Facebook recently acquired its one billionth member.  Given the appeal of social media, Facebook’s marvelously successful track record, and Zuckerberg’s passion, this is not surprising.  Along with all those good things, to some degree Facebook’s growth is the result of a specific organizational component built into the company’s structure.

Facebook has dedicated an entire business unit purely to conceptualizing and executing a growth strategy.  Heading up that unit has been Naomi Gleit who also happens to be the second-longest-tenured employee after Zuckerberg.

Gleit has a deep commitment to helping the user connect with Facebook and become hooked because of the “magic moments” as she calls them.  As Douglas MacMillan reports in Bloomberg Businessweek (“Chasing Facebook’s Next Billion Users” 7/30/12–8/5/12, pp. 30–31):

“Gleit helped develop functions like the contact importer, which suggests friends based on names in a user’s e-mail address book.  Often, her job entails wrangling with other teams at Facebook to highlight features on the site that improve engagement.  She describes her role as growth ‘evangelist.’” (p. 31)

Dedicating an entire business unit to growth strategy is a potent idea with the potential for big payoffs.  MacMillan points out many other tech startups such as Quora and Dropbox have replicated the approach.

I think it is easy for a startup automatically to assume that every employee carries the responsibility for growth.  That approach definitely has an element of truth.  Nevertheless, dedicating an entire business unit to growth strategy makes sense.  Sometimes the people most involved in the day-to-day operations of a company can miss the insights and opportunities a separate growth team could identify.

Finally, I love the way Gleit describes her fundamental job in all her time with Facebook:

“‘To remove barriers that are preventing people from joining Facebook.’” (p. 30)

We can learn much from that statement.  What can you do to remove the barriers that are preventing people from becoming your customers?

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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