Is Facebook the World's Biggest Rockstar?

We all know that Facebook has become a social phenomenon, changing both how we interact and do business. The movie 'The Social Network' has introduced us to founder Mark Zuckerberg - the antithesis of a rockstar, billionaire though he might be. There's may still a star in the equation though - Facebook itself.

Since the release of ‘The Social Network’, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has given the world a name to attach to the social networking phenomenon(since the face attached belongs to Jesse Eisenberg – let’s be honest). But in watching where the public’s obsession, idolatry and all out fanaticism lies, it’s not at all out of line to suggest that we’re seeing something without precedent: it’s Facebook itself that’s the real celebrity.

When the movie’s production was announced, the fact that super-screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and mega-director David Fincher were involved were practically footnotes in the discussion of what continued to be called ‘The Facebook Movie’ (long after the official title became known). The question on everybody’s lips: “How do you make a movie about Facebook?”

Yes, the working title ‘The Facebook Movie’ does put a different spin on things. But consider this: if a studio were to announce the making a ‘Yahoo Movie,’ or perhaps more similarly, a ‘Napster Movie,’ it would be immediately obvious that this would be a story about the people behind the network in question, the process of building it, and the trials and tribulations experienced therein. However, Facebook has become such a pervasive part of our culture that our knee jerk reaction was to wonder what aspect of our buddy Facebook Sorkin would be tackling in his script.

Facebook is far greater than the sum of its parts. We accept it as a third party in our social lives rather than just a useful tool to help us with such. Social interaction has changed as a result of its existence. That’s pretty powerful stuff. And somewhere in its unprecedented and somewhat inexplicable game-changing nature lies its rockstar trappings. Deep down, we (especially those of us that remember a time before Facebook) know that there’s something we can’t quite put our finger on about it’s success. Akin to a rockstar, it is fundamentally like others, but is somehow different. Somehow better. And whether the information offered therein is actually going to help us understand; any book, movie or show about it is going to pique our interest.

And boy do people know it. ‘The Social Network’ is a fantastic movie, but I assure you if the very same plot and screenplay was applied to ‘The Email Site: The Hotmail Movie” box-office numbers wouldn’t be quite the same. And that’s just the beginning. On January 6, 2011, CNBC will premiere it’s original documentary, “The Facebook Obssession“. This will include a more factual account of Facebook’s beginnings with information gleaned directly from its founders and their opponents. It will delve into privacy issues and the company’s business model as well, but where it’s most likely to give audiences what they want is a study on how it has and continues to change our lives and real life stories such as families reunited.

The literary world hasn’t failed to target Facebook’s massive fan base either. “The Social Network” was actually an adaption of Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal. Unsurprisingly, manuals and how-to’s abound – and stand a far better chance of being picked up off the shelf since “Facebook cool” has previously unheard of demographics (how many moms and grandmas do we see on Facebook these days?) trying their hand at social networking. And with Facebook’s monolithic business potential, the marketing guides are a dime a dozen. ‘Use of a star 101’: align yourself with said star to push product.

But like any star, Facebook has had to grow into the status. In 2007, Comcast teamed up with Facebook to create a user generated television and online series called ‘Facebook Diaries‘. Facebook would have its users upload videos about their lives through Ziddio.com (Comcast’s version of Youtube). Like you, I never heard of this show and Ziddio was discontinued in 2008. The star power just wasn’t there yet. Now things would go far differently – but why would Facebook bother? With it’s advertising potential (which was in question at the time) now booming, the attraction to such a deal for Facebook no longer stands. Facebook is Oprah rich, baby.

Facebook’s future remains to be seen. Is it special enough to avoid the fate of all its brethren, with their dizzying, but in the end very temporary success? Is Facebook a Korn or a U2? Time will tell. For now, though, it’s hard to argue with the fact that Facebook is a red-carpet approved rockstar.