The movie “The Social Network” opened in Australia this week (sure, sometimes we’re a little behind the US and Europe). It tells the story of the founders of Facebook and how the social network that is now worth 25 billion dollars got started.
If you haven’t seen it, this review by the Australian Movie Show gives a summary.
I have a short attention span for movies so 2 hours was a little too long for me (and the popcorn was finished by the end of the starting credits) but being a huge West Wing fan I enjoyed Aaron Sorkin’s witty repartee.
Three thoughts that were inspired by The Social Network
1. Who would you lose contact with if Facebook went away?
Watching the movie started me thinking about how much of your life is now captured in Facebook, and if Facebook went away, what valuable connections would you lose that aren’t in your address book?
For example, do you have people that you are only connected to on Facebook? I know I do.
They might be people that you found because they are Friends of Friends, rather than because you had their email address.
I have never requested the contact details for these Friends because I know that I can always send them a Facebook message or write on their wall.
But if Facebook went away, I would need to do an online search to find them again, and hope that they have another social media account (such as Twitter or LinkedIn) or a website.
It’s a similar situation for people who have updated the email address linked to their Facebook account, without letting you know that they have changed it.
As a business, it’s a great thing to have an active and popular Facebook page or group that you and your friends promote via their online network, but again, if Facebook went away, how many of your “fans” would you be able to stay in touch with?
Have you been actively aiming to get your “fans” subscribed to your email database?
Suddenly the thought of Facebook going away makes me get that same icky feeling as losing my mobile phone and not having the numbers written down. I’m going to make sure I’m connected to my key peeps in other ways, just in case…
2. If you have a great idea, will money always follow?
One of things I found really interesting during the movie was the conversation about monetising Facebook.
Facebook was originally invented based on a great idea for getting people connected online. In the movie, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, realises that user numbers are growing fast because the site is “cool” and doesn’t want to include advertising. But his business partner, Eduardo Saverin, is pushing to generate revenue through advertising right from the early stages.
Obviously things have changed because now Facebook makes the majority of their money through advertising, even though it wasn’t planned from the start. (Read more in “How does Facebook make money?”)
Doing something that you’re passionate about and have the skills to do has great potential for leading to money in the long run, even if you don’t see the connection in the beginning. We might not all make a company worth 25 billion, but isn’t it worth giving it your best shot?
3. Sometimes you need an outsider to point out a critical thing that you’re missing
Facebook was originally called “The Facebook”.
The Facebook founders meet up with the guy who started Napster and at the end of the meeting he drops the little clanger about dropping the “The” and just calling it Facebook (that’s how it is in the movie anyway).
When you’re really close to a project it can be hard to be objective.
Get a fresh opinion from someone who is pretty savvy and knows the industry, just in case there is a “little clanger” that will make all the difference to your project.
What would you miss most about Facebook if you didn’t have it anymore?