By now you’ve seen, heard or read all about Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance on CBS’ 60 Minutes last night. In case you missed it – here’s the story.

This was an interesting cross promotional partnership. Wait? You think this was just a news story? That the journalists at CBS News decided this was a newsworthy moment that required the full weight of their legendary investigative prowess?

This was an opportunity for CBS to tap into Facebook’s vast brand recognition and draw a potentially younger audience to their venerable news program. This was not just a story. Sure, they used the movie The Social Network as a background theme to the interview. But, what was the ‘newsworthiness’ of unveiling Facebook’s new look profile during the interview?

If you think I am being too cynical note this – CBS directed their viewers to their website for a preview of the new profiles. Even though Facebook had posted this on their blog hours before 60 Minutes aired. CBS wasn’t ‘breaking’ news here though it certainly came across as such.

And what was in this for Facebook? Clearly, they do not need CBS to drive web traffic or brand awareness. No, they needed CBS to for two reasons:

Credibility: The somewhat softball piece on Zuckerberg got Facebook prime play on the #1 news program of all time. This was not ambush journalism – it was entertainment. Facebook benefitted from the velvet glove treatment they received. You can be sure their agency is putting a dollar figure on ‘earned media’ today.

Demographics: The fastest growing segment on Facebook is the 50+ demo. Guess where 60 Minutes strength lies? Yup, 50+ (unless you think 18-34′s find Andy Rooney relatable.) This kind of story makes Facebook seem more mainstream to an older, more suspicious, Watergate-era educated audience.

This was a marriage of convenience. CBS gets a shot at improving their somewhat languid hipness quotient and possibly attracts some coveted 18-34′s to the program. Facebook gains mainstream media credibility and appears more user-friendly to the Baby Boomers.

A win-win for both sides.

There is nothing wrong with this kind of media marriage. It happens all the time. What is most interesting is that it appears that the ‘new’ media has more to offer that the traditionalists. And that is a game changer.

Your thoughts?

Author: Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist – SMthree