Archive for April, 2008

6 Ways To Make Life Easier With Del.icio.us

Since I started using it regularly about six months ago, del.icio.us has rapidly become one of my most-used tools.

If you haven’t started using the service seriously, I suggest you do so. Here’s a quick primer (skip to below if you’re already a pro):

Obviously, if you like, you can just use del.icio.us to save articles and sites for future reference. You won’t be using even half of its potential though.

Here are six more ways you can use del.icio.us to make life easier for you and the people around you.

Let other people do your surfing for you

This is my favourite use for del.icio.us, and it’s based on the ‘social’ side of the tool.

Del.icio.us lets you add people to your del.icio.us ‘network.’ Find out the usernames of people you respect (look on their other sites, or just ask them) and add them to your network. Then, use your RSS reader to subscribe to the links from your network.

Why?

Because if you only add people you know and trust, you can use them to do your reading for you.

No more trawling through hundreds of useless posts in the hope of finding one or two nuggets. No more mind-numbing sessions hitting ‘next’ on your RSS reader for what feels like forever. You only see the posts that your contacts have deemed worthy of saving.

I keep my network to a small number (about 20), but those 20 people provide between a third and a half of the posts I read every day, and a much higher proportion of the articles I bookmark myself.

Queue up blog topics

Some people are blogging machines who manage to churn out posts in advance of when they need them so they always have a bunch lined up.

Me? Not so much, and as much as I think most people would love to be sitting on a store of posts, I’d be surprised if they are.

You can make your life easier by bookmarking things you might want to write about. Just tag it with “toBlog” or something similar, then when you’re stuck for something to write about, flip to your list of “toBlog” articles.

Search engine

Partial screenshot of del.icio.us homepageDel.icio.us can serve as an excellent backup if search engines fail you. Not only will a quick del.icio.us search throw up your own saves, it will show the top ones saved by other people too.

Power tip: You can search for tag combinations direct from your address bar – type http://del.icio.us/tag/[tag1]+[tag2] to pull up all the posts that are tagged with both.

Track coverage of you/your organization/your clients

This is fairly obvious for communications pros you can use del.icio.us to keep a record of media coverage related to your company or clients – bookmark articles with ‘coverage.’

Power tip: For bonus points, create a ‘coverage’ bundle, and group articles on different topics within it.

Non-communications folks can use this idea too. Want to keep track of articles where you’re mentioned? Want to remember who’s written about your site? Del.icio.us is a great way to keep it all organized in one place

Track topics

Del.icio.us lets you ‘subscribe’ to tags so you see everything that’s saved with that tag. Go to your del.icio.us settings and click ‘subscriptions,’ then enter the keywords you’re interested in.

Let’s say you’re interested in marathon running, and you want to keep up with the top posts on that subject. In this case, you might subscribe to ‘marathon’ or ‘running.’ You can view your subscriptions by clicking the ‘subscriptions’ link at the top of the page, or by going to http://del.icio.us/subscriptions/[username]

If you use an RSS reader, it’s even easier. Search for whatever you’re interested in, then scroll to the bottom of the page, click the ‘RSS’ button and let the subscriptions come to you.

Power tip: For slightly more advanced tracking features, try these:

  • Combined tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/[tag1]+[tag2]
  • Popular tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/popular/[tag]
  • Users: http://del.icio.us/rss/[username]

Provide a resource for others

Del.icio.us is a powerful enough tool if you use it on your own, but it becomes even more useful when you remember that it is a social bookmarking tool and help others to benefit from your reading too.

Del.icio.us allows access to the articles you save using the address http://del.icio.us/[username]/[tag].

For example, I save useful case studies here: http://del.icio.us/davefleet/case_studies

If you read a lot on a work-related topic, why not provide a link to those articles to your co-workers?

Power Tip: Another powerful, although slightly more blunt, tool is the option to publish a daily blog post of articles you’ve bookmarked. Go to your del.icio.us settings, scroll to the bottom and select ‘daily blog posting’ for information on how to set this up.

If you decide to set up a daily blog post, be sure to enter a good description for every article you save from now on (you already did this though, right?). The description will be the only context readers are given about the links you save.

Conclusion

So there you have it – six more ways that del.icio.us can make life (both yours and others’) a little easier.

Do you use del.icio.us in a different way? How do you use it?

