Canadian Facebook Fascination Hits Home

I was in Toronto this weekend speaking at the annual TAPA Trade Forum, presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. This was a full day of seminars, all about marketing and other arts-related issues in Canada. I’ll have more on my thoughts about Toronto later this week – however, today I want to focus on an incredible statistic I heard at the conference, and an even more incredible experience I had when I got to work this morning — all having to do with Facebook.

First, according to what I heard at the conference (and this article), Toronto has over 1 million Facebook users. Apparently half of all Canadians are online, and 80% of those people are also on Facebook. That probably describes why during one of the morning sessions, the speaker, Sean Howard, summed up his wishes for the Web this way: "Why do I have to go to any other sites? I just want everything on Facebook!" Clearly I thought something must be in the water up there in Canada more than just the basis of great beer, since so dramatically many Canadians are addicted to Facebook.

But then when I got to work this morning, we welcomed back Lily, who had just spent the last 10 days on vacation in Japan. I happened to take a peek at her Facebook page last night wondering if she had posted anything after she got back. I noticed she had already uploaded some 60+ pictures of her trip, complete with annotations. 

The interesting thing is that I wasn’t alone. By 9:15 this morning I had talked to 8 of our staff members, and 6 of them told me that they had already looked at Lily’s pictures as well. And the two that hadn’t done so admitted that they were away from their computers yesterday, otherwise they would have.

As a marketer, clearly Facebook is a phenomenon to pay attention to. However, something to remember is that nobody is making any money advertising on Facebook. And it’s not clear that arts organizations get much more than bragging rights when they create their own Facebook pages. Indeed, Facebook as a company has yet to prove it can do much more than aggregate an audience. It’s certainly not a business yet. But then again, neither was Google until it invented AdWords.

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