Face-to-Face with Facebook

An evening with Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada

Published: March 5th 2011
in Culture » Society

Jordan Banks

Let’s Face it, Facebook is everywhere and everyone’s on Facebook. They use it daily; consuming the content, sharing their photos and thoughts with friends; real or those manufactured by Facebook. It’s quite remarkable to think that people spend as much time as they do on Facebook without ever really knowing much about the people behind it, the philosophy of the company and how it’s run. The founder, Mark Zuckerberg, gets plenty of publicity, but it’s rarely face-to-face.


United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto (UJA) held an event on Thursday evening called Face-to-Face with Facebook, giving members of their Technology Division the opportunity to meet one of the key people behind the massive social network, Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada. Banks, however, wasn’t the only veteran of the tech industry at the event. Equally as impressive was Tomer Strolight, President of Torstar Digital, one of Canada’s great technology firms.


Strolight was both the host of the event, having provided his offices for the evening, and the interviewer in a two-person panel discussion between himself and Banks. The focus of the discussion was how Facebook can help corporations, which was followed by a question and answer session.


The term “social graph” was popularized by Facebook at the Facebook f8 conference in 2007. It’s a term used to describe “the global mapping of everyone and how they’re related” which more or less describes Facebook’s concept, a platform that provides relationships between person-to-person and person-brand.


Strolight and Banks focused on this concept and how brands can better utilize people’s personal relationships to grow. The influence that people have on each other, even within a digital divide, is immense. “When I see a product or service associated with my friends, I’m four times more likely to buy that product or service,” explained Banks.


Banks went on to describe four ways brands can better connect with their fans; Tugging on heart strings with a charitable component, using social currency such as discount on products, providing “15 minutes of fame” by elevating a person’s standings or social profile, and lastly, being human by speaking in a relevant way and not in corporate speak.


Touching on the philosophy of Facebook, Banks spoke of Zuckerberg and his ideology behind its creation, which is to make the world more open and accessible. Realizing that the world is simply too big for even Facebook to make it more social, the company introduce social plugins; applications that can be installed on other websites which communicate back to Facebook, and your friends, what you are doing outside of Facebook. Banks reveled that there are over one million websites which are currently using this advent.


Speaking of the effect Facebook has had on media outlets, Banks said that Facebook has changed the media landscape and the way people consume news.


“News used to be what was relevant to Walter Kronkite or Tom Brocaw, but that’s just not the case anymore,” he said. “News is the information that I want to consume, and the important part is, that it’s the information that I want to consume when I want to consume it, where I want to consume it and how I want to consume it.”


Banks went on to discuss Facebook’s privacy issues, which he said Zuckerberg considers one of Facebook’s most important and personal features and why they offer over 150 different privacy settings. However, at the end of the day Facebook is still a social network. “If you don’t want to share, don’t come on Facebook. That’s what Facebook is; sharing,” said Banks.


With the recent uprisings in the Arab world, it was expected that Facebook part’s would be discussed. “Social web’s role has been overblown. We’ve been given way too much credit for what has been happening,” said Banks.


The event was an intimate, interesting and engaging evening with two of the brightest minds in the Canadian technology industry sharing their knowledge with others, face to face.

Related articles: (Facebook, Jordan Banks, Torstar Digital, Tomer Strolight)
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