Like Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, experts advise entrepreneurs to find an unfilled human need for a product or service and fill it. Great success will follow. In the case of Facebook, Zuckerberg recognized two human needs. First, there’s a large portion of humans who are wanabe celebrities like entertainment and sports celebrities. They crave the recognition and approval of a large group of followers. Second, there’s a large portion of humans who obsessively want to know every intimate detail of other people’s lives. Call them snoops. That’s why throughout history people have loved gossip and are devoted readers of newspapers and fans of radio and TV news.
Zuckerberg, to his credit, recognized that smart phone technology had the capability to satisfy the needs of both groups and that product was social media. With Facebook, customers can have easy communication with hundreds and thousands of followers. The wanabe celebrity can post frequent up- dates on their intimate activities in text and photos showing what they see, what they are doing and where they are. All their followers have to do is become a friend on the Facebook page and their curiosity is satisfied continuously with new up-dates.
Facebook is up to about 1.7 Billion customers of the world’s total population of about 7 Billion people. Advertising rates are based on the numbers of viewers. That’s why the Super Bowl ad rates are millions of dollars each. Facebook investors have waited anxiously for Facebook to turn that incredible customer base into advertising revenue. Facebook has been cautious about doing that. They probably realize that, like on television, advertising interferes with programming content. Wanabe celebrity Facebook users would resent that because they feel their Facebook page is all about them and would resent ad interference. Apparently, Facebook makes its revenue from selling its customers information. For example, the likes and dislikes of Facebook customers is very valuable information for retailers wanting to sell to them. However, Facebook customers are sensitive about their information being released, so Facebook must tread carefully. Facebook has not been able to turn its huge customer base into huge revenue.
Television has a similar problem, but not so severe. TV ad time started out low, but has gradually increased to about 40 percent of viewing time. Most TV watchers have probably reached their limit of what they will tolerate before they stop watching or turn to paid no ad channels. For me, it’s very annoying to be watching a hotly contested sports game on TV and the game shuts down for TV ads. TV watchers tolerate more ads because of the free programming. That’s not true of Facebook wanabe celebrities. Their programming is all about them and they will resent any interference. It’s ironic. Zuckerberg discovered a great business idea, but he is strictly limited on how much money he can make with it.
I and many my age grew up being taught humility is good and boosting and showing off is bad. I would never, ever have a Facebook page and post every intimate detail of my life on it. I have many good friends that I love and appreciate, but have absolutely no interest in knowing the intimate details of their life by being a Facebook fan. We do monitor our granddaughter’s activities on their Facebook page and that’s useful. Otherwise, we would never know what they are doing!
I wish Zuckerberg and Facebook well, but this may be one human need that would be better unfilled.
Author: Ralph Coker