What Could You Do with 200 Million Users?

congratulations-wish-greeting-cardYou may or may not have heard the news out of Mark Zuckerberg world today.  Facebook will officially welcome its 200 Millionth user to the most popular social networking site in the world today.  To most of us, that number is unfathomable.  To Facebook, that is just another milestone to add to the list.

For people like me, who are in the business of making money online, you just have to sit back and admire an accomplishment like that.  True, Facebook has the advantage of being free.  And true, they still have yet to turn a profit even with that extraordinary exposure.  But 200,000,000 people using your service, wow.

For entrepreneurs in the technology field, it takes a lot to be optimistic.  I have heard countless people say they will be the next Facebook.  “If we could only get a few million users, we’ll be set for life.”

It’s true that most of us could do a lot if we had 200 Million users, but you have to be realistic here.  If you are just starting out, tell yourself that you can make money without an accomplishment like that.  If it’s going to take a million or so users for your service to make money, you had better know exactly where those users are coming from.

Think long and hard about who you are trying to serve.  Is your market as big as Facebook?  Is your service the first, or the best, of its kind?  Why will people care?

Starting a free service and trying to get the masses to sign up is much harder than starting a real business that makes money up front and spreading the word through marketing.  The internet has opened the doors for a whole new breed of company, but that does not mean that everyone who tries their luck will win at it.

It’s okay to admire Facebook, but don’t try to emulate them.

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6 Responses to What Could You Do with 200 Million Users?

  1. […] the original post:? What Could You Do with 200 Million Users? Share and […]

  2. […] Mutantfrog Travelogue put an intriguing blog post on What Could You Do with 200 Million Users?Here’s a quick excerpt…the news out of Mark Zuckerberg world today.  Facebook will officially … It’s okay to admire Facebook, but don’t try to emulate them. […]

  3. Hi Zach–interesting post. There is an article in the economist you should read that points to this point, but more extreme. Twitter, Youtube, Myspace, Facebook…probably the 4 biggest web 2.0 darlings. None of which have a sustainable business model. Youtube and Myspace got bought. Twitter probably will too. Facebook, who knows…

    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13326158

    “Some Web 2.0 darlings (MySpace, YouTube) managed to find buyers before the bubble burst, thus passing the problem of finding a profitable business model to someone else (News Corporation and Google, respectively). But quite how Facebook or Twitter will be able to make enough money to keep the lights on for their millions of users remains unclear. Facebook has had several stabs at a solution, most recently with a scheme called Facebook Connect. Twitter’s founders had planned to forget about revenues until 2010, but the site now seems to be preparing for the inclusion of advertising.

    The idea that you can give things away online, and hope that advertising revenue will somehow materialise later on, undoubtedly appeals to users, who enjoy free services as a result. There is business logic to it, too. The nature of the internet means that the barrier to entry for new companies is very low—indeed, thanks to technological improvements, it is even lower in the Web 2.0 era than it was in the dotcom era. The internet also allows companies to exploit network effects to attract and retain users very quickly and cheaply. So it is not surprising that rival search engines, social networks or video-sharing sites give their services away in order to attract users, and put the difficult question of how to make money to one side. If you worry too much about a revenue model early on, you risk being left behind.

    Ultimately, though, every business needs revenues—and advertising, it transpires, is not going to provide enough. Free content and services were a beguiling idea. But the lesson of two internet bubbles is that somebody somewhere is going to have to pick up the tab for lunch.”

  4. Zach Heller says:

    Thanks Jake. That is some good stuff. It is worrisome that some of these companies had not even thought about the need for revenues until it seems its almost too late. At the beginning of the web 2.0 shift, it was all more of a game and a test, with no long term business plans or projections. Time will tell if these huge networks can get their act together before they run out of cash.

  5. […] What Could You do with 200 Million Users 2.   From Simple to Complex and Back Again 3.   13 Ways to Make Google Adwords Work for Your […]

  6. watch5 says:

    I love it,Excellent article.I am decide to put this into use one of these days.Thank you for sharing this.To Your Success!

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