After just finishing the book “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick it hit me as to the success of Facebook™ as a viral entity as that had been one of the reasons for reading it in the first place. In fact, have read several works on the upstart company as why “Facebook™” and not the likes of MySpace™, Friendster™, or Bebo™ and so on.
Well the answer has been in front of me all the time, it was the origination of “exclusivity” which drove growth in the start of the process which lead to the application of the viral index. As while today Facebook™ still adds members, its just not at the statistically significant growth numbers to its base as it was in the initial stages. As viral growth is much like launching a rocket into space where the engine burns hot and fast imparting vast amounts of inertia to the rocket itself during this time. Then after the “burn” phase the “rocket” then coasts on this imparted “inertia” till reaching its apogee or highest achievable point in its trajectory.
After achieving this maximum altitude, it will start to succumb to the forces gravity just as any other body in nature and if it’s been imparted with enough energy, it will “fall” into space assuming orbit or plummet quickly back to earth and be destroyed. It’s also worth noting that even if it does fall into orbit, that someday its orbit will decay and the object will too fall as the old adage of what goes up must come down holds true for all things including companies, movie stars and people as life is a zero sum place.
However back to Facebook™ as their rocket booster was none other than the biggest and baddest around in the area of academic rarified air being Harvard. As who wouldn’t want to be part of that scene, especially those which are already members because as it’s a given fact of life those at Harvard are “influencers” in the social scheme of things. Therefore what plays at Harvard, will play everywhere else.
Now that’s not to mean this will be forever true as at the time, Harvard was the hottest school on the scene and even as this is being written its still up there, however clearly not the same place it was in the early 2000’s when Facebook™ first launched. But with its venerable student body as the first adopters, it was easy to move to other Ivey League schools and play “keep up with the Jones” so on down the academic line. Then past there, with so much rarified air captured in the Facebook™ bottle, it was easy to tag other lower tier schools and so on down the line as the “school” was the second “exclusivity” key to viral success.
As who sang “be true to your school” which has become a galvanizing mantra since the 1960’s? As if you want to develop your future consumer base, then schools are the place. This also assisted Facebook™ in selling their core economic model as corporations have known this secret for years however they have always struggled with entering this market because it was taboo to be seen doing this in a to direct of manner however Facebook™ solved this for them as they snuck in with initially no advertising, made themselves at home, oops out popped the ads much like gas from uncle Ed after a big Sunday dinner at your house. Talk about the Trojan horse concept being alive and well…