I’m Mark Zuckerberg and you’re not

Is Facebook the biggest modern business phenomena?  Look at the social network’s growth:

  • 2006 – 9 million users
  • 2007- 40 million users
  • 2010 – 400 million users

And that 2010 number is the last one announced.  David Kirkpatrick, author of ‘The Facebook Effect’ says it’s probably 500 million by now, and he’s predicting 1 billion users by the end of 2011.

Can’t you hear Dr. Evil? One Billion Users…..

There’s been a lot of coverage lately on the most recent outcry over privacy, with charges that Facebook has evil control over your personal data.  But the cold hard fact is that with those numbers, it’s really a tiny percentage of Facebook users that are at all concerned.  Inside Facebook, they look back at the huge brouhaha when the Newsfeed came out, and it’s now the most popular feature.

Speaking at a recent Churchill Club breakfast in Silicon Valley, Kirkpatrick spent a fair amount of time talking about (and often defending) Facebook’s continuing strategy of building a platform based on genuine identity, and all the marketable information that comes with that mission.  Kirkpatrick was interviewed by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, who had Zuckerberg hiding behind his hoodie at the recent D conference.

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Conan’s brilliantly simple Facebook strategy

Brian Stelter has a great piece in the New York Times today on Conan O’Brien’s web strategy.  I was particularly impressed with his approach to Facebook:

Mr. O’Brien, for instance, has almost a million fans amassed on the “I’m With Coco” Facebook group, which formed during his feud with NBC and is controlled by fans. Rather than fully taking over the group, as they considered doing, Mr. O’Brien’s employees simply keep in touch with the pages’ operators and occasionally add links. Still, Mr. O’Brien’s official Web site encourages visitors to become fans of the group. Sometimes, it seems, it is better to embrace an existing online audience than to try to create a new one.

Well said, Mr. Stelter.  And well done, Coco.  Giving up control is understandably an uncomfortable idea for a lot of brands.  But the truth is that you never really had full control in the first place, so why not embrace and support the legions of fans who are already out there championing your cause?

Mike Pilarz

New Facebook Fan Box Widget – brand engagement o-rama

Facebook just rolled out a Fan Box Widget. This is basically, as Facebook puts it, “to gain more fans and share your Facebook updates.”

All it takes is embedding the code on your site, so big companies or musicians or …. dog groomers could easily take advantage of this.

To me, this is Facebook’s response to the huge uptick of people and companies embedding their Twitter feed onto their sites. Companies like Zappos have made this a huge part of their community interaction and company transparency initiatives.

This should be a great way to easily create a gateway for brands to socialize with their audiences. Also, there’s a potential to include it or embed it with a product launch release/microsite and to drive fans of individual products (like a new handset, for instance). We at Harold’s Kids will experiment on how to get this going on our blog! To be continued . . .

Michael Jackson Memorial – CNN coverage streamed with Facebook Statuses

A la the inauguration, CNN has partnered with Facebook to stream coverage of Michael Jackson’s memorial alongside commentary from Facebook. It’s going on right now, join the conversation here: http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=100639101957&h=S-ADC&u=fwrDx&ref=nf

Screenshot of Facebook status stream accompanying CNN's live broadcast

Screenshot of Facebook status stream accompanying CNN's live broadcast

Facebook vs press conference?

I came across this via @TreeHugger (one of the top – and my fav – green blogs out there) on my Facebook status updates and was inspired to post. So Michael Pollan, of Omnivore’s Dilemma fame, is apparently helping publicize a new documentary that he appears in, Food, Inc. I recently caught a live interview with him on KQED (local public radio in SF)’s “It’s Your World” segment, which I tweeted about. But today his publicizing takes a social media twist: he’ll be live chatting on Facebook about food and food politics.

Michael Pollan (via @TakePart)

Michael Pollan (via @TakePart)

It’s getting a TON of buzz on Twitter already. (The TakePart site this is posted on, by the way, is really cool and seemingly has great presence on social media sites).

I think this is a really great idea. We actually came up with a similar idea in a brainstorm for a client project (that was later cut, unfortunately) and I still think it holds water for client work. Instead of flying all your execs out for a (boring) press conference, why not invite attendees to listen to a webcast broadcast via Facebook/Twitter/choose-your-own-platform, and allow attendees to chat/respond via these vehicles?

I think it’s an awesome idea. Have you proposed something similar? How did it go?

Mean time, I will be listening to Pollan’s latest take on the food revolution today at 3pm PDT!

Happy Fourth of July weekend, all!!

Web Site Story – CollegeHumor video pokes fun at trendiest Web sites

Story of our lives, huh?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This summer vacation brought to you by Twitter

I reckon you’ve heard of the H1N1 flu epidemic (née swine flu). Maybe you’re currently wearing a face mask to work and changing seats on the bus when someone nearby sniffles. Or, perhaps, you’re in my camp and are thinking that maybe, just a little bit, this whole thing is sounding overhyped.

When a family friend’s condo in Puerto Vallarta suddenly become available for mid-June, I began following the minute-by-minute news with a more personal interest. I had to decide: take the plunge and commit to a possible flu-tainted vacation, or pass up the condo and remain, pouting, in the relatively safe backwaters of Oakland.

Like any good researcher, I turned immediately to my online resources. I Googled “swine flu and Puerto Vallarta,” which revealed some incredibly helpful blogs by local PV residents. Particularly useful was a frequently updated blog by a local Registered Nurse. I was also connected to chat rooms via TripAdvisor and Yahoo Answers, all with posts by people who had just completed, were currently enjoying, or planned to soon enjoy their Mexican vacations. Twitter Search provided the final piece I need to make my decision.

Sure, some folks were afraid. “Pandemic” is a pretty scary word, after all. But mostly, people were enjoying their time in Puerto Vallarta, flu free and happy. When I realized that there were fewer cases of H1N1 in PV than there were in my own backyard – and when flights dropped $200 in one day – I took the plunge. Tickets were purchased and I’m now on my way in five weeks. Olé!

To celebrate said ticket purchase, I posted a status update to Facebook, which was seen by an old college buddy of mine who also happens to be a local TV news reporter. She was just closing a story on the swine flu epidemic when she saw my post. She contacted me via Facebook and asked if I would agree to go on camera with my tale of bravery in the face of disease-tainted travel. Sure, why not?

Within 10 minutes, she was downstairs with a camera crew. I shared my story and gave Twitter a complimentary shout-out and, just like that, my anti-fear, pro-Mexico message was broadcast to the Bay Area. Huzzah!

Thanks, Google and Twitter. I’ll raise a banana daiquiri to you in five weeks.