What the rise of “HMU” says about Facebook’s success in 2010

Facebook had an extraordinary year in 2010, bringing in $2 billion in revenue, being named best place to work and seeing Mark Zuckerberg named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. One key strategy that drove that success, as Zuckerberg made clear when he announced Facebook Social Inbox, was that the company built a platform that adapted to its most active users.

For Facebook, the most active users are students in college and secondary school. Zuckerberg hit on Social Inbox after high school students told him email was too slow. So it’s no surprise that the top status trend for 2010 – that is, the term whose usage in status updates grew the most this year – was “HMU.”

If you didn’t know what HMU meant before this week, you’re probably not in Facebook’s most active demographic. It isn’t a big part of the vocabulary of most people past their 20s; if you do use it, the older you are the more you risk looking like you’re trying too hard to be cool. Here’s how the British newspaper the Independent spelled it out:

The most popular phrase of 2010 was the (most likely) teenage expression “HMU,” short for “hit me up” or simply “contact me.”

HMU was so foreign to the editors at the Independent, they needed a definition to explain their definition. Facebook’s blog discussing the top status trend described it as a surprise, and its own explanation shows how the term seems to have grown out of student life.

Most teens find “tweeting” pointless — Morgan Stanley

Taking a break from flogging the latest tired media business model, Morgan Stanley published a short report on Friday entitled, “How Teenagers Consume Media” by 15-year-old summer intern Matthew Robson that offers a frank discussion of what young digital media consumers are up to.  The FT has highlighted it on its front page, perhaps as an antidote to wall-to-wall coverage of the annual Sun Valley media moguls conference in recent days.

The most memorable moment in the report is its discussion of the irrelevancy of Twitter to teenagers:

Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale.
On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.