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One Big Thing: The Business of Facebook Rolls On

If you only read the news, you'd swear Facebook was rotting on the vine. But, if you're using Facebook for any sort of business function, my bet is that you haven't changed much - if anything - about how you use the platform. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't. I've used this space to criticize Facebook, but I still read the Sunday NYT every weekend on Facebook Live, I still run a dynamic Facebook Group that's as active as ever (9,300 members and growing), and I'm a serial Instagrammer and WhatsApp user. 

Generally, marketers have shrugged off Facebook's PR woes. The things that have gotten a rise from marketers are things that affect the bottom line - when the tech is down, there are data breaches, and things like this. Bad headlines are bad headlines, but if people aren't leaving the platform - they aren't leaving Facebook, and Instagram continues to grow - advertisers, marketers, and others who use Facebook for business are going to stay there too. It’s the gravitational pull of FB and its ecosystem that will keep it going

The flagship platform has been plateauing for a couple of years now, especially in the US, but it's still growing its user base and making money. And, Instagram is absolutely on fire. Instagram ad spend was up 177% year-on-year in Q2 of this year. Sure, it still has a lot of runway in terms of adding new users, but it already has more than a billion. Stories have been a runaway success, advertisers love them, and the platform 

But, as a company, Facebook is in real trouble - both in the US and UK. Sheryl Sandberg has been a major target of criticism - having been billed as the proverbial "adult in the room." But, Mark Zuckerberg is an adult, and ultimately the company is his responsibility. I understand that Sandberg has been the real public face of FB for the last few years, but there are plenty of other people in the Facebook executive team who could have raised alarm bells and pressed the issue. Either way, the company has to do better, and it has to do it fast. 

Its products continue to hum along, but the departures of both the Instagram co-founders and the WhatsApp co-founders is not a good sign. For me, the audience is still there, and I'm very comfortable on the platform. Plus - the scale. Facebook is huge, and that matters. But, it can't keep trotting out band-aid-style solutions to its issues of misinformation and trolling - especially when headlines like this one follow. 

If you do want to hear about someone who has left FB and IG, read CNBC tech reporter Christina Farr's essay. She says she's a lot happier now. 

- Sree.  Writing this week from Hawaii (it's work, I swear!). I just spent a week as Digital-Expert-in Residence at Honolulu's Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, home to one of the best Islamic art collections in the world. I’ll share more about what I learned next week, but in the meantime, here’s a Twitter thread of my 10 days in paradise. Many thanks to Executive Director Konrad Ng (@KonradNG)Asad Ali Jafri (@asewonder) and Melissa Rand (@Missy_Rand) for this opportunity. 

Am working on my 2019 schedule. If you’d like to discuss working together on a workshop, a talk, an Instagram Walkabout, or a consulting project anywhere in the world, please email me:

Check out our Sunday Note Patreon - thanks for your support! 

A shoutout to the generous sponsors of my global social media tour, including GlobalTeacher PrizeBombay Shirt Company, and Hashtracking. To learn about sponsoring my tour, 35+ cities in 10+ countries: And am grateful to work with many incredible clients in my new life, including PrathamUSA and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.  Be sure to follow my SreeTips Facebook page, join Sree's Advanced Social Media Group, and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn
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🌲 The White House released its own climate change report last week - which shows the dire state of the global climate, essentially in line with other reports. Of course, President Trump trashed it. When you hear the "climate-scientists-are-in-it-for-the-money" thing, feel free to send them this piece. Read Linda Qiu @ The New York Times

 🏠 The sharing economy has gone corporate. Read Evgeny Morozov @ The Guardian

🎧 Podcasts! I love them, you love them, we all love them. But, maybe it's a slippery slope when it comes to storytelling. I certainly hadn't thought of this before. 
Read Rebecca Mead @ The New Yorker

🖲 Interesting marketing campaign alert: There's another use for smart/networked devices - showing how terrible it can be to be a woman. While wearing clothes laden with sensors, Ogilvy recorded data on how many times women were groped by men in a nightclub setting. Spoiler alert: it's a lot. Read Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz @ Quartzy

🗞 Student newspapers often produce fantastic journalistic work, and the staff at The Tufts Daily has stepped it up. Read a deep, detailed investigation into the university's donation base and where the money comes from.  Great work uncovering  some very troubling things. Read David Nickerson @ The Tufts Daily
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Data Points 📈

The Internet is increasingly made up of bot traffic. Some of this is totally normal stuff like transactions and ad servers - but there's more to it than that. Read more @ Axios

Something Interesting 💻

The New York Times Magazine did this compelling anthology of stories about the Internet, e-commerce, and the sort of...oddities and esoterica of our modern age. A trip down the e-rabbit hole, if you will. Check it out here.

Listen to Something 🎧

Amazon Prime is amazing. I'm not going to endorse the company or something like that, but just consider the existence of something like Amazon Prime. The ability to go from discovery, to purchase, to delivery that quickly represents a seismic shift that we may not yet appreciate. Here's a great episode of The Daily on the effects of our "Prime Delivery" society.  Listen to the episode here.

Watch Something 📺

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is pulling no punches in this campaign. Donate to the ICRC here

Our Best Today, Our Better Tomorrow

Sunday #NYTReadalong: Every Sunday morning at 8:30 am ET / 1:30pm GMT, I read and critique the print edition of the NYT on Facebook Live. You can join us live or via recording any time at

Producer Neil Parekh will be guest hosting the #NYTReadalong this Sunday. 

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