UCSB students’ incessant browsing of Facebook.com profiles turns out to be a great business for those jumping in on the craze, and it also turns out to be a great way to win free tickets and prizes.

With its new Facebook group “Smile State Presented by Crest Whitestrips,” Crest has become one of the latest companies hoping to cash in on the popular social networking service by offering free movie screenings, concerts and other such prizes to group members. Based on the university’s relatively high number of Facebook users, Crest chose to target UCSB as one of 20 campuses in the advertising campaign, along with such schools as North Carolina State University, University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.

Taryn Levy of DeVries Public Relations said Crest is a pioneer in utilizing Facebook to increase sales.

“Actually, we are one of the first corporations [to use Facebook as an advertising tool],” Levy said.

Others, such as credit card company Chase-1, have entered the Facebook market, offering various prizes to members of its groups or services. Apple, for instance, gives free music downloads to members of its group “Apple Students.”

According to Levy, the site is the “perfect tool” for Crest’s endeavor because of its popular culture appeal, which has even led to the adoption of “Facebook” as a verb.

Levy said Smile State’s success could mean a whole new basis of advertising.

As part of the campaign, Crest will send a popular band to the top four winning schools, and will also dole out prizes to individual group members. Levy said these schools will be determined based on how many of their students participate in the group. UCSB is currently in second place with 700 members – a few hundred behind N.C. State.

In spite of its popularity, a few students expressed apathy toward the new group’s advertising efforts.

“I sort of ignore it … I don’t pay attention at all,” Julie MacMichael, an undeclared first-year, said.

Levy said the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, which constitutes the majority of Facebook society, can be fairly difficult to reach.

“It’s sort of a tricky target,” Levy said.