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Posts Tagged ‘web’

How Can I Organize My RSS Feeds So They’re More Manageable?

Posted by Jennifer Stein on January 23, 2012

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m an avid RSS user, and that I use Google Reader to manage and consume all my incoming content.  I like using an RSS reader to centralize my reading, for a variety of reasons, including:

  • I know I won’t miss any new posts from sites/blogs I feel are important
  • It keeps content out of my e-mail inbox
  • It is a “one stop shop” for all my information
  • The posts don’t expire or get hidden “below the fold”
  • It’s easy to gauge how much new content is waiting to be read
  • [Specifically for Google Reader] My reading progress is stored “in the cloud” and therefore switching between devices is seamless
  • I can read in any order I choose – reverse chronological; by topic; or by specific feed
To me, all these and many other advantages make an RSS reader (whichever one you select) an ideal way to consume the deluge of new content that gets created every day.  That being said, however, if you follow a LOT of feeds, even the best reader may feel overwhelming.

 

A recent article from Lifehacker offers some tips on taming the potentially overwhelming nature of a tool that could let you add a huge number of information feeds, in response to a reader question:

Dear Lifehacker,
I subscribe to a lot of newsfeeds, which makes me feel like I’m on top of everything on the internet—except now I’m feeling overwhelmed with all the folders and hundreds of feeds and constant flood of posts in my newsreader. I still want access to all the news and information, but what can I do to better organize it so I stay sane?

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Interest in Pinterest

Posted by Jennifer Stein on January 13, 2012

As some of you may have noticed from my Tweets this week, I’ve been investigating the utility and functionality of Pinterest.  Pinterest is rising in popularity as a new, unique social network.

Pinterest at its core is a relatively simple concept – it’s a place to store groups of images, on “Pin boards” – each of which has a theme, which you may specify.  Each image is selected from a Website, and is linked back to the original source.  Common use-cases I’d seen before jumping in centered around collecting things to “inspire,” “motivate,” or “interest” you.  The pitch appeared to reside more at an emotional or artistic level, which doesn’t typically sell me on a platform.

As I began asking others how they were using Pinterest, and as I began to use it myself, though, I discovered a few interesting ways in which it may be used.  So far I’m enjoying what I’ve found.

Pinterest for personal use

Overall, I’m finding that a better way to look at using Pinterest for personal reasons is a place to store ideas or “found items” that you’d like to come back to at another time.  A visual bookmarking solution, of sorts.  Pins I’ve collected so far fall into categories like “good ideas” – like tips and tricks; “stuff I want to read later” – things I’ve found online that might take more than a few minutes to read (or watch) but that I don’t want to forget to revisit; and recipes.  LOTS of recipes.

Another area where Pinterest shows potential is as a shopping aid, whether you’re researching a product category, or you come across a particular item that you might find useful in future.  I’ve pinned a couple of items that I liked but didn’t necessarily need to purchase right now.  I suppose the trick now is to remember to consult this board once in awhile to determine if these items have become useful!

I read a post by one blogger who is determined to cut down on impulse-buys online, and to that end is using the “Pin it” button in place of the “Purchase” button to mark items she likes.

Pinterest for business

One of the angles I was interested in uncovering in my research is how (and if) Pinterest could be relevant for business.

Some of the tips I came across in my reading included the suggestion of not using Pinterest to advertise your OWN products – instead it should be considered a platform on which to spotlight your brand’s values, or your company’s expertise – using related content.  Create boards to mirror the interests of your industry, and your customers.  Reinforce the image of your brand as the expert in very specific or niche areas by creating pin boards and displaying content uniquely relevant to that area.

Like many other social networks, Pinterest can also be used to boost consumer engagement.  Another interesting way to use Pinterest for business is to study what your company’s FOLLOWERS are pinning, to better understand their interests and therefore position your products and services accordingly.

There is no shortage of lists of brands doing a good job with these strategies on Pinterest.

Finally…

I’m well into my exploration of this social platform.  So far, I agree that Pinterest is a tool to curate relvant content for your audience.  When used personally, your audience is YOURSELF – and your followers are secondary.  You’re collecting content that’s relevant and interesting to YOU – and if others agree, that’s great for them but doesn’t affect you at all.   For business, your followers become the primary audience, and therefore the definition of relevant depends on the brand message you’re trying to convey.

How are you using Pinterest?  Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter!

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Shortcut Shocker: 90 Percent of People Don’t Know How to Use CTRL+F

Posted by Jennifer Stein on October 19, 2011

A recent article on The Atlantic cited a study by Google Anthropologist Dan Russell which showed that 90% of users don’t know how to use the Ctrl-F function.

If you’re one of those 90%, you may not know that the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-F, in almost any Web browser (and, incidentally, most other applications including Word & Excel), brings your cursor to a small search box which allows you to type in a word or phrase – and if that word or phrase appears in the web page you’re currently viewing, it will be highlighted on your screen.  You can usually use buttons provided beside the “find in page” search box to move forward and backward to the next or previous mention of your searched word or phrase.

“90 percent of the US Internet population does not know that. This is on a sample size of thousands,” Russell said. “I do these field studies and I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve sat in somebody’s house as they’ve read through a long document trying to find the result they’re looking for. At the end I’ll say to them, ‘Let me show one little trick here,’ and very often people will say, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been wasting my life!’” [Via The Atlantic]

Like many of the other sites that cited this story (and another (Mozilla) who contributed similar evidence to this discussion), I was genuinely astounded by this statistic.  As a heavy web content consumer, it would be next-to-impossible to get through a day without using Ctrl-F.  If I’m seeking a specific piece of information on a text-heavy website, I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of time it would take to locate it if I had to scan manually through all of the content.

