Last night I finally got to see “The Social Network” movie. As a huge fan of Facebook and social networking I knew I would enjoy it – I think I was a bit more surprised at how much my husband enjoyed it.
He is intrigued by Facebook because he knows it plays a huge role in my business (although he still says he has no clue what I do) and yet he isn't comfortable enough to really get involved in the wide world of Facebook.
Let me say, before I get started, that yes I know it is a movie and not 100% accurate but it still provided lessons that we should learn from. In case you haven't seen the movie I will try really hard not to give anything away.
1. You have to know when and how to monetize. Yes Facebook is huge and seems to be successful from the outside looking in. But did you know that according to Facebook, in September of 2009 it turned cash flow positive for the first time. That's 5 years and 7 months from the date it was launched. It was able to survive that long with the support of angel investors and venture capitalist which brings us to point #2.
2. Sometimes you need to hook up with those who know the right people. The question is – could these kids from Harvard really have been able to hold onto the company for the long run? Yes the movie was probably skewed a little but it sure made Sean Parker look like a snake but none the less a snake with good connections.
3. Social Networking is about just that – networking. Not about selling or buying. The reason the site worked in the first place is because of a few very important things – exclusivity (you had to be invited) and Zuckerberg understood that people wanted to know things about other people.
Why is People magazine so successful? Because we are all nosey and want to know about what is going on in celebrities lives. But we don't just want to know about celebrities – we want to know about our friends, colleagues and anyone else we meet. When you are introduced to someone what is the first thing you want to do? Find out more about them. I remember a time, not too long ago, when you had to call around to see who knew what about the person – now you can Google them, look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
So why does that work for business? Because as we become more accustomed to being able to quench our curiosity about people online then it is a natural progression that we would want to be able to get our questions answered about businesses online. Thank God for curiosity. Why do you think sites like Facebook, Wikipedia and Google are so successful? They make all that information easy for you to get to.
Now don't forget I mentioned exclusivity earlier. This was a main draw to Facebook in the beginning. You had to belong to certain schools and be invited by your friends to participate. What do people do when they can't have something? They want it even more. They will do whatever it takes to get it.
So why is exclusivity important to business? Perception = Value! Remember that. You will hear me say it often. When you are not available to the masses then you are perceived as being more valuable. Why is a Lexus or a Mercedes deemed to be more valuable than say a Honda. Because not just anyone can afford them – it is like belonging to an exclusive club.
I do recommend the movie. I hope that when you see it you will pay attention to the ah-ha moments that Zuckerberg has throughout. It is a tribute to those who have an idea and run with it immediately instead of sitting on it.