In 2004, Harvard University sophomore Mark Zuckerberg created the Facebook website. Over the past 13 years, the number of Facebook users has been growing at an alarming rate. The user base now has exceeded the 2 billion mark, making Facebook the world’s largest and most influential social media empire.
The growth team is the biggest contributor to Facebook. They use a systematic approach – “data science” and “empathy understanding” two-pronged approach to accurately understand the needs of users, and then quickly take action to meet the demand. Recently, Facebook growth team was interviewed, to find out more about the team and its approach! On February 9, 2004, Harvard University Journal “Harvard Crimson” published an article called “hundreds of people registered new site Facebook” report. It reported that Mark Zuckerberg said that as of yesterday afternoon, more than 650 people have registered as Facebook users. According to his estimates, as of this morning, there will be 900 students to become Facebook users. “I am very pleased to have so many users now,” Zuckerberg said. At Harvard’s second year, Zuckerberg created a Facebook site to help students connect with each other. From that moment on, Facebook continued to develop and grow. At the beginning of the creation, Facebook surprised everyone, as just after a week there were 900 active users. With the passage of time, Facebook users kept increasing and Facebook made headlines. In 2008, Facebook users reached 100 million, reaching 500 million in 2010, reaching 1 billion in 2012. Facebook users have exceeded the 20 billion mark. Since the creation of Facebook 13 years ago, the number of new Facebook users has been growing at an alarming rate. For Facebook, winning new users is easy. In this regard, Facebook’s Vice President of Growth, Javier Oliver, feels incredible. Recently, “Fast Company” technology editor Harry McCracken visited California Menlo Parker’s Facebook headquarters. Oliver said to him that he once thought that we will only be able to achieve the fastest growth after we have launched a large number of different language versions and touched upon a large number of people in different countries, but in just a few years we entered the highest growth period. Although Oliver did not foresee that Facebook will be able to achieve such a great success in the world, he is one of the peoples behind the success. 10 years ago, he was a part of Facebook’s first team dedicated to expanding the user base. Facebook’s growth team initially had eight members, VP of social good Naomi Gleit; director of core data science Danny Ferrante; and VP of growth marketing, analytics, and internationalization Alex Schultz. In the science and technology industry, countless people envy their work and have followed suit. They are also willing to share their expertise and experience, explaining why Facebook’s other major services – Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger can achieve rapid growth.
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Redefining Growth Pattern
By carefully exploring all aspects of experience and Facebook’s growth, the team redefines how Internet companies are growing. They are one of the first teams to use the data and product drivers to achieve growth, according to Gleit. The traditional view is that growth is primarily the responsibility of the business unit. PR and marketing are responsible for increasing heat And attention. Gleit graduated from Stanford University. Thr graduation thesis revolved around the micro-start-up companies. In 2005, she joined Facebook. She is Facebook’s second oldest employee, second only to Zuckerberg. These veterans and newcomers who joined in the following years were also incredibly efficient. In addition, they have never limited their mission to expand the user base. Facebook is committed to the Internet and has plans such as solar unmanned aerial vehicles and greater global access to the internet. Facebook realizes that only the growing number of Internet users can help them achieve growth. In addition, Facebook has also introduced new features and services, such as “security confirmation” function. This feature allows Facebook users to be safe when they encounter a disaster event, such as a natural disaster. “Safety confirmation” also comes from the growth team. Recently launched Go Fund Me like tool can be used for personal charity fundraising. Facebook even uses the growth team’s knowledge to launch related initiatives to combat false accounts or objectionable content. When it was decided to divest the main service from Messenger and integrate it into an application developed by itself, Facebook asked the growth team to oversee the entire process. If all of these unrelated functions and tools have something in common, it is their success is inseparable from the “data science” and “empathy understanding” two-pronged approach. Through this two-pronged approach, Facebook is able to accurately understand the needs of consumers. This approach was made early by the growth team and is still used for new projects and new moves. The team thinks of itself as a SWAT team or a ninja team. It is not only responsible for growth but also to solve new problems and recruit more intelligent people.
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70 million User Ceiling
From the beginning of the creation, Facebook has been able to maintain the growth momentum. In 2007, Facebook was still worried about some of the most basic issues, such as search engine optimization. It sounds a bit strange, because this social networking site became a closed kingdom long ago, and does not allow Google to retrieve information from the station. But at the time, people can still retrieve Facebook through Google. In order to solve this problem, Facebook hired from eBay Alex Schultz. “It wasn’t like it was particularly tough work, but Facebook had nobody who did online marketing and my background was online marketing, my entire career,” he said. Shortly after Schultz joined, Facebook faced a huge challenge – a number of users seemed to be the peak, unable to grow anymore. Everyone once thought that they will have billions of users and they will let everyone in the world use this site’, but when they reached 70 million users, growth stopped, according to Schult. After that, everyone began to panic, worried about whether they will even be able to reach 200 million people. In the face of this challenge, Zuckerberg ordered Facebook executives to set up a team dedicated to expanding the Facebook user base. This is a comprehensive task involving not only marketing but also technology, design, and other areas. Palihapitiya left Facebook in 2011, starting a venture, now the owner of the Golden State Warriors. But the growth engine he built has always been very stable, helping Facebook to conquer more Internet users. In the development of growth strategy, the target was getting to a 100 million users. The international market was a major opportunity, but to do that Facebook had to offer different languages. Facebook did not systematically analyze and study languages like MySpace – the French, Italian, German, and Spanish. Instead “volunteer translation” was developed, a feature that allows Facebook users to translate content into a new language. This ensured that no one will be locked out of Facebook due to language barriers and give up Facebook. To some extent, volunteer translators understood the translation work better than some paid experts. Olivian said that the process went very well. To date, Facebook has been translated into 100 languages.
