Facebook isn’t shy about its ambitions to connect the world. Its efforts to accomplish this goal are what’s made it a go-to-stop for advertisers.
But despite its success as an ad platform for businesses, Facebook knows it has more to do. This is especially true considering the challenges Facebook has faced in recent years. During the company's Q4 call, Mark Zuckerberg outlined Facebook's four priorities for 2019.
Priority #1: Continue Addressing Major Social Issues
The media has covered Facebook’s struggles at length. Facebook is well aware that there's still a long way to go before those struggles are behind it.
Zuckerberg says that Facebook is working to develop systems that address its issues. According to the CEO, Facebook has 30,000 people working on online safety and security. That number has tripled from a previous count of 10,000 a few years ago.
Facebook is also working on an arbitration system for content decisions. Users would be able to appeal Facebook's content decisions with an independent council. Zuckerberg expects a pilot program to start soon.
Facebook is also working to improve privacy and encryption. To do this, it plans to make end-to-end encryption default for all its services. Facebook is also creating other impermanent products that don’t “stick around forever." Currently, stories are Facebook's top temporary product.
Priority #2: Create New Experiences to Improve Users’ Lives in a Meaningful Way
Zuckerberg wants people that use Facebook and its other platforms to feel a sense of novelty. He's confident that Facebook will develop new products that leave users feeling wowed. Stories, he notes, were the last new product Facebook created that achieved this.
There are a few areas where this innovation may come from. First is messages, which Zuckerberg feels will be central to each app's experience. One way Facebook is betting on this is through payments. Plans are already in place to introduce payments on WhatsApp in more countries. Facebook launched a beta version in India last year.
Facebook Watch is another feature that Zuckerberg believes can provide wow experiences. He expects the product to become more mainstream. Currently, 400 million people are using Facebook Watch every month. They are spending an average of 20 minutes with it every day.
Finally, Facebook is focused on Instagram as well as augmented and virtual reality. Zuckerberg expressed excitement about the potential of shopping that can happen on Instagram. He also noted that Facebook hardware, like Oculus Quest and Portal, are advancing the company’s AR/VR agenda.
Priority #3: Supporting the Growth of Businesses That Rely on Its Services
Facebook’s recent business challenges have been self-imposed, according to Zuckerberg. As a result, Facebook has made big investments in safety, security, privacy, and well being. As a result, the average price of an ad experienced a slight decrease last year.
Despite losing revenue, Zuckerberg felt this was the right move to make. He notes that more than 90 million small businesses use Facebook products. Those companies have told Zuckerberg they’ve grown as a result of joining of Facebook.
Priority #4: Communicate With Transparency About the Role Facebook Plays in the World
Zuckerberg is well aware of the negative conversation that surrounds technology today. He thinks that some criticism is fair and some misplaced. But, Zuckerberg agrees the technology industry should continue to receive heavy scrutiny. His reason? It plays a prevalent role in people's lives.
“My approach here is to listen to the critique first, work on addressing our issues, figure out what we believe are the most important principles to uphold, and then go and engage in the debate,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook knows that it has created some of the world’s most advanced systems for human connection. But that doesn’t mean its work is far from finished. Like its ambitions to connect the world, Facebook has audacious priorities for 2019.