What Businesses Can Learn From Facebook's Internet.org
Facebook is rapidly expanding its latest inspiring program, Internet.org, an initiative bringing together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two-thirds of the world that does not have internet access. Internet.org, for instance, has recently become available in India, Ghana and Colombia.
Clearly, this evolving ability to connect the world and move toward greater availability, globally, of resources and knowledge is truly amazing.
There is also plenty to emulate here: As an executive at a company whose goal is to help mid-sized and large enterprises utilize tools that help them grow, I am always looking for ways businesses can become more successful. Facebook's Internet.org offers some great lessons for organizations, and here are four I'd like to share:
1. Give in order to get.
Give in order to get. Facebook is giving free internet to those in need. While this necessitates large financial contributions from Facebook and its partners, all have weighed the pros and cons and ultimately decided on the importance of this initiative. In return, they are building brand awareness with new audiences they were previously unable to reach. Growth depends on acquiring new customers, and businesses have a greater chance of gaining new customers by giving. Now, giving doesn’t always equate to a free product or service, but might involve a discount or perk for potential customers who need it. While offering discounts to charitable causes may not at first generate as much revenue, it opens opportunities for future revenue growth. By giving to the greater good, businesses gain new customers and strengthen relationships with their existing clientele.
2. Identify a problem and work to solve it.
Facebook is aiming to help solve global concerns, like poverty, lack of resources and inequality, by strengthening global connectivity. The company has identified an issue and developed a solid plan to resolve it. This is a lesson for mid-sized and large enterprises, which often get stuck in a mindset that focuses on the day-to-day routine and product. These companies fail to understand what the customer actually needs. Instead, they should take a step back and put themselves in the mindset of that customer; this way, they can see how their service or product fits the customer’s needs. Better yet, they should ask customers what issues they see with the product and how they he business might solve their particular problem.
3. Capitalize on what works.
Facebook is without a doubt one of the most successful companies ever. But it is not complacent. On the contrary, it's pushing the envelope to grow, using a concept that works -- connecting people with other people. Once a business knows what works for its customers and fulfills that need, the work still isn’t finished. Questions need to be regularly asked by companies of all types. How else can a business serve its customers? How can it ensure it keeps its loyal customers coming back for more? And is there a way to further innovate the product or service to make life easier for customers? Understanding what works is the starting point for growing into an even more successful enterprise.
4. Find the right partners.
To establish Internet.org, Facebook partnered with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung. These companies will develop joint projects, share knowledge and mobilize industries and governments to bring the world online. Each partner wll serve a significant purpose. Similarly, mid-sized enterprises looking to accomplish an identified goal can partner with the right company to grow and capitalize on its idea. These companies shouldn’t fear working with other businesses, but rather seize the opportunity to open themselves up to new audiences and bigger ideas.
While not all businesses have the resources Facebook has to fight a global issue, they are business stewards nonetheless. And there are several key tactics and strategies to be learned from what Facebook has accomplished. Surely, we can all agree that we can learn a thing or two from Facebook.
Benoît Gruber joined Sage in 2008 and is the vice president of corporate communication for Sage Enterprise Market and Sage X3. He is responsible for product management and marketing for Sage X3 globally, and is in charge of ensuring that the operating company teams are aligned behind the product strategy. Prior to working at Sage, Benoît worked at SAP from 2000 to 2008, where he held a variety of marketing and product management positions before becoming senior industry principle.