Tag Archives: Social Media

Earn Some Money and Notice at the New Docstoc

Docstoc is a neat little site for sharing professional documents, which puts the focus on essays, studies, transcripts, and articles. From the site:

Docstoc is the premier online community to find and share professional documents. Docstoc provides the platform for users and businesses to upload and share their documents with all the world, and serves as a vast repository of documents in variety of categories including legal, business, financial, technology, educational, and creative. All documents on docstoc can be easily searched, previewed and downloaded for free.

Docstoc functions as a sort of YouTube for documents, but the simple fact is that while videos are entertaining and can even be informative, documents are about business. Docstoc has sample contracts, forms, and other “getting things done” documents that will save you time and effort. You get to help publicize your work, as well, with no upload limits and a maximum file-size of 50 megabytes. They have desktop applications for uploading in bulk and allow you to store and preview your documents without sharing them.

Revenue-Sharing

Docstoc recently added some features that makes them far more attractive to writers in new media who want to add to their income stream:

Offers you a way to profit from the documents you upload. Simply sign up for DocCash and we’ll split the revenue generated by the Google Ads that run alongside your documents. Earn recurring and passive income from your documents, and get a check sent to you each month.

That’s right, Docstoc has decided share their add revenue with users. Sign up for a Google Adsense accounts, sign up for the DocCash feature, and you can get paid. This feature is not related to the license on your document, so even if you have put your work into the public domain or licensed it as Creative Commons, you an still make ongoing money on the ads running alongside your work.

This is a great program for writers like me, who sometimes write things that are more scholarly or functional. The demand for such material from online publishers is pretty low, simply because the odds of “A Treatise on Implied Definitions in Paraconsistent Logics” going viral on Twitter are pretty low. Docstoc provides a market for such pieces, allowing writers to collect residuals on work that would otherwise go unwritten or sit in a slushpile somewhere.

Full API

For all you code-monkeys out there, Docstoc also has a full API, which allows you to build your own applications for the document-based social sharing network:

Most functionality available to a user on the site can be accessed through the API. The API includes functions for registering new members, uploading, downloading, updating, and searching for documents, manipulating a member’s folder structure, and setting up ads.

Community and Fans

Finally, for those writers who enjoy social media and the benefits of social networking, Docstoc has all the normal features you would expect. You can subscribe to users, add friends, tag documents, and add reviews and ratings. There are widgets and tools for sharing documents through networks or posting on your own profiles and blog, and there is a strong community of writers and infophiles that welcomes new members.

Share Your Experiences and Links

If you have used Docstoc and have any comments on their service, I want to know! Feel free to also comment with links to your profiles and documents…we do-follow our links! Great pieces will get reviews here on WriteNewMedia, so get yourself some free traffic and, if you have DocCash activated, a chance to earn some money.

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Free eBook: Shua Peters’ and Jacob Morgan’s New “Social Media for Authors”

I love to plug great content that is overlooked, and Josh “Shua” Peters and Jacob Morgan have given us gold so that I, thePuck, can in turn pass on to you. Their ebook covers both of my pet subjects (writing and social media) and addresses issues like:

  • What is social media?
  • When Should I get Involved?
  • Why Should I get Involved?
  • Where’s the Action?
  • The Tools

The best part is the tools sections, where Shua and Jacob give a quick and simple run-down of the major tools of modern social media promotion focused towards authors. They cover:

  • Blog
  • RSS Readers
  • Twitter
  • Twitter Search
  • Google Alerts
  • Google Analytics
  • Red Room (a social network just for authors that they are managing to share with you before me! See how awesome they are?)
  • and more!

The ebook is free (as in beer) and you can read it right here, on Shua’s site Shuaism (which you should subscribe to) or at Scribd (which you should have an account on, as Shua and Jacob will inform you) here:

Social Media for Authors

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How To Find New People On Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Well, as everyone has been noting, Twitter is now thoroughly mainstream. Once you have Oprah and her legions on a service, it has definitely left the exclusive realm of geeks and early adopters. Unlike some of my peers, I do not resent the presence and arrival of the celebrities and their virtual entourages. However, I do recognize that all these newcomers might be a bit overwhelmed. While Twitter itself is simple, the assorted applications and services built around it are most assuredly not, so newcomers might not know how to find new twitterers to follow. While there are many services out there trying to build a business model on top Twitter, many of them are poorly conceived or poorly implemented and are of little help. Since I have been through most of them and seperated much of the wheat from the chaff, I decided to share my favorite services for finding new people on Twitter.

