A Creative Way to Use Delicious

Remember when people doubted the future of Delicious? Seems like just yesterday.

But then, the founders of YouTube bought the popular bookmarking service and its future seems more concrete. Many web-savvy, bookmarking-hungry users still employ Delicious as an online bookmarks manager. But there are other, creative uses too.

Let’s say, you’re a small business, nonprofit or anyone who needs a way to catalog online links or media stories written about you. Enter Delicious. With Delicious, you can bookmarks links and catalog them by creating different tags, which can be read via RSS. You can then send those feeds (however many you’d like to) to a page on your website.

Getting Creative

Boom. Instant news/media center. It’s a simple, quick and effective way to collect those important mentions about your brand in one place. Plus, you can use the good ones as links for Twitter, Facebook, your blog and other social media platforms. Check out the page we built where I work – The Arc.

For us, Delicious fills the gaps between tweet, save and archive. We know that everything will be cataloged somewhere, and we can be selective about what we share via social media, concentrating on the good stuff. Plus, with the export options that Delicious provides, you know that you’ll always have our bookmarks in one form or another.

And You?

What other ways have you used Delicious? Let me know in the comments.

Social Media: What’s on the Menu?

AUCD website home page

Social media for non-profits and small organizations can be daunting.

How do you convince your co-workers it’s worth it? How do you approach creating content? What are some best practices for Facebook and Twitter?

Casey Golden, Bethany Stevens and I tried to answer some of those questions today. Casey is the founder and managing partner of the Small Act Network, a creative agency specializing in social media and software for non-profits. Bethany is faculty member and policy analyst at the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University.

Our presentations were a part of the 2010 Association of University Centers on Disabilities Annual Meeting and Conference. Casey focused on a broad overview of social media, how it works and why it’s powerful. I centered my presentation on forming a process for creating social media content, and Bethany talked about Facebook and the best practices for that space.

We had a great audience, and lots of participation. See my talking points by viewing the presentation on Google Docs. You might find some of the information helpful as you and/or your organization dives into social media.

My Reasons for a Social Media Shuffle

Parking Lot

I like to explore. I get excited about new places and things. I can’t help it.

Sometimes it gets me in trouble. Like the first time I traveled to Washington, D.C. I parked in a parking garage, got excited about my new surroundings and failed to notice the address of the garage. Hours later, I couldn’t remember the exact location amid a handful of parking garages in the area. Silly directionally-challenged me.

I recently let the same thing happen with social media. I got distracted. While studying interactive media in graduate school, I dove into all kinds of social media sites. Some I found more useful than others, so some profiles lingered untouched. I thought I needed to keep all of them alive and around. Silly directionally-challenged me.

So I reevaluated the social media tools I used and the approach I took. Here’s what I did.

Less is More

  • StumbleUpon: Gone. I enjoyed the spontaneity of this social discovery and bookmarking site, but to me, it overlapped some of what I found on Twitter and Delicious.
  • Vimeo: Gone. I like Vimeo’s interface much more than YouTube’s, but I stuck with YouTube because I’ve been there longer.
  • Google Buzz: Gone. I simply turned off my Buzz account, but did not delete. I’m curious to see what will happen with the much-rumored Google Me, and how that will effect Buzz.
  • Delicious: Replaced. I joined Diigo because it has more options, like sticky notes and page captures.
  • Flickr: Replaced. Now, have a simple photo blog on Posterous in place of Flickr. Although I love Flickr, I never used it that much, and the blogging style fits me better.
  • I also kept profiles on the current standbys: Facebook and LinkedIn.

So now I’m a firm believer in less is more. I can focus more on the services I enjoy more, like Twitter, and giving more attention to my running blog on Tumblr. However, I would say to each his own. You have to find the right combination that suits you and your interests.

Tips for Organization

My advice?

  1. Use the networks you actually enjoy and/or are important to your profession.
  2. Keep your main profiles to a minimum of three to five. Have another two or three that you experiment with.
  3. Constantly evaluate. Are you using your profiles? Are you getting value? Are you giving value?

I certainly still leave room for exploration. I’m trying the new Digg, although I never used the older version much, and Cliqset stands alone as one of my favorite, lesser-known social networks and tools. So I still explore, except now it’s easier to remember where I parked.

Image by Drouu.

To Like? That is the Facebook Question

Thumbs up

What’s the last thing you liked?

