How Would You Beat?

How would you beat Facebook?

December 05, 2019 thrv
How Would You Beat?
How would you beat Facebook?
Chapters
How Would You Beat?
How would you beat Facebook?
Dec 05, 2019
thrv

Facebook is a fierce competitor. In this episode, we will look at how you could use Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) Innovation methods to beat Facebook. We explain how to define markets using JTBD, which is the critical first step in figuring out how to beat a competitor like Facebook. Your customer's job-to-be-done is your market. This episode will show you how to define your customer's job-to-be-done. 

Show Notes Transcript

Facebook is a fierce competitor. In this episode, we will look at how you could use Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) Innovation methods to beat Facebook. We explain how to define markets using JTBD, which is the critical first step in figuring out how to beat a competitor like Facebook. Your customer's job-to-be-done is your market. This episode will show you how to define your customer's job-to-be-done. 

Jay Haynes :

Welcome to our podcast. How would you beat? In each episode we pick a company and talk about how you could use jobs-to-be-done innovation methods to beat that company's product. We'll discuss innovation theory and explain the methods so you can put the theory into practice at your company. I'm Jay Haynes, the founder and CEO of thrv, that's thrv without the vowels thrv.com. We help product marketing and sales teams use jobs-to-be-done innovation methods to build market and sell great products. I'm here with my colleague, Jared Ranere. In this episode, we're going to focus on Facebook, how would you beat Facebook and specifically, we'll focus on market definition in order to build a product strategy to beat Facebook. So Facebook's market cap today is 540 billion dollars in over a billion and a half people use Facebook every day. So it seems impossible to beat them. They own four of the top 10 to 20 most used and downloaded mobile apps, Facebook, Facebook messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. So it's incredibly tough competition. And Facebook has been in the news recently about allowing lies in their political ads. So if you were a competitive Facebook, how would you do it? How would you beat Facebook?

Jared Ranere :

Yeah, it's a super interesting question. So the obvious answer seems to be to build a competing social network. It's a social network market. If you want to beat Facebook, you have to build a better social network. But there's not a great history of this. Facebook will have you right in their line of sight. And they'll go straight after you so early on, they might buy you, right, they bought WhatsApp super early, they bought Instagram really early. And they bought other startups that you might not have ever heard of, like hot potato, Beluga and reaching way back there was Friendfeed you might remember If they can't buy the company outright, they might copy their killer features. So remember, when Foursquare got hot with the location check in Facebook added that directly to the app to Facebook. And then when Snap Chat fast growth using stories, Facebook and Instagram copied them. So they have all these resources. And if you say you're building a competing social network, they will put you directly in their line of sight. So how could you possibly do that? What's the What else could you do? How else would you try to beat them?

Jay Haynes :

Yeah, that's a great question. And just a little review and jobs-to-be-done innovation theory specifically about markets. We'll start with that and see if we can go from there to figure out a better way to be Facebook than just building a competing social network. So the first question is really what market is Facebook actually in? The market always wins Of course. So we want to figure out what actually is the market and how are we going to define the market in order to beat Facebook? So jobs theory states that what customers want is is not actually your product, what they want is to get a job done. So how you define your job that you're targeting for your company really defines your market? So is there a market for social networks? Well, social networks are a product and a product platform. And they use software in the cloud, obviously, to connect people. And they have some really inherently powerful characteristics because they have network effects. So it's hard to switch when all your friends are on Facebook. But social networks are a product, we should remember that. And what we need to ask is, what are the markets that Facebook's targeting? In other words, what are the markets that people are hiring Facebook, what are the goals, the problems they're trying to solve with Facebook? Because those are really the underlying markets that are not going to change over time?

Jared Ranere :

Yeah, so let's let's look at those jobs because I think that's a really that's the right question. So Obviously, Facebook's helping customers do a lot, or at least they attempt to, or at least they try to help customers make progress. So starting with share memories, right? That was one of the earliest things that Facebook help anybody do. You would go on there, you'd upload a photo with a status update, and even just your your profile page, and any status update would help share memories. And if you look back, remember they they help people upload profile pages, on college campuses only. In fact, I remember being on college, being college just before Facebook launched, the only way we could share memories with each other or stay informed about what each other was doing was using AIM away messages. Remember AIM, Jay? Yeah, AIM was I think it was like it was like AOL instant messaging, right. It was like a break a spin off product.

Jay Haynes :

And I'm older than you I remember. Can you serve? Oh yeah.