Mr. Tweet

Mr. Tweet is a simple service. From their site:

Mr. Tweet is your personal networking agent who helps you expand your network easily. To do that, he helps you regularly:

1. Get relevant followers by recommending you to them
2. Discover great people relevant to your current needs
3. Improve your Twitter usage via useful statistics

All you do is follow Mr. Tweet on Twitter and a few days later he sends you a direct message with a link to a page with suggestions for you to follow. The app keeps various statistics on different users so you can intelligently decide whether or not to follow. Every few weeks thereafter you will get another DM with new users for you to follow. Mr. Tweet also works together with Topify, a great service for dealing with the abundance of email that a strong Twitter account can generate.

WeFollow

WeFollow is a user driven directory that uses hashtags to classify people and organizations on Twitter. It was started a little while back by Kevin Rose and already has a strong following. There you can add yourself under three tags (such as #writer #socialmedia #tech) and others will find you, or you can search for others based on their hashtags. The site also shows you top twitterers according to various standards and give links and details for their accounts.

Twitseeker

Twitseeker is a very simple search engine that allows you to seek out users based not on how they classify themselves, but what they are tweeting about. From their site:

TwitSeeker is basically an alternate search engine for finding twitter.com users – “twits” – and browsing the results all in one combined control panel. It works by using the twitter.com API, and finds twits not by what’s posted in their bios but rather based on what they’ve been tweeting about lately. It uses a custom tag cloud generator written by the author, and was created as an experimental tool to help users quickly build up a twitter community around specific topics.

As people find you and you find them, the service send you an @ reply which plugs them, you, and the person you found or found you, which is a nice what of spreading your social presence around.

TwitterPacks

I have written on TwitterPacks before, but I wanted to plug them again because of how awesome their site is. TwitterPacks is a wiki that allows people to add themselves and their information to packs sorted by location, interest, profession, company, and topic. What makes the site so awesome is their AutoPack script which allows you follow an entire pack at a time. A few caveats: the site is user-driven and thus can be a little slow and disorganized. The AutoPack script is sometimes slow, and if you don’t take yourself out of any pack before following it will cause an error. Additionally, because TwitterPacks is user-driven and hosted on a shared server, when there is a lot of traffic the site or the AutoPack script might simply fail to be served. Just wait a while and try again.

Twibes

Twibes is a neat little directory that allows you to form groups on Twitter similar to a social network like Facebook. You connect your account and you can either start or join a “twibe” (twitter tribe) based on similar interests. This is simple in concept, but is powerful in social media as it allows mini-communities to form within the larger community of Twitter. While this post is aimed at new Twitterers, old hats will recall that we have been asking for groups for a long time, and this service grew up in response to that demand.

Add your favorites to the list

I know many of my readers are already very involved in social media and probably are gnashing their teeth that I left out their favorite service…so make your voices heard and list your favorite way to find new twitterers in the comments and I will add them to the list.

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Three Online Portfolios to Promote Your Writing

A bit ago I wrote on getting paid and my old friend Dustin over at Voodoo Knickers noted that I made it sound like getting paid is the end all, be all of writing. This is not the case at all; the astute readers among you will note I am not getting paid to blog here or on the Social Media Philosophy Project, and that my writing appears in various places on the net in the form of guest-posts and commentaries. I am also extremely active in social media and the online technology scene and am constantly putting out content of various types, all for free. Why do I do all of this? Well, it got you here, didn’t it?

As my colleague Brett Borders put it in the comments to this post:

The web is ultra-competitive and with 30,000,000 free channels for people to surf… they’re eventually only gonna be able to focus on the ones that are the most unique and interesting.

This is blunt but true. To make it in the new digital world you have to be able to get people to notice you. While social media is a great way of doing this, eventually that client or editor is going to want to see something you have written, and “7 Ways the Terminator Could Fail #terminator #fail ‘shortened link’ PLEASE RT!” isn’t going to cut it. You are going to need a portfolio, and you are going to want it public. While you can host it yourself like I do, that isn’t always an option for a starting writer, so what you need is a good site where you can host your portfolio and get noticed. Here are three sites where you can display and promote your writing online.

