Do we know what the split is? I am thinking about a tabbed based split, one for family and friends and one for media, including content from creators I follow and ads. Is that what you’re thinking too? (Let’s assume that the interviewer says yes, this is correct)
Okay, here is my structure:
I’d start with an initial guess about why we might be doing this
Then, I’d look at FB’s mission and how Newsfeed fits into that, and also the overall goal of Newsfeed itself
Then, I’d look at the short term, medium term and the long term effects on each stakeholder in this decision
Based on this, I’d propose an experiment, and also the metrics to validate this split
Let me know if this sounds good? (Let’s assume that the interviewer says yes).
Initial Guess: My initial guess about why we might be doing this is because making such a split would do two things. One, as a user, when I am on the family+friends tab, I have a higher sense of intimacy. As a result, I’d be more open to engaging with people I see in this tab. Second, when I am in the media tab, I am in the mode of consuming entertainment, similar to when I watch TV. This would enable me to tune out everything else and only consume entertainment. So just to recap, this split would give me a higher sense of intimacy, and would enable me to be entertained more effectively. Is there anything I missed here? (Let’s say that the interviewer says no)
Mission: FB’s mission is to connect people and to give them the tools to build better communities. Newsfeed makes sense in this mission because it serves curated content to the users which they are more likely to engage with, which in turn helps them build community. In short, Newsfeed increases consumption of content, increases engagement and builds communities
Stakeholders + Effects:
Users: Short Term: increased feeling of intimacy, more focused entertainment, decreased ease of switching between the two
Medium Term: Increased intimacy leads to more connections and more intimate communities
Long Term: More and closer knit communities
Creators (Video creators + article writers): Short Term: Decreased views on their content, but they have alternatives like Medium and Youtube and FB is their secondary channel anyway. Decreased engagement and feedback. But again, they have primary alternatives
Medium Term: less than optimal views and feedback equals less than optimal experience. So fewer creators
Long Term: possibly, creators leave completely
I’ll take a pause here to see if you have any inputs here?
Advertisers: Short Term: Fewer ad views, fewer ad clicks
Medium Term: Grabbing less public attention through FB, increase in alternatives for FB advertising
Long Term: Advertisers leave FB completely, for alternatives
Facebook itself: Short Term: Increased engagement amongst friends and families. Decreased engagement with content creators and ads. Increase in time spent, because of the feeling of intimacy amongst friends and family.
Medium Term: Increased monthly retention because of increased engagement amongst friends and family, decreased ad monetization
Long Term: More connections, bigger and more communities because of increased meaningful engagement, decreased monetization through ads.
Just to recap where we are, <summarize what we’ve done so far>
Proposing a way to validate this split:
Having looked at these effects, I would imagine that Facebook’s main focus is on the users and its mission of connecting them. This feature aligns with that mission. So I am positively inclined toward shipping this feature.
However, as a business, it also needs to survive. So it needs to either mitigate the effect of reduced views and engagement with media, OR, look at alternative sources of monetizing. My inclination is to go for the former, because another unique selling point for FB is that it’s free for the users. Hence, here is what I propose, as a trial for a 1% user base containing a sample representative of our overall user base:
Split the newsfeed into two tabs: the first, default tab for the media, so that when the users come to FB, they see the media content first. This might attract attention and tempt them to view and engage with more media content. The second tab for friends and family. My hypothesis here is that this tab, and the feeling of intimacy it’d offer would become the main attraction for them in FB and they’d be willing to do a small additional task of clicking on this tab. I would launch this feature in a place where bandwidth issues are almost non-existent, like USA, Japan or South Korea
The reason I’ve chosen the US, Japan or S.Korea is because we want to mitigate the possible loss of views on media content. Any bandwidth issues or buffering pauses would only exacerbate this loss. Hence it’s important to first try this out in places where the internet is decently fast
To validate this split, I’d divide my metrics again into two parts, metrics that are proxy for user value, and business a. User Value: # of users adding at least 3 meaningful comments per week on the family+friends tab; # of users viewing at least 10 media posts per week. These two would serve as leading indicators for retention, so it makes sense to optimize for these two.
A major tradeoff that I’d look at would be how these metrics can be gamed. For example, just increasing the size or color of the ‘Comment’ option could attract more comments, but that won’t tell us anything about future retention. For that, I’d additionally track the weekly retention on the both the friends+family tab and the Media tab.
b. Business: distance scrolled in the media tab per person. Optimizing for this would make it great for the advertisers and the creators and hopefully prevent them from leaving, long term.
One tradeoff I’d look at is that this metric can be misleading. An advertiser doesn’t just want a ‘view’ from the user, it wants attention. For this, we need to also track the amount of time spent watching each media post
Just to recap, <summarize the answer>