Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My weekend in social media

Two interesting snippets from the weekend:
1. I came across my notebook from Junior year (two years ago, for those counting), which included notes from my radio show, "Middle School Dance." I noticed one point where I had asked my roommate Jared what the worst thing on the internet at that moment was. His answer? "Facebook's 'How I know this person' option." I agreed. At that point, that was the first sign we had that Facebook was becoming something bigger than a way to keep track of and interact with your closest of friends, mostly at your own school (not even all the schools had Facebook at that point; as I recall, High School Facebook caused the next uproar). Many of my friends are now very rare Facebook users for precisely these reasons: the original social graph made sense, and made sense in our context--the people we interacted with most online were the people we interacted with most in person. As connections became more and more distant, more and more people were turned off. As soon as coaches were found digging through athletes' personal photos online searching for incriminating evidence, nearly all the athletes significantly limited their Facebook use. Facebook has grown dramatically, but they've lost much of their core original audience. I'll leave it up to you to decide if that's a bad thing or a worthwhile sacrifice.
2. I went to a bar with some friends this Saturday. None of us had been to the bar before, but we were wary because it had potential for being a "hot spot" and thus far too crowded for our liking. Turns out it was incredibly crowded, and one of the people in the crowd is a star of Gossip Girl (Chace Crawford? is that his name?). Anyway, as I pushed my way through the crowds to catch up to my friends, I overheard nearly constant chatter about Facebook. But this story isn't about Facebook. When Chace walked past, the girls I was with swooned. One spent the rest of the night (and probably longer) kicking herself for not jumping his bones. The other was on cloud nine because he brushed her chest as he squeezed past her in the crowd.
What was their first move upon leaving the bar? Telling everyone they know, of course! First a series of TXTs, then a phone call or two, update the Facebook status, then send a few more TXTs. This is precisely why Twitter, if they get their problems solved, will hit it big in the mainstream. The objective of all those TXTs and the Facebook status could have been accomplished with a simple TXT to Twitter saying something like "OMG Chace Crawford just touched my boob!" On the surface, Twitter messages are little more than Facebook status messages. The difference is in the response they elicit. While 95% of both just get read and passed by, there's that 5% there on Twitter that make people want to respond to each other--and Twitter gives them the mechanism to do so (either @(screenname) or direct messaging). Plus, if Twitter catches on for purposes like it did at SXSW last year (note to developers: geotagging will be BIG with Twitter), lots more people would have tried to cram themselves into that bar. If I were a bar owner, I'd be studying up on ways to get people to tell their friends about the bar via Twitter--it might not be necessary now, but will become a huge boon to word of mouth very very soon.

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