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How Facebook Improves Communities and Drives Business Growth

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Technological innovations come with it risk and responsibilities. At SMWLDN, Ian Edwards (Facebook) discussed the company’s role in enabling communities and driving business growth.

For a platform that has gathered 2.6bn real people online, what impact is it making, and what responsibilities come with that power?

It all comes down to having an attitude and an ambition that asks how do we maximize the good while minimizing the bad, according to Ian Edwards, Facebook’s Planning Director.

At Social Media Week London 2018, Edwards reflected on the challenges and opportunities technological innovation brings to our industry and discussed Facebook and Instagram’s role in enabling communities and driving business growth.

The power and belief in building a community

Birthday Fundraiser, a recently launched new Facebook feature, together with Facebook Group, continue to be tools that Facebook takes pride in. According to Edwards, these are the tools that can help community drive huge value at a broad level.

Take Birthday Fundraiser as an example. This year, Facebook launched this tool so that users can, on their birthdays, ask friends and family to donate to a charity or a course that matter to them. So far, the tool has raised more than 250 million pounds for various charities, according to Edwards.

He also cited research showing that interacting with your community, either online or offline, in a meaningful way, has many benefits, and Facebook Groups has made that a core mission since its founding days.

“You can find a group in pretty much every single interest you can imagine,” said Edwards.

A year of making technological progress

Edwards also highlighted in this session the progress that Facebook has made in four areas.

Brand safety

Facebook is now working closely with brand safety management partners, like DoubleVerify, to provide transparency in the area.

Minimizing bad content

“Removing content that does not meet our community standard has been a huge focus for 2018,” said Edwards. In May, Facebook published their enforcement number for the very first time.

In Q1 alone they took down 837 million pieces of spam, and nearly 100 percent of that was identified by themselves before they were flagged by users, according to Edwards.

Increasing accountability and transparency in advertising

In August, Facebook announced that they were giving users more information about every business that runs an ad on the platform. Now, when users click on “Why am I seeing this ad,” they will see the reason why they were being targeted for a specific ad and how Facebook was using their data.

“I think this is right at the forefront of ad transparency,” said Edwards.

Election integrity

This is a time when tech giants like Facebook are taking up the responsibility they share in political integrity. According to Edwards, Facebook is sharing with users information of each and every campaign ad and who is paying for that. They’ve also created an online archive for all the ads that have been run.

“The majority of ads work at a glance”

Mr. Edwards brought forward the idea of “two-second advertising” during the session.

“As an industry, I believe we are often found guilty of making a fundamental mistake — we kind of intuitively believe that advertising works at a much deeper level than it really does,” said Edwards. “But this is not how advertising works. The majority of ads work at a glance.”

However, he thinks that this short attention length shouldn’t be preventing businesses from having ambitious ideas. One of the examples that he brought up was NIKE’s Just Do It campaign ad with Colin Kaepernick, with a short line, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This ad has attracted anger alongside cheers on social media, but following that was a huge marketing success — NIKE’s stock price went up to the highest level it has ever been, according to Edwards.

“When you have a big idea, it can be delivered quickly. It will travel and it will have impact,” said Edwards.

At the end of the session, Edwards encouraged social media professionals to stay motivated and believe in what they do.

“I want people to be proud of working in social media,” said Edwards. “It is and it continues to be a force of our time, and will continue to be a place to build meaningful connection with customers.”

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