{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be the most successful 26 year-old technology entrepreneur in the world right now, but he sure isn't making it look easy. His company finds itself being attacked for its position on user privacy, and the attacks have turned personal.

While Zuckerberg's character has been called into question before, the increased scrutiny on Facebook seems to be producing a steady stream of facts that don't show Zuckerberg in the best light.

While many are debating the merits of the ongoing media assault against Facebook and Zuckerberg are overblown, one thing is clear: the company and its wunderkind leader aren't exactly comfortable. That's somewhat understandable. Facebook has gone from global Google-like popularity to Microsoft-like disdain before the company has even gone public. A notable, if not dubious, feat.

What impact will this have on the company? That's hard to say. As the company passes the 500m registered user mark, it's obvious that Facebook isn't going away tomorrow. But a more qualitative reading of what's being said about Facebook and Zuckerberg (and what people are searching for) hints that the future isn't exactly guaranteed either.

Facebook's current predicament highlights a challenge that most businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals will face at some point: remaining likeable while also remaining successful.

Some might say, "Huh? I don't need to be liked to make money." But the reality is that being likeable is important. Why? Because likability helps foster something far more important than superficial popularity: trust. After all, how many individuals and companies do you like, but not trust? How many individuals and companies do you dislike, but trust? Probably very few, if any, on both counts.

Trust, of course, is one thing that helps grease the wheels of commerce. If your customers (or users) trust you, the odds are far higher that they'll stick by you. If they don't, they may not. That's one reason why in just about every industry -- from software to investment banking to oil production -- companies often go to great lengths to put on a face that the public can at least tolerate. No matter how amoral or even 'greedy' they might seem (or be), time and money are spent trying to maintain perceptions about what the company does and what it stands for. Even at the individual level, it's no surprise that the best salespeople are typically those who are charismatic. The person you'd enjoy going to a sporting event or hanging out at a BBQ with is far more likely to sell you a $100,000 software license than the rude, antisocial chap who answers your calls as if you were the most hated in-law.

On the internet, likeability is particularly important. Word of mouth spreads fast, so if you're a total jerk, word will get out. Switching costs are often relatively low, particularly when it comes to free consumer-oriented services. Furthermore, the prominence of personality-driven ventures (such as Digg, WordPress and Twitter to name but a few) demonstrate that people matter. Interesting or otherwise likeable people can help attract users and customers, and contribute to keeping them coming back for more.

From this perspective, there's little reason not to be likeable. Or conversely, to try too hard to be unlikeable. Hopefully Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg will figure that out.

Photo credit: deneyterrio via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 May, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Rich Media Animations

It's true that Facebook needs to re-check their privacy guidelines and that they must follow government rules and proceed with user accordance

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Heiner

Even the big ones can die over time. Just think Geocities. Of course, Facebook has a great position right now, but they're not invulnerable.

Zuckerberg might still fail, and if he does, it'll be for his ignorance.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

farouk

i agree with your post but i also think that facebook is few moves away from internet domination ,just imagine what will happen if they started a search engine (now they have  site data because of their like button that is spreading like fire), i might be wrong but these are just predections

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Youssef Rahoui

Huh? I don't need to be liked to make money.

If you're Goldman Sachs, I agree but when you're doing business thanks to the relationships between people, where everything is about emotion, I think it matters a lot.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

ruby

Facebook has a great position right now, but they're not invulnerable.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jatinder Vijh

It takes time and effort to build trust and credibility but it takes very little to destroy it. The credibility of both facebook and its creator is at stake. It is important to be good and equally important to appear to be good. The course left  is to humbly acknowledge what is a fact and then make earnest efforts to do the requisite corrections. It is not an easy task but choices are limited. It would be sad to see facebook going down especially when one has got so used to it.

over 6 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.