Tag Archives: Facebook

Networked Nostalgia: The Internet and Web Enters Its Middle Ages

In March 2015 dot-com domains turn 30 years old, and coincidently I will as well. The first “.com” domain was registered on March 15, 1985, some 6 years before the launch of the world-wide-web in 1991, and since then nothing has ever been the same.

Like many Millennials now entering their middle ages, I’m nostalgic for nearly everything from my youth, including the old websites we grew up browsing.  So I thought it might be fun to surf down memory lane, comparing the top websites from back-in-the-day with their modern counterparts. Combining tools like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (which catalogs snapshots of the web) with publicly available data on web usage in the U.S., here’s a look back at the top websites in 2005 compared to those in 2015: Continue reading Networked Nostalgia: The Internet and Web Enters Its Middle Ages

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.

Relationship status: How social media is changing weddings

Mark Welsh and Kristin Arena update their status from "in a relationship" to Married at their wedding

As social media becomes increasingly intertwined with daily lives, it seems inevitable that romantic relationships make greater use of social media. It wasn’t long after online networks were created that web users found the Internet to be a ideal medium not just for academics communicating over long distances but for developing friendships and romantic relationships as well. Perhaps the first social networks formed around dating sites during the web’s early years, and once these social networks began to take part in our online routines, the relationship status became a key part of profiles. Today many consider updating your relationship status from single to “in a relationship” a legitimate means to acknowledge their entry into a committed relationship, and sharing the news of an engagement is only a mouse click away for Facebook users.

Couples use social media to tell their story and about preparations for the wedding, and to exchange photos and share memories with wedding guests (and maybe those who couldn’t make it) after the big day. One popular trend for newly engaged couples is to make a wedding website on which couples can share the story behind their relationship and to share wedding day plans in advance with guests, not to mention making it a breeze to link to their wedding gift registry. Some even use social media to propose to their spouse, creating a unique proposal but also making it easy to share their special story. Here’s a few of the unique ways couples are using social media to share their proposals and weddings:

Is Google vs Facebook is a false dichotomy?

Google vs Facebook - Why can't we be friends?

As Facebook’s latest push to highlight Google’s potential privacy concerns was revealed this past week, their rivalry was once again brought to the forefront of the public’s attention. While the two web behemoths continue to compete for ad dollars and offer increasingly similar services, the press plays up their business competition. Yet this news represents larger themes at work about how online businesses impacts the media business in particular, and the wider communications and economic paradigms more generally.

For instance, I keep reading posts that assume as common knowledge that the Google and Facebook are competing for users’ loyalty, but have yet to see evidence that this is true.  Instead I’ve noticed the large overlap of users for both services, albeit for different purposes. As far as many consumers are concerned Google and Facebook serve different functions, with the former used to search for information and the latter for relevant social links and recomendations.

From a consumer’s perspective Google and Facebook serve differing functions, even while they begin to encroach on each others core businesses through their growth. This same story about competition may be written about Microsoft vs Google, vs Apple, or vs Twitter, and so on; conflict drives the news, even if it does not reflect the unique audiences for individual businesses. While each company has different offerings, it’s fully possible for consumers to use both sites together rather than competing.

Of course this news has broader implications for PR professionals everywhere, by reinforcing negative stereotypes of the profession. Because of irresponsible, overly-secretive behavior of individuals at one of PR’s largest agencies, professionals like myself may have our reputations damaged. It’s even worse among the tech businesses, which sometimes see PR as a function only meant to earn press, and these days many startups would rather try going it alone using blogs and social media. At the very least this serves as another example of when PR can cause blowback, rather than how integral it should be in building communications strategy.

It’s my hope that the so-called “PR war” between two of the most popular global web brands will end, and both companies will find a more proactive way to continue building their own audiences. The history of the web has been of evolving and growing use, rather than competition between competing sources (as in print and broadcast media before it) for our attention, and I’d expect this to be the inevitable outcome between Google and Facebook.

Social Media 101: Why Brands shouldn’t let Interns Manage Social Media

Perhaps no one better embodies the pitfalls of taking your brand into social media without a strategy better than Charlie Sheen. Last week the celebrity made headlines by joining Twitter and broadcasting his own professional (and personal) meltdown in this public forum, much to the delight of internet denizens and entertainment media. After attracting this considerable attention, Mr. Sheen must have realized he might need more resources and time to create a sustainable Twitter presence, so he did what many brands before him have tried: he asked for an intern to help out with social media.

