I just saw the movie The Social Network, a semi-documentary, Hollywood-fueled and dramatized account of the world's most popular website.

For anyone seeking insight into the secrets of harnessing the power of information technology to extend your reach in the world, you are bound to be disappointed by this tale of juvenile hijinks, backstabbing, lawyering-up and greed. And the fact that, at least according to the movie, the 21st Century's leading social business platform started out as a grudge by a jilted, love-struck student.

But still, in the insurance industry—where things are taken quite seriously—some companies are taking Facebook quite seriously. At the end of last year, for example, Farmers Insurance announced that it was staging a drawing that would enable winning Facebook users to take a ride on the Farmers Airship, the only Zeppelin in the United States, just for “liking” Farmers. The contest was promoted through Facebook's popular “Farmville” site.

In an interview published by Neal Schaffer, Ryon Harms, director of social media for Farmers, says this is just one step in Farmers increasing its social media footprint. Part of Farmers' Farmville strategy is that it was going where its ideal demographic resided—stay-at-home moms who make the insurance purchasing decisions in their households. At the time the article was written, Schaffer says Farmers had accumulated more than 37,000 fans on Facebook.

That's serious stuff, despite Hollywood's focus on the hijinks.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

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