Debbie Laskey, MBA

By now, everyone with a television, radio, computer, smartphone, tablet, newspaper, or a few friends has heard that Facebook went public. The company’s initial public offering raised an insane amount of money as well as support from countless new investors. But Facebook has something more valuable to share: five lessons how to build a successful brand. How did Facebook do it?

LESSON 1: In 8 short years, with more than 3,500 employees, and with offices in 19 countries, and with 900 million active users, the name Facebook has become recognized in most households. And it doesn’t matter how you define your household: single, married, with kids, without kids, with grandparents, with in-laws, with siblings, etc. Facebook has touched us all. The lesson to learn is, if you want to create a long-lasting brand, EMBRACE EVERYONE. But, at the same time, research how your product or service fits a need, determines a better way to do something, or exceeds all other product/service options – and know what target market is appropriate. But, above all, don’t leave out the possibility that you may have a product/service that can be enjoyed by many target audiences.

LESSON 2: Facebook provided a way to easily connect with long-lost friends, colleagues, family members, etc. Even with all technological advances, previous to Facebook, there was no easy way to reach out to friends from high school from 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. The lesson to learn is, if you want to create a long-lasting brand, CREATE A WAY TO OFFER CONNECTIONS TO INDIVIDUALS WITH COMMON INTERESTS. Facebook’s example can be applied to many other types of businesses and industries. For example, in the real estate industry, if you purchased a house but wanted to stay in touch with your broker for when/if you ever sold the property, now, you have a way.

LESSON 3: Facebook also provided a way to use applications while simultaneously keeping all users on its site and remain in the Facebook community. This allowed users to continue to receive email messages, instant messages, friend/family updates, etc. – while they were playing Farmville, checking out music, participating in polls, watching videos, etc. The lesson to learn is, if you want to create a long-lasting brand, PROVIDE THE INTEGRATION OF APPLICATIONS to your main site or create stand-alone apps for mobile platforms.

LESSON 4: Facebook’s earliest versions centered on photographs, and users still rate photo-sharing as a key competitive advantage for this social networking site. But, do photos, illustrations, drawings, and other graphics have value in your industry? How about for your business? The lesson to learn is, if you want to create a long-lasting brand, DECIDE HOW BEST TO SHOWCASE YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE. Once you have an answer, develop the images and share them with your customers, prospective customers, and media.

LESSON 5: Facebook’s mission is clear. “Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.” At no time was there any question as to the purpose for the company. The lesson to learn is, if you want to create a long-lasting brand, DEFINE YOUR MISSION AND BE CONSISTENT. Don’t ever sway from your core – for the sake of your leadership team, employees, and customers.

What marketing lesson have you learned from Facebook? Chime in.