What Mr. Sheen hasn’t learned through his own use of social media is true for many other organizations who want to promote their brand and protect their reputation using social media: you’ve got to have a communications strategy.  And no, “going viral” is not a strategy, it’s only a goal (which can sometimes backfire).  To that end Charlie Sheen captured the attention of the online world, but without a strategic approach his haphazard embrace of social media seemingly hurt, rather than helped his reputation.  In contrast with individuals who have developed their personal brands, Sheen lacks personal experience to cultivate the tremendous interest in his brand in the best direction, which seems justify his search for a third-party who can give his Twitter account a positive spin.  Yet instead of looking for an intern, he should take a page from the many established brands who’ve successfully managed their social media presence, either though hiring online marketing and PR agencies or developing internal resources to plan their communications strategy.

Of course many brands didn’t always feel this way; when I started this blog in 2009 I wrote about my own experience using Twitter as a tool to find internship opportunities. At the same time agencies turned to my generation of recent grads and millennials to help them understand social media, so many were receptive to the idea of an interns helping out with a niche website like Twitter or Facebook. Especially because many businesses still considered social media a new fad (and not an important emerging platform) many were willing to let interns manage accounts for their brands; after all many simply assumed it was only kids using new media.

What seemed true in 2009 should not be assumed in 2011; social media have emerged as core platforms not only for promoting brands but for building businesses. With 600 million members on Facebook, and an established user base on Twitter that averages over 30 years in age, no brand would risk putting their reputation in the hands of an inexperienced graduate, much less an intern.  Instead organizations who want to build their brand through social media should hire professionals who’ve developed their strategic approach through experience, especially those who have tactical experience using blogs and social media to promote another organization.  Brands should look for professionals who’ve learned about social media through broad online experience, not necessarily specific skill-sets related to individual platforms like Twitter, because it demonstrates their ability to adapt and learn as new platforms emerge.

For prospective interns and job candidates, Twitter continues to stand out as a great tool to network and find job opportunities like my own Twitter internship. It’s also an excellent platform to share ideas and build your online reputation as a knowledgeable professional, particularly for social media marketers like myself, in a forum that’s highly visible in search results for those screening applicants. Likewise for job recruiters, social media offers a unique opportunity to screen potential employees and get a fuller picture of the people outside of their resume.

While it’s yet to be seen what the outcome of Mr. Sheen’s search for an intern may be, it seems likely that the same lack of direction that stifled his own social media efforts will sabotage any intern’s efforts.  At the end of the day a brand is only as strong as it’s own commitment to their unique offering, and that comes only through the knowledge and experience all members of an organization share.  To be sure, Charlie Sheen has earned America’s collective attention fixed on his social media presence, so what he is able to achieve depends not only on what he says but also who he chooses to manage his brand’s voice online.

Update: Continue reading Social Media 101: Why Brands shouldn’t let Interns Manage Social Media

December’s 7

Matthew Hurst's before and after from Movember 2010

It’s better to give than to receive, so each month I share a list of 7 worthwhile ideas currently influencing my perspective as my gift to you. As 2010 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the year that was with a certain nostalgia, so I’m checking my list twice to find out which ideas are especially nice, or at least 12 worth sharing this December:

Blog: Gizmodo.  In addition to being my favorite geeky outlet for tech news over the past few years, Gizmodo is probably the best blog to read when picking out your gifts this holiday season.  And since we know that consumers are willing to spend more on electronics and tech this year, Gizmodo’s sharp analysis (and new rating system) are more important than ever.

Colleague: Ishmael Vasquez.  As a co-worker of mine at Blue Fountain Media earlier this year, I was able to experience first-hand Ishmael’s creativity and ability to use social media strategically as an online marketing professional.  He’s also a productivity master who is a pleasure to work together with, in addition to being able to put work and life into their propper perspective.  Personally I’m proud to call Ishmael a good friend of mine, especially since he’s one of the nicest people I’ve met in NYC (and fortunately, he’s pretty humble to boot).

Game: Angry Birds.  If you’ve played you know already, but for the uninitiated Angry Birds is an instant classic on par with Pac Man for the smartphone generation. The original is already on its way to becoming one of the best selling games of all time, spurring Halloween Costumes and fan Meetups alike in the process, and already has season sequels that are best sellers in the iOS and Android markets.  I think it’s an addictively fun game that will be around for awhile longer.

Group: Movember. Participating alongside my co-workers and mustachioed peers I was able to raise over $130 toward mens health issues while raising awareness about testicular and prostate cancer.  My mustache was a regular source of curiousity and discussion in my workplace, and an interview on Anthony’s blog as well as a point of pride for this folliclely-challenged young man.

Social Network: Facebook.  500 million strong and growing, in spite of numerous threats to leave the site due to privacy concerns.  The company continues to make smart acquisitions that build talent and leverage their position as the largest network to create innovative software that improves how we interact with our friends online and IRL.

Theory: Cord-cutting. Since moving to NYC in 2009 I’ve lived without cable TV, on a media diet of Netflix, Hulu, and over-the-air DTV via rabbit-ears antenna. Anecdotally I know lots more techies interested in changing their media consumption habits, mostly for cost cutting reasons, although despite what you read in the news it’s yet to become a widespread phenomenon.

