A brand’s impact to its consumers can easily be determined by their loyalty and frequency of usage. Over the past weeks, we’ve been looking at brands that have achieved these and more. In our previous blogs, we’ve explored the principles that characterize Apple and the standards that define Google. Today, we’re concluding our three-part series with the brand that launched a billion users—Facebook.
Almost everyone you know is on Facebook. In fact, 1 out of 7 people on the planet is on Facebook. Even businesses have Facebook pages in order to maximize their reach. Facebook has become an integral part of our lives to the point that most of us couldn’t let a day pass without checking it! According to a survey done by IDC Research, the average smart phone user checks Facebook 14 times a day. Facebook has dominated the social media scene in a short span of time and has eliminated its direct competitors in a snap.
The Facebook Inception
Mark Zuckerberg initially created Facemash.com on October 23, 2003. The aim of this site was to put two photos side by side so that Harvard students can choose who’s hot and who’s not. Zuckerberg hacked the Harvard database for the pictures and was later reprimanded for it. Facemash was shut down four hours after it was put up. Motivated by his frustration, Zuckerberg launched Facebook.com on January 11, 2004. Since there was a need for a centralized website for all Harvard students, he took the opportunity to build the site to allow students to connect with each other. Within 24 hours, it had 1,200 students registered. Two months after, Facebook expanded to other Ivy League schools such as Yale, Stanford, and Columbia. On June 2004, Facebook received its first investment from PayPal founder Peter Thiel worth $500,000 thus acquiring 10.2% of the company. By the end of that year, a million profiles were created on Facebook.
Facebook’s unstoppable growth continued when it officially became open to the rest of the world in 2006. Despite experiencing a financial slump the previous year and mulling over a 1-billion acquisition proposal from Yahoo!, Zuckerberg and his team faced these hurdles head on. In 2007, Facebook received a $60-million investment from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing and a $240-million investment from Microsoft. In 2009, Facebook officially surpassed MySpace and became the new social network leader. The company’s remarkable success was later on captured in the big screen with the release of the movie “The Social Network” on October 1, 2010. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in a smart move to eliminate a growing competitor. That same year, Facebook first appeared in Interbrand’s list of Best Global Brands. In 2013, it jumped from number 69 to number 52, making Facebook the biggest riser this year in Interbrand’s annual report.
The Facebook Effect
The way Facebook has changed the way people interact and communicate with each other is a feat that no company can match—at least for now. With five new profiles being created per second, it is evident that Facebook will keep the social media throne for an indefinite period of time. Despite Facebook invading our lives and privacies, most of us still patronize the social networking site. Why is that? Because Facebook makes the site revolve around its users and it always brings something new to the table.
Zuckerberg’s priority has always been its users. It’s all about them and what Facebook can do for them. For years he turned down advertisers until they started hiring executives who handled the finance and business side of Facebook. All he really cared about was improving his product and reinforcing its mission “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Before the company went public, Zuckerberg wrote a letter to his shareholders telling them that Facebook was created to “accomplish a social mission” by strengthening the way people relate to each other. In a nutshell, he sent the message that people take precedence over business.
From the time Facebook was created, it has pushed its boundaries repeatedly. Zuckerberg likes to make small changes and execute them fast. Facebook had integrated changes to the site which were received with a mix of approval and criticism. People were initially horrified with the News Feed and Timeline but later on embraced it as if it were really part of the original Facebook scheme. Zuckerberg summarizes this strategy as, “move fast and break things.” The company has embraced the “hacker way” as part of their culture where improving things and challenging the status quo is of primary importance. Facebook does not ask for permission from its users to change things. Sure they listen to user requests but most of the time they initiate the change and let the people see its benefits.
The Facebook Influence
In a short amount of time, Facebook has connected the world. Your business may not be as encompassing but it definitely has an impact on your consumers. Whatever your product or service is, keep your customers in mind whenever you’re coming up with new ideas or innovations. Stick to your company’s mission and let it be the compass that guides you in your decision making—may it be a complex business strategy or a simple product launch. Do not be afraid to shake things up and integrate change in your business most especially if you think that this will ultimately be beneficial to your clients. Being a business owner gives you the privilege to call the shots and steer the wheel. Just make sure that at every turn, your consumers enjoy the ride.