Facebook is a website that has changed the world. But if could have been a very different story. In fact, the odds were against it from the start.
For one, Facebook was not the first social network by any means. MySpace pretty much had this area wrapped up and offered more features. Secondly, Facebook was built by just one guy in his dormroom. It had no big money behind it and there was no reason for it to take off.
And yet it did.
So, if you’re looking to create your own visionary service or product, the question to ask is: why was Facebook such a success? And what can you learn from it?
How Facebook Used a Slow Roll Out to Conquer the World
One of the most notable aspects of Facebook’s launch is how it had a slow roll out. Rather than simply releasing to the world on day one, Facebook was initially only available for Harvard students. After a while, it became available to select other colleges. Eventually, it went international. Then it let businesses in. You get the idea…
This is likely a large part of what made Facebook so successful. Imagine if it had gone live around the world on day one. Why would you sign up to a social network with no one on it? It would seem empty.
But by launching in Harvard first, Facebook had much more modest aims. It would be much easier to get a majority of that population, at which point it would look like a success. Why would someone on MySpace already join Facebook? Because it was built for them.
Of course, word would get out though and when other colleges heard about Facebook, they’d want it too. It’s human nature to want what you can’t have, especially if it feels new, exciting and exclusive. When Facebook opened up to other prestigious colleges, they had already heard of it and they already had friends from Harvard on there. And this process repeated each time the site expanded further.
Thus, by the time that it had opened up to the general public, Facebook was already a phenomenon.
Learn from this. If you launch a service like this then keep it exclusive at first and then roll it out. Running a beta test is a great way to do this and especially because it gives you the chance to iron out bugs and test your idea!