In what he claims was his first speech at a University, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke at Brigham Young University in Provo this morning. Along with Senator Orrin Hatch, Zuckerberg answered pre-selected questions for about an hour.
The format was pretty well suited for the large crowd of about 10,000, but to me seemed to be more about Hatch than Zuckerberg. Nevertheless there were a few good takeaways.
Zuckerberg was pretty humble about his success. He claimed though he is the public face of the company, nothing would get done if it weren’t for the other employees of Facebook. How does he do it? “Make sure everyone you add is really great.”
Though the service has 600 million users, Facebook is only composed of 2000 employees. Leveraging technology and an open source platform creates that kind of scalability. Zuckerberg said the company has a philosophy that “an independent developer should always be able to create something better than a big company.”
Regarding entrepreneurship, he said the biggest attribute any business person needs is to “love and believe in what you’re doing.” There are many challenges along the way and he concluded with my favorite quote, “No normal person would want to build a company.” Normal people wait for things to happen. Exceptional people make things happen.
There were some general questions asked about Facebook that I thought Zuckerberg provided some insight into. He said Facebook solved a human problem. We look at Facebook as a technical phenomenon, but the core of its success is it solves a human problem of how to connect with people we know. In Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, he said successful people solve interesting problems and that’s the key to keeping yourself essential in our modern economy. Mark Zuckerberg has done that.
He pointed out with Facebook, we can stay in touch passively with people and still maintain the connection. My personal experience supports this and I’ll bet yours does too.
Transparency and Change
Alluding to the political climate in the Middle East, Zuckerberg said “transparency would be transformative.” However his development of Facebook was clearly for business. “Businesses can’t hide behind a big corporate veil anymore.” Neither can governments, the media or any other public organization.
When pushed on the political aspect, he said the Internet gives everyone a voice. Additionally he claimed more connection equals more empathy and a project within Facebook is physically demonstrating a rising number of connections between people in Israel and neighboring Arab countries.
Hopefully Mr. Zuckerberg will be back to Utah and provide more insight. Thanks to Senator Hatch for bringing the Facebook founder to Utah.
He said, “We may be ahead of the curve right now, but our competitors are going to catch up. If we adopt your strategies, where will we be when the competition does too?” (Paraphrase)
I said, we’ll still be ahead. The reason is simple – we understand social media. The future of online marketing is people will no longer search for what they want to buy, they will ask their friends/contacts for recommendations or the needed information will naturally come to them.
I’ve been thinking and teaching this for a while…but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. Now I know how and the unanswered question is when.
made Microsoft, with its history of monopolistic bullying, appear marginally but noticeably less evil to the outside world, and especially to the independent software developers that are his core audience.
Frankly, I really went to see him, but Phil Windley stole the show. Dr. Windley is a top Utah technology blogger, CTO and co-founder of Kynetx. Basically Dr. Windley explained how relevant content would be instantly delivered to web users…without having to track user’s personal information.
The Kynetx version is called the “Live Web” and could bring consumers conveniences like knowing automatically when their refrigerated food is going to expire. (That data is already on the bar code.) How about automatically generating an expense report based on flight info and foursquare checkins?
Kynetx may not be the company that creates, defines or owns this market, but they’ve certainly got a chance. Regardless, someone will. Imagine only seeing online ads for things you’re interested in. No more spam!
How about news? Only see the topics you’re interested in. Never see another headline about (insert your least favorite sport, celebrity, politician here.) If you ever want to hear about that topic, you’ve got a friend on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn who is an expert and will share.
Now that we know the what and the how, the question is when. That’s exactly the question I asked Dr. Windley and Mr. Scoble when I got the opportunity to speak with them. Neither would venture a guess. That’s a fair answer too. It’s not about the technical ability, it’s about the controllers of the data/technology giving it up. The tech exists now, it’s a matter of coordinating it all.
Proprietary information is what creates value. However, we’re looking at a system where information yearns to breathe free, but businesses still need to make a profit. That’s where the delay lies. Until a profit model is demonstrated, consumers are going to be stuck in the current model of spam and unsolicited herbal Viagra ads.
Marketers are stuck in a sort of purgatory right now too. We know the old methods don’t work, but management insists upon using them. Forward thinking management wants to see a return on investment for their social media marketing dollars.
I’m of the opinion the smartest investment, whether business or personal, is in connecting with people. Connecting, not selling. When the Live Web or Web 3.0 comes around…and it will…sooner than you think…the business/person/brand with the best people connections will come out ahead. If you can manage that task cheaply and effectively through social media…it’s even better.
Last week Chrysler made a social media faux pas. They accidentally dropped the “F” bomb. Well…the social media company they hired dropped the bomb. Actually somebody at the social media company did.
What was the offensive tweet? (Fair warning, adult conversation with adult words is about to happen.)
@ChryslerAutos – “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.”
As a result of one word, the employee lost their job and a few days later, the entire agency was fired. Meanwhile at the Academy Awards, everyone thinks Melissa Leo’s passionate blurting of the F bomb was no big deal.
Ironically Chrysler’s new spokesman is Eminem, a Detroit rapper famous for his profanity laden rhymes. But the social media person is the one that got fired. They’re the one that didn’t meet the standard of
Chrysler Group and its brands do not tolerate inappropriate language or behavior, and apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this communication.
I don’t care. Most adults don’t. That’s the reality of social media. We now see things transparently. The stereotypical 50’s families like Ozzy and Harriet never existed. Clever Hollywood types presented this illusion of perfection as reality, but it’s not. Reality is full of curse words, alcohol, sex and all sorts of other things adults have proven over and over to be able to handle.
Chrysler is making a bigger ass of themselves by making an issue of this. If you’re going to fire this company, fire Eminem too. Transparency shines a light on everything good and bad.
In the transparent age, we need to be more forgiving. Not only is Chrysler hypocritical for firing their social media company, they’re hypocritical for firing them for a genuine mistake. How many cars does Chrysler recall each year for mistakes? I’ll bet it’s more than one!
We no longer live in a sanitized world. If we crave transparency, we have to accept everything that light illuminates. America elected a President with a DUI. We tolerated Dick Cheney’s off mic profanity. We’ll just have to accept an accidental F bomb from the car company Eminem reps.
Oh the humanity…
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