Facebook urges more face time

Social network topper debunks youth-only myth

CANNES — Joanna Shields, Facebook’s European topper, has urged TV types to copy the approach of “The X Factor’ in the U.K. and use the social networking site to re-enforce the power of their program brands.

Speaking to an audience of TV buyers and distributors at the Mipcom sales market Tuesday, Shields, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the social network’s popularity in some of the big European markets gave content owners the ability to connect audiences with their shows and so enhance their popularity.

Shields said: “Broadcasters and content owners have this incredible marketing tool at their disposal.

“Facebook is transforming the brand marketing of TV shows because it provides the ability to reach out and create excitement around a show.

“In the U.K., ‘The X Factor’ is a classic example. Every week something has happened behind the scenes and Fremantle (the show’s producer) are constantly feeding that to the audience, engaging them and bringing them in.”

“The X Factor” will bow in the U.S. next year.

Facebook has 26 million users in the U.K., 18 million in France and 16 million in Italy, according to Shields.

Another example of the successful deployment of Facebook to market entertainment was how Disney had invested in the site in the U.K. to help launch “Toy Story 3′ during its first weekend of release.

In her speech, Shields claimed that 60% of the 500 million-plus people signed up to Facebook worldwide used the service every day.

Of the top five TV fan sites, the fourth most popular was based on a European show — the BBC’s “Top Gear,’ with 4.6 million fans.

In pole position was “Family Guy,” with 18 million fans.

Shields, a former Google and Bebo topper, claimed that 30% of all viewers logged on to Facebook while they watched TV.

She said it was a myth that Facebook was only popular with young people.

Among baby boomers — defined as those aged between 50-65 years old — 49% had their own Facebook site.

On average all users spent six hours a month on the site.

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