It's the new television—Social Networks. At least that's the comparison most vulnerable to being tossed around when describing its marketability. And it's true. Not since the television has such a versatile medium surfaced. It has the ability to swallow large chunks of our lives, like television; it connects people on an emotional level, like television. But where it truly becomes the new television is in the cornucopia of advertising potential that websites like Facebook have managed to cram into every orifice of their network. By creating a forum for hundreds of millions of users to branch off into their own targeted, niche markets, social media sites become an undisputed wealth of marketing allure.
Their reach is absurd. In the United States, Facebook has attracted a membership of 22 million; 84 percent of whom are between the age of 14 and 26 and almost evenly distributed between the sexes. These are very appealing demographics that make Facebook's Ad Serving System an enticing approach to targeting a specific audience.
What brings Facebook to the forefront and sets it a tier higher than all of the other Social Media Networks is that its marketing potential is not confined to one or two fronts. Beside the Ad Serving System, a slew—thousands—of third-party applications have emerged to serve as extensions or meta-versions of preexisting web services; Wordpress and the now-defunct Scrabulous come to mind. While this is all fine and good for them, what does this mean to you, the advertiser? It is a fresh platform for branding. Many companies are already successfully doing it by developing their own fully functional tools for Facebook users to integrate into their profile page. And because the only cost is a few mouse clicks, there is nothing to really detract a potential client from installing and interacting with your application.
Facebook has transformed from a website for college students to share photographs into a multifaceted marketing tool for tapping into the website's 62 million worldwide clientele. It is almost hard to believe that the rest of us were unable to see its potential earlier; before Microsoft did by investing 240 million into the company and estimating its worth at 15 billion. But by their spot-on forecasting and the promising evolution of social media networks in general, advertising on the web has become a more focused and humanized practice.