The long anticipated data point that Facebook has just passed the 500 millionth user mark was greeted by a flurry of press reaction and an outage on the Facebook site….maybe the half billionth user was one too many for a while. With more members than the entire populations of the US and Brazil put together we should perhaps just declare them a separate country and be done with it…my suggestion is the Peoples Republic of Facebookonia.
The phenomenon which is Facebook prompted my hero the King of All Media, Howard Stern to rant for about half an hour this morning about the demise of traditional media, in his case terrestrial radio. His logic was “If you can reach half a billion people with an ad on Facebook why would anyone ever use radio.” It’s an interesting argument, but there is still a way to go…online media is still only 10% of all ad spend…and search is the largest component of that. Search is already significantly larger than magazines as a medium.
Will Facebook evolve into a media powerhouse? No doubt. Will it get bigger than magazines or radio for that matter in the immediate future? Beats me. However, in the world we currently inhabit (as opposed to Facebookonia) search remains the best way for companies to reach customers…and at least for now, we’ll use social components to increase the reach of our products and stay focused on driving a huge amount of visibility to local businesses through search.