Editor’s Note: This post has been re-edited and republished to mark Facebook’s 10th-year anniversary. We hope you’d still find these lessons as relevant today as when we first published it.
Yup, Facebook is 10 years old! 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.
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.
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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