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Zuckerberg Emphasizes Marketplaces and the Metaverse as he Pivots Facebook to a Younger Audience

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[Editors’ Note: This story was originally published on Oct. 26. On Oct. 28, Zuckerberg followed up on the announcement covered in this article with the news that the larger Facebook organization would be rebranded as Meta. “From now on we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first,” said Zuckerberg at the Facebook Connect developers event where he announced the new name. Retail TouchPoints will provide more in-depth coverage of Meta’s plans for the metaverse soon.]

Facebook will pivot to target a younger audience going forward, with an emphasis on bringing more 18- to 39-year-olds into the social media platform’s ecosystem, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In a post that followed the company’s latest earnings report, Zuckerberg announced three main priorities for the company as it continues developing its services: creators, commerce and building the next computing platform.

Facebook’s widespread appeal across multiple generations has helped the platform garner 3.6 billion active users across all its services. However, Zuckerberg stated that one of the company’s goals will be “retooling our teams to make serving young adults their north star, rather than optimizing for the larger number of older people,” while also noting that “historically, young adults have been a strong base and that’s important because they are the future.”

Zuckerberg cited the growth of competitors, particularly Apple’s iMessage and the rise of TikTok, which he termed “one of the most effective competitors that we have ever faced.”

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Zuckerberg warned that this pivot could slow Facebook’s growth and that this process will take years to fully complete, but that he believes strengthening services for the 18 to 39 demographic will pay off in the long term.

Apple’s Stringent Privacy Policy Creates a New Opportunity for Facebook

On the commerce side, Facebook sees an opportunity for the social media platform to help retailers and brands acquire new customers. Apple’s new policy of asking mobile device users whether they want to be tracked has caused customer acquisition costs to rise, so adding ways to connect shoppers and brands inside the Facebook app can help make up for the loss.

Facebook plans to add new ways to help shoppers discover new products, and to develop innovative ways to reach customers from inside its apps. The company will continue to develop Shops for brands, though Zuckerberg stated that “building a full-fledged commerce platform is a multi-year journey.”

Marketplace is already at scale and lots of people rely on it, especially now with supply chain issues that make it harder to get new products,” said Zuckerberg. “Shops are getting more developed, and we have an exciting program planned for this holiday season where we’re working closely with a number of the businesses that have invested the most in Shops, to identify what works to find new customers and grow their businesses even faster. Our plan is to then scale those solutions more broadly in 2022.”

Bringing the Metaverse to Life Will Require Major Investments in Computing

Facebook’s efforts to build the next generation of computing platforms is a longer-term effort and goes hand-in-hand with bringing the metaverse to life, but Zuckerberg noted that this is both a major area of investment and an important part of Facebook’s overall strategy going forward.

“I view this work as critical to our mission because delivering a sense of presence — like you’re right there with another person — that’s the holy grail of online social experiences,” said Zuckerberg. “Over the next decade, these new platforms are going to start to unlock the kinds of experiences I’ve wanted to build since even before I started Facebook. Along with those social experiences I expect a massive increase in the creator economy and amount of digital goods and commerce.”

Facebook wants to help the metaverse reach one billion people and hundreds of billions of dollars in digital commerce in this decade. Opportunities for making money in the metaverse include filling the need for digital clothes, digital tools and different experiences. Zuckerberg also believes that helping shape the metaverse could reduced Facebook’s reliance on delivering its services through competitors.

The foundational platforms for the metaverse will include Facebook’s VR and AR products, including its EssilorLuxottica smart glasses. Zuckerberg noted that the metaverse will require multiple generations of products to create an entire ecosystem as well as a new operating system and development model, a digital commerce platform, content studios and a social platform.

Creators Will Benefit from Bigger Emphasis on Video

A major focus on the creator side of the business is Reels, which Zuckerberg said is the primary driver of engagement growth on Instagram. He expects the capability to become just as integral to Instagram as Stories currently is, and both Facebook and Instagram will further lean into video as part of the process of making Reels a central part of the experience.

“There is so much more to build,” said Zuckerberg. “Even with all the tools we have today, we still can’t feel like we’re right there together with the people we care about when we’re physically apart. We can’t teleport as holograms to instantly be at the office without a commute, or a concert with a friend or in your parents’ living room to catch up. The creative economy and commerce tools are still nascent and there should be opportunity for millions of people to make a living doing work they love.”

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