Ode to the Smartphone… Sort of

The fourth post in our summer-intern blog series was authored by Samantha Hauser from Arizona State University. Posts by Forrest Hanson, Meaghan Davison and Kristen Marchus can be found here, here and here, respectively. Have at it, Samantha!

– Bri and Dave

My Blackberry and I have been together for about six months, and already I can’t imagine life without it. We do everything together: eat, sleep, work, watch TV, hang out with friends, you name it. When I’m lost, my smartphone is my compass. When I’m hungry, my phone finds the nearest restaurants and kindly sorts them by price, cuisine or customer ratings. My phone even helps me manage my workout routines and keep track of my calorie intake. But most of all, my smartphone has my back with social media. Nobody touches my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Skype or Gmail accounts without my phone finding out about it… And I mean nobody.

My phone works hard around the clock to keep me up-to-date with what’s going on in my little cyber universe, blinking, beeping and buzzing every time it sees some action. But lately I’ve been finding that I’m just as much a slave to my phone as it is to me. Each blink, beep and buzz is like a little teaser, begging for my attention. And the more it blinks, the more curious I become. Did my professor finally post the midterm grades? Did my boyfriend just text me? Maybe it was just my roommate responding to my wall post. It doesn’t take long for the uncertainty to overwhelm me, and I have to give in and pick up my phone.

Recently, I’ve had to consciously keep myself from rushing to check every notification my phone gives me. It’s not always appropriate to be staring at your phone, and I have to remind myself during these types of situations that I can check my phone as soon as a more appropriate opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, I end up responding to e-mails at the dinner table and checking Facebook in the shower.

But it’s not just my own internal pressure to stay connected that leads me into a state of mental anguish every time my phone’s little red light starts blinking. There’s an increasing pressure from the outside world to be connected and available 24/7. If I don’t answer a text message right away, I get another in five minutes that just says, “???” If I don’t respond to an e-mail within a few hours, I get a text asking, “Hey did you get my e-mail?”

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on corporate culture, but I know these concepts translate into the professional world as well. And with all of this pressure to stay connected coming from both work and home (often through the same laptops, phones and networks), I wonder if it will ever become too much.

The bottom line is that while being connected 24/7 is fun, it’s also exhausting. With every futuristic new tool my smartphone offers me, my life gets a little more complicated. At the moment, this constant flow of information into the palm of my hand is new and fun and exciting, but I sometimes wonder if — and when — the novelty will wear off.

What do you think? Will there ever come a day when we all throw in the towel and jump back on the Paleolithic bandwagon? Or will we always be slaves to the newest technological wonders that developers throw our way?

Related articles:

Ryan Seacrest is addicted to his Blackberry, too! Here he talks about it with Larry King:

– Samantha


The Sunday Newspaper

The third post in our summer-intern blog series was authored by Kristen Marchus from Gonzaga University. Posts by Forrest Hanson and Meaghan Davison can be found here and here, respectively. You’re up, Kristen!

– Bri and Dave

I am convinced my love of the newspaper and current events began at a young age.  When I was growing up, one of my favorite parts of the weekend was reading the Sunday newspaper.  At first, I would skim the actual newspaper and then move on to my favorite part, the Sunday advertisements.  I loved looking at all of them, especially Target, Mervyn’s, Best Buy and the coupon specials.  Eventually as I grew older, I spent more time reading about current events and less time on the weekly ads, advice columns and horoscopes.

I have always loved the newspaper, but I became a certified “news junkie” during college.  I am a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, a private Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington.  It has a small, beautiful campus and a very well known basketball team, but none of these things were my favorite part of my college campus.  My favorite part of Gonzaga was the free New York Times and Spokesman-Review newspapers for students.

Throughout college, I would read the free New York Times newspaper daily.  I would go into my classrooms early to sit and read.  When other students arrived for class, some would ask me, “Do you have to read the newspaper for a class?”  I don’t think I ever met another student who took full advantage of the free newspapers or who understood my personal interest in reading the news.  Sadly, almost every day stacks of outdated newspapers were recycled.

I believe my love for current events and the news was one of the many reasons I switched from studying business to a public relations major late in my sophomore year.  The more upper-division public relations classes I took, the more certain I became public relations was the field I wanted to pursue.  And after completing multiple internships, it has become obvious that a huge part of a public relations practitioner’s job involves reading and scanning the news for client, competitor and industry news.

Over the last couple of years, my news habits have migrated from the daily newspaper to the Internet and my iPhone.  I am a big fan of the free New York Times app, but also follow local news through the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times websites.  But since graduating and moving back to the Bay Area, I have felt a void, as I no longer have access to the free newspapers.  On Sunday mornings, I do not like eating breakfast in front of my computer and checking out the weekly Target sales via the Internet.  I really miss having a physical newspaper in front of me.