Oh come on, you know what I’m talking about. On Facebook – what’s the last thing you liked? Maybe it was a sport, like kayaking, which does have its own Facebook Page, thanks Facebook launching Community Pages earlier this year. But do you really like that? Or did you just opt into it when Facebook launched its new feature?

That happened with me, and I went back later and deleted many of the movies and hobbies that were linked to those Community Pages. I didn’t think these lame community pages added any value to my Facebook profile. That got me thinking, “What makes us like a page?”

Web Strategist Jeremiah Owyang has assembled an excellent presentation on successful strategies for Facebook Page marketing.

Here’s what makes me like a Facebook Page:

  1. I’m involved or have been involved with the company or organization.
  2. I stand behind the company or organization’s products and/or mission.
  3. I enjoy the content I get from the page.

What makes you like a page?

Image by Brokenarts.

Posterous vs. Tumblr: How to Decide in Three Steps

Waiter image

Choosing a blogging platform is like going to a new restaurant: you want to try something new, but you don’t want to commit to something that won’t be that good, and end up with a bad taste in your mouth. Plus, the choices remain endless.

I recently wrote a two part series on using WordPress for your website, and am always interested in the evolution of blogging and publishing platforms. Monica Guzman asked via Twitter how Posterous and Tumblr compared. Also, my good friend, Colleen Callahan, had some questions about Tumblr the other day, so I thought I’d tackle this question in a post.

1. Create an Account on Both Platforms

I have some expertise in interactive media, so I certainly could take a better stance here and recommend one platform over the other, but that would be pointless. Why? Everyone is different.

So don’t be afraid to sign up for an account on both Posterous and Tumblr and experiment. You’ll probably know very quickly which one you prefer.

2. See Who’s There (in the Community)

Both Tumblr and Posterous have strong online communities of bloggers who blog there every day. Depending on who’s there, you may want to select one over the other. Sure, a blog or website can be read by everyone, but it’s often the people within a certain community who first become evangelists for your site.

For example, my friend, Colleen, wants to start a site centered around music. I told her Tumblr might have the stronger community for that audience. I put my running blog there because I found more runners in that community than Posterous. I put my learning journal blog on Posterous because I found a lot of general-interest blogs already there.

3. Think About the Content You’ll Have and What That Will Mean for Using the Site

Many of the options and features for Posterous and Tumblr have striking similarities, but ultimately, it comes down to your content, how easy it is for you to get it out there and how easy it is for users to interact with it. Choose the platform best suited for this process.

Conclusion

When I researched each of these platforms, I found this head to head comparison by Mashable very handy. They like Posterous over Tumblr, by the way. I also wrote this article over at Fuel Your Writing on four of the main blogging platforms.

As for me, I find it hard to pick a clear winner. I use each one for a different purpose, so it’s hard to compare. It all comes down to YOU in the end.

Image by Brendan76.

The Most Important Takeaway from the Fake BP PR Twitter Account?

BP Twitter Account image

Sure, everyone has different answers to that question.

My take? In social media, authenticity always wins out. You may be shaking your head here. After all, the fake BP PR account is fake. Not very authentic, but it’s real in a different sense. It brims with honesty.

Whomever tweets from BP Global PR (some reports have it as Mike Monteiro), they post the kind of messages and fuel the kind of dialogue that only existed in many people’s hearts and minds before the account existed. Whether you find the tweets humorous or not, the Twitter updates strike a nerve.

They do that because even though the account portrays fictional people behind a real company, those fictional people speak from the heart. In your social media practices, remember that just because you’re sending messages out into the ethos, real people are listening. Give them what they want: something real.

Update (09/12/2010): The Awl has reported that the person behind the fake BP PR Twitter account is comedian Josh Simpson.

How Does an Engagement Editor Engage?

Networking illustration with figures connected by lines

Legacy media and other news organizations have begun to take social media more seriously, creating positions that focus on the medium.

However, few have set out to create a position as unique as the the Voice of San Diego.

Its new Engagement Editor, yet to be hired, has people talking. It’s part ombudsman, part new media guru.

Journalists Erik Gable and Steve Buttry wrote recent blog posts about the position and what it means. Mark Luckie over at 10,000 Words created a nice list of what journalists with similar and current positions do with social media.

In his blog post, Gable asked what you would add to his list.

