7 Social Networking Secrets Revealed by Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

I’ve been thinking of blogging about the movie on Mark Zuckerberg and his journey to the first 1000,000 friends, ever since I saw the movie. A “MUST” watch cult movie, for sure! However, I was not so impressed by the Hollywood allegory and dramatization. I liked the warm, fuzzy promo film about Steve Case’ AOL – “You got mail” a whole load better.

The Social Network, based on vignettes from Zuck’s story focuses on his notoriety, stole the idea, screwed his best pal, short sold his mentor, rather than the key lessons that you can and should take out of life if you want to build successes the way Zuckerberg’s Social Network has done in the last 10 years.

Here are seven wonderful lessons learned from Mark Zuckerberg’s Social Network:

Start where you stand

Look at the REAL or IMAGINED needs, desires, fantasies that people like you, have and share around you, and work on that. True, the original idea was to build a Harvard connections network, much like a LinkedIn, but Mark built a compare site on “hotness” and put all the pictures he could filch and hack from sorority houses facebook sites. This is one of the apps which all newbies on Facebook spend at least 15 minutes or longer with.

Focus on Fire Starters

The critical point for early adoption is to hang out with other early movers. One interesting insight shared by one of characters in the movie was, “Hey! my inbox is flooded with some 75 invites I got from folks I know to join this network, in the last 2 days”. Focus on that statement- FOLKS I KNOW, and then my inbox got flooded.

Use Authenticity

Facemash, the hotness comparison site, probably the precursor to Facebook, used real faces, albeit without permission and probably breached every privacy law in the process. It was also the reason why a huge number of folks got on board and crashed the servers in 4 hours of being up. Nothing beats REAL people, PEOPLE you know, than hanging out among anonymous strangers. The Social Network has almost killed the internet chat room.

Build Reach, in Layers

There’s no magic here, but most folks get this part wrong when they go building LinkedIn communities, Facebook pages, or even social media marketing campaigns. One size does not fit all, and too much reach, too early can kill. Go after your users, your audience, and one fraternity group/ sorority club at a time. Today, all social networks encourage you to check other friends on your gmail, yahoo, hotmail email accounts. How many of such invites do you accept? Go back to point number 2 to understand why you accept the invites you do accept. To know more, read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point”.

Focus on interactivity

What do you do after the ‘friend’ likes your FaceBook fan page? Do you re-tweet, or shout out, or #FollowFriday on twitter? Mark focused on offline activity like relationship statuses, political views, religious views, to help folks find people like themselves to hang out with offline. What offline behaviour, social or otherwise, does your social networking and social media marketing campaign encourage?

Develop consumer insight

Follow the conversations and interactions, watch where the share buttons are being pressed, and play to it. Is it a wonder that Zynga, the applications developer locked in step with FaceBook has grown faster in influence, size, market cap, just by creating addictive social games such as Farmville and the like? Lesson: keep away from trying to drive an experience, social media is all about users creating their own experiences, smart social media marketers will understand that and find ways to let folks do what they want to in more and more addictive and habit forming ways.

Lose “THE”

This is the EUREKA moment in the movie. Justin Timberlake playing the character of the edgy, barely legal but brilliant founder of Napster, Sean Parker, walks away from the table after sharing dreams of a billion dollar startup to an impressionable Mark, with a suggestion which took the experience from “THE FACEBOOK” by Mark and Co to FACEBOOK, where over 1 billion folks are busy creating the brand and making Mark richer every second. Social media success is built on not just what is delivered but what is expected but not yet stated. “THE” is definitive, without it, you have an experience which you can define for yourself. Mark and FaceBook’s founding team did it by creating a simple experience, which allowed over 1 billion, and counting, users add their content, build their communities and define their context.

So, how many enemies are you willing to make to stay true to your dreams?


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  1. RKT (Dust Mapper)

    I especially like your first point. I’m realizing that “start where you stand” can’t be emphasized enough, in as many contexts of life as possible. I’d go so far to say not just the desires of “people like you” but “you”– your own desires and interests — are the sustainable drivers for our endeavors.

    Standing where we are necessitates we discard almost all other whims and drive-by ideas that float around the streams, but gives us the ‘compass’ we’re ultimately looking for.

