Facebook Sells Your Friends

Posted on October 9, 2010 

Facebook Sells Your Friends

There were two obvious winners at the FIFA World Cup this summer. Spain took home the 13-pound, 18-carat-gold trophy for its achievement on the field. Nike (NKE) won the branding championship, thanks largely to a three-minute commercial called “Write the Future,” in which its stable of soccer endorsers fantasize about the glory or disgrace that might result from their play in the tournament. Hundreds of millions of people saw “Write the Future” on television. Before it blanketed traditional media, however, Nike launched the video on Facebook, the Web’s dominant social network.

The video started as an ad on the site. Then it was passed from friend to friend, often with comments and members recommending it. In the resulting discussions, the clip was played and commented on more than 9 million times by Facebook users—and helped Nike double its number of Facebook fans from 1.6 million to 3.1 million over a single weekend. Getting the ad onto Facebook cost a few million dollars, according to the companies. All that passing around was free. Davide Grasso, Nike’s chief marketing officer, says Facebook “is the equivalent for us to what TV was for marketers back in the 1960s. It’s an integral part of what we do now.”

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