Purpose: How Facebook Built an Empire

Does your business have a purpose?

Are you wondering how having a purpose can help drive the success of your business?

To learn how Mark Zuckerburg has grown his empire, I interview Ekaterina Walter for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Ekaterina Walter, a global social innovation strategist at Intel and member of the board of directors for Word of Mouth Marketing Association. She is also the author of the new book, Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerburg.

Ekaterina shares her knowledge about Facebook’s purpose and how it helped them build an empire. You’ll learn why Facebook has been so successful and what it means to have a purpose.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

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You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

The Facebook Empire

Ekaterina’s Facebook story.

Ekaterina shares her story of when she started using Facebook for personal reasons and found what it could do for her. She discovered connections she was able to make with people who have shared interests, whether she knew them or not. She talks about how she uncovered interesting stories that she may not have found through other channels.

Facebook helped her understand her connections better and by following them, she could see what was important to them.

From a business perspective, about 4 years ago, Intel looked at engaging with its customers on Facebook. They first started with a Facebook Page and shared messages there like other brands, without thinking about creating a two-way dialogue.

They quickly realized this wasn’t the right way to approach relationships with customers. But they also understood that this was a goldmine: the ability to build relationships right there on the digital platform.

intel facebook

Intel quickly realized that Facebook allowed them to build relationships.

Twenty to thirty years ago, Intel used to go into computer clubs to find tech-savvy people and trendsetters in user technology, because these people would then go on to tell the mainstream audience and their friends or relatives.

Back then, if you talked to 50 people at a time, either face-to-face or over the phone, you were lucky. Today the Facebook platform allows Intel to connect with almost 15 million fans on their global Page and over 2o million across multinational Pages on a daily basis.

It’s a place where they can truly engage with their fans and understand them. Before Facebook, this would never have happened. This is the biggest community Intel was ever able to build globally.

Over the past 4 years, Intel has been building their communities and engaging in the conversations.

Listen to the show to find out why Facebook is exciting for a brand person or marketer.

Ekaterina’s role within Intel.

Ekaterina’s role within Intel is to figure out what social means to Intel. She felt lucky that she was able to paint a blank canvas for a number of years and help lead Intel in the right direction.

Back then, they tried to figure out the basics: Should they do it internally or outsource, what should they do, how should they build the strategies and what networks should they use?

Back in 2009, her role was about looking at the community Intel had built. Since then, it’s been about trying to dig deeper and engage in conversations. Ekaterina was managing Intel’s community and engaging with fans. She spent a lot of time having conversations with fans, finding out who they were and what kind of content they wanted from Intel as a company.

Over a number of years, Intel has grown their communities organically and has recently implemented bigger programs that have a paid element to them.

Intel now has solid community management effort, which they’re doing internally. They have a good sense of how to measure engagement and what success should look like.

Right now Ekaterina is focusing on what innovation looks like for Intel going forward and what other parts of the company need to become social-savvy.

Intel’s goal is widespread adoption of social throughout the company, and although they have had success, they’re still not over the finish line.

Listen to the show to find out why it’s important to get executives on board.

How Facebook created a movement.

The whole purpose of Facebook and the passion of Mark Zuckerburg is to make the world more transparent and connected. This is what drives everything. From every single decision made to every strategic decision by both Facebook’s leader and by Facebook as a company.

They created a movement that inspired many economic, political and nonprofit organizations, with people rallying behind ideas. Facebook allows people to search for and draw attention to their own issues.

Ekaterina explains how Zuckerburg goes really deep with his passion. He talks about more open and transparent governments and cultures, and how that will actually benefit society as a whole, making the world more connected and peaceful. It’s this internal belief that drives everything that he and his company are doing.

For example, when the News Feed launched, a lot of people were against it because they feared the lack of tight privacy control. However, it was through the News Feed that people learned about the launch of the News Feed, which showed how people were able to rally around and express their opinions.

Listen to the show to learn more about how the launch of the News Feed was proof that it does work.

The stated purpose of Facebook.

The official stated purpose of Facebook is to make the world more open and connected. Facebook’s latest mission statement is that people use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, discover what’s going on in the world and share and express what matters to them.

facebooks mission statement

Facebook knows exactly what they are striving for and what their purpose and mission statement are.

When it comes to mission, goal or objective statements, Ekaterina feels that if you ask many executives “Why does your company exist? What is your single purpose in this world?”, you’ll find that they stutter and are not able to express their point of view.

