Facebook Press Conference: Announcement of Features or Brand Positioning?

By now most of us have either watched the live stream of the Facebook press conference yesterday or sifted through the recap blog posts today (Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and All Facebook have some nice recaps and follow up interviews). While the revamped “Groups” are pretty exciting for focusing and improving conversations on Facebook’s social graph and the “Download Your Information” and “Applications You Use” are solid steps forward for users who want easier access to their information, it was Mark Zuckerberg’s soliloquies (minus the “and, ums”) about “what Facebook is” that were most interesting to me

Watching Mark speak reminded me of sitting in the classroom furiously scribbling down notes while the enlightened PhD opened my mind to new ways of reading Faulkner or Shakespeare. He truly has vision when it comes to the social web and for the first time in awhile he closely aligned that vision with the Facebook brand, using just a few words: Facebook solves social problems. That’s what Facebook does. The Facebook team sits in Silicon Valley, engineering algorithms and building the platform and applications that connect us, finding ways to break down the barriers that divide us. When we run into frustrations on the social web Facebook will be there to ease our annoyances.

Seems like a pretty drastic departure from the big bad privacy violator Facebook was just a couple of months ago. Or the egocentric, pet project, of a shady Harvard kid that Facebook was, well, just a week ago. And the best part? The presses largely agree. Tons of fawning posts steadily streamed out over the past 24 hours and none of my emails subscriptions featured links to pesky movie reviews.

Props to the Facebook PR team for crafting some targeted messages that allowed Mark to steer the conversation away from the controversy and back to the revolutionary ideas and social products his team is cranking out.

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