Represent

There are some things that companies and organizations do with their social networking presence that make me batty. Perhaps a few of these things annoy you too? Here are my rules for managing an organization’s social media presence–just in case any of those types care what I think. They should–I may have money to spend some day.

Content Management

Social networking sites are not to be used as a substitute for your company’s website.

If I see that your website is four months out if date, then I tend to think that something might be wrong with your company. Is it still in existence? Is everyone too busy? Do they not care? Suggestion: Facebook can pull in feeds from blogs. Post official news to your company’s blog and Facebook will automatically add that post to your company’s wall. Going a step further, Facebook can be set up to cross-post to Twitter. Much of the dissemination of your company’s official news can be automated.

Content managers: it’s good to keep in mind that your company will always own the content that is posted on the company’s server. Sure, it’s easy for people to loot content appearing on your website but at least you aren’t legally surrendering your rights to your company’s videos by posting them on Facebook. Post the videos on your site and then post a link to the relevant webpage onto Facebook. Always consult the terms of service of a social networking site and understand what that site does with your content. Track changes to terms of service here.

Push unique content to each of your company’s social networking sites.

Some redundancy of information across a company’s website, blog, Facebook wall, and Twitter feed is inevitable. Be sure to give consumers a reason to subscribe to the your blog’s RSS feed AND like your company’s Facebook page AND follow you on Twitter by offering a unique experience in each arena. Example: here in Bloomington, Scholars Inn Bakehouse (@ScholarsInnBake) has daily specials that are only advertised on Twitter. Another example: every morning, Bloomington Bagel Company (@BBCBagel) Tweets the soup selection at each of their locations, while BBC’s Facebook page seems to be used for more general news.

Quality interaction

Interact with individuals who reach out to your company online.

Don’t be THAT company, you know, the one that posts information to its Facebook page or Twitter feed and then ignores any subsequent comments or replies. You CAN respond to people who comment on your company’s wall posts. This is not merely good web marketing, it is good manners. Since most people have instant access to Facebook and Twitter, they will often leave a complaint (or a compliment!) on these networks, rather than search out your homepage, find out how to contact you (far too often, this is a difficult feat!), and write up a formal letter/make a phone call. Respond to replies in timely fashion. Check your social networking sites’ notification settings and make sure that someone can be on hand most of the time to manage these consumer interactions.

Don’t spam your audience.

If you have to post the same event to everyone’s feeds four times in one week, please find four unique ways to do it.  Or better–only post twice in a week. I’ve witnessed the number of “likes” go down on a company’s Facebook page after a really aggressive week of in-your-face promotion. It’s easy to overwhelm a person’s Facebook feed. Example: I blocked the Library of Congress on Facebook because they routinely posted fifteen times a day, completely monopolizing my Facebook feed. These were fifteen unique posts, mind you but still, they were off-putting. This brings me to my next point:

Learn the difference between how people use Facebook and Twitter.

In the previous example, if the Library of Congress had made the same fifteen updates to Twitter, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Why? Because these networks are different beasts and people do not use them the same way. Think about it, have you ever tried to catch up on a couple days worth of Facebook posts? It’s obnoxious! Twitter is super easy to scan quickly.

In addition to frequency, be aware of immediacy. Don’t tweet those photos you snapped at least week’s film fest. It’s already ancient history (sometimes two hours ago seems like ancient history in Twitterverse). Instead, post those photos in an album on Facebook. Tweet at conferences, cons, etc. in the moment–and be sure to find out the correct hashtag to use in your Tweets so that others at the event can find you too. Facebook is a mix of immediacy (announcing the launch date of a new product) as well as legacy (a photo album of a recent event).

Am I the only one with these business social media pet peeves? I’m sure I’ve missed some.

