Why executives should welcome their new Facebook overlords

A growing number of business and PR executives are embracing Facebook as a thought leadership platform. The question isn't so much "why?" but "why not?"

Years ago, I asked a technologist for an out-of-the-box prediction on what the next few years – this was the MySpace era, not even the age of Myspace, let alone Facebook – might hold for the Internet.

He replied, and clearly this was more pet theory than real-world forecast, that Google could create its own Internet, safe (at least from the start) from the threats that worry everyday users of the conventional Web.

His prediction didn’t come true, of course – at least not yet. But I do think of it occasionally when I read about Facebook’s quest for Web domination, especially when I see companies and brands focus on the social network instead of a traditional website for their campaign activations. Facebook hasn’t cracked e-commerce, and it clearly still has some work ahead in terms of enabling users to interact with news outlets and companies via Messenger.

Yet Facebook is increasingly a prime destination for opinions, whether it’s your obnoxious uncle’s thoughts about Donald Trump or friends and family members sharing articles from (hopefully real) sites. That’s why I couldn’t help but think "What took so long?" for business leaders to embrace the site for thought leadership.

LeWeb cofounder Loic Le Meur, who is also a LinkedIn influncer, told PRWeek earlier this week that he’s using Facebook more often for posting his thoughts, and he’s getting good return. He said he receives hundreds of comments on his videos, and valuable crowdsourced advice from followers on his idea for a logo contest.

The "Live" feature, which launched last August for VIPs and then rolled out to all users at the end of last year, also makes it easier for business leaders to reach audiences via the increasingly important medium of video.

But why Facebook instead of LinkedIn or Medium for professional missives or Periscope for video? The answer is that it’s more valuable real estate. Or, as Le Meur put it, "It’s where people live," adding that he gets 100 times more viewers on Facebook Live than Periscope. There’s not another platform that can reach four in 10 American adults.

The question of "why Facebook?" for thought leadership really comes down to knowing your audience and where it spends its time. Whether its interests are highbrow or low or professional or personal, the answer for at least a few minutes a day is probably "Facebook." That’s reason enough for executives to embrace the platform; new technologies such as Facebook Live and enhancements to Messenger are just the icing on the cake.

Frank Washkuch is news editor at PRWeek.

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