Jared Ranere :

I never I never got to use. AOL was the first internet product that used, you're lucky. So in college, we used to just write in our away message where we were, and you'd go and you look at your list of friends in instant messenger and see what they were doing. Facebook obviously did that way better. So they helped customers get the job of stay informed, done much better than the competing solutions. And at first it was just stay informed of what your friends are doing. But then later as the platform grew, you could stay informed through news outlets that were posting on the platform. And then remember, celebrities started posting and public figures. And they that information might help you make decisions that impact your life, right. So for instance, if a political figures posting on the platform, it might help you figure out who to vote for. So those are some of the jobs right you've got, share memories. Stay informed with your friends, stay informed of what's going on with celebrities and politics. Figure out who to vote for though some might say that Facebook doesn't do this well at all. What other jobs that have? What am I missing here? Yeah,

Jay Haynes :

Those are great examples. And one of my favorite examples is from Clay Christensen, the book Competing Against Luck, which people may know is a book about jobs-to-be-done innovation theory. And he says that Facebook is actually competing with a cigarette break. And I love this example, because what he's trying to explain is that companies compete with more than just the products that directly look like them. So Facebook isn't only competing with other social networks. They are, of course, those are direct competitors. But because people are hiring products to get the job done, there can be lots of different solutions, whether it's products or services, or even different technologies that emerge that help them get those jobs done. And so this idea that Facebook is competing with a cigarette break is actually a really great one because, in that case, the underlying job, Why are you taking a cigarette break? Why are you checking Facebook throughout the day is you're really trying to change your mental state. And that's what you're looking for with a cigarette, or, in some cases, checking Facebook is you're looking for some sort of relaxation, or you want to de stress or you want your anxiety to go away, go away. So what you're doing is, you're really trying to figure out how to take your current mental or emotional state and change it. And I find this really, really great way to think about competition, because the competition that's really going to displace you or disrupt you is is not going to come from something that looks exactly like you. So if you were going to compete with Facebook, you'd want to look at these jobs, you'd want to scope and identify those jobs in a way that you can understand how people struggle with them. How Why do they change? Why do they struggle to change their mental state? And if they are struggling, then you can find a different solution that might not be a social network because social networks of course because actually not helping you change your mental state, you might become more outraged about politics and you might feel more depressed and lonely. So certainly there could be better ways to engage with people just through a social network. And I think what we're going to find out if you, if you look at all the work and how the human brains works, and how human emotions work, what are the other solutions that are actually going to make us happier, more productive and less lonely and more engaged and make better decisions at the end of the day? And if social networks are the only way we're ever going to do this, I find that really depressing, but I think there will be real innovation that focuses on those jobs that are not a social network that become a big risk and threat to Facebook.

Jared Ranere :

He had the depression the depressing comment is really strikes home with me because why? Why is it depressing that a social network could be the answer to building relationships, creating deeper relationships? Well, the thing that drives me kind of crazy That they suck up your attention in this way that is endemic to the platform and kind of ruins my life. Right? Like, it's like Facebook's mission in life is to get me to stare at a screen. But that's not going to help me be happier, right? That's not going to help me get relaxed. It's not going to help me cure loneliness. It's not going to help me create deeper relationships. And so we have to ask the question, why are they so obsessed with usage metrics? Why? Why is every team gold against time on site? How often people open the application? You know, they're constantly reporting daily active users, monthly active users, how many times people open the app on a regular basis, and the numbers are over a billion on almost every single front. So why is that?

Jay Haynes :

