For the first decade, Facebook hasn’t needed much marketing. It spread like a virus once it was unleashed onto the public and despite misstep after misstep, they’ve continued to maintain their hold on the time and attention of its users.
Now, they’ve hired Gary Briggs to be their first ever CMO. His role will replace the role of VP of Product Marketing that is currently held by Eric Antonow. He has held this role since 2010 and will continue during the transition until he leaves Facebook for an education project in September.
Briggs is a seasoned marketing executive. He was CMO for Google at Motorola Mobility. Prior to that he was CEO of a gift card startup called Plastic Jungle, VP of consumer marketing at eBay, and head of marketing at PayPal.
Bringing him on may signify a shift in the way that Facebook presents itself to consumers. Historically, they’ve focused on users themselves, promoting the company and its products through Facebook itself and through events to highlight releases of new products and services. Briggs is more accustomed to working with a broader base of potential consumers and his entrance into the company may mean a shift in that direction.
It’s clear that Facebook is reaching a plateau in its outreach towards new users. Adults in the United States and other technologically advanced countries have been saturated with the ability to join Facebook, both through mobile integration as well as through peer pressure. To grow in size, they must rely on a combination of outreach to developing countries as well as more teens entering the world of social media.
Instead of pushing for growth, Briggs’ entry as well as other moves shows that Facebook is trying to get into the pocketbooks of people and marketing budgets of businesses in other ways. Their user communication has been better in the last couple of years making it less necessary to market to those already using the service. Now, they need to get those people to pay and to get more outsiders to jump on board.
We’ll see what direction Briggs takes the marketing in the coming months but one thing is clear. They won’t be hiding behind their walled garden for much longer. With Briggs, they’re going to continue to branch out.