Are Social Networks Diverging Culturally?

One thing that makes social networking a unique and unpredictable topic within the tech world is that, in a more direct way than other computing products, they reflect the influence of their users. The infrastructure and design behind them maybe draws a certain type of user more than others to begin with, but they quickly develop a culture or cultures of their own.

To take a now-outdated example, LiveJournal, structured as it was around the metaphor of a diary, became associated culturally with a certain mode of discourse. People spilled their emotional feelings, perhaps to excess, and LiveJournal became caricatured, fairly or not, as a haven for oversharing, rumor-mongering emo teenage girls.

The recent explosion of interest in Pinterest, if you’ll pardon the rhyme, has been more gendered still, with the front page at any given time resembling a women’s magazine. Whether this reflects something about the “pinboard” format or is merely a historical coincidence of crowd behavior is hard to untangle. On the other end of the spectrum, Reddit, Digg, and especially Slashdot cater to a primarily male audience of hardcore technology enthusiasts. LinkedIn is obviously the most gender-neutral, with a notable lack of personality that is quintessentially corporate: everyone needs a job.

The most successful social networking sites, Twitter and (especially) Facebook, have created the perception that they are each a permanent phenomenon with universal appeal. But is this so? We saw this anxiety play out in a big way surrounding the Facebook IPO: not only concerns about the company’s advertising model, and thus revenue stream, but this idea of, will the crowd move on, as it did with Myspace?

There is a certain element that social networking sites will always share in common with other social phenomena like fashion, parties, trends, which don’t stand still but move with the

Facebook has gone, in my short lifetime, from a substitute dorm-room where we could all reminisce about last night’s vodka shots, to a vast, family-friendly site that attempts to encompass all potential users from child to grandma, and thereby has risked alienating the original early adopters, students, who flocked there from Friendster and Myspace.

Twitter has picked up some of the slack in this regard. Its content and users noticeably hipper, snarkier, and more “plugged-in” than Facebook. Anecdotally speaking, many of the most trend-setting people I know have long ago dropped square old Facebook for snappy, fast-paced Twitter.

For those of us who think strategically about such things, it’s important to monitor the intangible differences of flavor that have cropped up within the cornucopia of social networking options. Most normal people simply do not have the time to make a sustained commitment to 17 different social sites at once, and so as they choose what “scene” attracts them, we’re bound to see this evolution continue.

This is a guest post by Aniya Wells. Aniya Wells is one of the most passionate writers you’ll ever meet. Though her writing interests run the gamut—from personal finance to health to current events and more—her primary interest is modern higher education. She serves as a reliable online degree guide for students considering taking advantage of the conveniences inherent in distance learning. Don’t hesitate to contact Aniya for questions or comments at aniyawells@gmail.com.

Is Facebook struggling to keep up with its competitors?

Facebook has been implemented a number of changes to its services in the past few months. And with the growing popularity of social media services like Twitter and Google+, it begs the question of whether the social networking giant feels the need to establish a new edge among its competitors. Some people even question whether Facebook is copying its competitors to some extent.  Let’s investigate some of Facebook’s recent changes and see how they compare to features on other social media services.

Facebook Messenger

One of the more ponderous additions to Facebook’s networking arsenal, the Facebook Messenger mobile app joins the ranks of countless other messaging services offered for smartphones as an alternative to traditional texting. The application is especially curious considering Facebook’s chat capabilities for the regular Facebook mobile app. While this app doesn’t directly compete with Twitter or Google+ (unless you count Google’s GChat), it certainly signals a move from Facebook to expand beyond the typical boundaries on the social networking website.

Improved Friend’s List

Facebook recently announced a retooled version of the Friend’s list on a user’s Facebook page. Although users have had the ability to create lists, before it was a laborious task rarely used by people on Facebook. Now Facebook has “smart lists” that automatically categorize your friends and family based on your shared data. You can choose to share information with people on your lists while keeping it from your other contacts—that way embarrassing pictures of you don’t make it to your Facebooking family members. The smart lists also help determine what information you see on your newsfeed, phasing out information from users who you’re more unfamiliar with. While this is an undeniably helpful feature for Facebook users, whether you’re tired of over sharing your information or seeing too much information from mere acquaintances, it feels an awful lot like Google+’s “circles” feature. Some people see the smart lists as a too-little-too-late move from Facebook, but its success with users has yet to be determined.

Subscribe Feature

Another recent announcement from Facebook unveiled a new “subscribe” feature. If a Facebook user allows to do so in their privacy settings, you can choose to follow them by clicking a subscribe button next to their profile. This way you can receive updates from a Facebook user without having to formally “friend” them, the idea being that you can subscribe to the profile’s of individuals who might not otherwise friend you. What’s more, you can alter a subscription to only notify you of worthwhile updates: uploaded pictures yes, status updates no, and so on. People have compared this new item to Twitter’s “following” feature, and while they’re similar, so too are numerous other features on other websites that allow you to follow or subscribe to web content.

