Facebook in the mainstream

How Facebook has now become mainstream, almost pervasive, is a recurring thought after seeing three examples of how that is during the course of this weekend.

The first example was a hand-written poster outside a used car dealer in Sandhurst proclaiming "See us on Facebook." If I hadn’t been driving my car at the time, I would have taken a photo and posted it to the Signs of Social Media group on Flickr.

The same with a pub on the outskirts of Bracknell with a "Be our friend on Facebook" sign by the roadside, spotted as I turned the corner on a roundabout.

Examples like this, while pretty common in the US, are still a rare sight in the UK, certainly outside large cities like London.

I encountered the big one, though, while queuing in the checkout at Tesco – next to the mobile phone card and iTunes top-ups, pay-as-you-go SIM cards and insurance leaflets (the days are long gone where all you found at the supermarket checkout were sweets and chocolate), a display rack containing pre-pay top-up cards for Facebook Credits, the virtual currency you can use to buy virtual goods in games and applications on Facebook.

Perfect positioning for such items – ideal impulse purchases.

With Facebook membership passing another milestone last week – the social network reportedly now has more than 600 million members worldwide, up from 500 million just a few months ago – and the fact that public attention in the UK is being focused on Facebook through activity like the police advertising appeal on Facebook as part of their hunt for the murderer of Joanne Yeates, it isn’t really surprising that you’re beginning to see people in all sorts of businesses and activities using the social networking service as some kind of element in their marketing and promotion, to build community or stimulate public action in some way.

Much more to come, undoubtedly.