March 24, 2009
With all the networks and tools emerging in the web 2.0 cloud and competing for your attention, do you find yourself challenged by sorting out the options, making the most of, or simply keeping up with them all? There sure are a lot of social networks popping up these days, and for every social network, there are a dozen more free tools just waiting to be utilized. How you choose to use these networks and tools should be considered your blank canvas... your picture waiting to be drawn.
Even novice web users are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but you name the theme, and there's a list of social networks to support it. Some networks are more professional than others. Some more playful.
I recently found Plinky, where you answer a weekly prompt to spark digital discussion in your own creative way. All these tools are just other ways to express yourself. From Google docs and webmaster tools that support business on the web, to sites like Aviary that bring you Photoshop and Illustrator-esque functionality for next to nothing or totally free, these cloud tools are coming out of the woodwork or falling from the sky. Now the question is, "which ones should I use" and "how can I leverage these?" The answer is simple: use the ones that work best for you. Only trial and time will tell you for sure.
Here's how I manage my own time when it comes to qualifying, utilizing and not being ovewhelmed by these tools, which if you're not careful, can become a full-time job in just keeping up with them all. The first hour of my morning consists of the following:
- Hit Google Reader where I have all my subscriptions to my favorite feeds. These feeds consist of tech news, design trends, individuals blogs... the list goes on. I have over 100 subscriptions that consolidate massive information into the reader for my quick scanning.
- I will 'favorite' or 'share' the best entries in Google reader, and it will automatically update my Facebook account. I also add links to Delicious so I and my team members can see what I'm pushing to the front. In fact, we use a common company account for Delicious so that all of the people on our team can collaboratively add relevant links ranging from hot design trends to the latest jQuery snippets.
- If I'm really excited about an entry in Google Reader, I'll Twitter the link, which shows that I'm sharing knowledge and could create some followers. This in turn, also updates my Facebook account. Do you see where this is going?
- In turn, for that brief moment on Twitter, I might respond to a few @replies or contribute to some conversations I see going on. After a while, you will notice your name showing up in the #followfriday lists (where fellow Twitterers suggest to all their followers the recommended people to follow)
- I also have Flickr, YouTube, Last.fm and a couple other sites that I frequent and that add activity updates to my Facebook stream. So, in reality, I don't actually spend a lot of time in my Facebook account other than to upload the occasional photo album. However, it sure looks like I do!
- I set up Google alerts to scan for my name, my company name, or any of my product names on the Internet. If something is being said, I want to know. I also have these alerts set up in my reader. So, while I'm purusing my morning news, I can see any of these alerts as well.
- Next up, Twitter search. Arguably one of the most valuable tools on the net. I type in my name, company and products here as well. This lets me see who's talking about me NOW. While I'm there, I might see what's being said about my friends... or maybe my favorite wines. At this time, I might share another link on Twitter, that again, updates my Facebook account.
- I manage my own personal blog and I contribute to my company blog. These RSS feeds can be set up to syndicate into a variety of places. I have a combination of my personal and company blogs being syndicated into my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. This goes a long way. While I'm keeping my company site up to date, this valuable information is being recycled as it heads to my various other accounts. Other team members on my team do this as well so that our reach is increased even further.
- Do you use a CMS to manage your website? We do, and our CMS is considered a Web 2.0 CMS that allows us to syndicate pages, blogs, RSS feeds and more. When we write a blog, we do it in our CMS. Of course, whatever blog tool you are use should have an RSS feed that can be syndicated. This is important. It allows you to move your ideas further from your site, which draws people back to your site.
This is only a smattering of what I'm doing now. When I dicover a new social site, I see it as my obligation as a web developer to take a test drive and understand how it works, and how it could integrate into my morning regimen. I tend to change it up here and there. Some networks, I let fizzle out so I can spend more of my time on the networks that work for me. Remember, I try to keep this consolidated to the first hour of the day and some of these tasks might be relevant to do on a weekly or monthly basis.
Take some time yourself to leverage the new media and turn it into a systematic approach that broadens your reach, sharpens your mind and strengthens your brand.