Posted to Volacci's blog on February 9th, 2012

The Social Network, Facebook, The Oscars and how they relate to marketing


the social network, facebook, marketing

With the Oscars upon us once again, I decided to dig up this great post from our former Social Media and SEO Specialist, who, ironically enough, is an Analyst at Facebook now. Her post about The Social Network, and business and social media strategy is still relevant almost a year later. Enjoy! -Mitch Holt, Internet Marketing Coordinator, Volacci

With more than 500 million users, the Facebook team has done something most companies only dream of: Starting out with very few resources, practically no marketing budget and a minimal launch staff, a group of college students created a multi-billion dollar empire.

What is clear from watching the movie is that Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, the founders of Facebook, understood and implemented a very basic, but brilliant, marketing strategy. They knew they didn’t have the capital, manpower or access to target a large audience. So they started small. They concentrated their limited resources and started by first securing just one elite group (Harvard) and then slowly expanding it to a few choice schools (the other Ivy Leagues). Before long and with minimal effort, Zuckerberg and Saverin had captured the entire university community.

Using Harvard as a base to market to the Ivy Leagues, and the Ivy Leagues as a base for the entire college community, Facebook had become a collective of more than one million users within a year of its launch.

So what can we, as viral marketers, social media makers and shakers, and self-proclaimed Internet gurus take away from The Social Network? Here are some of our thoughts:

Know the market. How was Zuckerberg able to alter the online habits of millions of people within a relatively short period of time? Simple. He knew where to start. And he may have been lucky here: Being a part of the Harvard network, Zuckerberg made a pretty obvious choice. But the same is true for all new companies. Who is already using a product similar to yours? Who will understand how to use your product? Who will benefit the most from your product? That’s a great place to start. It might not be the largest group of potential clients, but it’s a sure way to attract your initial customers.

Start small. In the movie, the ultimate success of Facebook boiled down to one night. The boys all gathered in Zuckerberg’s dorm room, ready to launch the then named All that was left was the email list-- who would get the initial invites. Zuckerberg and Saverin did not have the email addresses of everyone at Harvard, and somehow they knew they wouldn’t need them. If they targeted the trendsetters, the rest would surely follow. And they were right. Zuckerberg sent the invites to two lists: the residents of his dorm room and the prominent social club, The Phoenix. And within four days, most of the Harvard campus had signed up.

Concentrate your resources. Don’t try to reach everyone at once! Facebook’s early marketing success was not based on trying to get the word out to as many people as possible. They picked one pivotal group of students and put all of their efforts into attracting them. So when your marketing budgets are small, concentrate all of your resources on one focus group. As your company gains customers, you will be able to expand and move on to a new client base. And as that succeeds, to another one. And so on.

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