I’m on Facebook, and here’s why.

Much as I shy away from virtual communities (I get quite enough real community in my life, thank you very much), I tend to join them when it seems as though there is a practical purpose to be served.  

Here’s the practical purpose with Facebook (MySpace too, clearly, but I am not drawn to MySpace):  it’s a cheap, fast-and-dirty way to announce stuff.

I live in a country where over the last 15 years we have gone from a single broadcast monopoly (one government-owned corporation that controlled all radio and television – Americans, sit in wonder, and then remember we were once owned by the Brits, who until relatively recently had something similar, at least with television) – to an open broadcast community and a proliferation of radio and, in the last five years, television stations.

Everybody wants to get in on the ground floor.  Everybody wants to make money.  But the corporate community is the same size as it was, and its advertising budget hasn’t increased one whit.  What with fuel prices being high (though dropping), etc, the cost of advertising has skyrocketed but profits haven’t.

And in this market, what I (read we – we have a company) do and what I want to advertise is niche-specific and has a high capital cost.  

I’m talking theatre here.

Fifteen years ago, a production would cost maybe $12k-$15k to mount.  However, with judicious marketing (on the single television station) and good occupancy, the same production could bring in $20k-$25k.  Doable, right?  Leaves us enough to mount the next one, keep things going.

These days, though, you don’t know who your audience is, and you don’t know which radio station they listen to.  Television is still predictable – the idea is to get a spot on the nightly news.  But that isn’t either cheap or easy.  

Enter Facebook and other networks.  And the Bahamian public has adopted Facebook as its net community of choice. More and more people are getting the word about fun things to do out, and expanding their networks, and targeting people who are interested and ignoring those who aren’t.  Pretty ingenious, no?  And also pretty cost-effective.

For now.  Until they figure out a way to charge for that too.


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