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|HOOKED ON FACEBOOK|
|Sunday, 22 February 2009 12:34|
BY ROGER PE
Had an avid follower of Arnel Pineda not posted his video on Youtube, Neal Schon, god of rock group Journey, would still be searching for Steve Perry’s replacement. Pineda would still be hopping from one stage to another looking for that one elusive shot at fame.
Had Pauline Felimiano, an advertising copywriter, not spent some thirty minutes on Friendster, she would still be among thousands of faceless, nameless people slugging it out in the city’s corporate jungle.
Pauline met her handsome French prince - a graphic artist and a sole heir. Soon enough, the ‘frog’ traveled half the globe, offered to marry her in Manila and brought her to his Mediterranean villa.
At age 59, Elizabeth Trugani retired from her teaching job and migrated to Canada. Nowadays, she does backbreaking house chores and tinkers with her eldest daughter’s laptop when loneliness strikes. Little did she know, her long lost friend from way back elementary school in a remote hinterland town, lives on the same city, same neighborhood and same street where she resides.
Two friends from a distant past … united by a computer keyboard. They found themselves on Facebook.
Without Facebook, how would you think Obama would have fared in the popularity game? We all know the answer.
Digg it. Twitter it. Linked it. Flickr it. Blogger it. Multiply it or call it MySpace. The name of the game is social networking and it is hot. So scorchingly hot, advertisers are either intruding or paying their way in just to get into your own private Idaho.
Why not? At conservative estimate, half a billion people are networking online. Over 220 million people alone are hooked on Facebook, one of two most popular sites, if not the most preferred by A, B and upper C socio-economic classes, spanning across age groups.
“It is the great equalizer,” says Kai Ming Wong, an advertising Art Director and a Facebook diehard. Facebook is about to overtake Blogger (222 million registered members), according to New Media Update’s latest podcasting news.
No wonder Burger King knew where to turn to when it wanted to gain back health-conscious customers. Though it may sound bizarre, the burger brand used a “Whopper Sacrifice” application on Facebook (allowing members to delete 10 friends to get a free burger).
To capitalize on its huge membership base, Fox Entertainment also advertised its film “Juno” on Facebook.
The free-access social networking website was founded by Mark Zuckerberg when he was a Harvard student. Membership was first limited to Harvard University students, then expanded to enrollees of Ivy League and Stanford University, and finally, to anyone aged 13 and above the world over.
On Facebook, you may find a broad spectrum of society - the uppercrust, incognito or otherwise, celebrities, models, diplomats, public officials, name it, even presidents.
Imelda Marcos, Cory Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Loren Legarda, Miriam Defensor-Santiago among others, are on Facebook, including Adel Tamano, a Harvard alumni himself, whose popularity on Facebook is one the biggest among young Filipinos.
One global CEO of a major advertising network once publicly endorsed Facebook, now a virtual place for who’s who in advertising, marketing, media, and many other fields. Facebook is slowly becoming a generic word for social networking, reeking with the famous, about-to-be-famous and not famous.
Soon-to-be on mobile phones, Facebook racked up nearly 1.2 billion visits in January and has already built software applications for Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone, as reported by Agence France Presse last week.
GOOD OLD DAYS
When your grand mom wore beehive hairdo, they called it Slum Book. When your uncle probably rallied against Anita Bryant and wore tight, ankle length pants, they called it Scrap Book. When your Tia Esang always sang “Puff, The Magic Dragon” in the bathroom, they called it Photo Album. Back then before the holocaust, many Annes simply, frankly called it Diary.
Social networking has evolved into a powerful marketing medium and the two are ever intertwined. Bloggers consciously or unconsciously promote themselves. Marketers, naturally, gravitated to it and this new media became lucrative to, you guessed it, advertisers.
BOON OR BANE
A simple log in, half the world will know who you are, what you do, why you’re in your current state of mind and how you got there.
Social networking, if you have time or plenty of it, can bring career upswing, emotional rewards, fame (or just 15 minutes of it), or bring back good and bad memories.
Research, business, general information, entertainment, amusement, medical and social education applications are some of the benefits one can get with social networking.
Some people however, say networking sites encourage ‘voyeurism’, data theft and have become a fertile ground for copycats. Some companies have also shut some sites off their office premises arguing they slow down productivity.
What people say in social networking updates can also be grossly misinterpreted or, worse, used against them by people who may be stirring up for trouble.
As in texting, Filipinos are the world’s biggest users of Friendster and have multiple social networking accounts. Pretty soon, they could be the world’s largest users of the most popular – Facebook.
SCENE & NOTED