Posts Tagged: Flickr

Tips for PodCamp Attendees. Plus: A Flickr Group

PodCamp NH team member Wayne Kurtzman has just posted an exceptionally helpful set of tips for first-time PodCamp attendees. And, in fact, it’s worth reading for all attendees, even those of us who have been to a slew of these things. One tip I feel always bears repeating (and remembering) is “Bring a power strip.” The easiest way to make friends at a PodCamp is to provide an extra outlet for the guy or gal sitting next to you when they need some place to plug in their laptop, gadget, or smart phone. And what is PodCamp about, if not making new friends and contacts?

Another thing Wayne’s done for us is set up a Flickr group for the event. So, if you do take photos—and we suggest you do bring a camera, because Portsmouth is a beautiful city—please post them there.

Excited yet? You should be! PodCamp NH 2010 is going to be fantastic, and we can’t wait to see you there. Haven’t registered yet? It’s never too late. Do it now!

The Importance of Social Media Landing Pages

As someone who manually reviews each new follower profile to see what they are all about, I can attest to the importance of having a link in your bio. I know I am not the only one who is less likely to follow you back if I can’t see more information about you than a few tweets (And if you protect your updates and are not my social-media-paranoid real life friend, forget it. No follow.).

I use the link in your profile page to make decisions that your existing interaction level can’t answer. Others who are newer to social media use it to decide your trustworthiness and online value, or how interesting you are. Following someone has a bit of a cost to it as far as time – the landing page you link to in your profile let’s new followers know you are worth their time.

Many people panic when I tell them they need a link to a landing page. They don’t want to start a blog or host a web site. They don’t want to sell products online or fuss with a CMS system. They prefer more lightweight interaction online and don’t see the point in committing at that level. You know what? That is totally fine. Even so, you still need a place people can go to see another facet of who you are.

So how do you have a social media landing page if you don’t want to have a blog or web site? That’s easy – cross link to your other social media profiles, or to a social content site or social network instead.

Social content is probably the best way to handle the lack of a dedicated web site or blog. If you have a Flickr account for your photos, a Qik channel for short videos from your phone, or even something like an Utterli profile where you record your old, angst-ridden teen poetry, link to it.

If you don’t generate social content, you should. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s often free. It takes less time than a blog or web site, and it is maintained by someone else. You get a profile page in a very no fuss, no muss manner, meaning that updating feels more like play but is still effective in getting what I like to call “snackable content” out there for the masses to consume, discuss and pass along (with credit and link backs, is the hope).

If you are strictly a social network participant and have no desire (or time, in some cases) to generate any kind of social content, no matter how small, you can still make one of your social network profiles into your landing page. Just tweak the content a bit to make sure it reflects a wider amount of your personality or accomplishments, then link to the profile.

To make a FaceBook profile your landing page, you need to make the permissions on the profile public. That’s a scary thing for some people, and not without risk. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can create a fan page for yourself or your company and link there instead, thus controlling access to your private life.

Just because MySpace has lost its luster recently doesn’t mean it isn’t a great landing page, especially if you are a band/musician. The custom URL feature makes it easy, and you can upload links, content, videos, commentary and more with ease, keeping your content interesting for visitors from other sites, like Twitter.

Don’t overlook some of the lesser known or niche social networks either (iMeem, Strands, MOG, LinkedIn or even sites like FriendFeed). However you choose to get another side of your personality or your company out there, that link in your profile is key to getting more response to your social media activity. Layers are vital. Show yours off.

Social Aggregator Skimmer Offers Power and Appeal

Today as I read through the top tech stories listed on Techmeme, I stumbled on a little nugget: an Adobe AIR social aggregator I hadn’t gotten my paws on yet! Called Skimmer, the AIR application aggregates users’ social streams from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Bebo and Flickr into a a single continuous flow. And aside from a few stylistic complaints, I’m impressed.

The platform is attractive in its simplistic presentation. When scrolling through my stream on my Macbook Pro, the application reacted smoothly, and I’ve yet to experience any hiccups or delays in any functions. One of my biggest complaints with some AIR applications, such as Twitter platform Twhirl, is that they tend to be a little slow on the pick up and reaction time. No such issues here.

