Online housing matching company takes advantage of Facebook

RoomBug recently added the University of Minnesota to universities served.

A roommate matching service that recently added the University of Minnesota to its list is looking to capitalize on FacebookâÄôs popularity. RoomBug, owned by U-Match LLC , is a Facebook application to help students âÄî largely incoming freshmen âÄî find roommates for on-campus housing. Across the country, RoomBug serves 50 universities , according to the companyâÄôs website. RoomBug is not affiliated with the universities in any way. The application uses the pre-existing university networks and groups on Facebook to target possible users. Word of mouth, Facebook advertisements and adding information about RoomBug to Facebook networks are the companyâÄôs primary source of promotion. RoomBug added the University two weeks ago, Rob Castellucci , company director of sales, said. No University students have added the application at this point. The service is also offered to select apartment complexes, but none in the Twin Cities area. After a student adds the application, they select personal preferences of a potential roommate on a scale of one to five, including bedtime, interests and frequency of visitors. Users also set their own preferences for others to look at. âÄúItâÄôs a matter of comfort,âÄù Castellucci said. âÄúThe average college student spends over 20 minutes a day on Facebook. Why send them to a website that theyâÄôve never been to and will never go to again?âÄù RoomBug began operations in August 2007. Last year, Castellucci said the Facebook networks for some universities had up to 200 students using RoomBug. He said they were hoping to raise that number significantly this year through viral advertising. U-Match intern Peter Zdebski and Castellucci said the major advantage of the application is actually meeting and having a conversation with a potential roommate before moving in. âÄúIt seemed to [RoomBug CEO Michael Hacker] that instead of people getting their roommate assignments and having to go to Facebook and look them up anyway,âÄù Zdebski said, âÄúthey might as well find them on Facebook, instead of shooting blind.âÄù