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my pace

Knell

Career Preparation

Passionate technologist who enjoys problem solving new technology and building relationships

Matthew Knell '00
Information Systems
Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems
NYC Campus

“Passionate technologist who enjoys problem solving, new technology and building relationships.”

That’s how Pace alumnus Matthew Knell ’00 would describe himself in a tweet.

“When I was going to college and deciding on a major, it was either communications or computer science,” says Knell. “Social media really represents a blend of the two. The greatest thing to do in life is tell your story. Social media allows you to do those things.”

Currently the Vice President of Social Media and Community Strategy at About.com, Knell’s career at About.com started more than 14 years ago when he was still a student at Pace.  During the day, he was a HTML front-end developer, and at night he finished off his classes on his way to a degree in Information Systems with a concentration in Computer Science, and served as Pace Press’ first webmaster.

During his first tenure at About.com, he helped build the code behind an early iteration of the About.com homepage, and later helped design a later-patented contextual pay-per-click advertising service called Sprinks, which would later be sold to Google. Knell left About.com the first time in 2003 while the sale was being completed.

After his time at About.com, Knell spent more than 10 years at a variety of companies, which benefitted from his passion for digital and social media.

At JetBlue Airways, Knell served as the general manager of jetblue.com, where he managed day-to-day operation, product development, and content management for their $2.5 billion website, help to launch JetBlue’s Twitter account, and executed the company’s first social media strategy.

In 2005, when JetBlue hit a winter operational issue and people were stranded in airports and on tarmacs, Knell and the JetBlue team did something that at that time was revolutionary: they put then-CEO David Neeleman on YouTube to apologize to customers and outline immediate changes and next steps including JetBlue’s Customer Bill of Rights. The video went viral, earning nearly half a million views and thousands of e-mails, and became a case study in crisis communications in the Internet age.

“That was the first time we knew of that brand had ever used YouTube in that way,” says Knell. “We realized we had something with social media there and started our Twitter account in June 2007. It started out being a marketing machine, then became a support channel to help our customers, and was one of the first of its kind. And it all started with just a couple of guys, Twitter and some Blackberries.”

After JetBlue, Knell began working at Viacom’s MTV Networks as a senior product development manager for a social media platform called Flux, which would be used by more than 30 major MTV Networks and Viacom brands including CMT, Comedy Central, TV Land, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.  He then moved on to the popular online community CafeMom, where he managed product strategy for integration of social tools into the CafeMom network of sites and developed social media marketing and acquisition strategies.

“An information systems major thinks less about technology solutions and more about strategy,” he says. “That systems approach and how things work with data, social media, analytics, and trends. Having a systematic approach to getting that data is really important, and something I learned a lot of during my time at Pace.”

In 2010, Knell moved on to AOL, where he ran social media and contributed to live event strategy for more than a dozen major different AOL brands, including AOL’s flagship social media accounts. In just a few years, Knell grew AOL’s social media following by 1,000%.

Coming full circle, in 2013, Knell returned to About.com as part of a new wave of executives hand picked to revitalize the classic Internet brand.  As the Vice President of Social Media and Community Strategy, Knell is responsible for defining and developing content marketing strategy for About.com’s social media platforms, leading product integration of social components, leading tracking, analytics, and report integration. Plus, he’s bringing his expertise back to the place it all started: Pace University.

Serving as Seidenberg’s first-ever Tech Mentor-in-Residence, Knell advises and mentors Pace students, as well as faculty, on social media marketing and web technology, sharing his experiences and invaluable career advice.

Knell has been a familiar face at Seidenberg, stopping by to offer up advice to students on everything from branding to font and graphic choices, giving Seidenberg reviews of their social media sites, and participating in a series of discussions, including tech talks, seminars on the state of now in social media, and how to get a job in NYC, among others. In addition, he’s invited students to events, including a panel on social media and community management at AOL’s headquarters as part of Internet Week New York. And he even teamed up with Pace to offer a two-day course on tools and techniques in integrated digital marketing, sharing the basics of social media marketing, community building, SEO, display advertising, and more to help people without formal training become part of the conversation.

“It seemed like a natural thing to bring some of those skills home to students who could use them,” he says. “I have Pace in my heart.”

 

Alumni Profile

Matthew
Knell

Matthew Knell has spent the last 14+ years designing, developing, marketing, and strategizing at some of the most well-known brands in the country: About.com, AOL, CafeMom, Scholastic, JetBlue, and Viacom.