Ex-Facebook Marketing ExecutiveEngages Crowds at Spears School Events
Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, spoke recently at two Oklahoma State University events on how social media outlets like Facebook are now at the center of what’s going on in the world. Social media-driven events like Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring enable people who don’t normally have the opportunity to broadcast themselves to now “have a voice and are rallying together in powerful ways,” said Zuckerberg.
Randi Zuckerberg, who spent six years as head of marketing at Facebook until leaving last year to create R to Z Media, spoke to nearly 1,000 people at the Tulsa Business Forum and the Executive Management Briefings. Nearly 550 people were captivated as Zuckerberg spoke at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Tulsa, and another 450 attended the Executive Management Briefings at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Zuckerberg told the Tulsa and Oklahoma City crowds that through Facebook she had the opportunity to be a part of many important events in recent history. She headed the marketing department during Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech shooting. Also she led the social media website’s coverage during two presidential elections, one in which they begged candidates to get on Facebook and “they would publically go on record saying they don’t care about the Facebook generation and then they lost the election,” said Zuckerberg. In recent years, however, people have begun announcing their candidacy on Facebook.
She decided to leave Facebook and launch her own media company last September after a series of three events. One, a show called Facebook Live was launched in which President Barack Obama appeared and did the first live interactive town hall meeting, which received national media attention.
The second, the Emmy nomination for a live, online news program in which Diane Sawyer and Randi Zuckerberg were hosts. The third was the birth of her son Asher. She says her maternity leave gave her the opportunity to take time to realize that now is a time in our society when Hollywood and technology are merging.
She also shared some Facebook facts with the audience. There are nearly 3.8 million people in Oklahoma and 1.8 million have Facebook accounts. In 2006, OSU was one of the first universities on Facebook.
Zuckerberg also shared some social media trends for 2012. Among them are “sharing economy” that allows customers to rent cars, designer clothes and accessories, and text books. Another is “people as company platforms and media brands,” stressing the importance of good customer service by referring to an incident when a United Airlines customer’s guitar was broken on a flight and his complaints posted in a YouTube video received 11 million hits.
Also, “crowd-sourcing” is when companies ask customers to help make a decision like when Vitamin Water produced a whole new water flavor chosen by customers. Another popular option is “mobile first,” when companies launch mobile applications and social media sites before or even instead of websites.
“It’s been the most incredible past six years of my life, getting such a front row seat to all these amazing innovations across every industry, but what’s the most exciting and flattering is when I speak to some of the professors at Oklahoma State University and there are now courses on community management and social media. There are whole fields of study on things that we helped create at Facebook which is the most exciting thing that we could ever dream of,” said Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg declined to disclose details of R to Z Media which plans to launch this summer, but said that her real passion is media and the coverage of live events which will be the focus of her new company.
“Today the Spears School of Business has an incredible opportunity to hear from one the leading figures in the explosive world of social media. These programs are examples of how OSU is educating people on how find innovative and creative ways of connecting and growing their businesses,” said Larry Crosby, Dean of the Spears School of Business.
The Zuckerbergs grew up outside New York City, leading a normal, middle-class suburban lifestyle. Randi graduated from Harvard in 2003 with a degree in physiology and went on to work for a large advertising company in New York.
She explained how her brother Mark asked her to join the Facebook team. He called her and said, “We need a marketer, and we don’t have money so we need someone who will work for free, and that’s where you being my sister comes in. So what do you say?”
Randi was hesitant to leave her position at the large advertising firm in New York. However, Mark insisted on flying Randi to the Facebook headquarters in California for a visit. Zuckerberg was sitting in on a meeting about the development of the Facebook logo when, “they turned to me and said you’re the marketing person, you decide what the logo should look like.” Randi said, “I decide the logo?”
Realizing that it would take years before she would be included in a meeting to discuss a logo design at her current company, she gladly accepted the position. “I could bypass years of my career and take on so many new and exciting challenges that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take on,” Zuckerberg said.