Facebook, Growth, and Exclusivity



Someone of us are over it, just like a song that’s played a thousand times on the radio. Some are still addicted. Just like that Taylor Swift song or Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Facebook was a sensation that everyone was a part of. Started by a college student, it’s our generations ultimate media start-up. If anyone dreams of making a billion dollars through media, this is where you start your research.

Fitting then that we start here as well, looking at how exactly Mark Zuckerberg went about designing the ultimate media outlet.

Facebook devoured the market for personal information sharing like that coder in the dorm basement devours free pizza. It started with exclusivity. The most important part of a start-up is creating the desire for people to consume your product. By making it available to .edu email addresses, Facebook took the idea of information sharing, made it easy to use, and then limited their audience. The idea of limiting the market for your product seems counter-intuitive to a media institution, where literally in media the most important part is gaining the widest audience possible.

But for it’s target audience, the hip college student, this was a genius innovation. You could be a part of something no one else was; one of a few sharing photos and swapping information with ease. Of course, once the cool kids have something, everyone wants it. If Facebook were an underground band, their biggest fans would say they sold out. They opened up after two years of exclusive content and everyone jumped on board. The high school kids thought they’d be as cool as the college students, the junior high students wanted to act like high school kids, and mom, dad and grandpa wanted to keep an eye on their kids. Four years after beginning in a Harvard dorm, Facebook had 100,000,000 users.

So how do we use this strategy to attract people to our sites? Where do we find that initial group of people to want to consume our product?

Starting within a community might be a direction to look in. A university website might be a similar starting place to utilize. Using a hyperlocal angle might be another. Drawing the initial offering of people in will lead to opportunities. Thinking about a smaller audience might be the key to creating a universal product that will satisfy hundreds of millions.

Reader question: How are you targeting your initial audience for your business or personal brand?


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