One month ago, I found heaps of articles related to Facebook. Surprisingly, this month I haven’t seen anything yet. What is going on Facebook? Don’t mess with me, I am sure you are onto something. Do you want to know why I know it? Because since you planned to become a normal organization, things started to go wrong. You, Facebook, are a clear example of how to build a successful website but a kind of disastrous business.
In its early start, Facebook was like an innocent 7 year-old boy. He was just curious and wanted to know who was out there, he wanted friends. Now it is like an unscrupulous business man. A proper definition of business I learned at LSE is: an entity or organization that trades with something. Apply it to Facebook:
- Is Facebook an entity or organization? Well, it seems so. They have their different positions and roles, people interact between each other to achieve a common goal and so on. Answer: Yes.
- Does it trade with something? The answer is trickier. Facebook’s main value is information, our information. At first, you could think that no one will pay for your information (dozens of pics of your holidays in Italy and some infrequent post about politics or friends). Oh dear! You are so wrong! Companies want every piece of data they can get from you. Haven’t you seen those ads on the right of your wall? They look so much for you, right?
On May 2012 Facebook decided it was time to turn into a serious company so they went public. Then, everything changed. Since then, these are among others some of the functionalities or changes they made:
- Sending a message to someone you do not know will cost you $1 (under testing in the US).
- If you like a Facebook page of a company, it will be shown on your friends’ wall.
- If you are very cocky, you can pay for showing your post first line on your friends’ walls.
Apart from that, they are even studying the competition, like usual companies do! They believe Google could be dangerous so they have started a similar search engine focused on people. For example, if you want to know who has been in Australia lately, just click it and a list of your traveler friends will pop up.
And to end up with the description, Facebook is trying really hard to give credibility to its business model but they are forgetting something important: mobile devices. Have you used Facebook on your smartphone? Then you know what I am talking about. It’s simply wrong. How can a serious technology company forget a so important matter?
Global Smartphone Unit Sales Forecast (Source: Business Insider)
Studying the strong increase of smartphones’ shipping, it is incredible that Facebook still wants to get money from advertising and information trading rather than providing an acceptable application.
But please be gentle, Facebook didn’t start as a business so all the previous mistakes are obvious. Zuckerberg didn’t have in mind when he started to make money from this. Now, he has been forced to do so if he wants to keep it up. What happened? He does not know where to go. So think for a second about this case. If you want to start something, remember the word: Strategy. Always define a plan declaring who your customers are, how they will pay you and more importantly, why. It is very honest to start something just for fun, but notice that if your purposes change on the way, your effort will be higher. Do your homework before and be prepared, do not build the house from the roof.
Entrepreneurs, we all would love to be like Zuckerberg but his path is hard to follow. Many businesses started as a fun activity to spend their leisure time and noticed too late they could make money of it. Be prepared and think if you can make money of what you are creating. If so, develop your strategy. Facebook is one alone – maybe together with Google and few ones. It does not mean Zuckerberg was lucky but if you want to succeed you have to work hard on your ideas, moreover on your strategy.
To be honest, we did that mistake too. We started a business blog and did not think for a second about our strategy. I guess we are just too romantic for that.