About the author: Ekaterina Walter is a social media innovator at Intel, a speaker, and an author of the book “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg”. Walter was named among 25 Women Who Rock Social Media in 2012. She sits on a Board of Directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). You can find her on Twitter: @Ekaterina and her blog www.ekaterinawalter.com.
With over one billion users, Facebook is the king of social networking.
But it was a slow starter: MySpace and Friendster were already established when
Facebook was still a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. How did Facebook
leapfrog the competition to become a daily habit for more than half its users?
What led Mark Zuckerberg to such unprecedented success? And what’s next for the
I discuss the answers to these questions
in my new book “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business
Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg.”
I reveal the simple five-part formula the upstart Facebook CEO used to
change the world-and how any business leader can apply it to his/her own
company: Passion, Purpose, People, Product, Partnerships. In this post,
however, I would like to take a quick look at Facebook’s journey and where it
might be going.
Right from the start, Facebook proved that it was different
from other social networks. While MySpace allowed multiple accounts and
anonymous usernames, Facebook has always strived for dependability, deleting
phony profiles and duplicate accounts. “Having two identities for yourself is
an example of a lack of integrity,” Zuck believes. Zuck’s passion for openness
and transparency is at the root of this, and it has given Facebook a sense of
genuineness that proved popular with users looking for a communication tool
rather than a popularity contest.
Zuckerberg’s passion for connectivity pushed some of
Facebook’s most radical – and initially unpopular – innovations. The Newsfeed,
introduced in 2006, was a controversial feature when it launched. People were
unnerved to see their updates amalgamated into one location visible to their
network, but once they were used to the idea it became second nature to log in
to see a summary of friends’ activity. Membership soared, and soon checking
your Newsfeed became a daily habit for millions of people.
It was the introduction of photo tagging that really set
Facebook apart from the competition, even specialist photo sharing websites.
Facebook was becoming more than just a utility; it was becoming people’s social
graph. “Watching the growth of tagging,” said Matt Cohler, Facebook’s former
Vice President of Product “was the first ‘aha’ for us about how the social
graph could be used as a distribution system. The mechanism of distribution was
the relationships between people.”
More than any other social network, Facebook has become part
of our wider web experience. A recent
study by website monitoring service Pingdom found that almost 25% of the
top 10,000 websites in the world now have some form of official Facebook
integration on their homepage, and almost 50% have regular links to Facebook.
Facebook’s social login feature means that we can use our Facebook identity on the
wider web to stay logged in to sites and share information easily across
profiles. It has become natural to share photos, videos, news articles, and
even purchasing information effortlessly with our networks.
For the first time in
history brands are building global communities on Facebook on a scale never
heard of before. Coke, Starbucks, Red Bull and many others are getting more
visibility and engagement within their Facebook communities than they were ever
able to harness on their other forums. Intel’s community around the world, for
example, exceeds 23 million fans spanning over 50 countries, and it is a
privilege to touch so many of our consumers every day.
Zuckerberg has always been passionate about openness on the
web. At one time on his personal Facebook page, he listed his personal interest
as “openness, making things that help people connect and share what’s important
to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism.” He has achieved all of
those things and more, and as more and more sites activate their sites socially
that flow of information is only going to increase. Facebook has led the way in
the way we share and connect with our networks; what was unthinkable only a few
years ago is now natural for hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis. The
future holds an even greater level of openness and sharing as Zuckerberg and
his team continue to revolutionize the way we connect with each other and the
Everything about Facebook’s incredible eight-year journey
tells us one thing: not to second-guess Mark Zuckerberg. His passion for his
product, his long term vision and his apparent lack of interest in a quick buck
are good signs for users. Facebook have introduced unexpected features before
and while some have quickly disappeared, others have only made the site more
popular. The teams behind Facebook are smart and dedicated. They have a wealth
of social data available to them and are capable of coming up with innovative
solutions to increase profits without ruining the user experience.
But as Facebook marches forward, the company will definitely
face some challenges. Some of them are: expansion into mobile, striking a fine
balance between user satisfaction and integration of new types of ads,
appealing to generation Z and their digital habits. Facebook will also have to
achieve a reasonable balance between its constantly changing product features
and brand’s expectations as they are building their large communities on the
network. Achieving smooth strategic partnerships with brands has never been
company’s strongest suit.
There are things to work on, but I don’t see the company
slowing down any time soon. There is a speculation about Facebook achieving its
peak in 2012. I don’t believe that’s the case. But as company grows and expands
there is a danger of stagnation. Now more than ever Facebook will have to rely
on its hacker culture to keep them moving and the vision of its leader to keep
them innovating and evolving.