By Justin Goldsborough | December 5, 2010
Mark Zuckerberg 60 Minutes interview, Part 1
Mark Zuckerberg 60 Minutes interview, Part 2
Just got done watching Mark Zuckerberg’s interview on 60 Minutes. Decent interview, bit of a peak into the Facebook work culture and the guy himself. He pretty much stayed on message, but still liked the chance to hear him speak. What I found most interesting about the segment was Lesley Stahl’s attempts — there were several — to get Zuck riled up about the Facebook versus Google competition; or in my opinion, lack thereof.
Have you ever noticed how we will look at situations and consumer behavior in completely unrealistic ways in order to try and make it measurable? PR and marketing were built on this phenomenon. How else do you explain guaranteed impressions and multipliers validated by the ridiculous misconception that everyone who gets a newspaper must read it from front to back?
Earlier this year, Convio came out with a research study on how different generations engage with nonprofit organizations and donate. Side note: It’s a great study and you should really take a deep dive when you get the chance. But I bring the study up because it made one point loud and clear to me over all others — people do not have a channel-agnostic experience when they interact with each other or an organization. It would make it a ton easier of they did. And it would have been easier for Dylan if he didn’t get accused of cheating on the SATs the first time he took them. But often times the situation we hope for is not the reality we deal with, no matter how badly we want to shove a round peg in a square hole.
Here’s how the revelation played out from Convio’s perspective. One of the main findings they came away with was that a person may see an ad about cause on TV, read a direct mail piece that points him/her to the organization’s Facebook page, where he/she may see several 3rd-party endorsements of the organization or stories about how it helped people in need. All three (and in many cases more) of these channels may finally lead the person to mail in a check to the organization. So when that’s all said and done…which channel gets the conversion credit? Because we have to attribute the donation to one channel so we can measure the channels against each other, right? Wrong. Or better yet, unrealistic. We’ll talk about why in a second.
So back to 60 Minutes. Lesley Stahl really wanted Zuckerberg to say that Facebook is going head to head versus Google and trying to, as I believe she said it, “take over the Web.” And while Zuck was obviously media trained, I thought his answer to this question just showed that he understands how people use the Internet better than Stahl. And he should — he owns Facebook and I would venture to guess she doesn’t even have a profile. That guess comes not from her age, but from how she talked about Facebook in the interview.
Anyway, Zuck said that Facebook isn’t competing against Google and that they want to create products that work with a lot of different technologies. And in my opinion, that makes the most sense. No one company is going to take over the Web. It’s too big, for one thing. But the more significant reason is that people don’t use the Web in a channel agnostic way. Find me someone who only uses Facebook or Google or Twitter or any one site or channel on the Web and I’ll give them my last year’s salary. The more likely scenario is that people will continue to use some of the new products Facebook offers, while also using Gmail, IM, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, work e-mail and more.
Have you ever had a conversation with somebody using e-mail, IM and a social network? I see it, and do it, all the time. And while Stahl and others in our profession would like to pick a clear cut winner because we’re a capitalist society, survival of the fittest and all that, I’m hear to tell you that Facebook and Google can exist just fine on the same Interwebs (had to get that word in there). I’m not saying there may not be some competition between the two. But I am saying that the consumer — who we should all really be focusing on — doesn’t really care. He/she just wants to communicate with his/her friends, organizations, media, etc. in the easiest way possible.
Zuckerberg obviously understands that’s how people use the Web. He wants Facebook to be as many places as possible, but he’s also realistic. I’d challenge all of us PR and marketing pros to be realistic as well and counsel our clients to see the whole picture. Technology, the Internet, yada yada is changing. May sound cliche, but we can’t look at it and measure it the same ways we always have. People don’t live life in a bubble and they don’t either turn in the 6 o’clock news, flip on the radio or read it in the paper next day. 60 Minutes should really recognize that. After all, that was the most interesting part of the interview. The fact that Facebook’s 26-year-old CEO doesn’t think he has to take down Google because he understands how people use the Internet. Isn’t that why he’s been so successful?