Yeah, that's great. And in, of course, Facebook is in a two sided market. As most people I think know. They've got the users who are actually the product that they're selling, even though they're helping those users get jobs done. But they of course generate their revenue and their profitability and their entire market cap their entire value as a company is because they help advertisers sell advertising. So if you were to compete with Facebook, you actually could choose to to compete with them either on either side of this. You could you could go after the users of course, we have the free product and you help them change their mental state, you know, make decisions better, stay connected, less loneliness, etc. But on the advertising side as well, advertising, of course, getting a different job done that job is to acquire customers over time. If advertisers are not actually acquiring customers, they're also they also might be building brands or awareness. But at the end of the day, if you're not acquiring customers profitably, you're going to change your advertising or you're going to find a new way to acquire customers. And of course, this is why Google and Facebook have both been very, very successful relative to, you know, print media or television where you it's really hard to track metrics to say I spent $1 of advertising and I generated, you know, $1 50 and profitability. So if you went after the advertisers as well and find a better way for advertisers to acquire customers, that's where where you could, you could cause problems for Facebook. And I think this is important to think about too, because when you're in these two sided markets, there is this an inherent tension, especially in advertising. Now, if you've got buying and selling markets, there's a nonzero sum game you're playing because you're trying to get them to actually engage in a transaction. Of course, the zero sum part of that market is negotiating the price $1 for you is $1 less for me, but you both want to get to a transaction. But Facebook and these platforms that are these two sided markets, where you've got the free product, targeting consumers and you've got the advertisers, there's that inherent contradiction, and interestingly Jaron Lanier, he knows very famous technologists and thinker has proposed that that consumer should own data about themselves. And that's a very interesting concept, of course, because that data about you is very valuable advertisers willing to pay for it. And yet, you're not capturing any of that value. Because you're sacrificing all that to get a free product from Facebook to stay connected with your friends share memories to change your mental state, all these other jobs. And I think that's that is the way that you would want to approach this market first, from the user side, can you figure out how to get people to change their mental state better? And then what's the business model underlying that? In other words, is there really something that you can do for the consumers that doesn't cause doesn't require them to hand over every piece of information about themselves in order to sell advertising. And there may be even subscription models where you know, people really do want to feel more connected, improves, their lives feel less lonely, and they're willing to pay for that? And they struggle with that. So if you combine that struggle to achieve those goals together, Those jobs done with a willingness to pay. It's an interesting business model. And you know, you could change it on the advertising side as well, if you help advertisers acquire customers more effectively than they can on facebook, facebook just has the advantage of being so large, that it's just an enormous amount of ad inventory they can sell. And that's why they want to keep people coming back and coming back again and again. And their algorithms actually might not be healthy for you as a user, because it might not be a healthy thing to being gauged with social networks all day. And yet they have to do it. You can you can kind of see some of this and you know, Mark Zuckerberg testimony to Congress seems insane. Some of the arguments he's making, just as like a fellow human, but he's trapped, right? He's got capital, he's got shareholders he has to perform, he has to grow. So it's always about getting people to be more engaged, even if that means that the way you're going to get them to be more engaged, be more outrage and start, you know, selling lies on your network.

Jared Ranere :

Yeah, and I think this is much more than an ethical question when Look through the jobs-to-be-done lens. Because if people are getting outraged if people are not owning their own data, if people are just getting all their attention sucked up by the platform, it could very well adversely affect the user's ability to get their own jobs done. Right, that tension is a conflict, because potentially the better job you do for advertisers and to work in terms of taking people's attention, the worse you do for the for the user, for the consumer, who's trying to build deep relationships in real life, who's trying to not be lonely. You know, one of the crazy things about Instagram is that it's this platform where everybody looks like they're having an amazing time, right? You add a filter onto something and suddenly everything looks incredible. And that can give you FOMO, right, so rather than curing your loneliness, you're looking at Instagram, you're seeing the brands come off so beautifully, the people interacting with those products coming off so beautifully, your friends coming off beautifully no matter what they're doing. And suddenly you sitting there and you're very pedestrian situation, feel bad about yourself, because your life is nowhere near as good as his Instagram situation. And so I think we have some vulnerabilities that we can attack Facebook on given their revenue model. So I think looking at the subscription model is a fantastic way to go to it. I think the next key question is, which job do you focus on in order to make this work? What is the job that's going to give you that subscription model that will help you beat Facebook?

Jay Haynes :

Yeah, and I think that's right. And I think the way you define that job is critically important. I mean, of course, we're using language to describe a market you know, we're using language to describe the goals or the problems that people are trying to solve. And the vernacular today is jobs-to-be-done. But how you describe that job is really interesting. And I think we've seen this again and again, with different markets where if you took one example of changing your mental state, you know, Facebook competing with a cigarette, if you really look at changing your mental state, those are those are often optimization problems. So you could see attacking this market and saying, Okay, well, if we're going to compete with Facebook, we want to target those people that are checking Facebook during the day, during while they're at work. And what that would mean probably is that you're looking to optimize someone's mental state for perform performance at work. So for example, if you're an engineer, and you're working on really complicated problems, you've got to keep a lot of information in your head, you've got to make a lot of important engineering decisions about how you're going to solve complex problems. You really do want to optimize your mental state, and maybe taking a cigarette break is a good way to do it. It's obviously not a very healthy way to do that over time. And maybe checking social networks is a good way to do it. Or it could be that social networks or networks are actually degrading your performance. They are not optimizing your mental state because you come back And in your social network, something politically is set you off. And you're, you know, I feel very triggered and angry and you come back and you can't solve the problem in the optimal way. So what do we know about brain science and emotion? And how to put people in those optimal mental states? And what are the possible solutions? And it's clear, when you think about it this way, a social network is only one solution, just like a cigarette is just one solution. And if you were to really figure out what the solution needed to do, that's where you would look into the unmet needs in the job of optimizing your mental state and optimizing your mental state is incredibly complex, like any job so you could break that down and figure out okay, where are the unmet needs, and then you could figure out who are the segment of people who really struggle with this job and this set of needs and it could be it could be engineers, it could be people involved in, you know, management decisions, it could be people who are trying to To change careers at lots of different ways to figure out, you know, who's the most? Who's the segment that struggles the most. But in that case, that's how you would approach this market. And, you know, it wouldn't look like you probably wouldn't even go to an investor pitch and say, oh, our competitors, Facebook, because they wouldn't even think of it this way. Right? They wouldn't think of like, well, you're not competing with Facebook. And the same way you wouldn't walk into someone's, you know, an investor presentation and say, we're competing with the cigarette companies, even though you actually are, you know, it wouldn't line up in that traditional competitor analysis. And that's what's so interesting about jobs theories, it gets you those kind of insights to think differently about your competition and your markets and your customers on met.

