In Your Face

22 04 2010

It’s always nice when someone pays your way. Doors are opened. Meals are served. Tabs are picked up. The full belly of Other People’s Generosity is a tasty delicacy.

Visa may have paid an ad agency to create its “Everywhere you want to be” campaign, but Facebook is now livin’ it, and so are we. Someone else is paying, and Facebook has invited all of its 400 million friends to tag along. After this week’s F8 Facebook developer’s conference, it will now be easier than ever for us all to eat at the Facebook buffet…but on another person’s nickel.

How’s that?

Simple. Mark Zuckerberg and Company successfully convinced Other People’s Sites to help pave the roads that all lead to Facebook. It started with Facebook Connect, the one-size-fits-all login that uses your FB info to check in elsewhere (but inexorably link back to FB). And now it extends to the familiar “Like” icon that will now appear, in the words of Zuckerberg, on at least a billion places within 24 hours.

Here’s how it works: You see something you like on Slate.com or other participating sites, and if you click the “Like” icon, instantly that bit of digital trivia is transferred to your Facebook Wall.

Like I said, all roads lead to Facebook. Your good taste is instantly there for the world to see. No longer do you need to labor over a separate Status Update linking back to that Slate article. No, it’s one click browsing and bragging.

And it is sheer, unadulterated genius. It would be no less than any other company or individual being able to insert a button on every web page that sends visitors directly to their site. Free. No strings attached. Facebook gets ever more eyeballs, which means ever more advertising sales. Cha-ching.

Now why, you may be asking, would Slate or any other destination site wish to provide users with an easy escape like that to Facebook? Simple. Facebook is the new gold standard, very possibly en route to usurping Google as the place to be online. There is still value to Slate if someone noddingly approves of a feature story, even if that nod appears on Facebook. Because the hope is that your friends will see your good taste in creative writing, and then head over to Slate to see what all this “Liking” is about.

It’s a strange dinner arrangement. Someone else is paying, but what they’re really hoping for is just to be seen with you. It’s all about validation, you see. Hip and cool by association, even if you have to buy dinner for everyone.

And if that is all the visa I need to travel to Facebooklandia, then so be it. I’m just waitin’ for that IPO, because it’s going to be a good one.

Dr “Taking Stock Of It All” Gerlich

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