You might not think it to be true, but our friend Facebook has really revolutionized the digital world from its inauguration back in 2004. It’s not only good for helping our mothers scroll endlessly to the pits of the earth but has some other important functions as well. Since its arrival, it has changed the way we connect with the people of the world and has also brought changes in the world of marketing and business. What started out as a simple “hot or not” social game ended up being the base for a global phenomenon. Pretty amazing, right?
So let’s dig in a little to find out exactly how Facebook came to be what it is today and how Mark Zuckerberg turned his idea into a billion-dollar business.
Where to begin?
Well, a “Facebook” can be defined as a student directory featuring photos and basic information. In 2003, when Mark Zuckerberg was still in college, there were no universal online “facebooks” at Harvard, with only paper sheets distributed and private online directories. Taking this as an opportunity, Zuckerberg started writing the code for such a platform that was virtual and would have all the data of the students at Harvard.
In January 2004, Zuckerberg began writing code for a new website, known as “TheFacebook”, with the base inspiration from FaceMash. Zuckerberg met with Harvard student Eduardo Saverin, and each of them agreed to invest $1,000 in the site. On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched it under the name of TheFacebook.
Now, the origin story of Facebook has rattled up a lot of controversy in the past and even in the present. There were lawsuits against Zuckerberg claiming that he had stolen the idea of Facebook from fellow Harvard seniors. Even though there is probably truth to those statements, it was not conclusive and so it remains a mystery.
FaceMash and Hot or Not
In October of 2002, James Hong and Jim Young created the website called Hot or Not. The site was a technical solution to a disagreement the founders had one day over a passing woman’s attractiveness. Within a week of launching, it had reached almost two million page views per day. And within a few months, the site was immediately reigning CNET and NBC on Nielsen Rating’s top 25 advertising domains.
A few years after the launch of Hot or Not, Mark Zuckerberg launched his website called FaceMash. The two sites are basically the same thing: deem a woman to be “hot or not” by looking at their pictures side by side. FaceMash and Facebook happened at the same time. So we can say that it may have inspired Zuckerberg to make Facebook but even that is still a question mark.
The success of Facebook
Now that we have all the bases covered, we can delve a little deeper into what actually made Facebook so distinguishable and powerful. Facebook made roughly 70.7 billion dollars in revenue in 2019 alone! There are a few things that mainly contributed to the overall success of Facebook, not only as a social networking website but also a great place for marketing. Some of them are mentioned below:
It moved fast: Zuckerberg did not have a business plan, do market research, or have any contingencies lined up when he started Facebook. Instead, he just went for it and took the risk.
Execution is key: Whether you are against Zuckerberg or not on the whole “whose idea was it?” propaganda, you have to admit that he was the one to actually execute this plan. The age-old battle of creation credit may continue but the results won’t change.
Keep it Simple: A mistake easy to make is overbuilding. Rather than going over the top, Mark kept his ideas simple and easy to navigate. Zuckerberg and the Facebook team improved the platform over the course of time. And, each time, they made sure that the service was still user-friendly.
Figure out your threats and be aware of them: No company can be entirely safe from the hands of competition; well, unless you run a monopoly. But that isn’t the usual case, and the same was for Facebook. It was not the only social networking website of its time but it progressed forward while the others didn’t because Zuckerberg took it one step at a time. He did not preach anything he couldn’t serve on Facebook and that has helped it stay relevant and competitive.
Hire well and also fire well: Mark Zuckerberg believes that the strength of a company has nothing to do with its technology or current products. It has to do with its people. And so, by hiring the right people while getting rid of the wrong ones, your business can prosper.
Don’t always target “focus groups” – expand your horizon: This is not only a practice of Zuckerberg but also of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. According to Jobs, customers don’t even know what they want. Hence, provide them with what you can and keep everyone as your audience. Diversify both your base and your product line.
It’s safe to say that everyone has mixed feelings about Facebook, I think that’s something we can all agree on. But even so, you cannot really claim that it hasn’t made a great impact on the way we connect with each other. Facebook paved the way for social media websites and also digital marketing to an extent.
Mark Zuckerberg may have already faced and will probably face a lot of allegations against him in the future but we have to give credit when it is due. He made this billion-dollar business in his dorm room with the help of his friends and he has kept it going even through all the controversies. A lot to learn from this mystery of a man!
In conclusion, your successful future could be exactly what you’re planning right now – if you don’t make a move, someone else will. When do YOU want to enter the game?