Behance Network

The Behance Network has a truly remarkable range of creative talents on display. They cover just about every field you can imagine and their site is very sharp and professional. From their site:

Behance is a company that designs products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen. Behance is founded on the principle of “Productive Creativity.” Too often, great ideas never materialize. Creative people are rarely lacking inspiration; rather, they lack effective processes and tools to make their ideas happen. The Behance team studies exceptionally productive people and teams working in creative fields. We document the methods and resources that these productive creative professionals use to push their ideas forward. We then develop products and services based on the best practices that we discover through our research.

Behance allows users to create groups called “Circles” and follow other users, similar to most social networks, but differentiates itself through its overall feel, where it tries to pull the mystique of the gallery and museum into everything they do. The work there is highly visual, but their writing section is nothing to sneer at.

Redbubble

Redbubble is a great site and up for a Webby. While they are very focused on visual design, art, and t-shirt designs, they also have a creative writing section that allows for a fast-moving, very Web 2.0 delivery. From the site:

RedBubble is a vibrant global community of people with creative interests. It’s something different for each of us:

  • a place to share the illustrations you create at night,
  • a forum to seek feedback on the story you’re writing,
  • a creative antidote to the day job,
  • lunch break entertainment,
  • a gallery to inspire,
  • a marketplace to buy and sell unique works of art and,
  • a place to be inspired by like–minded people.

RedBubble is a forum for self expression, an inclusive art gallery and a supportive and welcoming community.

While they don’t let you sell your writing, they have a great following and your writing will get seen. The community and quality of the work varies more than Behance, but that is part of the appeal of the site, which provides an more modern, anarchic online atmosphere.

TalentTrove

These are the underdogs of the list, an up-and-coming site who I was originally a bit leery of but grew on me as I delved. TalentTrove, like Behance, does a whole lot, providing just about every kind of creative amateur or professional a venue for their work. From their press kit:

TalentTrove.com is a unique platform that fuses characteristics of social networking communities and media sharing websites to form an all encompassing talent portal completely devoted to artists. Users of TalentTrove.com are provided a space to showcase their talent(s) and be heard and seen worldwide. The nature of TalentTrove.com supports an environment where people can collaborate and find other like-minded users, all the while presenting themselves to scouts and talent agents who are utilizing the site to find the next big star. A user’s homepage (called their MyStage) serves as a virtual resume where they can upload four different types of media: audio, video, images, and text.

Their site is slick and fast, full of social features, and they have started holding contests to promote the work of their users. They are also a truly international site, with users from all over the world, so for those of us (like myself) who find interaction with a lot of different personalities and ideas necessary for creative work, this might be just the site for you. They are bit younger than Behance or Redbubble, so don’t expect them to be getting a Webby or hitting the Techcrunch50 this year, but keep an eye on them, we could hear a lot of good things in the near future.

Go forth and promote yourselves!

Your homework (yes, there is homework; editors administer the exams!) is to go out, to either these sites or some other, and make your portfolio. Post the links here and the best work will get a review on thePuckWrites (paltry reward, I know, but the best I can offer). Now get out there!

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Find Twitterers by Topic, Interests, Company, and Location with TwitterPacks

Well, it finally had to happen. Twitter is mainstream.

Twitter, and social media in general, have become mainstream. It gets talked about on international television, reported on in the mainstream media, and the service is enjoying the surge in users that all this attention has brought. But there remains a problem for all these new users…how do you find who to follow and gain followers yourself who are going to tweet about things that interest you? The answers are out there, but being new to the social media scene, many of these new users get disillusioned quickly and end up leaving in frustration. Abandoned Twitter pages abound with 8 tweets, all along the lines of “Hello? Is anyone out there? Is this thing on?”, leaving a ghost-town where new microbloggers could have been.

Always use the right tools for the right job.

