Facebook Vice President Tells Us “Technology Is Dumb Until A Human Touches It”

Written by on June 2, 2018 in Media & Arts, Social Media with 0 Comments

Ime Archibong during a speech for leaders of Polish Facebook communities. Facebook / press materials

By Michal Wasowski | Business Insider

Michał Wąsowski: You've come to Poland to work with Polish Facebook communities, but before we get to that — as someone responsible for creating and binding communities on Facebook, what do you think is the key to achieving that, as well as making them sustainable? Not only for Facebook but for society as a whole.

Ime Archibong: Oh, I could talk about that all day! One of the things we recently discovered is that, at the heart of every community, is a person — a leader. That's what we've started to lean into more heavily over the last 12-18 months, we're really trying to honor that leader at the centre of everyone in this community.

That's why we've launched a leadership program to help identify these individuals around the world — in Poland, the US, Haiti, India. We're saying to them: “Hey, the work you're doing with our tools is impressive, we can see you've got ambitions, goals and a vision for your community — so tell us what's getting in the way of you achieving those goals.” This initiative is helping remove many of the obstacles that have been highlighted.

Ime Archibong during a speech for the leaders of Polish Facebook communities
Ime Archibong during a speech for leaders of Polish Facebook communities.
Facebook / press materials

Wąsowski: Can you give examples of the sort of obstacles you mean?

Archibong: Well, many highlighted that there was no peer network to learn from. I mean, no wonder: those folks just didn't know each other. That's why we implemented the Community Leadership Circle. In every country, there are at least 10-15 community leaders doing an impressive job — so let's get you all together so you know each other, can learn from each other and can grow together. This is what we're doing in Warsaw right now too, so I'm really excited about that.

In the picture from the left: Michał Wąsowski and VP Facebook Ime Archibong.
In the picture from the left: Michał Wąsowski and Facebook Vice President Ime Archibong.
Facebook / press materials

Others tell us they lack the specific skills to tell stories in an impressive way, so we try to provide training to fill the gaps in their knowledge. Others tell us that if they had a bit more capital (or a lot more capital!) that they could do a lot more with their communities. So we created a membership and residence for some leaders who will have access to up to $1 million to invest in their community. To return to the first question, if I were to highlight what's essential to building a community, it would be the role of leaders.

Wąsowski: How did you manage to figure out what was needed? The answer may seem obvious but not perhaps so in the age of the Internet and grassroots initiatives.

Archibong: A few years ago, we conducted a study to find out how people spend their time on social media — but we did so also just to take a step back and to get some perspective. Everyone wanted to know how much time was being spent on social media; we investigated not only how much time was spent but how it was spent. We wanted to ascertain how much time was “well-spent” and how much wasn't. It's like going to a party: if you're stood on the sidelines watching on while others have fun, you probably aren't enjoying yourself and will end up leaving. But if you're dancing, meeting people, and engaging with them, it's time well spent. So we started to wrestle with these questions about what “time well-spent” was, to understand what a meaningful platform looks like. A lot of people were telling us the most important part of their Facebook experience was being part of a community of people who also like the same things as them.

woman using phone
Archibong says that how you use your time on Facebook and whether you engage with others is just as central to enjoying the social media platform as how much time you're spending on it.

So we started asking questions and it transpired that there was one common trait in all of these groups, and that's when we started digging and discovered that in the heart of every community there's a leader finding the right people, protecting the group.

A year ago, we found 100 million people are a part of this meaningful experience, but we thought there's no reason why that number shouldn't be over one billion — that's our goal for the next few years. So we started investing in communities and leaders. There still remains a lot to do to get there, but development in that area is something we're very committed to.


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