Whereas with Facebook, we know exactly where Mark Zuckerburg stands, what Facebook is striving for, and what the purpose and mission statement are.

Listen to the show to find out why your purpose shouldn’t be overly complicated.

How Zuckerburg’s purpose helped him decide to turn down multiple high-profile acquisition attempts.

Ekaterina states the reason why Zuckerburg turned down the billion-dollar offer from Yahoo! was because he didn’t believe that someone should step in and have a say about where Facebook should be heading. He didn’t believe that the mission and the purpose would stay the same. He’s passionate about his company’s purpose and that’s why he controls most of the voting rights and shares.

Since the early days of Facebook, Zuckerburg has been under pressure to fill Facebook with ads and make money. Mark feels that Facebook’s purpose is to exist for the users and to make the world more open and connected. He stated in his IPO that he makes money to support his cause, not the other way around.

Ekaterina feels that Zuckerburg has turned down offers because he had a vision: he wanted to build a platform around Facebook much before it happened. He carries around a book—the “Book of Change,” as he calls it—where he jots down his strategy. He is a rare leader: one who focuses on the long-term because he has a purpose and wants to stick to it.

Listen to the show to find out why it’s so important for companies to have a purpose.

How one of Facebook’s slogans, “The journey is only 1% finished,” drives the culture of the company.

Ekaterina describes the meaning of Facebook’s “the journey is only 1% finished.” There is always somewhere to go with your product and your service. Facebook is not going to rest on their laurels. It’s a constant process of iteration that continues to make the product better for its users. This slogan creates agility and a sense of urgency.

Even Facebook’s buildings are intentionally not finished. It reminds employees that they have to collaborate and continue to come up with great ideas, continuously trying to improve the service all the time.

Mark is adamant about keeping his team relatively small, around 4000 people right now. Although they are growing, they are not growing as fast as some other companies. With their focus on making their product more amazing, their non-engineering staff is the minority. They have more engineers and developers than any other operational support staff.

Facebook, as with other great companies like Dyson and Zappos, doesn’t look at their perceived competition. Great leaders drive their companies with awareness while looking forward. Ekaterina feels that this is what really distinguishes these companies. They have a purpose and they know where they are going.

There are lessons to be learned from knowing your environment and market; however, the true success is knowing you are on the right path and constantly evolving.

Listen to the show to find out more about why Facebook knows their work is not yet done.

“The Hacker Way” and how it helps Facebook employees

Ekaterina describes the principle of “The Hacker Way”: never be done, never be satisfied, always iterate and always innovate.

One of Facebook’s signature features is hackathons. Every now and then, engineers get together and code, working through the evening and night on a new product. Zuckerburg or an employee will initiate a hackathon by sending a message to the whole engineering department. And prototypes are the result of these hackathons.

facebook hackathon page

Facebook's hackathons are where their prototypes originate.

The whole purpose of hackathons is that at the end of the event, there has to be a prototype. Features like Chat, News Feed and Timeline all came out of hackathons. Instead of celebrating, they focus and ship.

They also have hackacups, which are larger external events, where any coders from around the world can come in and participate in challenges and be rewarded with money and recognition.

hackathon facebook

Facebook hackacups create events to encourage coders from around the world to participate in challenges.

Facebook’s human resource page says, “If you want to work for Facebook, here’s a small challenge. If you solve this challenge, you’ll get an interview.”

Listen to the show to hear where Ekaterina thinks Facebook will be in 8 years.

What marketers and business owners should know

Ekaterina shares three takeaways for marketers and business owners:

  • Passion: Be passionate about your customers and how and where you connect with them. You are there to serve them and help them.
  • Action: Take matters into your own hands. If nothing is happening, innovate. Even if you feel like you are not in a position of influence, you are. All you need to do is take a little bit of risk and do what you think is right for your customers.
  • Agility: Do it in real time. Ensure that all the processes that you have in place are aimed at satisfying your customers’ needs in real time and bring your stakeholders along.

Listen to the show to hear about what you should do if something doesn’t work.

Discovery of the Week

Are you looking for sound effects to add to your podcast or recording? Check out The Music Bakery. It’s a really cool website where you can buy thousands of soundtracks.