That is why contrary to all the reports of newspaper circulation and sales dropping, I just ordered home delivery of The San Francisco Chronicle.  Newspaper and magazine circulation has been in decline for many years, while the popularity of the Internet and especially the iPhone and iPad apps have increased tremendously.  I am very interested to see how magazines and newspapers use these mobile devices to help restore circulation.  I am also certain that my now free NYT app, will not be free much longer.

Call me old fashioned, but I can’t imagine getting all my news via the Internet, Twitter and Facebook.  Don’t get me wrong, I also consider myself a fanatic of social media. While I am positive social media and smart phones are changing the way we connect with people, shop and learn about emergency situations, I also know that I will always love reading the actual newspaper.  This means tolerating the black ink on my fingers, going outside to get my own newspaper and dealing with wet newspapers in the winter, but for me it is totally worth it.

– Kristen

I’m Mark Zuckerberg and you’re not

Is Facebook the biggest modern business phenomena?  Look at the social network’s growth:

  • 2006 – 9 million users
  • 2007- 40 million users
  • 2010 – 400 million users

And that 2010 number is the last one announced.  David Kirkpatrick, author of ‘The Facebook Effect’ says it’s probably 500 million by now, and he’s predicting 1 billion users by the end of 2011.

Can’t you hear Dr. Evil? One Billion Users…..

There’s been a lot of coverage lately on the most recent outcry over privacy, with charges that Facebook has evil control over your personal data.  But the cold hard fact is that with those numbers, it’s really a tiny percentage of Facebook users that are at all concerned.  Inside Facebook, they look back at the huge brouhaha when the Newsfeed came out, and it’s now the most popular feature.

Speaking at a recent Churchill Club breakfast in Silicon Valley, Kirkpatrick spent a fair amount of time talking about (and often defending) Facebook’s continuing strategy of building a platform based on genuine identity, and all the marketable information that comes with that mission.  Kirkpatrick was interviewed by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, who had Zuckerberg hiding behind his hoodie at the recent D conference.

Continue reading

Social Media ROI: Socialnomics

– Dave

Web 2.0 Summit Replays

If you didn’t get a chance to attend or tune in to the recent Web 2.0 Summit (#w2s), check out the organization’s YouTube page for some great video footage from the event. John Battelle hosts in-depth interviews with executives from companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, in addition to many, many others. Here are the Facebook and Twitter interviews, which I enjoyed.

– Dave

Cision Presents: “Twitter 101”

Yesterday Cision put on a “Twitter 101” Webinar, and compared to the plethora of virtual crash-courses that cover the same subject I have to say it was one of the best I’ve attended. The hosts (@storyassistant and @hksully) provided some great social-media statistics and didn’t waste time covering Twitter basics. They also focused on the business application and impact of all the presented content. Not too common!

Below are some notes from the Webinar.

Social media:

  • Social networks/blogs are the fourth most popular online activity, coming in ahead of personal e-mail. The only three things that are more popular than social media are: search, portal sites and PC software that uses the Web. (Nielsen Online Study, March 2009)
  • The biggest increase in visitors to social networks was in the 35-49 age range at 11.3 million people. (Nielsen Online Study, March 2009)
  • 67 percent of the entire online community uses social networks. (Nielsen Online Study, March 2009)
  • One-third of all time spent on the Internet is on social networks/blogs. (Nielsen Online Study, March 2009)


  • @PRsarahevans created #journchat for improving interactions between journalists, bloggers and PR pros, a good example of personal branding.
  • Look to @ocreggie for a great example of how to use a Twitter handle with multiple Tweeps while remaining transparent.
  • Once you create a good core following (approximately 200) using the right tools, your number of followers will grow organically simply through the interaction that happens with those who are most relevant to you.

Some useful Twitter tools:

  • Find People for easy connections via the Web interface.
  • Search.Twitter.com for crawling profiles and Tweets.
  • Tweet Later for monitoring keywords and getting automated keyword reports mailed to you on set intervals.
  • Twellow for a Twitter Yellow Pages, with categorized groups of Tweeps to find and follow.
  • Mr. Tweet for a personal networking assistant that works to link you up with similar Tweeps based on your Tweets.
  • TweetDeck for a good desktop application that provides a better Twitter experience. You can categorize followers by lists, use multiple handles, one-click RT/@replies, smooth interface, easy URL shorteners, etc.
  • Seesmic Desktop for another solid desktop application (less of a resource hog than TweetDeck).
  • Twitpic for sharing photos.
  • BudURL for URL shortening and collecting data on that link (some features are fee-based).

Cision also offers some Webinar downloads, available here.

– Dave

Twitter Hits 32 Million

Well wasn’t that fast? After having less than 10 million unique global visitors in February and then reaching the 19 million mark in March, comScore reported yesterday that Twitter hit 32 million in the month of April. That’s more monthly unique visitors than Digg, LinkedIn and The New York Times. Just look at that there graph. Impressive! Purty! Not to mention the data only reflects those who accessed Twitter via the Web; it doesn’t take into account things like mobile/desktop applications and plug-ins, which we know (and can attest to) are used rather feverishly.

– Dave