Articles written in June, 2009

June 30 2009

Understanding Twitter

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Twitter is without a doubt one of the fastest growing social networking channels on the Internet today.  Nielsen reported that Twitter had a massive 1,382 percent growth rate from February 2008 to February 2009.

As people are jumping on Twitter to join the conversations, many are not only faced with the challenge of answering the question, “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less, but they are often overwhelmed by the terminology that is unique to Twitter.  To help ease some confusion, here’s a list of some of the most commonly used terms and communication shortcuts on Twitter:

Tweet
Starting with the basics, a tweet is a 140-character message or update sent via Twitter. Tweets can be sent by various means including your mobile phone, the Internet, or third party applications. Tweets are public and can be viewed by any Twitter user, with the exception of Direct Messages and Protected Tweets, both of which are mentioned below.

RT @username
Also known as “retweets”, RT @username is a way to re-send a tweet. Through retweets, you are able to send someone else’s message to other Twitterers who are following you.  Retweets are very similar to forwarding emails and out of courtesy, it’s best to credit the original creator with the @username.

@username
These can be used to reply to a tweet, mention another user, or direct a tweet to someone. When replying to a tweet, the @username typically appears at the beginning of the tweet and when using the @username in the middle or near the end of the tweet, it’s often used to mention or direct the tweet to another user. It’s important to note that these replies can be viewed by anyone on Twitter and the @username is a way for others to know who you are “talking” to. 

Direct Messages
Direct Messages are tweets that are sent to a specific user and are not viewable on the public timeline. They are similar to Messages on Facebook, for those who are more familiar with that social networking channel.

Favorites
Favorites are essentially bookmarked tweets.  They are a way for you to share your favorite tweets with Twitterers. In addition to the short bio that you can provide about yourself, favorites enable you to showcase the type of information that is most interesting to you.

#hashtags
#hashtags (where the topic or keyword is used in place of the word “hashtag”) are used to group tweets by topic or keyword. To have your tweets grouped with others about the same topic, include the #hashtag in your tweets.   For a look at the most popular hastags, visit http://hashtags.org/.

Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to jump in and start tweeting!

Posted in: Twitter

June 29 2009

Facebook Beats MySpace in Amount of Users

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A long, long time ago in 2004, two social network sites began; Facebook and MySpace.  Who would have foreseen the dramatic impact both of these networking portals would have on our lives in a short span of five years. 

Since their foundation in 2004, each of these social networks has experienced dramatic changes, not only in the way they function, but also in the amount of user interaction.  For several years, MySpace rode on top of the social media phenomenon; until recently.  In May of2009, Comscore reported that Facebook has exceeded the amount of MySpace users in the United States.  With a shrinking number of users and more advertising dollars being allocated to Facebook, MySpace has been forced to layoff 30% of employees, as well as reduce its payroll to only 1,000 people.  With over 60 million Facebook users in the United States alone, Facebook has made it possible for teens, adults and seniors to connect in a simple, easy to navigate arena.  Capturing the baby boomer users, Facebook has been able to exceed the amount of MySpace users.

So the question is what’s next for Facebook? With Twitter gaining momentum and nipping at Facebook’s heels, only time will tell.  Although, both platforms are very different in some aspects, both offer users the opportunity to connect with other users and share information.  Could Twitter be the Facebook killer?  Without adapting to current trends and listening to user feedback, Facebook could experience what MySpace is struggling with right now.

June 26 2009

Who Needs a TV When There’s the Internet?

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Recently, most people made the switch to digital TV. It was either, buy a converter box, a new TV or switch to some form of cable television. However, for those who have a quality computer and a good internet connection, the switch may not have been necessary. Websites like Hulu and YouTube allow users to watch TV shows and movies online and I’m sure there will be more websites in the near future that will provide these same offerings.

Hulu launched last year in March. According to Wikipedia, “Hulu is a website that offers commercial-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, Fox and many other networks and studios.” They were one of the first sites dedicated to showing full movies and TV shows. Hulu is becoming increasingly popular and it won’t be long before the technology comes out for people to view Hulu on their cell phone. People who own an iphone are already watching YouTube.

YouTube continues to add more offerings. Originally, it was a place to upload funny home videos as well as music videos. Now, companies can have their own YouTube channel and promote their products online. In fact, YouTube may be giving Hulu a run for its money because YouTube now offers a movie and a TV show channel.

Both YouTube and Hulu manage to have commercial(s) play at some point during your movie or TV show watching. At present, the YouTube movies seem to have the least amount of commercials. So far, YouTube only has 1 forced commercial (no option to skip or fast forward past the commercial) at the beginning of a movie. Hulu on the other hand has several forced commercials that play throughout the movie. Either way advertisers are incorporated.

Hulu and YouTube are only the beginning of TV watching on the internet. For big time advertisers and companies, this means that more TV advertising dollars will start shifting toward the internet. For smaller advertisers and companies, now is a good time to learn about video ads and participate while the price is low. Eventually, I think people will watch shows via the internet instead of on a television. It might sound strange, but one day our grandchildren may say, “What is a television?” Don’t laugh, I’ve asked people,” What’s an 8 track player?”

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