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The Facebook market

Technology | Friendly links boost business for ticket sellers and retailers

Issue: "Tick, tick, tick ...," May 7, 2011

With the summer concert season approaching, concert promoters are looking for ways to grow audiences and sell tickets. For them, Facebook is there: The company recently announced data indicating that when users share links to concerts to which they've bought tickets, ticket sales increase significantly. For every user who posts that he purchased a ticket from Ticketmaster, friends spend $5.30 on Ticketmaster; Eventbrite posts garner an additional $2.52. The phenomenon also works for retail-for instance, American Eagle shoppers referred by Facebook friends spend 57 percent more than average on the site. The effect is so remarkable that 18 of the top 25 e-commerce sites now use the Facebook "Like" button or other Facebook services on their sites.

Since Facebook affects shopping, some are willing to bet that social media can have a significant effect on investments, too. One such site, Family Bhive, was started as a sort of exclusive Facebook for the very wealthy, whose assets must be verified before they are permitted to join. Groups that cater to that market-charities, lawyers, asset management firms-use the site to link with potential investors and set up meetings. And the site also facilitates members who wish to make connections and share investment insight.

Tech networking

New college graduates face a host of challenges, but for many, the most pressing is the job search, particularly in this tough economic climate. What can graduates do to gain an edge in the market? Searching for jobs on sites such as Monster.com and sending resumés is hardly enough-the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average laid-off worker in this economy will remain unemployed for five months, and both statistics and anecdotal evidence reveal that most jobs are filled through networking and referrals.

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Technology may not be able to solve the problem, but it can certainly boost networking potential. A site like LinkedIn (linkedin.com) lets job seekers create career-focused profiles, then connect with friends and colleagues to facilitate in-person networking, or ask friends for "introductions" to their connections in your field. Other social networks are specific to a career path: Academia.edu, for instance, is useful to researchers, faculty, and graduate students. Would-be entrepreneurs and communications professionals may consider strategically Tweeting about their interests and following others who share those interests. (Of course, job seekers-like everyone-should be careful with privacy settings on sites like Facebook, as many employers admit to Googling potential hires.)

Alternative TV

Have you ditched your TV? If so, you're in good company-2.07 million subscribers to cable or satellite service in the United States will have cut the cord between 2008 and the end of 2011. This is a small number compared to the 100.4 million subscribers, but it represents a growing trend of consumers who are turning to online and streaming TV options, such as Hulu and Amazon Video. Some are saving money: While the average subscriber pays 62 cents per hour of viewing, the average Netflix viewer pays between 20 and 27 cents per hour. But buying TV shows from iTunes is much less economical, at $3 per hour.

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