Paper.li

Yesterday, I posted about a tool that lets you pull content from your WordPress.org blog, rearrange the content, add chapters, sections, etc. and publish the whole thing in an ePUB, PDF or TEI format. Too cool! Sure, you end up with duplicated content but people love choices. I don’t want to read your short story collection online on my phone. I want to read it on my iPad. If given the choice, I’d grab the PDF file and plunk it on my iPad rather than visit your site and clicking through your endless pages on your blog–an activity that is dependent upon having a wifi connection.

I happened upon another tool that represents information from a feed in a different, interesting and useful way. Paper.li pulls in content you specify from Twitter and outputs the results as a newspaper. To see examples of how organizations have used paper.li, check out implementations by GOOD and the Indiana University Bloomington Archives (on Twitter as @IUBArchives).

Hitchcock's The Birds Meets TwitterIt’s brilliant. As a user, I like the quick, easy-to-read Twitter feeds when I’m on the go but the newspaper layout certainly plays up to my inner news junkie. This tool also has a harmonizing affect upon the Twitterverse. Often, scrolling through Twitter updates is much akin to a standing in a crowd people who are shouting out you in 140 characters. The paper.li experience is customizable, typically built around a theme.  In this way, paper.li adds a little cohesion to the cacophony.

More can be found on paper.li’s blog.

I Mean to imeem

I finally decided to give imeem a shot. It’s a social networking site, much like Facebook, for the extreme media lover. It allows you to upload, share and discover music, video, and photos, with the expected arsenal of social networking tools (friending, groups, embedding, etc.). A free imeem account allows you to upload your own content (within certain limits) for you to be able to access from anywhere, though you might want to make sure you legally own the content that you upload or have a copyright or CC statement if it is content you have created. imeem also gives the option to create artist or production company accounts.

imeem Mobile allows users to access their content from their mobile phone. Just last week imeem announced the release of imeem Mobile for iPhone and iPod Touch. The app is free but I haven’t tested it yet. The reviews are mixed and one drawback for me is that there is no way to access your playlists. However, if you’ve uploaded your own music, you can access those files.

imeem seems to play nice with other networking sites. You may embed or share media from imeem on your Myspace, Facebook or blog (WordPress, LJ, Blogger, and others). There is also an easy way to Tweet a song or playlist. twt.fm also allows you to link to imeem songs for easy sharing on Twitter.

What I like most is being able to create playlists of stuff people have uploaded and stream it while I’m at work. imeem may also prove handy for testing out albums or tracks I want to buy.

My imeem profile.

An alternative I bumped into is SoundCloud, which allows you to send and receive music. It’ll be interesting to see how long it is before they’re slapped with a lawsuit, as on the surface, they don’t seem as inclined to work with record companies and artists (imeem will reduce an album to 30 second clips at the request of an artist or label). On the other hand, I have NOT researched SoundCloud thoroughly. Maybe they do make provisions for rights holders.

Currently listening: Michael Giacchino’s score for Star Trek.

Time Wasters

I spend a lot of time staying connected via email, feeds, Twitter, etc. but that time spent pales in comparison to the shocking amount of time I spend per day online playing with various tools and web goodies. Here are a few that wasted my time today. Ah, well technically, I wasted my time. The goodies were just THERE, all shiny, waiting to be played with…

Blog Widgets

Generally, I try to be selective about which widgets I put on my blog because I don’t want my sidebar to be miles long. However, I love my book-related widgets (LibraryThing and DailyLit). I was going through my starred items in Google Reader this morning and was reminded of a recent LibraryThing post announcing updated widget creators.”Oh, boy!” Jenny says, pointing her browser to the appropriate link. And then I wasted time- lots of time- customizing a new widget for my blog.

I’m still not completely happy with my results (my own fault probably) but I’m curious if the newer widgets will load faster than the older ones as promised. It *seems* like my blog is loading faster (but honestly, there are so many other factors that could potentially affect load time, that it’s not fair to blame it on just one widget!). The CSS customization is a huge improvement, as is the mega-cool lightbox feature (click on one of the book covers to see what I mean). Curiously, they coded the author links to open in the same browser window, instead of in the lightbox, which to me is quirky but ultimately forgivable.

