I've been just unbelievably busy of late. For one thing, we've got a big event this week at work, which is keeping me quite occupied.
But I did finally find 30 minutes to read through the nice article in this month's Vanity Fair about that other software company founded by a Harvard drop-out: Facebook Leans In.
If you've seen The Social Network or watched the 60 Minutes episode or even if you've just been anywhere but buried in a cave above the Arctic Circle, you probably know a lot of this already.
But the article is well-written, and well-researched, and worth reading if you're at all interested about the way that technology, culture, and business are commingling.
A few of my favorite bits:
- A nice look back at how the advertising industry has undergone a series of technology-driven upheavals:
Month after month, the technology’s popularity grew astronomically. In just one year, the number of users of the free service exploded by 2,500 percent, but still, no one could quite figure out how to make money from this gigantic audience. We’re talking not about Facebook here but about radio, which, at first, like social networks, seemed destined to be a financial flop. And in that tale—and in the history of advertising, from newspapers to Google—lie lessons to remember when considering the prospects for Facebook.
- A succinct summation of how advertising adapted to the Internet, and vice versa:
companies had access for the first time to people on the verge of buying, with ads displayed only after users signaled their interest in particular products by the words in their searches. Click-throughs, pay-per-click, and marketing based on someone’s intent to buy became widely accepted as the long-hidden secrets that had cracked the code
- A great sound bite about how Facebook once again stood the world on its head:
There was no click leading to a quick purchase, as with Google, or a push to buy a particular product, as with broadcast commercials. “There was a period when all the [chief marketing officers] said, ‘If you can’t be TV, can you at least be search?,’ because they understood that,” Sandberg says. “But we’re not search, and we’re not TV. We’re a third thing.”
- A solid illustration of that tangling of technology, culture, and business that I mentioned earlier:
entire divisions have been created within companies with the job of interacting with customers on Facebook. For example, L’Oréal, the cosmetics company, has a staff of 400 people who post content on Facebook every day, according to Marc Menesguen, the company’s chief marketing officer. “It’s a lot of work and requires a lot of commitment,” he says.
- And, although it's just a few words in a long article, a peek at the thought process of the man behind it all:
“The way we look at it is that, if we are doing our job well, then people will come to Facebook to consume a lot of content,” he said. “If people don’t connect to the advertising content, then it’s not good for anyone. It’s not good for the people using Facebook, it’s not good for the advertisers, and then ultimately we don’t make money.”
Zuckerberg's assessment reminds me of the words of Engine Charlie, who once said
for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versaOur modern Internet behemoths (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, ...) are reshaping the world: The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.
It's important to pay attention to the perspective that Eichenwald's story in Vanity Fair brings, because the changing of the world is not simply due to technology; it's more complicated than that.
But that's all about that for now; big day tomorrow, and so to bed...