Sharing the Facebook Vision – An Evening with Josh Elman in Santa Clara

MISSION – Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Josh Elman, Senior Platform Manager at Facebook, shared some of the ideas and visions behind one of the fastest growing and most successful social networking sites in the world.

The monthly meeting of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association (SVPMA) provided the stage, and around 150 interested attendees gathered to learn some of the techniques used by Facebook to recruit more than 200 million members within the space of only two years.

Josh emphasized that Facebook tries to promote a truly global community by “giving social groups and like-minded people a way to find each other.” He went on to describe an idea which may be unique in the product marketing world, which is to not only have a company mission statement, but also a user mission statement:

USER MISSION – Create opportunities for people to share, and make the world more open & connected.

To accomplish the task of bringing people together, Facebook promotes a three stage process for new members:

  1. Create your identity. The most important thing about Facebook identities is to create credibility. Once people know who you are, and are confident you are authentic, it is much easier for them to make a connection and bring you into their community.
  2. Establish a network of friends.
  3. Begin sharing.

The word “sharing” is a common thread in all Facebook discussions. You share your ideas. You share your personal status. You share your interest through joining groups of other people sharing similar interests. You share your interest in Internet marketing, and suddenly you are a member of a community of 100,000 others around the world who share your interest in Internet marketing.

As you continue expanding your presence and circle of friends, the power of community becomes exponential. If your interest in eating sushi brings you into a community of 5000 others who like sushi, and each of those people is connected to 100 others, then your community is one step away from extending into a very large number of potential contacts. Facebook refers to the multi-dimensional extended community as their “social graph.”

If you are familiar with the ideas of one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communications, Facebook takes that concept and adds the ability to take any of those ideas and build them into three-dimensional clusters. This is the idea of many, many-to-many relationships all interconnected through common human or social group conduits.

Josh used the example of Facebook communications during President Obama’s inauguration as an example of how quickly Facebook can be used to spread a message. While online, more than 2 million comments and status updates were made through one-to-many messages, with spikes of more than 8500 status updates per second during Obama’s speech. Obama-related messages touched a majority of Facebook users, making this perhaps the fastest, most effective information or message distribution platform, ever.

Communicating with the Global Community

Just a few years ago life for many was restricted to a small geographic area, where your community consisted of others sharing your own culture, language, and traditions. When outsiders entered the community communication was strained, as there may not have been a common language, and cultural differences created a lot of stress.

Even in a global community, it is still difficult for a native Japanese speaker to easily communicate with a native French speaker – particularly if the common language (probably English) is not native to either speaker.

Facebook tries to break down those cultural and language barriers with a dynamic translation engine that allows members to communicate in their own language, while the other party receives the message their own native language. This makes, at least the language part of a relationship, transparent to both communicating parties.

Josh Elman is the perfect evangelist for Facebook. With prior experience in companies such as LinkedIN, he has the social networking technology down cold. Combine that with his enthusiasm in bringing both Facebook, as well as the vision of creating a connected world together, and you have an uplifting evening that would motivate even the most skeptical web user.

John Savageau, Long Beach

The Silicon Valley Product Marketing Association (SVPMA) meets every first Wednesday of the month at TechMart in Santa Clara. “The Silicon Valley Product Management Association (SVPMA) is an organization that was founded to address the needs of Product Managers, Product Marketing Managers and other professionals working within the Product Management field.”

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