I opted for one of the lighter versions that stay static. There are, however pretty flash versions that rotate book covers, for those who wish to add some bling to their blogs. I also like that my own reviews can now display in the widgets. This is almost incentive to start writing reviews in LibraryThing. I haven’t reviewed there yet but I do make an effort to rate each book (which appears in the widget). Incidentally, I discovered today that I can rate 1/2 stars by clicking again on the star. This may have been a feature that’s been around for awhile but I found this by accident. The discovery is liberating and annoying- now I have to reevaluate my previously rated books. Ah well.

Facebook

I have begun interacting on Facebook almost exclusively via my iTouch app because when I visit Facebook on a computer, I end up taking quizzes and getting distracted by all of the random shinies that live there. This is great if I need to kill some time but lately, I haven’t had time to kill. And really, isn’t my time better spent doing something else? I still prefer Twitter over Facebook. On Twitter, I can still chat with or message people, follow specific topics with the use of hashtags, and share links, photos and videos on a simple platform without all of the other dren.

Whines the acolyte, “But EVERYONE is on Facebook!”

“Hah!” scoffs the skeptic, “That’s what Facebook and its hordes would have you… oh. Nearly everyone IS on Facebook.”

It wasn’t until I saw more friends that I speak to on a normal basis and a few family members that I finally decided to join. Even though not everyone I’d like to see has an account, I see the utility of a large social network. I get it, really. But if I must go to where the hordes are and put up with a horrible user interface (I joined after the redesign), then I will do so using what I’m referring to ‘Facebook Lite’ on Pan (i.e., iTouch). I even found a way to bypass having to visit Facebook on a regular basis by having Twitter cross post to my Facebook status. This last tactic proved awkward though, as @, #, and RT don’t mean anything to people who don’t use Twitter.

Lovely Charts

I received an email newsletter from Lovely Charts informing me of various updates they’ve made. Nothing seemed earth-shatteringly new. There are a few nice things for Premium users but even with the new features, Lovely Charts is still not a service I feel strongly enough about to pay for. The free account allows you to create and save one project, which you can come back and edit later. I suppose you can get by on the free account if, like me, you don’t have an ongoing project and you can delete your completed chart in order to create another. It is easy to use and I don’t know any other tool like it that is free.

Post from Pan

Testing WordPress for iPhone app. I can post to multiple blogs either on or offline with my iTouch (Pan). There doesn’t appear to be a way to include hyperlinked text, so I’ll write out the HTML here. Ah, the app saw that I was inputting a link and gave me a helper. It appears that it supports some HTML.

I’m trying this out with a saved photo. There doesn’t appear to be a way to format the photo or add a caption or alt tag. I’ve left the default ‘resize’ photo option on, to see what that does.

A lot of the bells and whistles that make WordPress really fun to use are missing but, for quick on-the-go blogging, this seems like a very capable tool.

More RSS

An addendum to my previous post on RSS… I just saw this post “Google Reader for Beginners.” These folks posted a few videos on YouTube to get your Reader started quickly.

I recently started sharing items that I found interesting. I can make a note on a piece of news and those who’ve been granted access can see these items with my comments (if they are also using GoogleReader). Commenting on and sharing news items is much faster than blogging or even Tweeting…

RSS: a PSA

Do yo- [coughhack]

[musters announcer voice]

Do you spend hoards of time trolling from website to website to find new content?

Friend, it is time to make the interweb your bitch.

Learn about RSS readers here.

This 4 minute video explains why RSS feeds will save you time and how to set up a feed reader quickly and easily.

Just about every site worth visiting is using RSS these days. WhiteHouse.gov: yep. Cake Wrecks: uh huh. Garfield Minus Garfield: you betcha.

Deciding which feed reader to use? Try Bloglines or Google Reader. Google Reader is highly recommended.

What are you still doing here? Go learn how the cool kids experience the web.

For extra fly-points, subscribe to Puddles with this address: http://cursedstorm.com/puddles/feed/