ABCNews.com Connects with Facebook During Michael Jackson Memorial

By Ed O'Keefe

Jul 8, 2009 6:25pm

If Charles Caleb Colton was right, then a certain web news competitor should be flattered.

No, we can’t claim to be the first to implement the super-cool technology known as Facebook Connect (that honor – and a tip of our technological cap – goes to CNN.com) but ever since we saw their nifty Inauguration coverage, we’ve been itching to take Facebook’s widget for a spin.

The international event known as Michael Jackson’s memorial service provided just such a chance – and the results, if we do say so ourselves, were more than satisfactory.

We began live streaming the funeral motorcade with an eye-in-the-sky from our affiliate KABC at 11am ET / 8am PT.  And right next to the live stream sat our Facebook Connect widget, which immediately drew user interest to our special Michael Jackson section of the site.

At Noon ET, as the official Staples Center memorial service drew closer, we switched to four hours of live streaming coverage of our digital broadband channel ABC News Now and added a second, slightly shorter (hey, Home Page real estate is tight) Facebook Connect widget to the Home Page of ABCNews.com.

Here’s how Facebook Connect looked on the Home Page of ABCNews.com:

 
And here’s how it look on the Michael Jackson subsection:

The results were fascinating. 

According to Facebook, we hosted nearly 100,000 users, sending almost 50,000 status updates.  Not bad, we thought, considering we didn’t do any advance promotion (we figured it was better to have a successful experiment than overpromise and under-deliver – but next time, we pledge to boast long in advance).

It’s a testament to Facebook’s global influence – since the King of Pop’s passing, he’s quickly become the #1 most popular figure on the social networking site with over 7 million fans of his official page. 

We saw updates from Japan to England, and, of course, all across the United States.  Facebook has truly become the global meeting grounds – a community to connect instantly with friends, colleagues and, with innovations such as Facebook Connect, those with a common cause or experience.

“I love how there are so many people around the world watching this and commenting on here,” remarked Stephanie Eiseman from Orange County, California.

“Man, seriously, this is awesome, how cool is it that they have Facebook running along side of the live remembering michael jackson broadcast…. way to go Facebook and ABC,” said the status of one Jonathan Kyle Lara of Houston, Texas.

Seriously.  We couldn’t make this stuff up. 

And, while we enjoyed such compliments, a vast majority of the comments were thoughtful remembrances of a lost legend; it was a sad day for Michael Jackson fans everywhere but it was also a good day for the web. 

Our sincere thanks to those who came to ABCNews.com to be a part of a communal conversation and shared experience facilitated by the ever-impressive technology of the web.

–Ed O’Keefe, Senior Producer, Special Projects & Innovation, ABCNews.com

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