There are various tools out there for automatically finding new people to follow and to list yourself. Recently @kevinrose released WeFollow, a user-driven directory of twitterers using hashtags. Another popular tool is Mr. Tweet, which uses various methods for suggesting followers based on their streams. These tools have their place, but I dislike their simplicity and passiveness. I like to browse, and sometimes hashtags, however useful, are just not good categories for finding what you are interested in. Because of all of this I like Twitterpacks a great deal, and wanted to do a little write-up on it because I don’t see it mentioned or discussed very much and it really is a nice little project that deserves some mention and respect.

What Twitterpacks is.

TwitterPacks is a wiki (built on PBWiki) where users can register and add their own link to their Twitter page and a short line about who you are (if you wish). The wiki breaks people up into categories like topics they cover, interests, location, company, and whatever other categories people want to add. Like any wiki, it is what the users make it, and this wiki has a community of users that have built a simple directory that they keep as neat and clean as possible.

By itself, this would be nothing more than a list of links and, while better than just blindly following people, makes the task a chore, especially when you are getting started and want to follow a large group in a particular region or industry. However, TwitterPacks has dealt with that, supplying a script they call Autopack, which allows you to select an entire category and follow them (or unfollow them) all at once. While the script does require your password, it passes it off directly to the Twitter API without creating any kind of account or login on-site. I have used the site for months with no issues and no one has ever said a thing about security problems, so I don’t have a problem recommending the site, but be aware that any application that requires you to use your password can be a security risk. Be careful.

What TwitterPacks is not.

TwitterPacks is not a flashy, pretty, AJAX-driven service where you “set it and forget it”. It takes some work to find all the places you wish to be listed, make the entries, and save the edits for each page. You do have to actually find the topics you are interested in and use the Autopack feature manually. The Autopack script is also limited, as it is being served from a donated server, and can very slow in returning large requests. On very large follow or unfollow commands it can time-out, and if you don’t make sure your own account isn’t somewhere on the list it can produce errors. As a user-driven community, TwitterPacks is funded by donations, and we all know how problematic that can be. All of these things make Twitterpacks a bit of work, and while I highly recommend it, know that it is by no means perfect.

Any others?

Tools like this are invaluable in building a strong social media presence and personal brand, an ongoing concern for anyone who wants to be able to make it in new media. I mentioned a few of my favorite tools, but I know of dozens I didn’t mention and I am sure there are many more. What are your faves?

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Dynamic Fiction Through Microblogging

Twitter over-capacity image.As a follow up to my last post, “Picking a Genre in New Media “, where I listed out several of the major genres of writing common in blogs and other forms of new media, I thought I would approach some of the genres and try to share some writing tips. Then I saw this post over at Techcrunch: “Can Twitter Authors Capture The Magic Of LonelyGirl15?“, and decided I would start with my favorite genre: fiction.

Many readers might think that the online medium is not suited to telling a good story, but this is not true. Techcrunch cites the classic tale of LonelyGirl15 as a perfect example of the possibilities on online fiction. For those who are unfamiliar with the tale: LonelyGirl15 was Bree, a fictional character created for a series of YouTube videos which eventually unfolded into a rather epic tale of secret government conspiracies. This was a remarkable example of viral marketing: it turned out a creative agency created the interactive story. This highlights what is possible with fiction when the internet is used as the medium. What begins as a single person’s story can take on a life of its own, remixed, revamped, and expanded by other creative minds working in concert.

So let’s consider Twitter and other microbloggers. We have the possibility for small bursts of tale, added to and changed by followers and retweeted across the net. We also have the possibility for the return of the “serial” and “periodical” in a new form, where a string of updates over time can serve to create tension, invite speculation, and cause readers to experiment with their own explanations of events in the story.

So how can you write the kind fiction that would work through a medium like a microblogger?

