I recently attended an Executive Management Briefing luncheon presented by the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. The featured speaker was Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Randi has established herself as an expert in her own right, having led the Facebook marketing team for many years before founding her own company, R to Z Media.
Randi shared some valuable insights that I’d like to pass on the Saxum blog readers, so I’ve compiled my notes below. I give full credit for this information to Randi and her presentation, which was insightful and informative.
She spoke about the success of Facebook, but more specifically about three things Facebook did right:
- Facebook adopted a demand-led marketing approach.
First, they were only open to Harvard, then other schools, then the military (need for communicating with families back home), etc. The demand led to the expansion, and Facebook grew exponentially.
When Facebook launches in a new country, they ask certain residents to serve as beta translators to convert everything into their language. Sometimes, she said, the site is completely translated within 48 hours. Facebook is now available in 50 languages.
- The company culture at Facebook is what they call a “hacker culture”
It may not sound good to be a “hacker,” but Randi pointed out that in the world of the Internet, hackers take risks and think outside the box. At Facebook, they believe good ideas can come from anywhere.
In order to inspire new ideas and creativity, Facebook hosts what they call Hack-a-thons. All employees participate, from interns to the janitor, and the only rule is you have to work on something that’s completely different than your day job. The hack-a-thons are all-night events, complete with food, music, etc. At the end of the night, everyone gets equal time to present their ideas.
As proof that good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, she pointed out that the idea for Facebook chat and Facebook video came from summer interns.
- Sharing aspect
The ability to share everything on Facebook has contributed to its massive growth and reach. Facebook is now bigger than every other photo-sharing site combined, and Farmville surpasses all other games on any other console in popularity because it can be shared.
In her role with Facebook, she developed Facebook Live to host live events on Facebook. The service famously was used by President Barack Obama to host a town hall meeting with America.
Randi also hosted an eight-hour live debate moderated by Diane Sawyer, which came to be nominated for an Emmy – the first online broadcast to ever be nominated for that award.
Part of the reason Randi decided to leave Facebook and move on to her own ventures was not only the success of the two events mentioned above, but she also became a new mom. She pointed out that new moms are the biggest Facebook users, spending an average of two hours per day on the site.
She also pointed out there are 1.8 million Facebook users in Oklahoma; about half the population.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Randi’s presentation was her discussion of the top social media trends in 2012, detailed below.
- Sharing economy
Even in a down economy, people don’t want to give up luxury. Airbnb is a site that allows you to rent out your house if you go out of town or you have an extra room. ZipCar lets you rent a car just for a short period of time and return it so you don’t have to actually own a car. Fashion sites will rent you designer dresses or handbags, and textbook rentals are growing in popularity.
- People as platforms and media brands
Randi pointed out that everyone who has followers is essentially a media outlet and can share information with their fans. This is important for businesses to keep in mind when identifying influencers on social media.
- Gaming meets health and fitness
Companies are developing products that keep people accountable to their health, fitness and weight loss goals. She mentioned a scale that posts your weight automatically to your Twitter account, and an alarm clock that syncs with your credit card so that every time you hit snooze, it gives a dollar to charity.
Increasingly, fans want to and expect to be part of the action and the decision-making process for brands. She cited Sports Illustrated, which crowdsourced an entire cover of their magazine, and Vitamin Water, which crowdsourced an entire flavor. Target also decided to let their fans choose which nonprofit would receive their donation.
- Statement cover photos
This trend deals with the rise of art and visual appeal. So often, social media users are drawn toward images, which is part of the reason Facebook’s new Timeline format relies so heavily on custom artwork and banners.
- Mobile first/mobile only
Brands are creating content that can only be accessed on mobile devices. Banks have apps that will allow you to take a photo of a check to deposit to your account, Starbucks allows you to load money onto your smartphone to pay for your drinks.
- Return to intimacy
While the goal of some social sites is to get as many friends as you can, Path is a social network that limits your friends to 50. This encourages users to be selective, but users feel more comfortable sharing personal information with those friends.
- People as curators
In the past, experts were people who authored articles and created original content. Now, being a curator and filtering through all the information that’s out there to select what’s relevant and important can position you as an “expert” in your industry.
Randi referenced her sister, Donna Zuckerberg, who has thousands of followers on Pinterest. Donna finds recipes using different food items and posts them all to her Pinterest boards, curating the content and filtering through to find the best recipes.
- Subscription and appointment
People have limited time, and there’s so much noise out there that they want businesses to be able to cut through it, choose the right products and deliver it to directly to them.
- Create social moments
Everyone wants to create a social moment with their event, brand or cause. She challenged attendees to get their followers to tune in online for an event or announcement.
- Consider charity
People care about charities and how businesses are giving back to the community. Social media is a great tool to generate support for a cause.
Randi shared some great insight for attendees. I’m sure we can expect to see great things from her R to Z Media in the future.