Agenda Setting: How social media empowers opinion leaders and influences voters

The 44th President via Jumbotron

Comparing how the Presidential candidates are using new media this year, the 2008 race looks like the social media stone age. Back then Myspace was still the largest social network, Facebook was considered a mainstay for mostly students, and the most followed account on Twitter was then candidate Barack Obama. That campaign was noted for it’s pioneering use of new media, at a time when few politicians had social media profiles, but the benefits were immediately understood and adopted by nearly every campaign since 2008.

I was lucky to have a front row seat to the communications changes taking place that year, both as one of the early adopters of Twitter (when the site had only a million users) and as a graduate student in DC studying public communications.  That fall I was enrolled in Matthew Nisbet‘s course in Communication Theory, learning all about agenda setting by the newsmedia and the role of opinion leaders in swaying public opinion.  The 2008 elections proved a great working example to apply the theories I was learning. Continue Reading…

An Eye For An iPhone: How Gadget Theft is Becoming A Growing Problem

I never thought it could happen to me, but last year I had an iPhone stolen out of my own hands while riding the subway late one summer night.  Even though I had read news stories and blog posts before about how the theft of smartphones and iPads was becoming more common while riding public transportation, I thought I was safe until I became another victim.

using

My first instinct was to share my experience through social media, where I learned that a few more of my friends had also had their phones stolen riding the subway.  A little further research led me to see the problem was growing across the US, and that many more shared my frustration being unable to recover my handset, even using the Find My iPhone feature. Most recently, in acknowledgment of the growing theft problem the FCC proposed changes to how the carriers manage reported thefts, hoping to help consumers avoid the hefty costs often associated when their stolen phones.

After I learned that the problem had become so widespread, I made a collection of clips on Storify sharing how the problem has grown, which I’ve updated over the last year. Here’s my ongoing story about the growing problem of iPhone theft: Continue Reading…

Re-launching MattHurst.com

About a year and a half ago I created MattHurst.com as a social networking hub, which I hoped would help make a more personal connection to a new audience while uniting my social media profiles on a single site.  Initially the site drew some interest from my friends, even earning me a few kudos from other social media pros, and shot to the top of search results for my own name.  But over time the micro-site did not sustain interest, or at least did not attract many visitors to the site.

It’s hard to know exactly why the site didn’t receive much traffic, but one trend I noted was that most visitors to the site came directly, rather than through search or referral links.  Using Google Analytics I conducted an audit of the site’s performance, and found the site not only had fewer visitors than expected, but that visitors to the page didn’t spend much time – often less than 1 minute.  Since the site didn’t host any original content but rather aggregated my social media streams, it seems that the site didn’t offer visitors any compelling reason to stay on the site once they arrived.  In short, the site failed to achieve my goal to connect with a new audience.

While it’s disappointing that the site didn’t attract as much interest as I’d hoped, like any good online marketer I knew I needed to change the strategy based on my measurements of how people used the site.  So last week I relaunched MattHurst.com, using my Tubmlr site as a new means to connect with would-be visitors. Starting with over 1000 posts I’ve published over the last 3.5 years updating this Tumblr blog, the new site offers original, compelling content I hope will interest readers/viewers.

My new site also gives me an outlet to connect with people in a different way than my professional blog at MatthewHurst.com, by serving as an outlet for my interests in infographics, internet memes, and cultural commentary that might not reflect my professional brand as much as my personal tastes.  And as before, I’ll be keeping a close eye on my site’s performance, and making any adjustments necessary to meet my goals

TV by the Numbers: How I cut-the-cord and share my viewing online

Remote Controller 2
As television networks kick off the upfronts introducing new programs and picking up where existing series left off, there is increasing conversation about using social media to connect fans and viewers with their favorite shows, as well as how many may be cutting-the-cord altogether. Full disclosure: I’m an employee at Nielsen, who have a great perspective of cross-platform insights into what consumers watch, but the measurements shared in this post are my own and are not necessarily shared by my employer.

First, here’s a funny and surprisingly accurate primer on how TV viewing is measured in the US (from Jess3 and ESPN):

Appointment Viewing

For the last two years I’ve been using social media tools like Get Glue, Miso, and IntoNow to track my viewing and to share my favorite TV shows with friends. These social networks use websites and smartphone apps to encourage more social viewing, opening up the sometimes isolated TV watching experience by connecting viewers who check-in to the same program and generating conversations among fans of the shows. For example, here are some of the shows I’ve checked-in to most recently: Continue Reading…

How to use Facebook to promote your personal brand

With the recent update on Facebook to both personal profiles and pages using the Timeline interface, many brands are reevaluating their marketing strategy on the social network. Likewise individuals promoting their personal brand should consider updating their Facebook presence to take advantage of these new opportunities.

Recently I’ve written about how timelines can be used for visual storytelling, and likewise Facebook’s new design lends itself well to creating social narratives out of photos and status updates, especially by highlighting key events in our lives. Timeline’s changes to personal profiles gives individuals greater control not only of what information is shared publicly vs privately, but to highlight their own accomplishments and personal stories with friends both new and old. And because we know most employers look for Facebook profiles of job candidates during their evaluation, it’s critical to make sure your timeline reflects your personal brand.