Here’s what I would want to do that are similar to his ideas:

  • Manage the organization’s flagship social media accounts, reader comments and other reader-submitted content.
  • Monitor new technology and teach staff workshops on social media and other new tools that may improve engagement. Help staff determine the best tools to use for different projects.
  • Hold regular workshops for readers and community organizations to encourage new and continued reader-submitted material. Identify the potential regular and occasional correspondents for the Web site.
  • Serve as the point of contact for readers and be the steward for conversations about the voiceofsandiego.org and its stories.

And I’d also like to:

  • Organize and lead discussion forums and live online chats on the site about important events and stories. These could also take the form of a broadcast on UStream or similar site. Bring together community leaders to participate in these discussions in order to promote debate about topics.
  • Create a portal on the site that would help readers better follow the bigger, more complicated stories. Think of it like a giant blog with easily accessed backstory.
  • Establish a more social portal for comments and discussion, through a tool like Ning or BuddyPress.

Like Erik asks, what else would you add?

Image by Clix.

My Favorite New Social Media Tool

When I first jumped into the social media realm, the amount of tools available to access the different networks overwhelmed me.

It’s no secret that within the interactive media world, most of the software and tools we use have about a dozen ways to do each particular task. Social media browsers are no different.

I’ve used only three extensively: Twhirl, TweetDeck and now HootSuite. I’ve tried several more.

Hootsuite stands alone as my favorite. Here’s why:

  • Accessible online. You can get to Hootsuite from anywhere by going to the home page and logging in. Instantly, you can tap into your account and social networks. No software needed.
  • Multiple social networks. You can reach all your favorite social media accounts with ease. I access the big ones from Hootsuite: Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
  • Tabbed Browsing. Some of the other social media browsers have this feature, but TweetDeck – my previous favorite – lacked it. I always disliked having to scroll over forever. You still may have to scroll in Hootsuite, depending on how many columns you use, but you can always resize your columns.
  • Stats anyone. Hootsuite grants access to a nice array of stats, just enough to gain an idea of how many folks are reading and clicking on your social media accounts.
  • Multiple control. If you’re engaging with social media communities for your job or company, Hootsuite makes it easy. Multiple people can control accounts, plus you can monitor keywords and more.

To learn more about HootSuite, watch this tutorial video.

How to Use Social Media to Tell Your Story

Avatars

The term social media has found its way into the buzzword dictionary of late.

It seems everyone is talking about it.

Google has even gotten into the game with its new Buzz, an add-on to Gmail.

There are dozens of posts and blogs dedicated to social media out there, so I hesitate to launch into too much of a how-to here. Mashable is one of favorite blogs on the topic.

But if you’re looking to tell your story, so to speak, through social media – here are three tips to make it easy. And guess what, these three tips tie closely into the first part of this series:

Your story must connect with its audience

That means knowing the users, visitors and customers you’re after. Look to similar sites and personalities in social media for tips and guidance. Listen before you start pushing out your story.

Good stories connect because of tension. People follow it because they want to know what happens next. So keep them craving surprise, but make sure that surprise isn’t completely unexpected.

Try contests. Mark Luckie of 10,000 Words is doing this on Twitter all week, giving away copies of his new book.

Hold weekly question and answer sessions. Allow your followers to have some control over your story. Maybe they select the next new product color?

These events offer expectations, but can yield something new. Be creative.

Create a character (or voice)

The Chicago Tribune created an online persona for its social media accounts, Colonel Tribune. You can too. Or simply engage in a creative way that is you being yourself or your company capturing its essence.

If your company values creativity, make sure that principle gets reflected in your social media accounts. Pictureframes.com, a company that caters to artists, photographers and creators of all kinds, has done this well. Their Twitter account and Facebook feed is full of great resources and thought-provoking posts. (Disclosure: I worked for them prior to going to grad school.)

Offer takeaways

No one likes to get to the end of a story and feel empty. Sure, you may not be able to do this in 140 characters, but make sure the content you’re linking to and/or posting has value. Your customers and followers will desert you if you fail in this regard.

Often, this translates into not just talking about yourself or what you’re selling. We are only interesting when point to why other people, places and things hold our interest.

So you see, social media represents just another way humankind does what we do best – tell stories.

Image courtesy of sxc.hu.

This post is the second part in a two-part series on social media and storytelling. Part one covered three things social media and storytelling have in common.