Allen Baler: Following the Facebook Model

Chances are your business is not a social media network. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the way Facebook launched its company and continues to make important strategic decisions about operations and planning for the future.


In a recent interview with Entrepreneur magazine, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed some of the most important principles he has used to grow Facebook into a multi-billion dollar company whose network is now used by 1.8 billion people. These tactics go well beyond his famous “go fast and break things” philosophy, providing focus for everyone who works for him. I’m going to touch on three of them in this blog post.


Stick to Your Guns


First and foremost is sticking with your convictions. If you are convinced that a certain component of your business is vital, don’t be put off by those who might think differently. It’s important to always listen to what others are saying – in particular your employees and your target market – but don’t easily cast aside something you believe in strongly based on a limited amount of negative feedback.


The example Zuckerberg gave was the immediate hostile response his company received when it originally rolled out “News Feed,” which allowed people to see updates of their friends’ activities. He could have scrapped the idea based on that criticism, but he and his team believed in it. Before too long, News Feed grew in popularity and is now a key feature of the social network.


Throw the Spaghetti and See What Sticks


Second, test everything. Then test it again. If your primary source of income is derived from customers responding to your emails, test subject lines until you find one that really clicks, then use it. Speaking of clicks, test different calls to action within your emails until you determine which one provides the most clicks. Test the frequency of your emails, test the tone of your emails and test a variety of follow-up techniques.


The Facebook example here is that sometimes the company will run up to 10,000 different versions of the network on any given day to assess how many people are connecting and how much revenue is being generated from the site. Your website might not have 1.8 billion users, but testing will enable you to figure out what works and what doesn’t.


Choose Your Team for the Long Haul


Third is putting together a team for the long run. When you make a hire, visualize how that person might contribute to the company 10 years later, not just 10 weeks later. When teams work together year after year, a trust level develops and they understand the process for getting things done efficiently and well.


Zuckerberg said that 10 members of his management team grew into their current roles.           Not that you shouldn’t hire outsiders for key positions, but by following this strategy, employees will discover that your company is a place where they can learn, grow and move up the ladder, assuming they work hard, display leadership qualities and help the company meet its goals.

Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.