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Initially, Facebook’s registration process began from the home page, involving five screens with fields. Later, Facebook reduced it to seven fields and placed it directly on the home page, so that users will not miss it and quickly complete the registration. After registration, new users will be able to find and add friends. In addition, there is a link on the home page that links to the import of contacts made by Blake Ross. Ross is one of the creators of the Firefox browser, and he was also a member of the Facebook growth team. Combined together, all these produced a very significant effect. It is a large-scale best practice. Through these efforts and other initiatives, Facebook users started growing again and reached 100 million in August 2008. By the beginning of 2009, many of the most straightforward improvements had been made, and the growth team began to look at the data. They began to track the technology used to find, register and attract new users, at the micro level to determine their effectiveness.
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Schultz explains: “It was really obvious stuff like how many emails did we try to send? Did we send them? Did they arrive? Were they opened? Were they clicked? Did the people actually come to our site? And did they convert?” Along with data expert Danny Ferrante, team members made a system of “growth accounting” which broke their work down into sections such as new signups, inactive members, and allowed them to comprehend the effects of the changes made.
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Schultz said that by focusing on these data, Silicon Valley Facebook employees know whether their research and development of products resonated with the global community. (His sample user: a farmer in the Punjab countryside in India, who used the Internet for the first time, including Facebook.) Schultz said: “In the Valley, there is this myth that you optimize for metrics or users, and as the head of analytics for Facebook, arguably the biggest big data company in the world, I think that is fundamentally flawed. At its heart, data gives you empathy.
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Mobile Platform Drives Growth
While the growth team continues to move forward, the era of mobile computing quietly kicked off. This change has had a profound impact on the growth team’s work. They realize that many Facebook users are different from them. They are using high-end Android phones or iPhones for 4G Internet access, and they use very low-end devices with poor signal. On these devices, the product does not work well. Facebook Lite has 200 million users, the phone configuration and network requirements are lower. In 2011, the growth team encouraged Facebook to buy Snaptu (a start-up company in Israel) to develop the Lite version of Facebook, which can run on the basic “functional machine”. This technology – which needs neither high-end smartphones nor high-speed data networks – eventually evolved into Facebook Lite. Lite is the hardware version of the minimum requirements of Facebook, but also an important part of Facebook growth strategy. In February, Zuckerberg said Facebook in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Nigeria and other countries reached 200 million users. The challenge of developing new markets is not limited to the technical level. In the past, Facebook’s new users were usually computer users, who grew up in the desktop era. Now, new users are more likely to use Facebook on the phone, and may just use the Internet. This poses a challenge to all aspects of design decisions, from initial registration steps to logins, to other services. Facebook veterans never stopped thinking. Head of design, Luke Wood, says “We have email accounts. We know what an account is. We have a conceptual model of what Wi-Fi is and that you might be able to get it here, but not get it there. Things like that. We find that we really have to check a lot of these basic core assumptions.” If you are looking at this article, do you remember registering for Facebook in the PC era? It is estimated that you have forgotten the details of the specific experience, do not realize that the new user experience in 2017 and then what are the differences. Facebook continues to simplify the login process. The main screen that once used a blue wall, is now more straightforward. “Create a new Facebook account” has replaced “sign up to join Facebook”, while adding a “forgot password?” link in case you enter the wrong password. In addition, Facebook has abandoned another assumption about the phone – that they are always private devices. In some of the fastest growing markets for Facebook, many people share a mobile phone just like an American family share a PC. To this end, Facebook launched the account switching feature, so that two or more people can share a Facebook application, without manual login or log out. In addition to focusing on the transition from PC to mobile devices, Facebook is equally observant of other major changes. As a business, Facebook also gambles on virtual reality technology, but the current focus is on mobile devices. Wood says, “I think that people might be too quick though to think of mobile as the past or to be anticipating what the next thing might be. So many people are coming online for the first time on their mobile phones.”
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Facebook’s “security confirmation” function is the crystallization of the efforts of the growth team, but it is an “unplanned” function. In 2011, Facebook sent a team to Japan to study Japanese consumer demand. Japanese mobile phones are unique local brands. Olivian said, “One week later, literally, the whole Fukushima tsunami disaster happened, so we had to evacuate our engineers. It was like, some 23-year-old guys lost in Tokyo … so we evacuated them to south of Japan. They were there in Fukuoka just stranded in a hotel.” The current “security confirmation” feature not only allows users to mark themselves safe but also provide context. After a safe evacuation from the dangerous area, Facebook employees realized that in the event of an emergency, Facebook can become a very useful tool. “They basically hacked together Safety Check, which was the first version of the product that we now deploy,” Olivan said. As the vice president of social good, Naomi Gleit said “security confirmation” can benefit the development of social functions. Zuckerberg wants them to use data and product drivers to apply to other problems too. Gleit’s mission includes research and development of “security confirmation” function, fundraising function, and take measures to address some of the most serious problems, including using Facebook Live live suicide. Gleit’s social welfare program sets a series of indicators. Rather than establishing the image of Facebook, they want to show Facebook’s sense of social responsibility. The growth team pursues “pragmatism” and solves the real problem, and they are determined to achieve the desired result.
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All viral programs that are of no value eventually die because they offer no cure suitor able products. Olivian says, “Indeed, you see all these viral schemes that just implode on themselves because there’s no retention, no product-market fit.” Facebook appeals a global audience and offers utility.
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