M.Utterz.com Takes You All The Way… Almost

Utterz, the multimedia service that lets you post video, audio, pictures and text to your blogs and social networks, has just launched a mobile site, m.utterz.com.

According to the announcement, the mobile site “…really completes the circle of mobile Utterz features: you can now create, view, share and manage your multi-media posts all from your mobile device without any special software on your phone.”

I’m not so sure yet.

What’s Good

  • Utterz It’s clean
  • It’s easy to use
  • It lets you check out other peoples’ posts
  • It lets you edit, publish and share posts

What’s Left

I’d like to see a few more features to make this a truly excellent site:

  • Let us create multimedia posts directly from the site
  • Let us add multimedia content to existing posts
  • Consolidate features from other access points
    • Right now you can access Utterz from your phone in three different ways (call in, email, m.utterz.com). Each has different functionality. I’d like to see this site let you do what the other ways let you do

Thumbs Up

It could use some extra features, but Utterz’s mobile site is a great tool for Utterz users.

One of my biggest frustrations was the need to go back to my computer to edit or add detail to posts I recorded while “on the go.” It’s often not do-able in the 10 minutes before the post goes live, meaning I either had to edit both the Utterz post and my blog post later, or hold off on posting it (which removes the point of a mobile post).

This site removes that need – I can record audio from my phone, then hop onto m.utterz.com and add a title and description before it gets sent to my blog.

Very cool.

Does Social Media Have A Glass Ceiling?

Glass ceiling

Is there a gender bias in the social media scene?

Eden Spodek recently put out a call for women involved in social media to speak up and be heard, and got some traction with it. Her point: “women in the social media space aren’t getting as much recognition as they should.”

Her post, along with a couple of conversations I’ve had recently, made me wonder if there is a bias towards men in this field. What’s more, I wonder if it goes further than recognition. Are women less likely to get invited to meet-ups, or to speak at events? Is this the reason why most so-called “A-listers” are men?

These are important questions to raise. It’s definitely still an issue in some older markets/communities – is it an issue in a new one like this?

Personally I’m not sure (before you jump all over me, remember: I said “I’m not sure”, not “I disagree”).

Social media is very technology-based and geeky. Men seem more likely to gravitate towards this kind of thing than women. That doesn’t mean there aren’t many many wonderful, intelligent women here. However, it may explain why there seem to be more men in this space. Assuming that’s true, the law of averages says that they (the majority) will get more of the attention overall than the women (the minority).

However, I’m obviously (hold the snarky quips, people…) not a woman. I haven’t experienced or witnessed anything approaching discrimination in my circle of contacts. As someone who hasn’t been on the receiving end, I’m probably less likely to spot it because I’m not actively looking for it.

The title of this post is a question for a reason.

Does social media have a glass ceiling, or is it the law of averages doing its thing?

What do you think?

Break the glass ceiling If there is gender discrimination going on here, let’s all work together to stamp it out. I’m not talking about over-the-top positive discrimination, I’m talking about giving people the recognition and respect they deserve.

Are you organizing an event? Have you invited everyone who you should have, regardless of their gender? Do you think of both guys and gals when thinking of people to link to? The list of opportunities to make a small difference is endless, regardless of your gender.

Time for a moment of inner reflection.

(photo credit: net_efekt)

43 More Top Social Media Tips And Tools

Back in January I posted a list of the 42 top social media tips and tools I came across over a six-month period.

This is an update with 43 more I’ve found over the last few months.

Tools Analytics/Measurement

Tools: 13 Tools For Tracking Discussions in the Blogosphere

Your RSS reader may give you information, but it probably won’t help you discover new, interesting sites and follow bloggers’ discussions on a subject. This is where these sites can come in handy.

Tools: 20 Analytics Tools For Blogs

Lee Odden provides a great list of web analytics tools.


 

Blogging

Tools: CommentPress

CommentPress is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text.

Tools: Dynamic Template Plugin for Windows Live Writer

Powerful plugin that allows you to insert frequently-used snippets of HTML and text, but also allows you to create mini-plugins of your own.

Tools: Jottit

It doesn’t get any easier to create a blog/wiki site.

Tools: Prologue

WordPress theme that provides self-hosted twitter-like functionality.

Tools: Top 10 WordPress CMS Plugins

Ten useful WordPress plugins.

