With 800m users, Facebook’s is the largest presently existing social network, followed by Twitter with roughly 350m. With that kind of lead, Facebook is likely to stay number one for some time to come.
With its massive audience, Facebook represents the largest repository of demographic data in the history of the world. Somewhat like email marketing, Facebook’s ad platform reaches targeted users where they are, coming to them, rather than waiting for their targeted audience to find them. Everyone checks their email inbox just like every user checks their Facebook profile for new notifications multiple times a day. Facebook’s ads have been highly targeted in the past, allowing advertisers to market to specific age groups, industries or people with specific interests. With the recent upgrade to their OpenGraph and the new, tighter integration with other services Facebook’s pool of data on its users is only going to increase. The recent rollout of the ticker in the top right of each Facebook user’s home screen shares with them the activities of their friends and is, on some levels an attempt to influence users’ browsing habits and collect even more information on user interests that can give advertisers more options for ad targeting.
Facebook’s OpenGraph platform is allowing Spotify to more tightly integrate itself into Facebook users’ daily lives, prompting users to share their musical tastes with their friends and, in some cases, doing so automatically. Users could already import their Facebook contacts into Spotify to start sharing tracks and playlists, but now that sharing is going even further, showing up in the ticker and being done automatically, unless users choose to disable the automatic sharing. As more users integrate Spotify and Facebook, Facebook will be given information regarding the specific types of music users listen to and how they share their musical tastes with their friends, which could open up a new set of data advertisers can use to target customers. Eventually, users will be able to share all of their music activity through a built-in Music Dashboard in Facebook, which will integrate with other services like Mog, Last.fm and Rhapsody, tying together nearly all of Facebook’s users’ listening data.
The integration of streaming media services into Facebook doesn’t end with music; video streaming services, like Hulu and Netflix, are getting in on the act, too. Earlier stages of this could be seen in Hulu allowing users to post their viewing history on Facebook and showing comments from their friends on their favorite shows, but both companies aim to take it to the next level. Hulu has built a Facebook app, which allows users to share TV shows in new ways, not only showing others what they’ve watched, but allowing them to begin streaming from within Facebook itself. Further, users will be able to post comments on videos, even tagging specific times within the video. Netflix hopes to eventually have the same options, though the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act prevents them from allowing users to share their viewing history publicly. Watching a video through the Hulu app and, eventually, the Netflix app will provide both Facebook and the video service with viewing data, giving advertisers a massive, localized pool of data they can use to target customers.