Timeline also changes the Facebook pages for brands, and earlier this year I converted my Facebook Open Graph application (for this website) to a full-fledged page. Facebook pages can be built for personal brands to share career accomplishments and insights with like-minded professionals, which might otherwise come across as spammy to your friends; one of the top reasons people are unfriended is for sharing too much work-related information. Many brands have used applications to customize their pages in the past, but now Timeline will become the public face of these pages, allowing them to create more engaging stories which reflect their history. So far I’ve added my work history and career accomplishments to my Timeline, showcasing my professional development for all to see, with the most recent stories highlighed at the top of my timeline (a bit like a blog).

For example, here’s how I use my own Facebook page: Continue Reading…

Using Timelines for Visual Storytelling

Books lined up on the library shelves

As a communications professional I see my work not just as copywriting, but ideally to tell stories through my writing. My storytelling can take many forms through the written word, including blog posts or social media, and even tactical media like press releases or fact sheets. But of course writing isn’t the only way to tell story, and as a visual storyteller I’ve created a number of infographics
and visualizations that intergrate data with images and text to help make complex stories more accessible. Not to mention my work as a film student writing and editing short stories in video.

Another kind of visualization that is helpful for telling narrative stories is a timeline, which spacially represents key events over time. In a timeline events can be as significant as a milestone/landmark developments which culminate from continuous iterative progress which is illustrated over time, or as simple as a tweet/status update that shows a conflict’s initiation/resolution. And like all narrative storytelling there are key elements like context/setting and esclating conflict which should be resolved by the end.
Continue Reading…

Blogging by the numbers: Measuring my writing and blog readers

Ever since I started blogging in 2004 I’ve been trying to better understand my audience of blog readers through stats like unique visitors, pageviews, social media shares, or the number of comments readers add to each post. Analyzing these data points gives me a better a understanding of which pages interest my visitors most, and helps me think of new blog posts I hope will resonate with my audience. As an online marketing strategist I also try look at how readers come to my blog, focusing my efforts on what content I can offer which will introduce new readers to my blog, as well as how to connect with them outside my own website.

In the interest of trying to become more transparent as a blogger, here’s a look back measuring my own blog’s audience during 2011:

Matthew Hurst's Year in blogging 2011

Source: http://jetpack.me/annual-report/6790360/2011/

  • A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
  • In 2011 there were 15 new posts on the blog, growing the total archive on this blog to 61 posts so far.
  • Twitter and Facebook were my main sources of referral traffic, but increasingly Google+ brought new readers to my site.
  • I’ve had far fewer comments in 2011 than in previous years, and average less than a comment per post.
  • My most read posts in 2011 were actually from previous years, bringing in visitors searching for “Twitter internships” and how to become “Social Media Marketers“, showing the long-term value of SEO built through blog writing.
  • Continue Reading…

My Top 11 Memes and more from 2011

Matt Hurst's "Deal With It!" avatar
Looking back on 2011, I wanted to recap my favorite internet memes, music, trends, and more during the year which saw many changes in communications and technology. Until recently I’ve posted a monthly list of my favorite ideas on this blog, and though I’ve lapsed these updates I still share my favorite media on my Tumblr blog. Every day on Tumblr I share the best memes, infographics, viral media, and ironic links, many of which contributed to this list of Top 11 memes.

After the jump, check out my favorite memes from 2011! Continue Reading…

Warm wishes for the Holidays!

I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a happy holidays, and a happy new year in 2012! Once again I’m home for the holidays in St. Louis, but I’ll be back in New York City in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Every year I create a Very Indie Xmas mixtape of holiday songs that are a bit more unique than what is played on commercial radio and in shopping malls. This year I’m sharing these holiday mixes from the past few years, and this year’s mix is available as a playlist on Spotify; you could consider this my gift to you this year.

And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift feel free to check out my Wish List page, filled with gift ideas for the geek in your life. Better yet you can learn more about my favorite charities during this season of giving.

Facebook by the Numbers: Measuring my friends on the social network

Not only is Facebook increasingly synonymous with social media usage, but it’s ubiquity reaches more than 7 out of 10 web users every month, and a growing number of weekly and daily users like myself.  Here’s a few more ways to understand the impact of Facebook:

My 550+ friends on Facebook represent only a fraction of Facebook’s 800+ million registered users, but it represents a historic shift in creating larger circles of friends. Thanks to Facebook’s ubiquitous popularity, I’m able to keep in touch with friends in high school and college who live hundreds (and thousands) of miles away, whereas only a few years earlier I would more easily fall out of contact with my friends. Since I grew up in the Facebook generation, I’m not alone in using the social network to keep loose-ties with old friends following my own graduation and relocation to New York City.  Here’s a few more stats about how I use Facebook to connect with friends:

Infographic on Matthew Hurst's Facebook friends

Facebook Infographic via ShoutFlow.com

5 years ago I reluctantly joined the social network, admittedly at the behest of Lauren Reid who wanted to make our relationship “Facebook official”. I’m happy to say we’re still “in a relationship” (even though only 24% of my friends are single), and that I’ve been hooked on Facebook ever since.  Here’s how I used Facebook when I first started:

Matthew Hurst's early posts on Facebook with Lauren Reid, in infographic form

I’ve seen this social network grow from a core of friends and college classmates into an everyday network of family and friends used by some people I never thought I’d interact with online; most recently my Mom even signed up! You can connect with me through my Facebook profile or by becoming a fan of my Facebook page for this website.

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