April 2014

Deleting the Past: Teenagers and Social Networks

Picture 4-24-2014Social networks have long been associated with youths, as the younger generations tend to be the ones who pick up on new Internet trends and phenomena before adults fully grasp the concepts. Even though Facebook has recently seen its first decrease in teenage users, as they drift towards newer social networks and applications like Snapchat, there is still a very heavy presence of youths and teenagers using social networks. Even LinkedIn recently opened its user base up by allowing students over the age of thirteen to create their own pages.

Because of their heavy usage of social networks and their teenage mindsets, it’s unsurprising that it has become quite common for teenagers to post information that they might later regret online. Sometimes these might be pictures of themselves wearing not enough clothing or statuses referring to their partying and underage alcohol consumption. Many people believe that these mistakes and indiscretions shouldn’t follow them throughout the rest of their lives and make it more difficult for them to get a job or get into college.

For this reason, California enacted a law last year that will give children under the age of 18 the legal right to delete anything they post online. Though most mainstream social networks such as Facebook and Twitter already allow their users to delete posts, this law will require any social media websites to provide the option for minors to delete anything that they have posted. Because most major social networks already provide this, some news sources see this law as unnecessary and unrealistic considering users cannot delete posts that other people have made about them, and believe that it will need to further evolve before it can become worthwhile.

Facebook Wants to Let Your Friends Know Where You Are

Picture 4-18-2014Facebook’s most recent updates to its user interface have focused specifically on letting your Facebook friends know where you are or where you are going to be. First, Facebook started with the launch of their “traveling to” feature, which allows users to mark where they are traveling to so that all of their Facebook friends can see. Though right now, the feature simply allows for an accompanying emoji, some news sources believe that Facebook will eventually use this to alter the interface of your Facebook when you are in a different city. For instance, if you marked that you were going to New York, your News Feed might be more focused on the posts of your friends in New York. Facebook has not made any announcements like this just yet, but it does seem like the next logical step.

In addition to the “traveling to” feature, Facebook’s next big update has been with the “Nearby Friends” feature. This feature ties in with the fact that most Facebook users are connecting through their mobile phone app, and smartphones these days are generally connected to GPS. Facebook has decided to merge these two concepts into the “Nearby Friends” feature, which — if you choose — will allow your Facebook friends to see where you are at all times.

The Nearby Friends feature is not turned on by default, so those who want to protect their privacy (or otherwise don’t want their Facebook friends to know where they are) can refrain from using the new feature. Facebook users can choose whether they want to share their general location with all of their Facebook friends, close friends, or a specific list of people. Your location can only be shared with other users who have opted in to the Nearby Friends feature who have also chosen to share their location with you.

Facebook users can be alerted when their friends are nearby, which happens in real-time, to differentiate it from the manual check-in feature that was already available with Facebook. There is even a precise location function that allows you and a specific friend to view each other’s exact map locations for a certain period of time, which can be used to help find a friend in a crowd or if you’re both trying to navigate a city’s streets to find one another. This isn’t the first time a feature like this has been included with a social network, as similar functions have been available with Google Latitude and Foursquare. However, Facebook is well-known for constantly finding new ways for their users to connect, so there is a lot of potential available with the Nearby Friends feature.

Facebook Pushes Their Messenger App

Picture 4-10-2014Recently, Facebook has been making more efforts to push the Facebook Messenger application on mobile phones. While the app has long been available for iOS and Android, it finally reached Windows Phone in early March, a whopping two years after the application had arrived on the other platforms. The reasoning behind this launch seems to be that Facebook very much wants its user base to download Facebook Messenger in addition to Facebook itself.

To make this push even more clear, recent reports are stating that Facebook will be removing messaging entirely from the standalone Facebook application, so that users will be forced to download the Facebook Messenger app in order to message their friends on Facebook. Some users in Europe have already been getting notifications stating that they will need to download Facebook Messenger to keep using the chat functions and it is expected that this will eventually ring true for all users of the Facebook mobile app.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Messenger application was launched in order to remove friction from the standard Facebook app, so that there could be a more streamlined experience for chatting and direct messaging through a separate application. Though this may be good news for some, others are worried about the potential consequences of this action.

Some suggest that not everyone will want to manage multiple Facebook apps on their phone, while others wonder if this is Facebook’s first step towards merging Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which they recently acquired. Others have issues with the interface of Facebook Messenger itself, which features icons of people that one is chatting with in a somewhat intrusive manner on the phone’s homescreen. The only way to escape using Facebook Messenger in the future will be to use an Android phone with an OS that is too old to run the app, to use Facebook’s mobile website, or to use Facebook’s news reader app, Paper.

Online T-Shirt Store Surges with Blogging Tips from iePlexus

Picture 4-3-2014It’s important for everyone to be able to express themselves in their own way, which is something that rang true for Web entrepreneur David Inman. ‘Nerd’ culture in particular has become popular and Inman wanted to develop a haven for these so-called nerds, where they could find T-shirts and other products to help express themselves through their sense of style.

With plenty of shirts with Star Trek references, math and science jokes, and sarcastic one-liners on them, David Inman already had plenty of excellent products available for purchase on his website, www.NerdKungFu.com; what he was missing was the right avenue to advertise his product lines. He needed a way to find a customer base that was looking for the types of T-shirts and gifts that he sold on his website, which is eventually what led him to the marketing services offered by iePlexus.

“I did all the research, found some other people that were happy with iePlexus, and figured I’d give it a try,” Inman stated.

Partnering with iePlexus led to the launch of Inman’s blog at www.TheNerdBlog.com, where Inman publishes posts reviewing films, discussing Star Trek, and offering additional commentary on nerd culture.

In the first two months that Inman started blogging with the guidance of iePlexus, he noticed a tremendous spike in his customer base. He was able to get even more exposure to his website through social networks like Facebook and Twitter that were also set up with the help of iePlexus.

“Every retailer thinks their customers are smarter than the average customers, but I think mine actually are,” Inman explained. With assistance from iePlexus, Inman has been able to develop a regular customer base and get his intelligent and funny T-shirts out to people who are looking for exactly what he is selling.

“The customer service and tech support with iePlexus are phenomenal,” Inman said. “If I have questions about keyword phrases for my blog, I get feedback within a week. In terms of not having to worry about what the site looks like or maintaining everything, it’s generally been a positive experience.”