Like our new president, Mark Zuckerberg has cut out the media middleman. He’s communicating with people through his own platform, where he has amassed 88 million Facebook followers. And he’s not just talking to them about Facebook — he’s talking to them about himself.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s 2017 personal challenge: to travel to all 50 states and talk to “folks” about their lives and concerns for the future. Four months in, he is making good time on his vow. He’s already visited an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, sampled BBQ in Baton Rouge, and petted a baby longhorn (“so cute”) at a rodeo in Ft. Worth.
Often times the themes of these visits coincide with those in the sprawling 5,700-word letter that he posted in February arguing in favor of building a global community (and Facebook’s role as the “social infrastructure” underpinning all of it). After every trip, Zuckerberg posts earnest dispatches on his Facebook page, including images taken by the former Obama photographer who now accompanies Zuckerberg on his travels.
In classic Facebook fashion, however, Zuckerberg has launched this political campaign without really taking a political position. (How else did he become the new poster CEO for civic engagement without ever disclosing who he voted for?) Where candidates want to win over citizens to push through policies and ideologies, CEOs need soft power to smooth the way for their ideas and products. The listening tour and manifesto are an opportunity for Zuckerberg to strengthen his relationship with his 1.8 billion constituents.