Jared Ranere :

Yeah. And I think one of the really important insights that you made there is that you know, Facebook, people would say, well, Facebook is for everybody. So if we're going to beat Facebook, we should target everybody. And Facebook's getting a lot of jobs done. So if we're going to beat Facebook, we got a target all those jobs too. And I think what you pointed out is that that that's not a helpful way to look at the problem, right? It gets too broad. It doesn't give you the creative constraints, you need to identify if your solution is going to actually do something better than what Facebook does today. And you know, this is even true about a product like the iPhone, it seems to target a million jobs today. And it is for basically everybody. But when it first launched, it was for consumers who were trying to communicate over the internet. They were, you know, with email and web browsing, talk on the phone and create a mood of music. It targeted three jobs very specifically. And it wasn't until later when they launched the app store that they created this engine where they could get many, many jobs done. So this idea that you target something more specific, get a toehold and grow your platform over time to target more jobs and more customers, I think is a really really important idea. In our In our next episode, we're actually going to talk about how you choose that customer. Right? What is the right customer target? And and how do you make that choice to to grow from where you are today?

Jay Haynes :

Yeah, I think that's, that's super important because if you define your competitive market and your competitors based on a product and even worse, if you define it based on your competitors products, you're almost always going to fail. And you know, the Zune is great example of this. Microsoft, you know, of course, thought there was a big market for iPods. So they spent hundreds and hundreds, they lost hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, trying to create an iPod competitor. But of course, that's not the market, the market is to create a mood with music, which is, you know, the customers job to be done. And this is even true of Google, you know, these huge successful companies with hundreds of millions, billions of customers that they can target and they failed, again and again and again, and they always fail. It's all Always lethal when you're defining your market by your competitors products. So when Google tried to launch a social network, I mean, it was, you know, obviously a giant failure, just just like the Zune. So every time you do this, when you're defining your market through the lens of your competitors product or your product, rather than the point of view of your customer and the job they're trying to get done, and the problem they're trying to solve the, you know, the goal they're trying to achieve. It's really, really, really unlikely to be successful.

Jared Ranere :

Yeah, I put you in this feature catch up situation, rather than leading the innovation, then you just watch your competitor, go farther and farther away from you. It's really it's a horrible place to be in. Yeah, I always

Jay Haynes :

I always love that feature feature comparison when I worked, you know, and Microsoft as a product manager in the late 90s. In the windows group, and half my job was literally tracking the competitors features and this is back in the day. Remember, you windows used to ship in a box that would be in a store, so we could list on the back and we would just show we had more features than our competitors. So we must be better when of course, like your customers don't care about your features, they don't want more features, they want to get their job done, they want your product to get the job done for them. So they're not looking for more and more and more and more features. And of course, my favorite example, this is Pandora, there are no features, it didn't have podcasting features, you know, it didn't have sync with your playlist, all it had was push a button and create a mood with music. You can even see this and in Spotify. Now, Spotify literally has categories called moods. And you can pick a mood and it's automatically generating music for that mood. You don't have to search around a store and create your own playlist you just you know, push play and it'll it'll create music for the mood and it's pretty good at it's fast and you know, relatively accurate.

Jared Ranere :

Yeah, totally. I would definitely use an application where I could tap a button and cure my loneliness. Like super fast rather than stare at Facebook waiting for the next notification something interesting to come in that Yeah, that sounds like a much better life for me or tap one button. No more loneliness. Yeah.

Jay Haynes :

Yeah, that's great. Well Explore a lot more of these questions. In other episodes we'll look at how do you define customers, you know what our customer needs? How do you know how big the market opportunity is? How do you survey customers? How do you get quantitative data and figure out if this segments underserved, etc. So I think in short, just to wrap this up here, if you were to try and beat Facebook, the first incredibly important step is defining the market from the point of view of the customers you're targeting. In other words, what jobs are they trying to get done? Thanks for listening to our How would you beat podcast, visit us at thrv. com that's thrv.com to get our free how to guides and try our jobs-to-be-done software for free.