    One disagreement about ‘identities’ — I feel both anonymous and semi-nonymous are also here to stay. Twitter is by and large semi-nonymous, and provides a solid counterweight to Facebook largely because of this. I think semi-nonymity allows people to express ideas that they normally wouldn’t, and there are lots of stuff we all want to share w/o a direction connection to our physical identities.

    Thanks very for sharing your insights!

    1. J. Vikram Bakshi

      Good insights, RKT! on identity, every trust study that is coming out, keeps emphasizing that credibility is built on identity alone. So while you may have a “house” view or a “personal” view, on FaceBook, and Twitter, your immediate and long term success is built on consistency, and conversations>

  2. TheDudeDean

    I don’t know if I can lose the “The”, I like my The.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Just losing the “THE” from your Twitter name would already be saving you 3 precious characters on Twitter 🙂 Thanks for the comment Dean. Welcome to the Smedio community.

      1. TheDudeDean

        So far it hasn’t been hurting me that much so I’ll think that I’ll keep it.

        1. wattspublishing

          Gotta say, DudeDean is catchy!!!! Might be something to it. Never hurts to digg a little deeper Dude : ) Sometimes the great ideas are right in front of our face.

          Much Success!

    2. J. Vikram Bakshi

      That’s because it’s you! 😉 On a serious note, it’s better to let the community define your experience rather than you defining it for them. That’s the secret of success for almost all virally propogated social media tools.

  3. martha

    Great article! Whether it’s all true or not, at least we know some analytical thought went into it. Thanks.
    Martha Tucker

    1. J. Vikram Bakshi

      Thanks @Martha! appreciate your kind words. Would like your views on my other posts as well – you can find them on jvbakshi.wordpress.com

  4. Anonymous

    i think that point 2 2. Focus on Fire Starters is very important. Focus on people who shares!

    1. J. Vikram Bakshi

      Not just shares, but also people who others like, and listen to, @adriana. A good way to find that out is how many comments and RT’s which of your friends get. The ones with the largest number is your fire starter. And she exists in every category and topic. 🙂

  5. Stephen Chapman

    Wow. At first, I thought to myself, “this is the link bait title of the century!” I came here expecting to read something literally written/spoken by Mark himself, but then I re-read the title and had that “a-ha” moment. lol. Good article, even though I did expect something different initially. =)


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  7. Nabomita

    Well written and rightly presented ! Just one more addition, to the points mentioned, find a connect in the community by creating entry barriers. What Mark mentioned as ‘getting punched’ , holds the exclusivity to be ‘in league’ and offers equal amount of privacy eventually.

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  9. Sara F Comito

    Build reach, in layers. I like that. Real growth is always organic. Just because you have access to someone at their front door doesn’t mean you can let yourself in and make a sandwich – not right away, anyway.

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  12. Miguel Ferreyra

    The general concept, it has exposed in terms of what you saw and created on Facebook and film. But the dynamic engine of Facebook as they would not elaborate mocking their creative abilities with his initiative. The “Theft of Identity”through a page’s an offense that involves any of the things that we delve into Facebook we wonder: They’re stealing personal information from our email or is it just a trick is more than Microsoft, how can Facebook to be a “Call Internet as a giant” does not possess or is created the user ID for email. “This sums up one of the basic laws of the Internet.

    No e-mail = No Social Account

  13. Miguel Ferreyra

    The general concept, it has exposed in terms of what you saw and created on Facebook and film. But the dynamic engine of Facebook as they would not elaborate mocking their creative abilities with his initiative. The “Theft of Identity”through a page’s an offense that involves any of the things that we delve into Facebook we wonder: They’re stealing personal information from our email or is it just a trick is more than Microsoft, how can Facebook to be a “Call Internet as a giant” does not possess or is created the user ID for email. “This sums up one of the basic laws of the Internet.

    No e-mail = No Social Account

  14. JC

    The best advice here is “The tipping point”. Read it. It’s revealing. And brilliant

  15. Barb Smith

    So true!! Very basic stuff about interacting with other -humans- … the people on the other end of the technology!  If we all think back to what our Grandmothers and Mothers told us about making friends, all these points will resonate and ring true.

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