New Canadian head trumpets Facebook’s success

When most people think of social networking, they think of teenagers and college students. But at an East York college forum on the growth of Facebook, it was revealed that people over the age of 35 constitute the fastest-growing demographic among users.

Elmer Sotto is the first Canadian to be appointed head of Facebook Canada. He came to speak with Centennial College students at their Carlaw Avenue campus on about new trends in social media and the future of the company.

When Sotto first joined Facebook in 2008, there were 145 million users. Now, two years later, there are over 400 million active users and over five billion pieces of content posted every day.

“Facebook has become quite meaningful in people’s lives,” he said. “One of the reasons Facebook grew so fast globally, is that we actually have the site translated into 70-plus languages, including Pirate.”

He believes Facebook is the one place where people are exactly who they say they are and it is the identity people create online that keeps them connected to the real world.

But Facebook no longer limits itself to individual, everyday people; marketers, politicians and celebrities are using the social platform to interact with their clients and fans.

“One of the most important things we learned in the past 18 months is that marketers need to engage with their customers just like how a friend would engage with a friend,” Sotto said.

Even news media like the Washington Post and CNN use Facebook as a platform to share information with  users.

The relationship goes both ways. There is a new application called Facebook Connect where users can enter their Facebook information into account signups on sites like the New York Post.

Facebook follows the user while they browse the site, which allows them to interact, directly on the web page, with members in their social network that support the same site.

Users are given the opportunity to comment and post on sites like the Huffington Post, which is the fastest-growing news site of 2009, thanks to its Facebook fans.

“We want to be able to give the users the ability, regardless of where they go… to be able to be who they truly are,” Sotto said. “To connect and to be able to share those things that you want to share with the right people.”