Facebook Case Study
Once the site was ready for users, the Facebook founders blasted e-mails to Harvard students to let people know about the site. The team had access to the e-mail addresses of Harvard students at each dorm. Thus e-mail marketing, viral feature sets, and word of mouth was how Facebook was launched. Given the immediate positive reaction that Facebook received at Harvard, Facebook began rolling out the service to other universities.
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Facebook Case Study: Offline behavior drives online usage
written by Nisan Gabbay, posted on November 5th, 2006
Facebook made important product decisions that ensured harmony and trust between the offline community and the online service created. Facebook originally limited membership to those users who could verify they had a “.edu” e-mail address for the college they attend. Facebook also placed limits on the ability to search or browse users to the college that the user attends. These measures aim to make users feel that the site is exclusive and limited to members in their offline community (colleges and universities). In the early days of Facebook, something like 30% of users actually posted their cell phone number on their profile. I’m not sure whether this statistic is still valid, but it supports the notion that users trust who is viewing their profile.
Prior to launching Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg had experimented with a number of different web products. In fact, his first attempt targeted at the Harvard student body was called FaceMash, which drew criticism from the University and some students, prompting Mark to drop the service.
Mark launched Facebook (at the time called thefacebook.com) in February 2004. Once the site was ready for users, the Facebook founders blasted e-mails to Harvard students to let people know about the site. The team had access to the e-mail addresses of Harvard students at each dorm. Thus e-mail marketing, viral feature sets, and word of mouth was how Facebook was launched. Given the immediate positive reaction that Facebook received at Harvard, Facebook began rolling out the service to other universities. Facebook did not use a targeted geographic roll-out strategy in the early days, they received registration requests from students at other schools, and then prioritized which schools to open based on the number of these requests. Interesting to note that this is how Craigslist rolls out to new cities – based on user requests.
From what I understood, Facebook did not receive any help from the schools themselves to promote the Facebook site to the student body. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, please leave a comment below.
The “face” of Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg. Back in February 2004, when Facebook was founded, he was a student at Harvard. Two other students, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes were the second and third employees of the company. This added a level of credibility to the site in the minds of the student users. It was something one of them had created, not something fed to them by a “company” in the traditional sense. It was a place that they could trust because one of their own had made it.
Adding to the underground feel of Facebook was the viral spread of the site. It fanned out throughout Boston, and then the Ivy League. Students at other schools had to wait in line until Mark and friends could find time to add their school. This created even more buzz around the product.
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