The big news in the world of social in the last 48 hours was Zuck’s announcement that Facebook is prioritising “privacy”. He talked about some of the changes to the platform – more emphasis on Groups and more content from your Groups appearing in your newsfeed, additional Group-objective related features, and plans to launch an encrypted common messaging platform across Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger, etc.

I’m not sure if it’s just me but here goes: I’m confused and I’m confused. Confused about FB’s revenue model which is basically adverts, and confused about how exactly this is good for all of us. In my simple brain, what’s going to happen is really advertising within Groups (groan…) and smaller echo-chambers (what they are calling your “digital living room”) where your weird - and possibly illegal - inclinations can be shared only with like-minded people, already part of your tribe anyway.

As cynical as I may be, the one thing I’m glad about is that all of this underscores the basic thing about social media: Trust. We may not realise this instinctively, but being social, being influential and being successful on social media is really about TRUST. Here's how.

On FB, you probably don’t care much about the posts from people you don’t know (and therefore have no bonds of trust with) unless they somehow hit a nerve. In which case, depending on how “social” you want to be, you might join in the chatter. Most of the people I know simply choose to ignore such situations. Don’t know you = no relationship = what you say doesn’t really matter. (And therefore neither does what you sell.)

That leaves the posts from people you do know, and therefore do have some measure of trust in. Again, you engage with these posts in some form, depending on time, and inclination towards the subject matter and person posting. But the point is always this: that you have an existing investment, some level of trust, back-story, belief and concern or care.

That’s FB though, which is a very different platform from say LinkedIn. The biggest difference – in my opinion – is we don’t tend to connect with total “strangers” on FB, whereas we DO on LinkedIn. Because of the veneer of professional trust the platform accords, and very much depending on our approach to establishing connections, we do accept to connect digitally with people we may never have met or known. The key though, as always, is what we end up doing after connecting.

If you connect and immediately sell or push something, you’re really a spammer. Stop it. 

If you connect and forget, you’re, well, a collector. What's the point?

If you neither connect nor engage, you’re a lurker. Again, what's the point?

If you connect and engage – ah! Now you’re on your way to establishing a much more meaningful relationship. Baby steps of “trust” you say? Yes, I say, especially if you’re adding value to that connection’s life and work. Do this enough and it'll yield tremendous value back to you regardless whether you are job-searching, prospecting, marketing or looking for information.

What does all this have to do with Zuck’s announcement? Well, it’s a testimony to the future of social media – that ultimately, it is based on forming real relationships. Anything else and it’s little more than a fool’s tool and a waste of time.

Back to my confusion. I don’t know how any of what FB is changing is really good for us, given FB’s business model – they are after all, still a business. But I do know how this is good for them, because now they have the ability to deny they know what’s being shared (because it’s encrypted) and the ability to avoid having to play censor against undesirable content. This is super troubling – but probably the subject of another post some other time! I’d imagine it’s a lot more productive for me to focus on building my digital network and relationships!