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January 11, 2008

Facebook (and me) on 60 Minutes

 by Charlene Li

60min_2 In December, I received a call from the producers of 60 Minutes, the longest running news program on broadcast TV. They were doing a segment on Facebook and wanted to know if I could provide background for the story.

Wow. I couldn't believe that they were doing an entire segment on Facebook. Note that 60 Minutes' audience isn't exactly that familiar with social technologies -- after all, the average age of its viewer is  around 50-60 years old (note: I couldn't find the exact age in time for this post, and this could be part of Les Moonves effort to move CBS News to a younger demo.) All the more reason why I jumped at the opportunity to try to explain the significance of  Facebook and social technologies to this audience. (Besides, who wouldn't jump at the chance to be on 60 Minutes! THE 60 Minutes!)

I was also intrigued about how 60 Minutes would approach the story. Coming from newspapers), I've always had a great deal of respect for 60 Minutes and the quality of reporting (Rathergate not withstanding). Would they try to "dumb" it down? Or would they dig into the intricacies of Facebook, its users, and the hyper-competitive, dynamic environment?

So off I flew to NYC for the shoot. I sat in the chair while they adjusted lights (for the curious, here are two photos of me on the set. And for the even more curious, I did my own make-up). In a little while, Leslie Stahl came in with a stack of papers with questions on them.  I have to admit, I do tons of media interviews, and I was really, really nervous. After all, this was 60 Minutes!

The tape started to roll, Leslie asked her first question, and then ensued the best media interview experience of my life. Leslie was completely prepared, totally on top of the subject, and followed up with poignant questions. It flew by in a blur and I had a blast.

The feature will air this Sunday, Jan. 13th at 7pm ET/PT on CBS is available online. I haven't seen the segment yet, but do know that I'm in it (my 15 seconds of fame). From my interview, I believe that 60 Minutes will do an admirable job boiling down a complex, dynamic subject into 15 minutes. I hope that some of you will watch it (or TiVo it) and come back to comment on this post. I'd like to know if you thought that 60 Minutes -- the epitome of "mainstream media" -- got it right. If not, what did they miss, and how can we as an industry tell our story better?


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Rodney Rumford

Congrats on the piece. I can't wait to see you on it. I am interested to see how it turns out. I know they discussed beacon and some of issues surrounding the privacy concerns.

This will definately expose an older demographic to facebook. Hopefully in a positive light.

Rodney Rumford
Publisher: FaceReviews.com

Jonah Rudman

Congratulations - it doesn't get much bigger than 60 Minutes!

Mike Spataro

Congrats Charlene. Thanks for the heads up too that they are running the story this weekend. After all these years, 60 Minutes is still among the best at good old school journalism.

Joe Doran

Congrats Charlene! Fantastic success and recognition of your talents and knowledge. It will be interesting to see how 60 minutes handles the story and how they use you in the story.

Lauren Bigelow

Congrats, Charlene. I'm so glad they interviewed you to get a great perspective on the whole picture of evolving social media.

There are so many times people miss the forest for the trees and focus on the hot buttons -- like safety issues -- and miss the fact this is our social fabric being mapped into a different space and the significance of that.

As a host of a virtual world/social network I am in awe on a regular basis ...the diversity, creativity, complexity and vibrancy of the community as it evolves is both exhilirating and astounding.

I know it's hard to convey to someone who has never been on one to understand, but I know you can articulate the issues and significance so I look forward to seeing you on air!

Geoff Livingston

That's incredible! Congratulations on your successful interview, and I am sure you added a lot of value!

Josh Bernoff

Looking forward to it.


Congratulations on such a high profile coup! Looking forward to seeing you on national television!

David Kobierowski

Congrats Charlene! I'll share with everyone I know...it's exciting to see technology that was unknown a few years ago advance toward mainstream adoption. We can thank you for having a direct influence on that! (Post-show, please send out a concise follow-up with a link to video clip).

David Kobierowski
Forrester Research

Carter Lusher

Let me add my congrats as well. They could not have picked a better industry expert fo this gig. This will the first time in decades that I have watched 60 Minutes.

Jeremiah Owyang

With 60 minutes airing a segment on Facebook, it's an indicator how social networks have really become part of our culture, first the youth, and now growing into work, play, friends, and family of the everyday person.

Great job Charlene, I can't wait to see the show.

Charlie Anzman

Best of luck Charlene. Tick ... tick .... tick ....

We know you'll shine :)


Happy New Year!

Congrats on the big interview, I'll be sure to check it out.

Jake Matthews

Charlene - I watch 60 minutes pretty much every week (I' only 30 yrs. old.) and am looking forward to seeing you on. I did not know you were going to be on until I checked my RSS today and saw your post!

Great stuff.

Brian Halligan


I was pleased to see they picked you to interview for the piece -- nicely done.

I had never seen Zuckerberg interviewed. He did not really answer any of the "concerns" about Facebook in the interview and he didn't really "nail it" from a PR perspective -- didn't come off like the next Steve Jobs. I wonder why he did it.


You looked great on 60 Minutes, Charlene. Mark Zuckerberg should take some communication pointers from you!

Josh Bernoff

I found the actual piece shallow -- the question is how significant Facebook is, not whether Mark Zuckerberg is too young. Personality journalism.

Charlene, of course, was good. What it needed was more Charlene!

Chris Baggott

I agree with Josh. Not enough about what people are really doing and too much focus on Mark's age and inexperience...like they were looking for another dot.bomb indicator. (too rich, too young to build anything of value)

Honestly, the only highlight was Charlene who spoke to human to human interaction as an important trend. This should be an ominous lesson to marketers that are still trying to focus on Brand.

I did appreciate the comparison of valuation between Ford and Facebook. Rang so true as I read in the Wall Street Journal where Ford is betting their 2008 season on a giant full sized pickup :-)

Chris Baggott

Joanne Fritz

Congrats on your interview...that is great. I just want to let you know that there are many, many older people who know how to use a computer. I am 66 and write two blogs (neither is a personal blog either), and use linkedin. I don't use facebook but do hang out at EONS, established by the founder of Monster.com, and targeted at the over 50 crowd. It is a quite active "social site."
I don't mean to harangue you but it is disappointing to see young people just automatically dismiss the older generation as tech-deficient.


Charlene - You were a great choice to "represent" social media .. and you did us proud!

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