fast enough.
(See also: Peloton, one of the most successful social networks ever, and one that will have some more milestone rides to celebrate. If you try to do one of those “tell me you’re a Peloton owner without telling me you have a Peloton” memes, you couldn’t, because every single Peloton owner already told you they’re a Peloton owner.)
No one has captured my frustration with the fixation on growth better than Douglas Rushkoff. It’s the premise of his 2016 book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus. He wrote at length about the digital economy and specifically Twitter. He said, “It’s not that Twitter isn’t successful; it’s just not successful enough to justify all the money investors have pumped into it.”
On the next page, he sums up his book’s premise:
“There are better approaches to achieving prosperity in a digital business landscape. If we can get over our addiction to growth, we have the potential to move toward a much more functional, even compassionate economic system that favors money flow over accumulation and rewards people for creating value instead of simply extracting it.”
Hmm, any clue what he’d have to say about Bitcoin?
Meta just reported that approximately 3.6 billion people used at least one of their apps in December, and about 2.8 billion people used at least one of the apps daily that month. Facebook’s daily active users were 1.93 billion and increased by 84 million (about the population of Germany) over the previous year.
The daily active users that month represent 35% of the world population. Statista reports that 26% of the global population is age 15 or under, so say about 20% of the global population is too young to have a Facebook account (and probably doesn’t want one anyway). The monthly active users represent 57% of the population. That’s including China, along with everyone who doesn’t have internet access.
Take out China, along with the 20% of youth, and you get to 69% of the addressable global market using a Meta app at least monthly. The actual percentage of people with internet access who use a Meta product must be north of 80%. The global literacy for all people 15+ worldwide is 86%. Basically, all of them are using Facebook or a sister app.
That seems pretty successful to me.
For marketers, Meta has an even more critical role: it’s the most essential place to start for those seeking to generate demand.
Amazon took its place in the triopoly in earnest with their latest earnings announcement, as they broke out ad revenue to reveal an ad business larger than YouTube’s.
Amazon’s business is more similar to Google search in that it captures demand. You may, like me, wind up with some odd items in your shopping cart because of Amazon’s uncanny recommendations, but usually, you’re going, “Oh, I was going to buy potato chips, but I’ll try those lentil chips instead.” Demand fulfilled.
Or your kid will say, “I want a birthday party with a unicorn-mermaid-kitty theme” (like a sphinx, but cuter and less riddle-prone), and you’ll find 542 options for unicorn-mermaid-kitty party favors. You will buy all 542 of them because your daughter just drew you a picture of a unicorn-mermaid-kitty and added a heart with your name on it. You will place another order two days before the party because you somehow neglected to buy the matching uni-mer-kitty tablecloth.
But enough about my kid’s birthday party this past weekend. Where was I?
Right. Demand generation.
Marketers constantly must influence the people who don’t yet know what they want, or who know they want a certain kind of product but haven’t figured out which one they’ll buy. There’s a reason Amazon, Wayfair, and others run non-stop ads on Instagram showing the most random products on the planet. A good rule that works for me: don’t buy any product that you see in social media ads after midnight. Wait until the morning. It’ll look totally different then.
The need for demand generation at scale is why some advertisers are paying $7 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot. It’s why marketers would love to keep topping off TV and other mass media budgets as long as possible. It’s why a static billboard on a high-traffic area that anyone may drive by is often more enticing than a data-driven digitally-placed, optimally-timed buy.
Or, to put it in Super Bowl terms, games are won on the opening drive, not in the end zone.
I have no clue if that metaphor makes sense, but damn does it sound good.
Yes, Meta may indeed have more competition than it’s had in a while. Ad dollars aren’t infinite. But if Facebook is dying, this is a death that could take decades. And that’s even without the metaverse.
So what about the metaverse?
Meta’s vision for the metaverse, whatever that is, will probably die, or at least pivot. It’s not clear what problem the metaverse will solve for the larger part of Meta’s audience other than giving Facebook the largest market share in a new digital format.
The biggest problem I have with the metaverse (my phone keeps correcting it to “Mets verse,” and I want to belt out the song “Meet the Mets”) is that it’s impossible to multitask. In the most immersive versions of a metaverse, you can’t scroll through photos while you watch “Ozark,” and you can’t see which friends had babies while you ride the elevator to the office.
Remember when you’d go to a sports event and have to watch the event for two or three hours and do nothing else but talk to people? That’s kind of like what it is in the metaverse, except you’re not at a game but sitting on your couch with a small TV set stuck to a pair of glasses strapped to your face, and you can’t pay $12 for a Bud Light.
Meta did note in the earnings call that its “world-building experience” known as its Horizon software will come to mobile this year. So is the metaverse just an app? Does it become a new internet? Is it a completely digitally-fashioned world? Is it a layer built on the existing world? What kind of world is Meta building? And what kind of world gets destroyed?
Meta may be stalling rather than giving an answer. It may have a well-thought-out business model that is not apparent to anyone yet inside or outside of Meta. It may be smoke and mirrors.
But even without any metaverse on the Horizon, Meta has built and bought its way to global penetration the likes of which almost no one could imagine before Facebook came along. Its reach is bigger than the Bible. Not everyone in the world reads from the same Bible, but most people scroll through the same apps.
