Buy 'Em or Beat 'Em: Zuckerberg's Approach to Social

A person holding a smart phone sitting next to a cup of coffee.

The latest controversy surrounding Trump’s posts on Facebook, the movie, Social Dilemma, and Russian hackers all have one thing in common—Mark Zuckerberg.

Zucked In

What started out as a Harvard prank has become the largest social network in the world and skyrocketed Zuckerberg to international fame. Today, Facebook has over 2.5 billion users. The powerful features provided through pages, groups, stories and advertising make Facebook an indispensable part of a marketer’s stack.
Most of these features were born through other social networks—SnapChat, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok etc and then copied by the man himself, Zuckerberg. His strategy has always been to buy the competing network (Instagram) or copy its features—stories, reels, etc. If you see a new feature rolled out on any other network, it’s only a matter of time before it makes it to Facebook and Instagram.

Nowhere to Go But Zuck

A Bloomberg article from 2017 reported on Facebook copying SnapChat for a fourth time. The article goes on to state the effect of the copycatting resulted in plummeting stock and slower user growth. Apparently not selling to Facebook came at a heavy cost for SnapChat. According to a Quartz article published in 2019, “Facebook, Google, and Amazon control 80% of the U.S. online advertising market with virtually no regulation, in addition to mediating much of the world’s communications and commerce.” The article goes on to report that Facebook has somehow managed to enrage everyone on both sides of the aisle—and the Atlantic—with its behavior. Its dissembling response to Russian inference in western elections, disinterested approach to stopping misinformation and hate speech, and non-stop scandals surveilling its users and mishandling their data has made it Silicon Valley’s most visible political target for liberals and Ted Cruz alike.

However, if you ask Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a monopoly. In fact, they recently hired a policy manager whose time is dedicated to convincing politicians Facebook isn’t a monopoly…which definitely sounds like something a monopoly wouldn’t do. Right? As marketers, we don’t have a choice on whether we utilize Facebook or Instagram, and it makes our lives extremely difficult. Whenever Facebook makes an update—which inevitably makes it harder for us to post/function—there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t contact them and complain. We can’t go somewhere else. We just have to deal.

Our hope is lawmakers will step up and hold Facebook accountable for its shady business practices and unethical behavior. Until then, we’re all forced to play nice in the sandbox.

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