Conclusion

Facebook’s changes could be read as copycat maneuvers taken from its competitors, but I think that the company is just trying to keep up with the rampant change in social media. Messaging and subscribing, it’s all an effort to stay relevant. Facebook isn’t in any danger of going out of business soon, its users still well exceed those of Twitter and Google+ combined—so any claims that they are being outmatched by competitors are premature at best. Like it or not, Facebook (and its recent changes) are here to stay.

This Post is a Guest Post by Mariana Ashley. Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com. If you would like to contribute to the Inquisitive Minds, please write to us at me@melvinpereira.com

Proven, Creative job hunting techniques that will amaze you

Social Media is the buzz these days, but what really is Social Media. And there are people and businesses doing what ever it takes to get on to the band wagon of Social Media. But there are a selected few who are actually using it, in ways that would make us stand up and take notice. Job Hunt. Yes the field where you send in your resume wait for an interview to be arranged, and then hope you have done well to negotiate your job. Yes there have been really creative resumes, like the ones highlighted on another post here. But what if you could short cut the process with Social Media.

image credit

Well yes of course you have a Linked In profile and are findable on Google and yes your resume reads right as well, but still there are 100 Million other people on Linked In as well doing pretty much the same. And to make things worse, we don’t even use Linked In the way it is meant to be. So are you confused what to do, well these things should give you some inspiration. When faced with the unenviable task of searching for a job,  and marketing yourself,  the web and social media provides a variety of opportunities that wouldn’t work with other mediums. These creative job hunters have thought outside the box and leveraged the web to get themselves noticed.

Alec Brownstein

Alec Brownstein, a writer, needed a job. So he chose the names five top NYC advertising directors that he’d like to work for. Knowing that large bigwig executives would probably (like all of us) Google their own name, he bought an advertisement in Google that would be displayed when each person searched for his own name.

He got two job offers. The cost was just $6, a fine example of creative job hunting. He later published this YouTube Video explaining how it all happened, which itself went viral on the web – with nearly 1 million views at time of writing.

Talk about Social Media on steroids, this campaign was the reason I really started looking at some other similar examples, the next two are as good.

David Wood

David Wood, an unemployed Sales Representative from Bristol decided enough was enough after spending two years writing up to 30 job applications and scanning newspapers and websites for paid work. He decided to put an advert together on auction website EBay auctioning himself off to the highest bidder.

After some initial exploration on Twitter of using the medium of EBay to sell himself, David was approached by a PR firm who helped him create the campaign.Although his first advert didn’t make the cut (EBay don’t currently allow services to be auctioned on the site) he amended the advert to become much more product focused.

His advert reads: ‘For Sale an Experienced Sales Representative’ and describes him as a 1965 model who is ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘motivated’. With this his profile has shown up on numerous blogs, like mine, TV shows local newspapers, providing him with the reach that has kind of made him a local celebrity. Check out a screenshot of his eBay page below.

Victor Petit

Victor Petit is a french graphic design student looking for an internship. His recent Video on Vimeo shows perfectly how a little creativity in your C.V. can really grab the attention of your audience. His combination of mobile QR codes and an interactive experience is quite brilliant, taking the traditional C.V. and turning it on it’s head.

Absolutely fantastic work I should say, and we all know how QR codes are taking on the world. You can read about QR codes here if you are interested.

I dont really think that all of trying the same thing will work too, this is just for inspiration so you can think out of the box too.

Inquisitive Interviews cos Google is your next Interview

Google has been the cornerstone of the Internet’s expansion for some time now, I know there would be a few readers that would disagree with me on a more technical level, however Google did to the Internet what windows did to the desktop PC. Gave it a shape and a voice. Today we cannot really think of a life without Google. We use the search for everything, even the term Google It is now in the dictionary as a synonym of search. One of the industries that really did well with the explosion of the internet was the Job Search industry, going from newspaper ads locally right to the internet job search sites like Monster.com to now the very popular Linked In. Most people use the common routes of the internet for job search, i.e. search for a job on a job site, send in your CV and wait for a response. However there are more innovative ones among us that are using the Internet resources differently for job search, more on that later. The tried and tested route is great for beginner jobs and for intermediate jobs. However a you grow up the ladder this method starts to fall short. Main because head hunters look for people in higher places, as well as referrals and contacts take over.

Through all of this, one thing is emerging as a major trend in the Job Search / Hunt industry. Google. Most people these days are Googling potential candidates to search for information like credibility, recommendations etc. Linked in is one of the most popular of these sources that shows up, on a close second would be Facebook and Twitter. It would be logical considering that these sites are as big as they are, Linked in with over 100 Million users and Facebook with a staggering 500 million users. Googling a person can bring about the information about a person that he may or may not be particularly proud of. Like that drunk party you were at, or someone blogging about your inefficiency etc.

