I'm not sure that Zuckerberg -- or Zuck, as the author tells us most people call him -- is improbably brilliant. He seemed pretty brilliant from the get-go. It's more easily argued that Facebook is improbably successful. Who would have thought prior to 2004, when Facebook was launched, that the social network would become a common meeting and collaboration space for more than 1 billion users? Back then, who would have imagined social networking -- never mind social business -- at all?
Most of us know the Facebook legend. Arrogant college kid develops what eventually became Facebook out of his Harvard dorm room. After much intrigue and battles over whose idea Facebook really was, Zuckerberg builds Facebook into a business and becomes Jay-Z-wealthy -- before he's 30.
The book's author, Ekaterina Walter, tells Facebook's origin story, then goes on to present Facebook's five success principles:
Walter isn't exactly going out on a limb with these principles. What successful company hasn't been built by on these pillars?
Indeed, the picture Walter -- a social media strategist at Intel -- paints is extremely rosy. Her tone seems overly familiar, and she writes in the first person, mitigating the impact of the tome as a business book for the ages.
Not that she lets "Zuck," or Facebook, off totally. For example, she takes Facebook to task for the ways in which it works with -- or, rather, doesn't work with -- its partners (something we at The BrainYard have been harping on for a while, most recently in this slideshow). Here's Walter's take:
Facebook's relationship with its partners (brands, advertisers, developers) hasn't always been smooth, though. Some marketers (as well as other partners, developers, and users themselves) criticize Facebook for constantly changing the network without as much as a word to them. It becomes hard for marketers to keep up with all of the changes and sometimes frustrates users … Just as a brand decides to invest in the redesign of its page or works on a program with significant investment, Facebook comes out with a weighty change (for example, the Timeline -- the Wall's redesign, transforming profiles into a visually rich chronology) that pushes back a company's plans and requires additional funds to implement.
All of this is not to say that you should ignore the book. Quite the contrary: It provides some compelling context around Facebook itself, as well as insight into the ways in which like-minded companies -- including Toms and Dyson -- are turning those 5 Ps (or some variations thereof) into social business currency (figuratively and literally). It's a worthwhile addition to a growing, but still sparse, section of the library: social business primer.
"Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg" will be available on Jan. 15 in print and e-book form.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.