Zuckerberg lectures on marketing, social media

Brent Heard Apr 27, 2014

Randi Zuckerberg spoke on campus about her role in the development of Facebook and the books and projects of Zuckerberg media, offering advice on how to obtain balance in a life surrounded by technology.

Held in McConomy auditorium last Tuesday, Zuckerberg addressed an audience of around 60 attendees.

Randi Zuckerberg is the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and is currently the CEO of Zuckerberg media and the editor-in-chief of Dot Complicated, an online community and newsletter.

Dot Complicated, as described on their website, “is an online community aimed at ‘untangling’ our wired, wonderful lives.” The website aims to address shifting social conventions surrounding the use of communication technologies, addressing “how we interact with friends and family, how we raise our children, how we announce major life news, how we find love, and how we manage our careers.” In addition to having an online community, the site also curates and sends a weekly newsletter to subscribers.

Zuckerberg was introduced by AB Lectures chair and first-year business administration major Narain Krishnamurthy, who remarked, “having grown up in the Internet revolution, we’re all familiar with the disruptive qualities of social media,” continuing, “whenever we see something funny or strange on campus, we want to post that to Overheard at CMU.”

Krishnamurthy introduced Zuckerberg, saying that she would talk about how “social media has changed the way we interact online and offline.”

Zuckerberg began her lecture with her background story. Zuckerberg studied at Harvard University as a psychology and marketing major, after not being accepted for music. After she graduated, Zuckerberg worked at Ogilvy & Mather advertising in New York. “I got staffed on a brand new team called digital interactive marketing,” Zuckerberg said. Although at first Zuckerberg had wanted a position in television advertising, she soon saw her department grow to be one of the top divisions in the firm.

Soon after she started working, Zuckerberg began receiving calls from her brother to join Facebook and assist with marketing. “I probably rejected him dozens of times,” Zuckerberg said.

“When I got to California, I was blown away,” she said, remarking on the employees “coding around the clock.” She said, “they had a passion for what they were building that I didn’t see in corporate America.” Zuckerberg was asked to choose the startup’s logo, a task which someone with years of experience would be performing at an established firm. “It was that moment I knew I had to be part of Facebook,” Zuckerberg said.

While Zuckerberg was working at Facebook as their marketing director, she coordinated their live stream of the 2008 presidential inauguration and developed the company’s U.S. elections and international politics strategy.

When she left Ogilvy & Mather, Zuckerberg recalled, “My boss told me I was crazy, I was throwing away my career.” She remarked that people who doubted her have since asked her for jobs.

At Facebook, Zuckerberg realized, “I had a front row seat on how social media was changing our life.”

“We took a demand-led marketing approach,” Zuckerberg said about her marketing strategy at Facebook. Zuckerberg opened the website one college at a time, and waited until there were people asking for access before spreading the site to other institutions.

After she told her story, Zuckerberg spoke about the culture surrounding technology’s development and use. She lauded hackathons and spoke to how important they were to building Facebook’s “hacker, entrepreneur culture.”

It was from a company-sponsored hackathon that Zuckerberg got the idea for Facebook Live, a video streaming program which would attract celebrities and politicians. The program took off after Katy Perry announced a world tour from the platform, and became so popular that Zuckerberg “actually got a call from the White House,” when Barack Obama wanted to livestream a town hall.

Zuckerberg left Facebook after running Facebook Live and founded Zuckerberg Media. The firm consults with other companies on the use of social media and technology, and also develops their own publications, including Dot Complicated. Connected to this website, Zuckerberg is also publishing two books, one of which — Dot Complicated — addresses content similar to the website. Zuckerberg is working on a children’s book, Dot, which The Jim Henson Company is developing into a TV show.

These books address the role that technology plays in people’s lives. Zuckerberg was inspired by her son, who “made me think about technology in a whole new way.”

Zuckerberg said she had the “responsibility for the balance of technology in his life.”

“Our relationship with technology is not 100 percent healthy,” Zuckerberg remarked. “A lot of that is my family’s fault. Sorry.”

Zuckerberg spent a large part of her lecture addressing upcoming trends in the technology world and trends which can empower the modern entrepreneur, ranging from Google Glass, to Amazon’s drone delivery program, to the movement to unplug from technology on vacation, to encouraging STEM education for young children.

Zuckerberg tied these observations in with Dot Complicated, aiming to offer a “balanced point of view of both the opportunities presented and the challenges.”