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Five Things to Think About as Facebook Goes Public

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Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
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With the FacebookIPO looming and everybody watching, I’m wondering if the social network to end all social networks is going to live up to the hype. (Could anything live up to all this hype?)

With big advertisers not convinced that Facebook is a good platform to propel brands forward and privacy issues plaguing Zuckerberg and company, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

To add to Facebook’s woes, a new AP/CNBC pollout this week reveals that “half of Americans think Facebook is a passing fad … and half of Americans also say the social network’s expected asking price is too high.” But don’t count the social media behemoth out just yet—despite the bumps in the road to its IPO, it still has the confidence of many. Yahoo claims “Facebook’s Wall Street debut could value the company at $100 billion, making it worth more than Disney , Ford and Kraft Foods .” That’s a huge deal—literally, and figuratively.

But regardless of which side of the status update you live on, there’s no doubt that this IPO is going to teach us some very vital lessons on everything from online measurements to what CEOs of the future will look like.

Here are five things we can learn and chew on from all the hoopla:

1. Prove it or lose it.

With news of GM pulling out of Facebook, advertisers and marketers are going to take a deeper look to decide if Facebook is a valid medium for their messages. The measurement conversation is going to be ongoing in boardrooms and C-suites from Paris to Peoria—and Facebook will need to answer to it. Zuckerberg and his team will be on the line to prove that the service can reach—and impact—today’s fickle consumers.

2. Will the mighty fall?

Social networks like Google+ and Pinterest are going to be sitting on the sidelines with fingers crossed and plans in the works to give Facebook a run for its money. Look for the Facebook death watch to start ticking as a new kind of social Darwinism takes hold and hopes to torch the tall poppy. In order for Facebook to keep social media addicts engaged, it will have to pull out all the stops in terms of trendy new features and games, and it will need to dust off its new crown jewel, Instagram.

3. Hoodies in the C-Suite.

Well-dressed CEOs, take heed—tomorrow’s leaders are not going to wear Brioni suits or carry fancy handbags. Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctant fashion icon status has us rethinking what’s workplace appropriate when it comes to running a megabrand. Behold the new power suit: It zips up the front and is spoofed on sites like markbymarkzuckerberg.com, where a signature hoodie will set you back all of $34.99.

4. Facebook nation.

Maybe kids are telling their parents that Facebook is “so 2004,” but is it premature to talk about it not being cool anymore? The kids may move on to their next big thing, but much can be learned from what many consider to be the fastest growing citizen nation in the world. According to a recent infographic from Infographic labs, Facebook hosts 845 million users a month, more than the populations of U.S. or Europe. It’s hard to argue with numbers like that.

5. What else is there to talk about?

The whole world is on Facebook overload, and it has nothing to do with fatigue over obsessive status updates from childhood friends. With California real estate prices on the rise due to its rep as de facto tech hub of the world, or the fact that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has renounced his citizenship, it seems all news stories are related in one way or another to Facebook. Even the news story that grabbed everyone’s attention last week (Time magazine’s cover photoshowing a defiant-looking mama nursing her outsized child) has a FB connection: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, with her talk of leaving work at 5:30in order to have dinner with her kids, is leading the conversation on changing the way we think about work/life balance. The Facebook media frenzy is in hyper mode, and there’s no way any of us can avoid the conversation.

Among the many facets of Facebook’s status that are unknown at this point, there is one thing we do know for certain: It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks. You can bet your timeline on it.

Marian Salzman is CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America. Named one of the world’s top five trendspotters, Salzman is best known for launching metrosexual mania in 2003, but she also created several other buzzes, including “the rise of singletons,” “It’s America Online,” Europe’s cyberspoon, globesity and “sleep is the new sex.” Author or co-author of 15 books, including Next Now and The Future of Men, she currently blogs on the Huffington Post, for the World Future Society, and at eurorscgpr.com and eurorscgsocial.com.