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In case you've been living under a rock, Time recently announced 26 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, as its 'Person of the Year'? for 2010. The special issue and accompanying articles go into great detail on the amazing success that Facebook has achieved in the seven years since it was all started in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 ' 550 million members and currently growing at a rate of 700,000 people per day. While the results and achievements by Facebook are startling and well documented (I still need to see The Social Network), it was Zuckerberg's vision for the future of the web that I found the most interesting part of the piece. This vision, labeled as the 'Facebookization of the Web'? in the article, will redefine the importance that the internet plays in helping many consumers make purchase decisions. Before buying, I always first check out the product features and consumer reviews on the web. As marketers, we are all well aware of the power of Word of Mouth and the weight that a recommendation from a friend or family member carries with it. Unfortunately, the major problem with online reviews is that they are made by complete strangers. Maybe the product is great but the reviewer just had a bad day. Or maybe they found installation/setup to be a breeze because they are an engineer for NASA. How can I trust a recommendation or a complaint made by someone I know nothing about? Zuckerberg plans to change all of this by enabling consumers to utilize their social network as an online resource when doing things like comparing brands, researching potential vacation trips, trying to choose what movie to see, etc. Imagine being able view friends' reviews first upon visiting a site. Consumers will be able to make much more informed purchase decisions by having a social context and a relationship to the reviewer. As Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO states, 'It's a shift from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends. It doesn't matter if 100,000 people like x. If the three people closest to you like y, you want to see y." Of course, which friends or family members to trust will be completely up to you. Reference: Grossman, Lev. 'Mark Zuckerberg.'? Time December 15, 2010

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