Facebook on the Rise

Social networking success story Facebook came up with a one-two punch of announcements over the past two days, as it looks to boost its social networking capabilities and become a legitimate competitor to dominant market share leader MySpace.

On Wednesday, Facebook partnered with Comcast to distribute a new online video series called Facebook Diaries. Facebook gets distribution and exposure for its new video efforts while Comcast gains content to bring web traffic to its site Ziddio.com and the ability to tap into a younger demographic among Facebook’s 16 million users.

Then yesterday, the company announced a new partnership with online jobs site Jobster. This brings Facebook the added dimension of job hunting to its existing social networking mix, while Jobster gets a much needed boost in distribution and exposure. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has a nice summary of Jobster’s recent history, which includes an AOL-like dissmantling of the subscription wall to make way for an ad model.

The two young companies could be powerful together, and their union is reminiscent of MySpace’s partnership with SimplyHired, which yielded MySpace Jobs. Given that a major chunk of Facebook’s user base remains college-aged (it started as a high school and college social networking site as explained below), it could represent interesting targeting opportunities for job posting and other advertising to that demographic set.

The fusion of social networking and career building is also interesting, in that it could be competetive with sites like LinkedIn, which has formed a niche where these media collide. Jobser’s free job posting model (explained in the TechCrunch article mentioned above) could also become a considerable threat to the Monsters, CarreerBuilders and HotJobss of the world, now that the company has vaulted its market position and exposure.

And speaking of threats, Facebook itself is nipping at the heels of MySpace. After gaining considerable traction with high school and college students – the site first required a .edu email address to join – the company released access to the general public in September. Its traffic then went up 16 percent in October and has been rising steadily ever since.

It has a long way to go to reach MySpace’s nearly 80 percent market share in the social networking space (Facebook comes in second with about 8 percent), but anecdotal evidence suggests that many teens and twenty-somethings are flocking to Facebook. Or to use the vernacular, MySpace is “so 2005”.

Ironic that the same viral marketing and herd mentality that built MySpace’s massive user base could be its undoing. If this happens, it will take a while. Regardless, Facebook is on a tear and will be a company to watch closely.

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