  1. Consider your limit. 140 characters per update. You could consider posting a whole string of updates in a row, but each post should be complete and move the story all by itself.
  2. “Murder your darlings”. This quote from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch tells us to get rid of every word, every phrase, every bit of writing that does not move the story and is not the perfect words to express what you want to express, no matter how clever or pretty. While it is always good advice (and never easy), it becomes even more important in this medium. Never fall back on empty phrases, no matter how elegant, and never write platitudes or cliches. In the online world, anything that does not move the story is simply ignored.
  3. Allow for the responses you receive from followers to influence the story. This is perhaps the greatest strength of the online world: ease of collaboration. Thanks to the medium you can adjust your tale and answer the desires of your readers like no “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel could ever hope for.
  4. Allow for ambiguity. Part of what made LonelyGirl15 compelling was that no one was sure for awhile whether it was real or fiction. By the time every one knew it was fiction, no one cared and followed the story out of interest.
  5. Update regularly. Your followers need to know when the next installment will come, and they need to be able to pass that knowledge along. If you must miss an update, work the delay into the story.
  6. Avoid explanations. Explanations of the story don’t move the story and prevent it from being open-ended and ambiguous enough to draw virality.
  7. Avoid plot-twists. Plot-twists are cheap when done in serial form…consider the “cliffhangers” of old movie serials, where each episode placed the hero in some deadly danger…only to have it explained away in the first moments of the next installment. People see this tactic a mile away, and will quickly lose interest. Instead of going for overt plot-twists, go for lots of ambiguity where any number of explanations, twists, and turns could happen and make sense, causing your readers to attempt to figure out where it will go next only to be endlessly surprised. Think “Lost” rather than “The Village” and you can’t go wrong.

Final Word

These are only suggestions about how to tackle fiction through microbloggers…I have only begun considering the possibilities. I am very interested in seeing where people go with this as a medium and will be following mylifein140, the account mentioned in the Techcrunch post, as well as looking into “Twittories“, a group creating crowdsourced fiction using Twitter.

Questions for my readers:

  1. Are there any other writers attempting a similar experiment?
  2. Any thoughts on the possibilities of fiction in new media? Perhaps something I haven’t considered?
  3. Are the possibilities for pursing other forms of writing in this way, perhaps poetry or philosophy?

Picking a Genre in New Media

Journal and penWriters in traditional media eventually have to choose a genre to write in. No one can do everything, and so like every other profession, writers specialize. Some genres are defined by the type of settings and plots used, like horror, science-fiction, and fantasy. Others categories are defined by their content, like historical writings, academic works, and poetry. In new media we also have to specialize, but the genre’s are slightly different. This list will cover the basic categories of online writing.

1. Informational Blogging

By far the most popular of online content, informational blogs allow writers to share their interests, skills, and knowledge with interested readers. This is probably the easiest form of blog, as your own favorite subject is all you need to start out. Just pick something you know a lot about, from wine-making to stamp-collecting, and write short instructional pieces.

2. News

Writing news in an online world is a very different beast than writing for traditional media. Speed is of the essence, and deciding what kind of news you want to focus on is key. In addition to this, you must add content to your news, some sort of analysis or commentary, not just repeat your source. To get started covering news, pick a “beat”, a subject, field, area, or industry that interests you. Find your sources, which can be blogs and other social media as well as traditional sources. Find people online who are involved in your “beat” and try and establish contact with them, allowing you to hit them up for comments and thoughts…this is one place where social media and networking can really make a difference. Make sure to always cite your sources, linking to them when possible.

3. Fiction and Fan-Fiction

Many storytellers use their blog as their primary means of getting their writing out into the world. Whether you are writing your own stories from the ground up or using the characters and settings of someone else, you can make a name for yourself that will allow you to make the transition to selling your work to traditional publishers. Another tactic is to use your blog for short stories or short-short stories and then sell your longer works through e-books. If you are technically inclined you can create your e-books yourself, and if not you can use a service such as Lulu, which will allow you to convert your document and add a cover, as well as allowing you to sell printed copies on demand through your site or through retailers like Amazon.

4. Comedy and Parody

Technically a form of fiction, online comedy and parody can become viral like nothing else. Cracked, CollegeHumor, and the Onion are some of the most trafficked sites on the web because people love to laugh and the humor is quick, topical, and speaks to the concerns of the average netizen. However, not everyone can do funny, and you should consider deeply whether you can truly hack it. If so, pick your tactic and have at it, but the competition is steep. Also remember that, in comedy more than any other field, you have to make your content stand-out…while it is fine for just about every fantasy tale to include magic, the net just doesn’t need any more sites specializing in pictures of everyday things with humorous or absurd captions.

