In early May, Facebook , a social utility site designed originally as an online community for college students, opened its doors to everyone. As someone who joined the Facebook bandwagon in the days before users could even post photo albums, I was surprised. I think the New York Times article ‘omg my mom joined Facebook!!’ best sums up most college students’ feelings.
But now, Facebook is becoming much more than a social network of college students, and if creator Mark Zuckerberg has his way, it will replace the fragmented social networks of yesterday, when online users had to visit different sites for shopping, online dating and blogging. He predicts that Facebook will provide it all.
The new Facebook has partnered with big-leaguers like Microsoft and the Washington Post to launch a host of applications that users can download and install on their page, to share political leanings, movie reviews, music preferences, etc.
But what does this mean from a PR standpoint?
“Facebook is now offering the opportunity for any company, Internet service, or software maker to build services for its members,” according to senior editor David Kirkpatrick of Fortune magazine. With 24 million current members, and 150,000 news members joining every day, Facebook is quickly becoming a vast market for advertisers and PR campaigns. Microsoft and Victoria Secret frequently advertise on the site and presidential hopefuls and non-profits like the ONE Campaign have recently hopped on board.
As a college student, I have mixed feelings about all the changes Facebook has made, but after my first month at Furia Rubel, I see Zuckerberg’s social utility site as fertile ground for launching new forms of PR targeted at Generation X and Y.