If Meta isn’t seen as successful with all it accomplished, its staying power, and even its growth in a number of key areas, then maybe what’s wrong isn’t Meta but our definition of success. We can choose not to envy that success, and we can say that we’d wield such power differently, but it’s hard to look at Meta’s position and declare its death to be imminent.
With all due respect (or not) to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, cheese isn’t like heroin.
But growth is like heroin. Growth is so addictive that without it, it feels like death.
That doesn’t mean the death is real though. Even without the metaverse, there could be a second life to Meta yet.
PS: A few quick shout-outs:
1) We have Marni Gordon joining our rebooted Serial Marketers Salon 2/16 at 5pm EST, co-hosted with Michael Bendit of Trusted Referral Network. RSVP via our Meetup. She’ll be talking about ageism in the job market.
2) Thanks to Richy Glassberg of SafeGuard Privacy for all the kind newsletter shares recently. And welcome to all the friends and followers of Richy who have joined us. I’m honored that you’re here.
3) Coincidentally, Barry Neuman spotted that just as I published the previous newsletter referencing Portnoy’s Complaint as a book-banning target, The Guardian had just run a story about how Australia’s ban of that book led to their censorship laws changing. Thanks for that excellent find, Barry.
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RETAIL BRAND INSIDER SUMMIT
February 16 – 19
San Diego, CA
“Clicks to Bricks Personalization: Understanding ‘This’ Customer. As the phygital retail experience brings digital expectations into B&M, it won’t be enough for retail marketers to understand “the customer.” It is time to understand this customer – the one right in front of you this second – the one with her own history of dealing with your brand on and off and with her own needs and preferred touch-points.”
EMAIL AND SMS MARKETING: THE MUST-HAVE ECOMMERCE POWER COUPLE IN 2022
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SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES SUMMIT
February 23–24, 2022
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Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. Better yet, subscribe to get updates from our job listing board. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.
Content & Community Manager
Via Chris in the community
“As Wireframe’s first Content & Community Manager, you will have a key role leading brand marketing, communications, and community development. This is a rare opportunity to build brand and community as the 4th employee of a rapidly growing VC firm.”
Associate Marketing Manager, Performance Marketing
New York, New York, United States
Via Anita in the community
“We are seeking an Associate Marketing Manager to play a key role in the evolution and success of MU. Reporting directly to our Associate Director of Performance & Content Marketing, this role will be the paid marketing enthusiast, expertly managing timelines, assets, and communications for advertising and subscription focused campaigns — keeping in mind target business goals, all while optimizing for efficient and effective performance.”
Senior Growth Marketing Manager
“We are seeking a sharp, quantitative, results-oriented Senior Digital Marketing Manager to own and lead the growth strategy for our team. This is someone who loves brands, consumer-centric businesses, motivated to scale demand for delicious, high-quality meats, sustainably raised, sourced for incredible taste! In this role, you will drive customer acquisition across all paid and organic channels. You have deep experience developing, executing, analyzing and optimizing customer acquisition campaigns, and an impressive track record of delivering marketing efficiency against CAC, ROAS, LTV and payback targets.”
Via David in the community
“We are hiring an innovative and entrepreneurial Managing Director to make the Shorty Awards a well-recognized brand and drive exponential growth in the business.”
Enterprise Account Executive
“As an Enterprise Account Executive, you will drive net new revenue and expand existing customer accounts. The ideal candidate will be a self-directed, resourceful individual with a hunter mentality who is laser-focused on building their own book of business. You’ll be responsible for building, managing and closing opportunities with managers, directors and executives of large industrial corporations. This individual puts the best interests of the clients first and is excited to inspire manufacturers to adopt predictive manufacturing analytics worldwide.”
Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board.
Other job resources:
- AMA Job Board: Listings from the American Marketing Association (maybe you can also ask them anything)
- Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
- Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
- Built in NYC: Jobs at a range of levels and functions, as long as you’re okay working in this quaint, backwater hamlet.
- Content Writing Jobs: Content marketers, enjoy
- Creative Women of Color: List yourself in the database and find talent, via Women Who Create
- Demand Curve: Growth and marketing jobs
- ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
- Gently Ventures: Helps scale businesses by finding the right talent
- Growth Collective: Apply to join this network of notable freelance marketers
- Grace Blue Transitions: A portal for hirers and seekers with resources from this exec recruiting firm
- The Hired Guns: An array of jobs in marketing and related fields at brands, agencies, and media companies
- Hue: Amplifying voices of people in color working in marketing
- Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
- NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
- One Club for Creativity: COVID-19 jobs Board
- #OpenToWork: There’s a channel in Serial Marketers where you can share what you’re looking for
- Pangea: Hire college freelancers (and college students can get gigs)
- Pocit: A platform connecting people of color with jobs in the tech industry
- Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
- Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
- Startup.Jobs: There’s a section for marketing jobs
- Teal: One place to organize and manage your job search.
- TechNY Daily: While more technical, there are also some sales and marketing jobs at NY startups.
- VC Job Boards: Aleph, Eniac Ventures, Pear, Sequoia, Union Square Ventures
- VentureLoop: Free startup job listings; their paid option is $15/month and might surface more leads (but it might not).
- Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I’ll share them.
Below are offers extended to the Serial Marketers community. To share your own or access the Premium member discounts, review membership options here.
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