Company/Agency: Blue Fountain Media.  This online marketing agency and website design company is a leader in creating results-driven websites that build businesses online.  This time last year BFM was willing to take a chance on me, and helped develop my skills as a social media manager into a full fledged SEO specialist. I was proud to call them my employer in 2010, and would easily refer them as the best in the business.

Continue reading December’s 7

Public Communication & Privacy on the Internet

Online Privacy described in a Venn Diagram
Infographic by Buriednexttoyou (via Flickr)

If your friends are like mine you’ve heard them complain all year-long that we’ve lost our private lives, sacrificing anonymity in the interest of advertising data.  Since the beginning of 2010 we’ve heard public figures and friends alike suggest it’s time to quit social media.  Culminating with the FTC’s policy recommendations about internet privacy, 2010 has been another marque year for privacy advocates.

Yet the internet has opened up new windows of insight into each others’ lives, connecting us closer with our friends and sometimes revealing new aspects of our personality between friends.  Often these ideas are shared in public channels, opening individuals to new connections, although others prefer to keep there information between friends alone.  For years there has been a backlash to protect privacy on the internet, but is an open medium paid for with advertising dollars ever truly private? Continue reading Public Communication & Privacy on the Internet

September’s 7

Matthew Hurst inspects artwork based on the DC metro transit map
Every month I share a short list of ideas that I think deserve recognition, or at least have some currency in my own sphere of influence .  It’s been a little while since I shared my latest influences, so I’ve included an extra thought this month I hope will introduce you to something worthwhile.

App: Chump Dump. I admit that I have a problem: too many friends and followers on Twitter to keep tabs on those who’s ideas I care about the most. This app should help me attain a better balance (or at least a lower ratio) by helping me loose random twitter followers, particularly those most prolific narcissists currently clogging up my Twitter stream.

Blog: Wonkette. With Election season in full swing, I’ve become a daily reader once again of this DC-based liberal rag with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. Sarcasm runs thickly through each post, pulling together the best (and most embarrassing) news clips from around the blogosphere to add their irreverent take on our nation’s partisan political dysfunction.

Film: Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Comic books, video games, rock and roll; what’s not to love in this romantic comedy? Of course it’s geeky, so I love it.

Meme: Check-in Fatigue. As an early adopter of location-based social media, I’ve been anticipating the growth and inevitable backlash against these platforms as they mature. It’s interesting to watch my friends walk through the same curiosity, excitement, and disappointment as these services start to become adopted by the mainstream, most recently Facebook.  What was first a fun, new way to connect with friends and meet people has grown into an all-consuming competition that frustrates new users with legitimate privacy issues.  Of course I’ll still be playing along, so don’t hate the players (hate the game). Continue reading September’s 7

Links with Your Coffee: News and Notes from Matthew Hurst

Watch live streaming video from smw_newyork at livestream.com

At IDEO’s Humanizing Social Media event in February 2010, we explored the implications of social media on interpersonal communication. Rather than perpetuating the discussion of case studies and e-commerce during Social Media Week, this social experiment left us questioning how the communications shifts have impacted the way we develop new friendships online. Our cellphones were left at the front door and we exchanged our clothes for a plain white t-shirt affixed with buttons which carried tags that describe ourselves, like “blogger” and “geek” in my own case.

It was an thought provoking exercise, and now I can  finally share the results from this experiment with you.  We had a great night at this event, so much that I was awarded the honor of “Person with whom you’d most like to stranded on a desert island with”!  Look for yours truly to take a staring turn during the panel discussions, as captured in this video.

A little further news and notes not quite long enough to warrant a blog post of their own: Continue reading Links with Your Coffee: News and Notes from Matthew Hurst

The Birthday Challenge

What difference can one person make simply by asking their friends to make a charitable contribution? Any individual can help change the world, and this story is just another example to prove that (click here to play the video).

For my last birthday I challenged my friends to donate to a cause, People To People International (PTPI), instead of buying me a gift. I used the Causes application on Facebook for fundraising, and was overwhelmed by their support. I’ve written about my efforts before, and have since raised a few hundred dollars for PTPI.

My efforts earned the attention of People To People, who like most non-profit organizations are exploring all the new opportunities for fundraising that social media can offer. We connected though Facebook, where an interview was published highlighting my fundraising efforts in addition to how PTPI has impacted my life both personally and professionally.

We wanted to share my story and inspire others to try the same challenge for themselves, so I flew to Kansas City, Missouri to shoot this video. The birthday challenge has also been the subject of another recent interview accompanying the video, as part of a series highlighting the accomplishments of young people working with PTPI.

Thanks to Scenic Road Productions for creating this video promoting a good idea for a a great cause. And Happy Birthday for my friends at People to People, which celebrates their 53rd year of fostering peace through understanding this week!