5 Business Lessons from the Facebook IPO

With Facebook’s IPO just having been launched last week, people all over the country (and even world) are looking to see what the results will be. While it still remains to be seen whether Facebook stockholders will become millionaires, there are some underlying lessons we business owners can take from Facebook going public. And hey, if they worked for Mark Zuckerberg et al, they can certainly work for you!

1. Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

Blockbuster stopped innovating once it got the movie rental concept down pat. We know how that story ends. But Facebook, despite its continuing growth, refuses to stop. The company continues to tweak its platform (often to the chagrin of users), acquire other companies and find new ways to be meaningful to its audience.

No matter how successful your brand becomes, there’s always room for improvement. Never stop innovating, and never stop looking over your shoulder to see who’s catching up to you.

 

2. Don’t Let Losing a Client Get You Down

When General Motors announced that it would be pulling its $10 million in advertising from Facebook, the social media mogul didn’t flinch. The negative news may indeed have affected the price of Facebook’s IPO (I’m writing this before the Friday launch), but did Zuckerberg cry over it? No. There are plenty of other fish with big ad budgets in the sea.

When you’re a small business, it’s often hard to not be hugely affected when one client leaves. That’s why it’s important to diversify your client list, so that you’re not reliant on a single source for your income.

3. Rise Above the Scrutiny

Facebook has had a great deal of naysaying directed at it over the last few years. People ridiculed Zuckerberg for his lax attitude about running such a successful corporation (the film “The Social Network” didn’t do anything to improve his image either). People swore that Google + would kill Facebook. Now they’re skeptical that the IPO will be a success. When you’re the popular kid, you’re a target. That’s just how it is.

Competitors, journalists and analysts don’t always follow the Golden Rule. They’ll talk about your brand negatively on Twitter and on their blogs, and they’ll spread rumors about you. Rise above it, and focus on delivering a positive branding message, and you’ll be fine.

4. Pepper Your Map With Many Milestones, Not Just One

Those of us that love Facebook were excited when the company introduced Timeline. And Facebook Pages. And acquired Instagram. And went public. The point is: Facebook has an extensive strategy for staying relevant and cutting-edge, even if we’re not privy to it. They didn’t release Timeline and then decide that was all they needed to do to make users and advertisers happy.

Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Make sure you have enough successes in your pipeline to continue to innovate long after the newness wears off.

5. Evolve

We’ve long been speculating whether Facebook will have the same fate as MySpace as it fades out of relevance. But here’s the thing: Facebook has ingrained itself into the very fabric we live by. We upload our travel photos to the site. Check news feeds on our phones. Update our status on our tablets. We log into other sites using our Facebook IDs. We share content by clicking the Facebook button on blogs. Facebook has continued to evolve to make sure it’s where we need it to be, so that it never stops being relevant.

Your customers’ needs change. Make sure you adapt to them.

Photo: GOIABA on Flickr