The platform allows you to work in a large-screen mode or in a “widget” mode, which shrinks down the feed to the bare necessities. Coming to my first issue with the platform, the smaller widget really isn’t what you’d call small. Though you can change the height of the window, the width is fixed. That wouldn’t be a big deal if the widget mode changed the size of each update displayed, but it doesn’t…and each update is sizable in display.

In fact, the whole platform, for all its clean simplicity, is a bit bulky in its presentation. There’s a lot of unused space that could be eliminated, making the platform more streamlined and aesthetically-appealing. For those of us with limited screen real estate, using every centimeter of space is crucial. Skimmer doesn’t have any skin or display options to change; if it did, I’d love it. But on a positive note, that’s my biggest gripe with the platform.

Moving right along, Skimmer allows users to update their various accounts from the platform…no suprise there. But unlike some platforms, where updating your status on a platform linked to multiple accounts doesn’t allow you to update each account differently, Skimmer lets you select which account to which your update will be posted. Or, if you like, you can post the same update to all accounts. Personally, my activity on Facebook is different than it is on Twitter or Youtube, so I like to update each individually, but to each his or her own. This feature earns a big check-plus from me.

Users can also filter their feeds easily, selecting which accounts they’d like to incorporate into their streams. Sometimes I just don’t care whether my friends are updating their Facebook profiles, or what they have to say. Uncheck Facebook from your stream directly the Skimmer application, and you’re set.

I particularly like that Skimmer renders pictures and videos uploaded to all the different services it supports right in the window. I won’t drop names, but I watched a particularly..unique..rendition of the Disney song “A Whole New World,” a YouTube post, right from Skimmer. If I’d had anything constructive to say, I could have commented on the video directly from Skimmer as well. Nice.

Continuing with more cool features, you can filter your stream down by keyword, friends, and platforms. Skimmer does display your friend avatars (or profile pictures, whichever you like), and next to the images are small little platform icons, indicating which platform the update is coming from.

I’ve just started using Skimmer, so I’m certainly not fully familiar with all of the platform’s features, but I will certainly continue using it. If you’re out there, nice folks at Skimmer, you’d have one very happy customer if you let me skin the thing or make the appearance a little less bulky. Pretty please?

UPDATE: Still, I guess Skimmer is really delivering on exactly what it claims to do. As far as viewing your social stream, the platform excels. But when it comes to communicating, such as sending messages on Twitter, the app is lacking. For instance, when I received a tweet from a friend, there was no indication that the entity in my feed was in any way different from the rest of the noise. Lucky I saw the tweet as it came in; otherwise, I would have had no clue that I’d been contacted.

Skimmer is just that. But, if the team over at Skimmer was to add in a bit of functionality that focuses on communication, such as differentiated postings so users can know when they’re being contacted, then we’d have a serious application on our hands. I think it is a contender against my partner Leslie’s preferred tool, Strands, or the tech crowd’s favorite, FriendFeed.

So Your Parents Found You Online, Now What?

The moment has arrived that you’ve been dreading. Your dad left a comment on that photo of you in the lamp shade on your FaceBook wall. Your mom made fun of the outfit you wore to that party – the one where you took that picture in the bathroom mirror on your MySpace profile. Or perhaps the alternative happened, and you just added your dad as a contact on LinkedIn and freaked him out by being old enough to be in the real workforce. Maybe that cousin no one talks to anymore is taking revenge for the family snubbing by being a troll in your Flickr account comments. When your family and your social network use collide, what do you do?

I may make light of the problem a bit but it really can be an issue from all sides. Even the most tight-knit families are fraught with history and tensions that never really go away, and have a pile of minor slights that have had time to build up over the years between siblings, cousins, parents and more. One friend has horror stories of her parents airing their grievances from their divorce on her profiles. Another’s mother was upset at the photos she saw of her “baby girl” at a party online and didn’t speak to her for weeks. When these worlds collide it can cause lasting friction if not handled well.

The first thing for all sides to remember is that most social sites give you a way to control who sees what. Use these settings! Don’t be afraid to limit or block a relative (or anyone for that matter) who has trouble with the concept of personal space and privacy. If you want to try laying out what you expect from family members online before resorting to that, that’s fine too, but that may not be enough for those with no concept of how public their comments are making your private history.

