Business Architecture: How Facebook Achieved Success

How Facebook Achieved Success

Take 15 seconds to write down the top 5 businesses that come to mind when you think ‘big business.’

What did you come up with?

Here’s my list:

  1. Google
  2. Apple
  3. Facebook
  4. Coca Cola
  5. Toyota

In regards to big businesses, I often contemplate: “What makes these businesses so successful? What did they do to get to the top of the business pyramid?” The answer is relatively similar for all big brands. Every Fortune 500 company operates along the same, general business architecture; they all maintain similar characteristics and strategies in order to secure their spot at the top.

Today, I will focus on the business architecture behind Facebook.

How did Facebook become a household name in just 10 short years? We’ve quickly seen Facebook grow into an empire under the reign of the almighty Zuckerberg. The Social Network (a movie entirely based on the creation of Facebook) won 3 Oscars, practically every business known to man has a Facebook page, Facebook has become a verb and an adjective, and you can hardly walk down the street without watching a careless pedestrian glide across the crosswalk face-in-phone updating their Facebook status.

Facebook is everywhere.

But why and how did Facebook become such a successful company? Well, we have five reasons.

Luckily, not one of the five reasons is limited to a billion dollar budget. Your small business can achieve any of these characteristics with the budget you have right now

Make sure to review the ‘lesson we learned’ summary at the end of each reason, and explore the many ways you can apply these characteristics to your business and watch as your company takes off to the land of the Fortune 500’s.

The 5 Reasons Why Facebook is So Successful

They bend over backwards to keep you on their website.

A typical day: you’re standing in line at the DMV and you launch the Facebook app on your phone. You start scrolling through your newsfeed catching up on any missed status updates over the past 24 hours.

45 minutes later, you’ve read 10 articles, analyzed the alien-esque ultrasound pictures on your girlfriend’s timelines, and you posted a status about the NFL kickoff because well, that’s what’s trending and you realized you are actually excited about the season to start.

You didn’t just happen upon this engaging material, Facebook put it there.

They have spent years analyzing user-trends, and optimizing their website to suit their customer’s habitual behavior to provide a customized and engaging user experience. It has most certainly paid off, since the average time spent on Facebook is 40 minutes per day (Businessweek).Facebook HeadQuarters

Sidenote: I can just see the Facebook team sitting in their Silicon Valley board-meeting office, tapping their fingers together, letting out an evil laugh of contentment as they watch their engagement rates soar… “We have them hooked Marky! We have them hooked!”

Lesson we learned: Your website needs customization. Users need to feel propelled to stay on your website, by whatever means possible. Whether you mesmerize them with phenomenal, rotating banner graphics on the homepage, you integrate video content on the ‘Our Products’ page, or you utilize the ‘live chat’ to answer any questions your website browsers might have; you need to engage both your potential customers AND your current customers. Personalization and detail go a long way.

They monitor the popular features on other platforms and add those features to their site.

Every time I read an article about a ‘new feature’ on a particular social media platform, it is simply a matter of weeks before I see another, similar article reviewing an in progress update with the current Facebook platform. Now, this update has the exact same feature as the social media platform in question, just Facebooked AKA made bigger and better.

Does this make Facebook a copy-cat (for lack of a more ‘mature’ phrase)? Absolutely not! It exemplifies their incredible business sense. They don’t settle with: “Yeah, that company is really killin it with their GIF integration. Good for them, wish we thought of that.” They don’t submit defeat; that word is not in their vocabulary.

Lesson we learned: Just because a business has a ‘hot’ new feature that draws a good-deal of traffic does not mean you should give up on ‘being the best’. Instead of throwing in the towel, gather your team and throw around ideas of how you can make this feature better than your competitor’s! Then, get to action and make it happen.

They listen to their customers.

How many articles have you read that claim customer service is the most important aspect of any business? More than you can count, right? Well, that’s because customer service is the most important aspect of any business. Without customers you essentially wouldn’t be a business.

The gang at Facebook obviously spends a lot of time sifting through their users’ commentary. Facebook users wanted to customize their timelines with ‘most recent’ and ‘most popular’, so they updated their platform. Users wanted to create private events with invites only, so Facebook updated their platform. Most of the popular requests are answered with a Facebook update (except for the ‘Thumbs Down,’ which I get… how depressing).

Lesson we learned: Listen to customer feedback! If you receive the same feedback or criticism repetitively, it is not only in the best interest of your customers to make the necessary adjustments, but it is in your best interest to slowly gain trust among your customers as they feel like they have a voice in the quality of their product. The customer is always right.

They cultivate partnerships.

Over the past couple of years, Facebook has acquired a lot of companies. The two most popular acquisitions were Instagram and WhatsApp. Why did Facebook purchase these businesses? Because they noticed the accelerating success of these two platforms, and saw how they could help with Facebook engagement. Facebook wasn’t the only company that benefited from the merge, both Instagram and WhatsApp jumped onto the most successful social platform in the world, only leveraging their own services.

Facebook acknowledges the benefits of partnerships in the world of business. They know that letting ego prevent themselves from sharing ideas and resources with another business would only hurt their business in the long run.

Remember Myspace? Google ‘Myspace acquisitions.’ See any business acquisitions by Myspace? Nope. And to think that both Myspace and Facebook started out as nearly identical social platforms. Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world, while Myspace doesn’t even make the top 10.

Lesson we learned: Forming partnerships should be a priority for your business. Whether you are a small business or a big business, partnerships are a huge benefit to both parties… IF you choose wisely. Don’t let your business ego convince you that your business will thrive on its own. Go over the biggest brands in the world… How many of them sit on their solitary throne, without a partnership?

They are constantly renovating and cleaning house.

As you’ve probably interpreted thus far, Facebook is constantly renovating their platform, fixing bugs, and adding features. They haven’t stopped moving forward since 2004, that’s the truth. Facebook Development Transparency

I’m sure Facebook’s 1.3 Billion users will affirm that each update has resulted in an overall improved user experience, despite the *sigh* of exhaust at the initial launch.

The result of these frequent house cleaning: a highly functioning, revenue increasing, user soaring platform.

Lesson we learned: Just as a frequent dust and Windex is necessary for a vibrant home, renovating and updating your products, services, and website are just as necessary. Take the time to review your product or service from the perspective of your users, and determine what tweaks you would make to enhance your own user experience, and make the necessary requests and updates for your customers.

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