Tools: Twit2RSS + JTL

Shannon Whitley combined the WordPress Twit2RSS plugin with some simple coding to let you display the links your twitter friends post.

Tools: WebSnapr Plugin for Windows Live Writer

A simple plugin for the Microsoft Windows Live Writer that adds an “Insert Thumbnail of Url” option.


Images/Graphics

Tips: Where Can You Find Good Images?

Garr Reynolds gives a list of 23 photo resources.

Tips: 45 Photoshop Tutorials for Better Navigation

A series of how-tos for creating navigation buttons in Photoshop.

Tools: 3 Online Resources for Color Creativity

Three useful resources if you need to come up a colour scheme.

Tools: EveryStockPhoto

Search engine for free photos.

Tools: Logo Creatr

A fun web 2.0-style logo creator.


Micro-blogging

Tools: HelloTxt

HelloTxt lets you update multiple social media sites with one click. Also see Twitku for a similar tool.

Tools: OutTwit

If you are an Outlook user, you probably have it open all the time. Now you can update your Twitter status and follow your friends without having to open any other applications.

Tools: Quotably

Quotably lets you track Twitter conversation threads. A few bugs, but generally very effective.

Tools: Top 10 Twitter Hacks

Kevin Dugan lists some useful tools for Twitter.

Tools: TweetStats

Interesting tool that graphs your Twitter usage. Primarily useful for satisfying personal curiosity.

Tools: Twhirl

Twhirl is a desktop client for Twitter, based on the Adobe AIR platform.

Tools: Twitterverse

Neat little tool for getting a snapshot of what’s being talked about on Twitter. A little superficial but useful if you’ve been out of it for a while.


Social Bookmarking

Tools: AddThis

Useful social bookmarking widget for blogs.

Tools: Social Media for Firefox Extension

Plug-in lets you check to see if stories have been submitted to a series of social bookmarking sites.

Tools: Votrs

Votrs.com is a URL shortening service that makes it easier for your friends to vote for stories on your favorite social sites.


PR/News Releases

Tips: Untangling Claims About Wire Services & Social Media

Courtesy of Todd Defren and SHIFT Communications: a one-slide Guide to Social Media Release Capabilities Across the Major Wire Services.

Tools: PRX Builder Plugin

Now, use PRX Builder from inside WordPress.  Post your Social Media Release right to your blog.


Podcasting

Tips: Podcast FAQ

podcastFAQ.com is a website committed to providing everything you need to know about podcasting. This site aims to contain the most up-to-date information for podcast creators, consumers and businesses.

Tips: Using Podcasts to Promote Thought Leadership

Useful audio/slideshow presentation by Steve Lubetkin.


Miscellaneous

Tips: A Complete List of the Many Forms of Web Marketing for 2008

Great detailed list of current forms of web marketing.

Tools: 35 Ways To Stream Your Life

35 lifestreaming services.

Tools: BookletCreator

BookletCreator is a free online tool that allows to create a booklet from a PDF document. It reorders pages so that after printing and folding the pages you get a small book.

Tools: DropSend

Email files of up to 1Gb. Fast, simple and secure.

Tools: Forget PowerPoint: 13 Online Presentation Apps

13 online presentation creators.

Tools: Guerilla Mail

This website provides you with disposable e-mail addresses which expire after 15 Minutes. You can read and reply to e-mails that are sent to the temporary e-mail address within the given time frame.

Tools: IPTools

A whole bunch of IP and DNS tools.

Tools: Media Converter

Converting media files made easy.

Tools: News Bar Wizard – Put Google News on Your Web Page

Embed a news bar on your web page and let your users see headlines and previews of Google News Search results that you’ve selected. Customize how the news bar should be displayed, and this wizard will write the code for you.

Tools: ProgrammeableWeb Mashups

A resource of over 2,800 mashups.

Tools: Sprout

Sprout is a quick and easy way for beginner and pro users to create living content including websites, banners, videos, music, photos, RSS feeds, calendars and more.

Tools: TagCrowd

TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud or text cloud.

Tools: The Free IT Support Engineers Toolkit

A great list of free software tools.

Tools: Twiddla

Mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that conference call more productive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodoo – it’s all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly, mom-approved. Oh yeah, it does one-click audio chats too.

Tools: Xinu

Find out how well your site is doing in popular search engines, social bookmarking and other site statistics.

(photo credit: Elsie esq.)