Based on this it becomes imperative that you really go out there and start Ego Googling once every few months, just to make sure that the information about you is current and relevant and in fact you are Googlable. What do I mean by that ? well for starters make it easier for people to find you on Google, make sure that there is good information about you and not too much dirt. Once this process is done you will see that a person looking for your information might be able to find, that you are indeed an achiever as well as have some evidence to back it up.

The entire process above is called Personal Branding. What it means though is that you are working to promote yourself similarly as a brand would do. I am working on something similar for myself, if you Google Melvin Pereira, you would see that most results are between a namesake and of course me. The namesake is a renowned photographer of Jet Planes and has been quoted over the internet a lot. Which makes him easier to search than for example me. But I have an advantage, this blog. Having a domain name with my name and a blog has ensured that I am searchable, and findable. My thoughts and knowledge base is this blog itself. I know a lot of you are thinking is this really relevant to me ? Well for starters you don’t always need a blog to be findable on Google, you only need to compete with all your name sakes in order to reach the first page and the top results there. Here are some steps that might help in the process :

  1. Google Yourself regularly : What does come of that exercise is you can see how far off from the first page are you. Only when you know how far back you are, can you know how much work is required to put you to the front pages.
  2. Online Participation : Participate in websites where interaction would lead to increased visibility. Read and comment on blogs that are related to your line of work, try to help others out online, e.g. educational forums where college students ask for answers. Etc.
  3. Linked In : Have a great Linked In profile. Filling in all the sections as well as providing as such relevant work related information as possible. Considering that Linked In profile would be one of the first pages that show up for your name, the more information it does have the better the impact it would have.
  4. Repeat Step 1 every few months, or every month initially.

In the process, I will also be able to help. On this blog I am starting a section called Inquisitive Interviews, a series of Interviews that are well, Inquisitive to start off with. I was being asked the question by some college students on if there line of work is correct and what are the growth prospects, although I am not qualified nor experienced enough I thought that by providing them with information related to how people work ? What did they study to get there etc, it might help to make some good decisions regarding their career. Complimenting this, it would also provide some visibility for the person in the interview on Google, as my Blog is now quite frequently visited by Google.

There are many different ways through which you can be famous online, by putting up really stupid pictures of yourself (which might not be the best for your career) also by helping people, and getting recognized for it. For the benefit of a lot of my readers, I hope Inquisitive Interviews will provide some value too, making the interviewee Googlable and help them advance in their career. If you want to get featured in Inquisitive Interviews get in touch with me at me[at]melvinpereira.com. Additionally I would request you to share this section with more students in the hope that it will be helpful to them

Facebook Criminals ! A sign of things to come ?

Previously, I did bring up the issue of weather we are taking Facebook and Twitter too far, especially in relation to Facebook Places, where I mentioned that its not the best way to actually use the Social Network and included a video showing how to disable it. For all those of you who thought that I was just kidding and you don’t need to disable this feature, this one should come as a surprise.

Three guys have just been arrested in the United States for robbery, these guys used the Status Updates of users on Facebook to target them to steal from. This isn’t the first warning about what should and shouldn’t be posted on Facebook, but I find it important to remind Facebook users from time to time that leaving information about what you’re doing as “public status updates” can be dangerous on the social network.

Continue reading Facebook Criminals ! A sign of things to come ?

Indian Racism now in High Tech

Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook-India, enabling users to make their skin whiter in their profile pictures. The download is designed to promote Vaseline’s range of skin-lightening creams for men, a huge and fast-growing market driven by fashion and a cultural preference for fairer skin. The new application promises to “transform your face on Facebook with Vaseline Men” in a campaign fronted by Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur, who is depicted with his face divided into dark and fair halves.

But this is the worst sort of racism against Indians, its by us Indians itself against ourselves. This definitely will ignite the  age old debate of perception of beauty and skin color. The app, which was launched by Vaseline, invites Indian men to download their profile photos and drag a line across the screen to digitally “Lighten my Skin.”

Continue reading Indian Racism now in High Tech

Facebook wants to know YOUR story ?

As of Wednesday, 21st July 2010, Facebook has reached a number of 500 Million active visitors registered and using Facebook. That is 500,000,000 people. There are more zero’s here than alphabets in my name. To give you an idea of how many people are using Facebook, picture this, the world is inhabited by 6,200,000,000 people and it is largely accepted that about 1/6th the population of the world has internet access. So nearly half of all people who have internet access are on Facebook. Or one in 2 people using the internet are on Facebook. It might not seem the case to us, since nearly everyone we know these days are on FB as it is called with love.

