Facebook Grows to 1 Billion Users, Creates Video to Show Global Reach

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Facebook has expanded around the world and is available in more than 70 languages.

Facebook, operator of the world’s largest social-networking site, commemorated its growth to one billion users with a promotional video shot by Academy Award-nominated Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The 90-second clip, filmed in four cities, features groups of people from around the world, from a basketball game in Los Angeles to a massive rally in Buenos Aires. Facebook posted the video today, and plans to make versions of it available in 12 languages.

In its first major brand advertisement, Facebook has chosen to emphasize its far-reaching global network over its technology prowess. Promoting the social network in developing markets has become more of a focus for the company as user growth in the U.S. shows signs of slowing.

“There was a desire to create something that articulates who we are and why we exist,” Rebecca Van Dyck, Facebook’s head of consumer marketing, said in an interview. “Reaching one billion as a milestone is a great reminder to us of all the people we serve, no matter where they are.”

Facebook is promoting the video on its own site by showing it in the news feeds of people who “like” Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive officer. Van Dyck said she wouldn’t rule out the ad appearing in other formats, such as television.

The social network hired ad agency Wieden & Kennedy for the project a year ago. This past spring, it tapped Oscar nominee Inarritu, the director of “Babel” and “21 Grams.”

The budget for the video was comparable to the amount advertisers typically spend on a brand advertisement, said Van Dyck, who left her job as chief marketing officer at Levi Strauss & Co. in February to join Facebook. Wieden & Kennedy will remain Facebook’s agency of record, the company said.

Since its creation in Zuckerberg’s Harvard University dorm room in 2004, Facebook has expanded around the world and is available in more than 70 languages. It still faces competition in markets such as Russia, where local site VKontakte tops Facebook with about 100 million users, as well as political barriers in places such as China, where the site has been blocked by government censors.

Zuckerberg visited Russia earlier this week, appearing on a television show and encouraging local companies to develop programs for the social network. Expansion has taken on more urgency since the company’s May initial public offering, as investor concerns about a slowdown in sales growth have contributed to a 43 percent decline in its shares since the IPO.

The new advertisement, set to a song by instrumental rock band Explosions in the Sky, features scenes from New Orleans, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Portland, Oregon.

 

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