Mark Zuckerberg is the Rodney Dangerfield of the social media age. No matter what he does, he “don’t get no respect.” Surely a large part of this public persona is the fact that he insists on dressing like a teenaged mall rat and conducting his CEO duties with all the panache of a high-school sophomore (not to mention that he is the only billionaire to stiff waiters out of tips), but it is difficult to argue with the fact that he did manage somehow to build the world’s number one social network. Therefore when Zuckerberg discusses the structure and dynamics that form the chassis of social networking he is worth listening to, if for no other reason than for online marketers to figure out new ways to benefit from his massive social machine.
The Greatest Badoodling Lounge in History
In a video entitled Mark Zuckerberg At Startup School 2011, Mr. Z himself reveals two very key factors that should be of great interest to marketers still scratching their heads trying to figure out how to make a buck from nearly a billion people hanging out in the greatest badoodling lounge in the history of humanity. The first satori is the determination of the number of friends that a social networker must accumulate in order to become a habitual frequenter of the site. It seems that once an individual manages to connect with a total of ten other people, the Grodzins angle of repose has been reached, and that person is going to return to the site ad infinitum. From a marketing standpoint, this tipping point is critical as it provides a statistical measurement of what defines the social user and the level of connection required for long-term engagement.
Social Networks Reach Almost Everyone with Disposable Income
The second factor is a bit more ethereal and may consist of part statistical reality and the balance social media bravado on the part of Zuckerberg, as he claims that Facebook has managed to “map the world.” Unlike in earlier eras where sailing ships manned by scurvy-riddled crews managed to sketch out the outline of a hitherto unknown coast, in the social media age mapping the world equates to having essentially integrated the sum of all the connections that exist between humans on the planet today. Of course this number consists only of the ones who are active in an online social network, but that figure is eerily close to the total number of the world’s population, which actually possesses a level of disposable income so it clearly merits attention from brand marketers everywhere.
An Infrastructure Encompassing the 6 Degrees of Separation
When an online marketer engages his or her customers through the “pre-mapped world” available on Facebook (and for fairness’ sake also on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Weibos, and to some degree Google+) there can be some level of certainty in the belief that the brand has tapped into an infrastructure where all of the imaginable six degrees of separation (to Kevin Bacon and beyond) have been covered. The full extent of the global population “that matters” to an online marketer are connected somewhere on the gossamer threads of this social web, and all that remains is to make a sufficiently strong viral impact somewhere on the social media network(s) in order to effectively reach darn near every homo sapiens on Earth with a Dollar/Euro/Yuan in their pockets.
Of course there are the grandmas who still look at computers as television sets that paradoxically have flat typewriters beneath them, and the billions of people in the impoverished Third World who have yet to make a telephone call, but those numbers are precipitously diminishing by the day. More than ever before, the population of the globe is being reached by those social web threads that stretch from wealthy industrialists to dirt farmers. Through the insights garnered by Zuckerberg, online marketers now understand the dynamics of the minimal level of social engagement that triggers habituation and the awe-inspiring global reach of social networks that are swiftly reaching totality. If nothing else the elucidation of these two points have earned Zuckerberg a tip of the hoodie.