The Social Network Review and Interview

On July 16, I first wrote about The Social Network movie release. A few moths later, that post attracted the attention of  Roland Lindner, a business correspondent for Germany’s FAZ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,How would the movie affect the Facebook brand, he wanted to know?

Another European journalist contacted me with some very good questions. You'll see my answers here. I didn't think about how the movie's winning awards would affect the Facebook brand. Back then, most of the attention was around how the film would portray the founder. No one had seen it and there was plenty of speculation going around. Now that the film is up for six Golden Globes, including one for best picture, I'm checking back in to take another look. Let's start with a review . . .

But the most frustrating bit of The Social Network is not its obliviousness to the silliness of modern American law. It is its failure to even mention the real magic behind the Facebook story. In interviews given after making the film, Sorkin boasts about his ignorance of the Internet. That ignorance shows. This is like a film about the atomic bomb which never even introduces the idea that an explosion produced through atomic fission is importantly different from an explosion produced by dynamite. Source: The New Republic tnr.com

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What is Facebook? The Social Network Movie Review by Barbara Rozgonyi on October 3, 2010

*“What is Facebook?” The question came from a 90 year old World War II vetern, artist and architect who had taken me on a tour of his studio. I was delighted to see his latest innovation, a 2010 collection of whimsical farm life pen and ink drawings that included technology references.

When we came back upstairs, my phone buzzed with a Facebook update. I mentioned that someone was messaging me on Facebook and that’s when he asked, “What is Facebook?”

As I talked about what the site could do, I grabbed my iPhone and pulled up my Facebook app. Here’s how it works, here’s what people say, here’s how pictures get posted and here’s what you can do.

I handed the phone over to him. He scrolled through the page, intrigued by the idea of following news in real time. He handed the phone to his wife who read an update from Mashable about how indie film makers could promote their work on social networks. That’s Facebook: a connection device to information, friends and life.

I read two messages: one from someone wanting to know how an event went and another from a friend reminding me about a brunch at her house the following week. While I mostly use Facebook for business, or so I tell myself, the truth is the site and its updates keep me informed on what’s going on in the world around me.

Saying so long to my friends, I got in the car and headed home.

After driving for three hours, I hauled my bags in in a daze and collapsed on my bed for an hour. Strange dreams like leading internet celebrities complaining that I wasn’t spending enough time with them woke me up – was this a nightmare or a sign? I stilted downstairs on sound asleep legs to find that my 21 year old still wanted to go see "The Social Network" movie with me.

She chided me for checking into Facebook Places before the movie started, but it seemed appropriate. The trailers all looked better than I thought this move could be. Yet, I was looking forward to seeing a film I’d been asked to comment on.

Much of the early press about the film talked about the controversy of the portrayal of Mark Zuckerburg’s character.

Would people walk out thinking he was unethical, ruthless, a jerk? And, does it really matter?

How much do people think about a social network’s site when they’re posting pictures and tagging friends?

How true is this movie? Part fiction, part reality, the movie tells the story of how Facebook came to be and how the cast of characters took each other to court to get the money they thought they deserved.

Will the movie damage Facebook’s reputation? I don’t think so and here’s why: it’s about building an internet company in the early stages. Yes, there are parties and Mark is portrayed as being flat, driven and brilliant. Do parties happen at colleges all over the country? Do ideas develop as businesses outside of the heads and hands that first conceived them?

Right or wrong – you decide. Wait a minute – you can’t decide because you don’t have the facts, only a fictionalized portrayal based loosely on a few truths.

I like the movie. I admire Zuckerberg’s drive and accomplishments. He needed a mentor and a role model to guide his decisions. He took the action and keyed in the code to make it work.

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Facebook and The Social Network Movie Interview

A European journalist sent these questions that I answered via email before I saw the movie. How would you answer them?

Question: Facebook is not anymore [just a] social network for communication.

Answer: You’re right. Facebook’s grown beyond where it started out as a place for college friends to connect. Today, Facebook is an integrated communications system for people, organizations, companies and their networks, both on the screen and in real life. Every single update contributes to a collective digital profile.

For our business, education and nonprofit clients, having a blog and a Facebook presence are as important as having a website. Even business people who were reluctant to be on Facebook are joining to stay in touch with their families, communities and customers. [ I developed a class called “Families and Facebook: Keeping Peace and Staying Updated in the Statusphere” for College of DuPage.]