5. Collections

The internet is very big, and despite the best efforts of our overlords at Google, it is very hard to find what we want. This means that collecting lists of links, images, videos, and other content and summarizing why they are interesting is its own genre, with its own readers. While sites like Digg and Delicious have taken this genre and run with it, many subjects are obscure enough (and the web big enough) to make collections a very viable genre. Again, go for a niche, some subject that interests you and you can follow eagerly, and then simply collect the best content and summarize it for others. Collections can also be a good way to finish out a week of other posts by using a “best links of the week” theme.

6. Diaries, Opinions, and Rants

While this genre is hard to pull of well, some people really are interesting enough that their general thoughts can compell readers. This is a difficult call to make, because almost everyone thinks their own thoughts and opinions are interesting even though they are not. A good example of someone who can pull this off is Norimoto over at AvenueToTheReal, who blends humor and absurdity with serious social commentary and philosophical questioning. This kind of writing can be very cathartic, but beware: your readership may be low.

7. Reviews and Product Reports

Increasingly, people rely on other people rather than marketing to tell them about the products and services they want to buy. This means that if you happen to read a lot of books, go to a lot of movies, or buy a lot of gadgets, your personal experiences with them and expertise will help others get feedback and information about their interests. The Movie Space is a great example of a blog with multiple authors who have parlayed their collective knowledge of movies into some sizable traffic. Just like with an informational blog, pick something you are very interested in and have a great deal to say about…a book review that says “I liked it” or “It was boring” and nothing else will get little attention.

Final Word

This list is meant to help you figure out not just how to write for new media, but what to write about. It is not definitive, as these categories are coming into existence and changing as you read this. If anyone can think of any genre’s or categories I may have missed, please let me know.

Two Key Concepts for Staying Sane in Social Media

A whole lot of FriendFeed subscriptionsOne of my readers made a request for a sequel to Ten Steps to Being Everywhere in Social Media, which is now (thanks to all of you) my most popular post and responsible for about a third of my total traffic.

XIII writes:

I’m looking forward to the sequel; How to keep up with reading everything.

While I can’t help anyone read faster or be able to concentrate on more content than they are capable of, there are a few tips and techniques that I use for staying caught up. As before, this is a tentative guide, as the technologies are always changing and no large scale solution exists as of yet. One of the things I am working on is a project to do exactly that, putting all of the data in one place for people who interested in this sort of thing. If any of my wonderful readers and friends are interested in a new project with serious potential, please let me know…thanks to my social density I am very easy to contact!

Now, on to how to stay sane in the world of social media!

1. Attitude

Having the right attitude about social media is the first step in managing it. This is because many people have weird expectations and thus get overwhelmed or turned off. Even worse, some people end up feeling that social media is “invasive”, as I saw mentioned in a tweet the other night. Social media does not have to be overwhelming or invasive, you just have to remember a few things:

  1. The internet is not a physical space. It is not necessary for you to simply accept every interaction that comes your way in order to avoid being rude. If you don’t like what someone has to say or has on their profile, then don’t interact with them. Out of all the people online, one less won’t hurt you or them.
  2. The internet is not a bunch of little places (websites and services) any more than the universe is simply a bunch of things that are in it. Both of these realms are actually made up of the interactions that happen between the “things” that are in them. Remember that no one technology or website is the “world”…always the whole internet. Move through the internet like it is your world, and move through specific sites and services as if they were neighborhoods.
  3. It is important to see your movements through the internet as being continuous with your normal life. In normal life your interests, needs, likes, and dislikes guide you and lead to you interacting with others in certain ways. Similarly, on the internet you can trust a large part of social media to do the work of connecting you with other people. Trust the tags and the searches to connect you with others and don’t stress about finding an “in” crowd. Crowds form around interested and passionate people doing what they love, not people trying to form crowds.
  4. You are not alone. If you are having a problem, it is likely other people have had the same problem, and it is also likely that some of those people found solutions. When you get frustrated, do a search or ask around. Social media is new, and everyone is “just learning”.
  5. In physical space, your identity is unified because you can only be in one place at one time. Online, your identity is distributed among all the different places and times you interact. You are everywhere you make a change, and because of the archiving nature of the net, you are everywhen you have made change, as well. Thus you can be lazy when you need to be, because the posts, feeds, forums, and so on will still be there for you to get to. While it is important to strike while the iron is hot when you are trying to create something new, reading and staying in the loop can happen at your leisure.

