Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Guilty of joining MySpace

Since MySpace has existed, the media, as well as a majority of my colleagues, have brushed it off as something for "kids." It reminds me how my grandparents talk about Elvis and rock n' roll. Crazy, crazy youth.

What's more, in focus group after focus group, most adults won't admit to belonging to MySpace either. Yet look at the numbers. 41 percent of MySpace users are between the ages of 35 and 54, and there are well over 100 million MySpace users. That means that a healthy majority of 35- to-54-year-olds are on MySpace.

So why are people so hesitant to admit it? My guess is one of two things.

First, I think that most adults are fearful of how they will be perceived if they have a MySpace page. It's peer pressure at its best.

Second, this culture's aversion to age mixing borders on paranoia. From August's Wired magazine (p. 46): "We are becoming a society that is paranoid just because kids and adults happen to be in the same public space"(Larry Magid, codirector, BlogSafety online forum).

Why hide it? If you're between 35 and 54, you're most likely a member of MySpace. So don't be a wimp. Say it loud and say it proud "I love MySpace!"

Monday, July 23, 2007

A room with a, um, view

The view from my hotel room in Dallas. We're here conducting user research for a social media strategy project.

The comment box: the lowest level of non-committed connection

I recently updated my profile on Friendster. The last time I did that was easily 18 months ago. The reason for the update was simple: I have a a handful of good friends who are active on Friendster and who drew me back in.

Friendster has continually updated its feature set over the last few years (it's had to to stay alive) and now looks a bit more like MySpace. But a major weak spot is still its "Testimonials." MySpace nailed this feature when it called it "Comments," allowing friends to simply say "hi." But on Friendster, one must leave a testimonial, which feels a bit intimidating. (For that matter, Facebook's wall lacks the appeal of MySpace's comments area as well.)

If you take a look at testimonials on various pages of Friendster, there are major lapses in time between them. That may be in part because Friendster's traffic has fallen, however I;d also suggest it's because of the seriousness of the feature's label.

One of the strengths of MySpace is that it enables the lowest level of non-committed connection. A comment is not a phone call or an email or even a text message. It does not require a response. It's just the written expression of a fleeting though, which interestingly enough, creates a non-linear dialog.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Social Media Framework is now live

I've finally published my POV, "A Social Media Framework." If you're wondering how you might foray into the social media ecosystem, this POV provides a few thinking points to get you on the right path.

You can find it on the Avenue A | Razorfish corporate web site at http://www.avenuea-razorfish.com/points.htm.

Questions and comments are welcome!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Serenity on Whidbey Island

Inn at Langley
Originally uploaded by *ciaobella*

What does this have to do with social media? Nothing, But I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Facebook-MySpace Divide

I've been off getting married and honeymooning, and hence seemed to have missed the discussion about danah boyd's paper on the class division between Facebook and Myspace. So please forgive the lateness of this posting.

Basically, boyd suggests that MySpace is used primarily by alternative, punk, and minority kids. It also has high usage among soldiers in Iraq. All this makes sense, since it started as a site for bands. On the other hand, Facebook is used more commonly by the elite, the educated, the "good kids," as well as military officers (which is an intersting note since the army has banned MySpace but not Facebook). This in turn makes sense because it started at Harvard and grew via college campuses.

I always find boyd's work fascinating and just wanted to share two observations in the spirit of adding to the discussion.

1. I recently spent a week in a small town (read: two roads) on a small island about an hour away from Seattle. While it claims to be progressive, it also lacked diversity of any kind. I bring this up because while I was there, I overheard a discussion between two high-school aged kids about Facebook versus MySpace. The gist was that Facebook was cooler. The reasoning? The Wall as opposed to Comments. Now there's a lot of things I love about Facebook, specifically the open source platform and the ability to import widgets to personalize your page that enables sharing at a much higher level than MySpace. But the Wall is no different from Comments in my opinion. I found it interesting that this seemed like a logical reason to someone for preferring one site over the other.

2. I have found that Facebook is competing with LinkedIn amongst my professional colleagues. While a few are on MySpace, most are on Facebook. Again, I would ask why? If both offer the general same functionality, what is so appealing about Facebook? And why do most of my coworkers here at Avenue A | Razorfish write off MySpace as something for teenagers? Again, I would suggest that it's a matter of perception. Facebook feels safer.

In both cases, the community has knowingly or unknowingly branded themselves. Or perhaps others have placed their perceptions on these two sites based on their own thoughts and attitudes. Whatever the case may be, boyd has made another very interesting observation, and one that we should acknowledge as we traipse through the digital realm.