The next thing to remember on both sides of the fence is to respect where someone sets their boundaries. If your family member takes the time to say to you “Hey, it makes me uncomfortable when you “friend” people in my life you don’t even know just to keep tabs on me”, or “I use this particular network for work, and I don’t want to tell this group of people this much about my private life, you’re putting me in an awkward position when you comment” then stop doing it, whatever it is, or accept the fact that you may get blocked or limited for your persistence.

When I say learn to use the privacy options on all of your social networks, I mean it. Even Twitter, the most basic of social networks, offers a way to block people. FaceBook offers ways to limit what people can see, group friends and family into types or block people, and it is customizable on a friend by friend basis, which is a nice touch. FriendFeed even allows you ways to block or put people in groups. Whether you get social on a business network like LinkedIn or a fun network like MySpace, take a minute to get private and set boundaries both verbally and virtually. Your relationships with those around you may be the better for it.

What should the offending person do if they get blocked? Nothing. If you get blocked, don’t make a public scene at all. It may come as a shock, but that behavior is what got you blocked in the first place. If you must comment at all, do so privately, and respect the answer you get when or if you are told why the decision was made. After all of that, if you decide to give each other a test run and allow all comments and interaction in the social media arena, here are some tips to possibly avoid a need for blocking or limiting in the first place:

1) Parents: friending your kid’s friends, whether you know them or not, to keep tabs on them is only acceptable when they are a minor and you are looking out for their safety. Once they are an adult, even if you don’t think they act like one, you need to back off and give your kids some space.

2) Kids: know that there are repercussions far beyond your parents being online for some of the things you post to your profile. Not only is your mom looking at your cleavage shots, so is your future boss, future husband (or maybe not, depending on those pics), clients, future kids and everyone who knows how to use Google. That limits the amount of indignation you should feel about comments you get, since you did choose to put that out there into the public domain.

3) Follow the person’s lead. If they were on the network first, look at how they interact, read what they post. If they are reserved, act accordingly and be reserved on their wall! If they are more personal, feel free to loosen up a little bit. If they don’t seem to have time to play games, don’t bombard them with game and application invites, etc.

4) Family secrets are never ok to post. ‘In jokes’ are not the same as secrets – those are often fine. But commentary on past poor judgements, nekkid baby pics, all of that should be left for emails, letters and the family photo album on the coffee table.

5) Keep the internet a no-nagging zone. Nudging, poking and messaging incessantly when your family member does not respond right away is not appreciated. They are probably busy. Relax. It’s the internet – it’s not going anywhere – they’ll get back to you in time.

6) Resist the urge to critique your family members choices. Often a social network profile is simply a sketch of person, not the whole person. If you think they are being inauthentic, tell them offline, not on their wall or comments. You may be surprised to hear the reason behind their holding back a bit of their private self if you open an honest, offline dialogue about. And think of it this way, you may learn something new and cool about that person in the process, just by being considerate.

If you have story to tell about family social media interaction gone wrong (or right – I have found some long lost relatives online and enjoyed getting to know them, myself), please tell us your story in the comments. Do you think I forgot a pointer? Tell us that too!

This post inspired by a Twitter conversation earlier today between myself and @PurpleCar 🙂

Why Limit Yourself to a Computer?

Often times, we think that being socially connected means fingers on a full keyboard, seated at a chair, staring into a display.  That assumes, of course, we’re talking about socially connected in the internet sense.  The fact of the matter is that being socially connected doesn’t mean you’re locked into a chair at home.  You can very easily mix your in-person social life with your web social presence at the movies, the pub, your favorite restaurant, or the ball park.

Of course, you’re now curious what I’m referring to.  Social media is starting to find a home on mobile devices so you don’t have to stress about staying connected at your home machine 24/7.  If you’re the kind of person who loves taking pictures with a mobile phone, many mobile social networks will allow you to upload photos to an entire mobile social community dedicated to sharing different media content.  If staying connected to a plethora of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and others is more your flavor, there are quite a few newly-emerging platforms that aggregate all of your most important social activity right on your cell phone.

That, friends, means freedom — freedom from the confines of your home office, freedom to live your life as you want and still stay in contact with your social communities.  With smartphones, touchscreen handsets and very affordable standard handsets being compatible with these mobile social platforms, answer me this:  why are you still sitting at your computer toiling over each and every update your friends send you on all your different platforms when you could be out?  Instead of answering me, go out and go mobile!