2. Managing the Flow of Data

As with the entire internet, staying caught up and keeping the information useful depends on certain technologies. Optimizing this process isn’t about interacting with the information faster, but managing how you interact with it.

  1. Friendfeed‘s Imaginary Friend Feature– Yeah, everyone loves FriendFeed, but few people use one of it’s most interesting and scalable of features: Imaginary Friends. This feature allows you to create a “fake” stream. Just go to “Friend Settings”–>”Imaginary”–>”Create Imaginary Friend”. Name it something useful, like a category such as “Social Media People”, “Photographers”, or “News”. Then A feed of feedssimply add services or feeds. The best thing about this is it allows you to categorize your feeds and then follow those in your own RSS reader or FriendFeed subscriptions. And yes, you can make an imaginary friend from FriendFeed Atom streams, rooms for your imaginary friends, imaginary friends of room feeds, and so on. The FriendFeed structure is so scalable you can implement ever higher levels of categories and get as fine-tuned as you want.
  2. Technorati‘s Connected Pings From Favorites – A lot of people bag on Technorati, but look at it this way: they ping so you don’t have to. Set up an account just for this purpose, and favorite the blogs you want to follow. When they ping, you will get an update. The reason this is better than just subscribing to their feed is that you will be able to see the pingbacks and favoriting from connecting blogs, which allows you to expand your interaction with the blogosphere in incremental steps rather than huge numbers of new posts to read. Part of managing your flow of data is making new information come in bite-size chunks, and this technique allows for that.
  3. Focus Your Attention – Pick your favorite services based on your needs and temperament, then live there and automate the rest. For example, you can aggregate your friends and follows from less used services like Jaiku and have them stream to an Imaginary Friend in FriendFeed, then just live in FriendFeed and use Ping.fm to post to all your less used accounts. I personally lived primarily in Twitter and FriendFeed before I got into Plurk, and now I live in Plurk, Twitter, and FriendFeed. I use Twhirl to get my updates in nice little bursts and reply to @s and direct messages, and use SocialAddict to scan through everything it carries and to post to Ping.fm. Between that and my feeds, I have no problem staying on top of everything.

Final Word

I hope this helps get the information flow under control for some people. I find that these techniques really help and that I have no problem staying on top of my different connections. As all of friends on my various services can attest, I respond to just about every shout, @, and direct message, am active in conversations on Plurk, Twitter, and FriendFeed, and read and comment on many blogs and sites. I am also working on several other projects and I guest-blog on various sites. My fiance, cats, and clients can also attest that I manage to get my work done and attend to my personal life. I even manage to have some leisure time every once in a while. This level of combination of attitude, aggregation, categorization, and automation is how I do it, and with similar techniques I am sure others can get similar results.

Coming up!

I have gotten some really good feedback on the idea, so I am going to be launching a new blog in the next day or so on social media philosophy. It will cover all of the philosophical angles of social media and the changes it is causing in the way identity, meaning, and knowledge is perceived. My degree is in philosophy and (like most geeks) I was a very good student, so I hope to be able to bring some new ideas to the table. Stay tuned for the launch announcement!

Also, tomorrow (July 28) is my birthday. In lieu of presents, please send traffic! 😆

Ten Steps to Being Everywhere in Social Media

So you want to be everywhere?Social Media Service Logos

I think that to succeed in the social media world, a key concept is social density. I work towards this by constantly looking for new sites and services to maintain a presence on and being active in many different microblogging communities. I also manage to at times have a life and do the writing that pays the bills. I do this by using a few different techniques to streamline my interactions with the virtual world.

Recently I got a comment on this post and realized that it would be helpful to some of my readers to learn how I do this until something better comes along (any venture capitalists reading? :P).

1. Make a profile document

You are going to be entering certain information again and again for awhile. Get used to it, and get used to changing it. You can get a plugin for Firefox called Sxipper that can automate this process and also automate your logins. I very much recommend it.