And with so many people being on Facebook and trying to share their moments, it is clear that some people share more than what is required (See – mistakes on Facebook that you would regret ) and not follow any precaution with their sharing (See – Facebook : Beware, we have to be careful, 10 Rules of using Facebook ) but the strength of Facebook is the power of the people in numbers. It gives all of us an easy way to publish our thoughts and lives to our friends. This Social Media is something that has been shown to have tangible benefits, through various experiences that Facebook users experience.

Continue reading Facebook wants to know YOUR story ?

10 Golden rules of using Facebook

or an other social network.

[tweetmeme] Facebook has crossed 400 Million users online, and with the addition of more people comes the risk of something going wrong, meaning unreliable people and scams, phishing, identity thefts and of course the self inflicted fails. The inclusion of location based services are not only making interesting applications but are providing information that might not be what you want to portray, this is something that is highlighted in the new service Please rob me which shows the empty homes based on the location based service of their owners.

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These threats can however be negated by the users as all of us love using Facebook, In fact these days you are nobody if you are not on Facebook ! Facebook, twitter and the sorts are making our lives not only more truthful but also a bit more entertaining with the regretful posts and updates by people. Here are 10 Golden rules to use our beloved sites:

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  1. Pay attention to what you are posting online especially concentrating on what images and videos you are posting online and the information you choose to publish.
  2. Avoid posting sensitive information, be it personal or even professional.
  3. Verify all your contacts and do not accept friend requests from people you do not really know.
  4. Be careful how you portray your company, organization or bosses online, you never know what will hit you if you bad mouth your employers.
  5. Try not to mix your business contacts with your friend contacts.
  6. Your personal information and profile should be visible to only those people who you want it to be visible to.
  7. Be careful about what you publish about others and untag yourself from anything negative posted about you.
  8. If ever you get the time, read the full privacy policy and the condition and terms of use of the social network you choose.
  9. Use privacy-oriented settings (check who can see your pictures, who can contact you and who can add comments)
  10. Deactivate location based services as they are a serious threat to not only your online privacy but also your physical privacy.

Now your face is your Business Card

[tweetmeme] Interestingly, I wrote about the Augmented Reality Business Card a few days back talking about how Augmented Reality is getting into business cards in ways that makes them more interesting and really awesome. Check out the previous post on the same here. Well now, Polarrose has come up with a solution where one’s face can be used now as a Social Business Card along with TAT (The Astonishing Tribe).

The concept video from Polar Rose on You tube has received over 400,000 views so far as the “Augmented ID” combines Augmented Reality and with Face Recognition, to deliver the worlds first AR application that recognizes people seen by the mobile phone’s camera in realtime and displays icons around their heads with direct links to the person’s profiles on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare and others.

The technology is breakthrough because it will help designers now look to more than just the ugly black marks (sort of ugly) to pull up Augmented Information, if it can work with faces (Which are quite complex) they can be used with normal shapes such as brand logos, objects etc.

The first biggest step since the introduction of the Augmented Reality technological previews.

Facecrook for Facebook

Facebook, everyone is on there and everyone wants to be there. What made the social networking platform so famous, was the fact that all the people using them were verifiable people and like the name suggests you could recognize profiles from the pictures of the faces that were on there. However, there are many of us who prefer not to use their own photos for the profiles, for the reason of privacy or don’t want people to see them or just because they do not have a “good Looking” photo of theirs that they want the world to see. And if a photo is not selected, then Facebook gives you a no face picture for your profile.

The no face pictures are pretty boring and are very bland, to signify that they are the same for all. However one designer, Anton Mircea has come up with these awesome mug shots of the faceless profile picture. Aptly names Facecrook, these pictures are awesome as they are cool. Use these and you are guaranteed quite a few comments on your facebook profile asking where you got them from.

You can download them here.

Mistakes on Facebook that you would regret

I am sure everyone these days posts stuff on Facebook, and certainly a lot of people are not completely cautious of their posts. I did write a few days back about how Facebook is kinda making us very .. er truthful. Well there are amazing examples of people making Facebook blunders, here are some below, with some Failbooking Lessons :

Lesson #1 : Dont trash talk your boss

Lesson #2 : Be thankful for what you have

Lesson #3 : Family comes first

Lesson #4 : Love letters are not for Facebook

Lesson #5 : Geography is important … really !!

Lesson #6 : Blondes have friends too !

Lesson #7 : Don’t Just assume anything based on Facebook Updates

Lesson #8 : Spelling Matters

Lesson #9 : Surprises not to be discussed on FB

Lesson #10 : Parents are using FB these days :)

Lesson #11  : Parents really follow your updates on Facebook

Lesson #12 : Not Everything is to be shared on facebook

Lesson #13 : Boys will be Boys

Lesson #14 : Not everyone is your friend

It is now so great that there is a complete website dedicated to “FAIL’booking as it is called. Check out the website at http://www.failbooking.com or you can check them out on Facebook itself on their Facebook Fan page here.