In the movie 'The Social Network,'? Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg led us to believe that since Zuckerberg so desperately wanted to be considered cool himself, that he also wanted Facebook to be cool, so that he could be considered cool by association. For this reason, he was against selling advertising on Facebook, as he thought ads would cheapen the experience and make it uncool for potential users. Seven years and billions of dollars in value later, Facebook is the biggest website on the Internet and it has since allowed sponsored ads. The conspiracy theorist in me believes that Zuckerberg always intended to have ads on the site, but he just wanted to get everyone addicted to Facebook FIRST, and THEN make money off these addicts. You may ask, 'Greg, are you comparing Mark Zuckerberg to a heroin dealer?'? In a way, I AM comparing Mark Zuckerberg to a heroin dealer, only WAY smarter, because Facebook isn't illegal, and it's a universally accepted addiction. Now that sponsored ads have been in our Facebook consciousness without mass Facebook upheaval, we will now see the beginning of sponsored stories. With sponsored stories, businesses can now monetize their Facebook fans. For example, let's make up a fictional store called 'Sneaker Land.'? Aside from having the most original name for a sneaker store in recent memory, Sneaker Land also has a growing Facebook fan base. Occasionally, Sneaker Land posts interesting pieces of content based around the sneakers they sell. This content might deal with subjects such as sports or fashion. If a 'fan'? of Sneaker Land were to 'like'? this content, Sneaker Land could then pay Facebook to feature this information in the 'sponsored'? column for all friends of fans to see. By doing this, Sneaker Land is building awareness to the social networks of their fans, while increasing web traffic, and ultimately increasing their bottom line. Sponsored stories aren't just limited to article related content. 'Check Ins'? have become a popular feature on Facebook as of late. These 'Check Ins'? can now also be sponsored as well. Now if you 'check in'? to Sneaker Land with your friend Joe, all of your friends can now see a Sneaker Land sponsored ad letting them know that you were at Sneaker Land with your friend Joe. The advantage of sponsored ads is that the ad has longer staying power to penetrate the consciousness of your social network, rather than being buried in the list of recent status updates. While this information may seem scary to some people, the idea of sponsored stories doesn't stray far from behaviors that the majority of people already participate in. People are quick to share personal information with their friends, and now this information will just be there longer for people to see. If you don't want this information being used, then don't share it to begin with. The idea of sponsored stories seems like a slam dunk for businesses wanting to reach their target audience, while building their social media presence. In addition, social media posts now routinely rank in organic search results, so it would be an ignorant move for companies to not at least pay attention.
Let's see what's new in social media this week: Twitter is expected to earn $150 million in ad revenues this year, a huge increase over revenues of $45 million during 2010. Facebook is giving brands a new way to collect 'likes.'? 'Sponsored Stories'? will give brand-related action such as a 'like'? or a check-in a lot more visibility on Facebook by adding them to an ad unit in addition to users' news feeds. Grubwithus, a new social network, is hoping to break the mold with their service. They offer price-fixed meals at vetted restaurants with the intention of bringing together singles and couples who want to meet new people in the neighborhoods Twitter users are now spending 2 hours and 12 minutes per month on the website, which is up from the 1 hour and 51 minutes last year. Twitter has brought in a new feature called 'Connections,'? getting rid of their 'You Both Follow'? feature.