At first it was the Red Coats, then The Beatles, and now BBC employees are the British Invasion.  This time they're invading one of America's most popular web sites.

As of this posting, the British Broadcasting Corporation facebook network has 14,726 members.  For an imperfect comparison's sake, I've checked the CNN network, and it only has a 311 members while the Turner Broadcasting (CNN's group in the AOL TimeWarner empire) network has 1,843 members.

 Back on June 6th, Richard Sambrook, the social media savvy and friendly Director of BBC Global News, wrote on his personal blog SacredFacts that "[t]here are over 10,000 members of the BBC group (for which you have to have a bbc email) alone. That's about half the entire organsiation."  The BBC has invaded facebook!

Today I had lunch with a friend who works for the organization and asked him if there is some directive from management to join.  He said that there wasn't and reckons membership went viral as people kept inviting their colleagues to join.  However, people have joined; how many actively use it is another question.

For awhile some regular facebook denizens created groups for specific programs, but now a few BBC employees are creating groups around programs and other features so that they can use the site for more than personal reasons.  For instance, the domestic BBC Two news magazine show Newsnight and the BBC Mundo ¿Hablas español? blog created official groups to connect with their audiences; the prior has asked its group members for story ideas with an invitation in the title, "Get Yourself on Newsnight!"  Further, the new iPlayer — which is in beta — now has an application on the social networking site that allows users to rate and share their favorite BBC programs.

While there is no directive to join or use the site, my friend also told me that he plans to use it to promote his program soon.  Hopefully, the site will help the show connect with its audience better and perhaps use its audience to promote it to their friends.

Of course, only programs and BBC features that lend themselves well to social media — based upon format and audience demographics — will benefit from facebook, but it seems that many Beeb employees are keen to try.

At the very least, as Sambrook wrote in his facebook post, "it's fun. If you havn't [sic] jumped yet with facebook, twitter or any of the others, come on in, the water's fine."