Make a plain text document (use Notepad) and list the following information:

  1. First name
  2. Last name
  3. Nickname/Username (you won’t always get what you want, be prepared with alternatives)
  4. A single sentence that explains who you are and what you do
  5. A short bio that explains who you are and what you do with no links to your work or other profiles
  6. A slightly longer bio with links to your work or other profiles
  7. An even slightly longer bio that is pretty much your online resume
  8. Address
  9. IM accounts
  10. Main email account
  11. Three interests (separated by commas)
  12. Three musical genres or artists you like (separated by commas)
  13. Three favorite movies (separated by commas)
  14. Three favorite books (separated by commas)
  15. Three to seven tags (simple words or phrases people looking for a person like you might use in a search engine; for example, I commonly use “writer, freelance, social media”) (separated by commas)

2. Make a picture or logo

You will need a pic for many sites. Prepare three versions, one big, one small, one thumbnail.

3. Make accounts pt. 1

Go to the following sites and make accounts:

  1. Friendfeed
  2. Ping.fm
  3. Profilactic

4. Make accounts pt. 2

Go to Friendfeed and look at the different services they have that you can aggregate. Pick at least one site from each of the following categories:

  1. News (if you make just one choose Digg)
  2. Bookmarking (If you make just one choose StumbleUpon)
  3. Microblogging (if you make just one choose Twitter)
  4. Pictures (if you make just one choose Flickr)
  5. Social Profile (if you make just one choose Facebook)
  6. Business Profile (if you make just one choose LinkedIn)
  7. Music (if you make just one choose Last.fm)
  8. Video (if you make just one choose YouTube)
  9. Commenting (if you make just one choose Disqus)

5. Make accounts pt. 3

Go to Ping.fm. and there will be a list of services to which you can post updates. Go find each and every one of them except the blogs and make an account. That’s right. Every single one. Fill them out completely.

6. Aggregate your accounts

Go to your Friendfeed, Profilactic, and Ping.fm accounts and connect up all of your accounts. Make sure to put a feed from all your blogs on the lifestreams.

7. Downloads

Download and install:

  1. Adobe Air
  2. SocialAddict
  3. Twhirl

8. Use

Use SocialAddict to connect to Ping.fm. Use it for all normal microblogging. Use Twhirl to connect to your FriendFeed and Twitter accounts. You will then get updates from everyone you follow on both services and be able to interact with each service. Either put your Profilactic badge and lifestream on your blog or point people at them in your profiles so people can see what services you use. (The reason to use Profilactic is because it will aggregate services FriendFeed doesn’t).

9. Network

Use the search function on FriendFreed to find rooms and people you are interested in and follow them. Go to their profiles and add them on whatever you share in common. Some will add you, some will not. Get used to it. Do this at least once a week.

10. Be social!

Now use the service you have accounts with. When you read a post you like, submit it to news sites or vote for them. Peruse the news and bookmarks sites to find things you like and vote for them. Listen to music on your music site and favorite or scrobble or whatever the process is. Favorite your favorite videos. Comment on blogs. Live your online life in this social way. And most importantly, use the microbloggers.

Final words

This guide is tentative. The method is not as clean and easy as I would like, and the technologies and services offered change far too quickly for any guide to be definitive. Nonetheless, this is what I do, and I hope it helps at least the reader who asked the original question.

If you have any tips on further streamlining this process, please share! If you have any other similar questions, ask away and it might lead into a new post like this one!

Good luck and remember to be social!

Update:

I was reminded by Pamir of another great service that allows you to aggregate your services and create a dynamic online business card called Retaggr. Even though I have an account with them, I had completely forgotten about how useful it is. See, this why we need to be as social as possible: none of us can know everything or do everything, but working together we can succeed as if we do, and that is all that matters.

Update 2:

It occurs to me that a lot of people would like a Google link for searching for FriendFeed rooms. I got this from Andy Beard here so if you like it, give him some positive feedback.

Thanks for all the great comments and questions, everyone! Keep ’em coming!

Update 3:

Unless you are aching to be on every possible site, you can safely ignore my earlier advice about Profilactic and use FriendFeed for all your lifestreaming services. In the time since I wrote this post, FriendFeed has come leaps and bounds while Profilactic (sadly) has not. Sorry, Profilactic team, but I have to recommend the right tools for the job, and FriendFeed has most assuredly become the best tool.

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