Question: Which direction will Facebook be developed?

Answer: Facebook will be developed in two directions: by the company and the members. It’s up to the members and how they use their Facebook profiles, but I see more and more mobile  business applications, such as Facebook Places that lets people check in from where they’re at.

We’re also seeing more businesses take advantage of Facebook’s targeted ad application, which is a competitive alternative to pay-per-click advertising.

Note: Here’s a good resource for mobile marketing stats

Question: Could it be dangerous for the users?

Answer: As with any online communications, privacy is an issue. That’s why we recommend adjusting settings, only accepting friend requests from people you know and setting up lists to share information with so that you can control who sees what. Still, having a personal and business policy about what you want to share helps define the line between being personable and friendly and sharing too much information.

Also, people expect a quick response to online postings. Businesses that don’t respond to comments right away – or at all, risk damaging customer service relationships and losing business.

Question: It has more and more functions. What is a vision of Facebook?

Answer: Do you mean for the person who owns the profile or Facebook?

While I don’t have access to insider information, I’d like to see Facebook develop channels like this one for education: http://www.facebook.com/education

It’s important for businesses to understand that while having a Facebook presence is desirable – especially if customers or clients are looking for you on Facebook, it’s important to own, manage and communicate with their own database and communication channels, such as a blog.

Question: Do you think that past problems (technical problems, "The Social Network” movie; and the “campaign”; “Quit Facebook Day) could damage the image or the business of Facebook?

Twitter users almost expect temporary outages, but when Facebook goes down for a few hours it’s major news. Site outages are another reason to have multiple communication points and networks.

The Quit Facebook Day campaign brought attention to Facebook’s privacy issues, but only 34,000 people joined the group. source

While I haven’t seen “The Social Network” movie yet, I do think this is a good opportunity for Facebook to redirect the attention away from the story of a few [whether fictional or not] to a network of stories worldwide and outreach programs. Facebook’s gift to a school in New Jersey last week was a start, but there’s so much more a company like this could do to advance global education, business and causes.

Question: How fast Facebook will be growing?

In terms of??? Levels – number of users, time on site, population penetration – hard to say, but interesting to look back at a prediction from 2006 that said Facebook would hit 48 million users in 2010. How many more people out there want to get on Facebook?

By Michael Arrington on December 12, 2006 http://techcrunch.com/2006/12/12/yahoos-project-fraternity-docs-leaked/

Things really heated up mid year. Yahoo proposed a $1 billion flat out acquisition price based on a model they created where they projected $608 million in Facebook revenue by 2009, growing to $969 million in 2010. By 2015 Yahoo projects that Facebook would generate nearly $1 billion in annual profit. The actual 2006 number appears to be around $50 million in revenue, or nearly $1 million per week.

These revenue projections are based on robust user growth. By 2010, Yahoo assumes Facebook would hit 48 million users, out of a total combined highschool and young adult population of 83 million.

Side statistics: Facebook Fan Page Stats

A new question, how many Golden Globe awards with "The Social Network" win,  will be answered tomorrow night.

The Social Network 2010 Golden Globe Nominations

Trent Reznor for Best Original Score

Jesse Eisenberg for Best Actor

David Fincher for Best Director

Andrew Garfield for Best Supporting Actor

Armie Hammer for Best Supporting Actor

Best Motion Picture Drama Category 2010 Golden Globe Nominees

Follow this category on Twitter using #GoldenGlobesDrama Tough competition here, right?

Visit The Social Network site and download the screenplay.

Black Swan
Protozoa Pictures & Cross Creek Pictures & Phoenix; Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Fighter
Paramount Pictures and Relativity Media; Paramount Pictures and Relativity Media

Inception
Warner Bros. Pictures UK LTD.; Warner Bros. Pictures

The King's Speech
See-Saw Films and Bedlam Productions; The Weinstein Company

The Social Network
Columbia Pictures; Sony Pictures Releasing

Check out the list of  The Social Network's  awards and nominations. Note that the Academy Awards will announce Oscar nominees on January 25. Rather than show the official trailer I found The Social Network credits that could have been.

Your Turn: Did you see The Social Network? What is Facebook - to you?

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