Once you find a theme, you can purchase a 3-minute version of it in 5-, 10- or 25-second segments. These professionally crafted sound effects can make whatever you are doing sound much better.

the music bakery

The Music Bakery has an amazing selection of sound effects that you can buy for your podcast.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know if you give them a try.

Other Show Mentions

Social Media Marketing World is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

There are five separate tracks:

  • Two social tactics tracks—learn everything from Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIn to Google+, Pinterest to YouTube and how to best use those for your networks.
  • A social strategy track—understand the strategies that work with social media.
  • A community-management and business-building track—all about developing communities that you can ultimately use to help grow your business.
  • A content marketing track—about how to use blogging and podcasting to drive more people to your business.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on having a purpose? Please leave your comments below.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, and host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. He also authored of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great insights on Facebook’s purpose Ekaterina! I really liked this part of the article “Why does your company exist? What is your single purpose in this world?” It is a question most entrepreneurs should ask themselves in order to know where they are heading, business-wise.

    Awesome interview as usual Mike! Have a rockin Friday everyone!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks John – As you know, it helps to have awesome guests :)

  • http://www.gibbook.com/ Alfred Ballester

    Great podcast! Very interesting points made especially about having a ‘Purpose’ for your business. Well done!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you liked it Alfred!

  • Patrick Painter

    Michael, I really appreciate the detailed overview of the podcast. It’s a great idea. I noticed that when deciding if I’d listen to the podcast — which weighing in at 35:17, is quite a time investment — I scanned the supplementary info to discover what I’d learn. Podcasters, take note!

    PS: The point about being confident enough to trailblaze a new path, to zag when the competition is zigging, is a very important one. Ultimately, passion and purpose, not what others are doing, must inform decisoin making.

  • http://www.patcoakley.com/ Pat Coakley

    Wozer.  Usually, I love your podcasts, Michael. You know that. But, this one? No so much. It was like drinking the Zuck Kool Aide Acid Frappé. Since I’ve listened to all your other podcasts, I know you have a more nuanced look at Facebook than this 30 minutes reflects.  On the other hand, I did love the music website recommendation!

  • http://twitter.com/roberts69paul billy paul roberts

    I Would Like Give A Complement!! Well I Don’t Have A Business, If Did It Would
    have A Purpose!!:))

  • Irena M

    Am I missing sth with this ZuckerBURG thing?

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Billy :)   Now go ahead and start one… 

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Pat,

    Thanks for your feedback.  I do think there is a lot of business value in looking at “how” Mark built what he did–regardless of how they run things now.  Thanks for keeping on listening.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Patricia.  All my best to you!

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  • http://twitter.com/UnitedAppRepair United Appliance

    thanks for great artickle. I will try it now

  • Jennifer Illustre

    IT#s a very inspiring interview on how much social media can be shaped to serve your company’s purpose and vice versa. It really is an open, growing world.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you enjoyed it Jennifer 

  • http://www.facebook.com/maranda.saling Maranda Saling

    Hi Michael! I found the podcast about two weeks and have listened to them all twice now!! I’m loving them!  I started a social media start-up, Bellflower Communications, for small businesses specifically and this is exactly what I was looking for. I’m able to learn while still doing my day job.I was wondering if you could publish your finds for the day aw well as your show notes. Since I’ve listened to all the shows so close to themselves I forget which ones are which I would like to find the tweet generating site among others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maranda.saling Maranda Saling

    Hi Michael! I found the podcast about two weeks and have listened to them all twice now!! I’m loving them!  I started a social media start-up, Bellflower Communications, for small businesses specifically and this is exactly what I was looking for. I’m able to learn while still doing my day job.I was wondering if you could publish your finds for the day aw well as your show notes. Since I’ve listened to all the shows so close to themselves I forget which ones are which I would like to find the tweet generating site among others.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hi Maranda – I do publish all my finds in the show notes of each episode.  The tweet generating site is http://clicktotweet.com/

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hi Maranda – I do publish all my finds in the show notes of each episode.  The tweet generating site is http://clicktotweet.com/

  • Emma Rickert

    How many events like Social Media World has been organised by Social Media Examiner in past 4 years.

  • Emma Rickert

    How many events like Social Media World has been organised by Social Media Examiner in past 4 years.

  • Suneil

    Great podcast Micheal. You were able to ask the right questions to elicit the useful (and detailed) information that Ekaterina provided. Looking forward to more episodes of similar quality. Thanks.

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