Newhouse NYC Office Tour: Visiting Facebook’s Headquarters
On Tuesday, October 27, students in the Social Media class had the opportunity to visit Facebook’s NYC office. After a tour (and an extended pit stop to raid the office’s impressive snack kitchen—see below), we got to sit down with Kate Barker, a Client Solutions Manager at Facebook who works with Procter & Gamble’s brands. Here are some of the highlights:
Bold innovation is at the core of everything Facebook does
Being open, being bold and moving fast are important aspects of Facebook’s company culture. You can see the words printed on posters all around the office as a reminder, but these three ideas mean so much more than motivational decorations. They have been internalized by the company’s dedicated staff in New York, across the country and around the world. For example, have you ever wondered why and how Facebook is constantly launching new apps? According to Kate, it’s because of the company’s bold, open-minded engineers who are constantly innovating at lightning speed to help users have the best experience possible.
You have to find what fuels you
Long hours and frequent travel are part of Kate’s job. When you’re faced with an intense daily schedule, every day can start to feel like an entire week (and yes, that’s on a poster, too). The top executives at Facebook realized this and how it would start to impact the productivity of their employees. As a result, they introduced “Fuel” as a way to encourage a healthy work-life balance. If you’re a parent who wants to slip out a bit early to see her son’s soccer game, that’s OK. If you want to take a later workout class on Friday mornings, Facebook says that’s fine, too. Kate explained that “Fuel” is an example of how the company treats its employees with trust and respect for their personal lives outside of the office.
Mobile is surpassing TV (just in case you forgot!)
I had to throw in a more technical highlight because this seemingly straightforward fact is at the core of the social media revolution. It’s something you read about in the news, hear about at work and are reminded of every time you pick up your phone, but the constant coverage is not without good reason. Such a drastic shift hasn’t been seen since TV overtook radio. When TV came out on top, content creators quickly realized you would never run a radio spot on television; it’s not what viewers want. Similarly, the creative team at Facebook would argue advertisements and videos are often published on mobile platforms in the same form as they would appear on TV, and it’s not working. Our phones are glued to our hands, and Facebook wants its content to be the best in the mobile game. There’s a reason one out of every five minutes we spend on mobile (including texting and calling) is spent on Facebook.
If you can’t have Option A, Facebook reminds you to “kick the shit out of Option B.”
Another key element of Facebook’s culture is doing the best work possible where you are, with what you have. Nothing at the company is cast off as someone else’s problem, and employees at all levels know that sometimes in order to move forward and survive in the cut throat world of media, hard conversations need to be had. “Kick the shit out of Option B” is a company motto that holds a special place in Facebook’s heart, as it was inspired by Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s resiliency following the passing of her husband. Life will not always go as planned, but it will always keep moving, and you have to move with it.
Sometimes it’s OK not to be the trendiest one in the room.
We constantly hear people talking about how millennials aren’t using Facebook anymore, and that may be true to a certain extent, but Kate reminded us that the platform attracts a much wider audience than just teens and young adults. She argued that, at its core, Facebook serves a very utilitarian purpose. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as a way of connecting people. Today, the company isn’t concerned with being the trendiest platform out there. The focus is on creating something that will last. Making the world more open and connected isn’t a very cutting-edge idea anymore, but it is certainly one that will stand the test of time. Now that we’ve gotten a taste of how interconnected the world can be, there’s no going back. Facebook is here to stay, and you’re going to want to see what they have planned! (Hint: Do you think that the virtual reality craze is really cool and could have a huge impact on the world? Facebook does, too.)
Thanks Kate for inspiring (and feeding) us!
—Leah Fagen, Newhouse NYC student and junior PR major