Although Ctrl-F is an everyday shortcut for me, perhaps there are other “obvious” browsing tools that may not be so obvious to everyone.  Have you had an “aha” moment about a simple tool you know have adopted into regular use?  Have you had to teach someone (a colleague? Relative?) about Ctrl-F or something similar?  I’d be curious to hear your experiences – hit the comments!

Control-F functionality screenshot

Ctrl-F functionality in Firefox. Most browsers work the same way with slight differences in location of the "Find in Page" box.

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Flashback Week: Is a picture worth 1000 Tweets?

Posted by Jennifer Stein on March 16, 2011

I’m away this week, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to repost some of my favourite entries from the Archives of this blog. This post originally ran on November 25, 2010.

(or blog mentions, or forum posts, or… ?)

Reading a stream of content, however you monitor social media, can be interesting – but when crisis strikes nothing is more compelling, telling, or has more impact than a graph showing a spike in conversation surrounding an issue.

When I read about this week’s recall of Junior-strength Motrin (amongst other products), I thought immediately about our FPinfomart Heartbeat demo of the pharmaceutical industry. It monitors comparatively between the major pain-relief brands (Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin) along several issues-based criteria, including recalls. What would the social media conversation surrounding the Motrin recall look like?

Graph of Motrin Recall

The Heartbeat "Measure" screen shows a clear spike in conversations mentioning both Motrin and recall, on the day that the recall was announced. Notice also that the conversation continued in the Twitter medium into the following day, more so than in other media types.

I was also curious as to whether the other pain relievers monitored in this Heartbeat would also receive additional attention in the context of this conversation, so I used the “Compare” tab to find out.

Comparing Motrin to other pain relievers

It is interesting to note that Tylenol received a corresponding bump in mentions in conversations about recalls on the day that Motrin's recall was announced. This was mostly due to reporters and individuals reminiscing about the relatively recent recall of Tylenol products, and using the two examples as the basis for discussions about the safety of these products in general.

As evidenced by the graphs above, having the tools available to report instantly on issues provides critical insight into the impact of any crisis event. They also show the value of strategic monitoring of your products, your competitors, and the issues facing your industry.

For more information on FPinfomart Heartbeat social media monitoring, or for a free trial, please contact your FPinfomart sales representative.

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Do you keep your head in the cloud?

Posted by Jennifer Stein on February 2, 2011

Snowed InIt’s a “snow day” today here in the Toronto area – a huge overnight storm has left most of the area schools closed, and a larger than normal proportion of workers are telecommuting today.  Other than the inconvenience of being unable to liaise face-to-face with  my colleagues, I’ve had a very productive day.

There’s a lot of buzz right now surrounding the popularization of “cloud computing,” which is defined neatly on Wikipedia as:

“…location-independent computing, whereby shared servers provide resources, software, and data to computers and other devices on demand…”

The advantages of this concept are many, including doing away with the need for software (disk space, updates, crashes, maintenance, compatibility issues, etc).  However a day like today really cements the value of such systems.

I would argue that FPinfomart qualifies as a cloud application.  All you  need to access and use it is a web browser.  We host the interface, the content, the tools – everything you need to locate, read, process, analyze, and disseminate information.  Even on a snow day – whether or not you have access to your work computer – you can log in to your account, access all the search results, and perform the exact same functions you’d need to do from the office.  If you’re a newsletter publisher user, your physical location becomes unimportant.  The same is true if you’re a newsletter recipient.

In our always-urgent work lives, it is reassuring to know that even a blizzard can’t keep you from getting the job done, if you’ve got the right tools.

A selection of things I’ve accomplished from my kitchen table today using only “cloud” apps (no software other than my browser):

  • Responded to colleague & customer e-mails (MS Outlook Web)
  • Updated the FPinfomart site status for customers (FPinfomart.ca)
  • Posted to Twitter (Twitter.com interface)
  • Created a Newsletter (FPinfomart.ca)
  • Edited 2 Personal Profiles (FPinfomart.ca)
  • Managed a customer’s Heartbeat setup (FPinfomart Heartbeat admin tools)
  • Posted a link for colleagues to read (Salesforce.com Chatter)
  • Wrote this blog post (WordPress Dashboard tools)
  • Managed blog comments and statistics (WordPress Dashboard tools)

What cloud applications do you use?  Would you agree that FPinfomart is a cloud application? Share your perspective, in the comments.

FPinfomart in the cloud

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The science of the hashtag – via Twitter Media

Posted by Jennifer Stein on January 19, 2011

The Twitter HashtagI’m regularly asked to comment on the usefulness of the Influence metric as it pertains to social media.  Although I can define “Influence” as it is measured through FPinfomart Heartbeat, it is even more instructive to see a real-world (or virtual-world, as the case may be) example of how Influence affects the reach and velocity of a conversation.

“So add this finding to your hashtag playbook: getting a great hashtag in front of the right audience is more important than getting it in front of a big audience. Katy Perry’s 5.2 million followers saw #LessAmbitiousMovies, laughed, and moved on. Lizz Winstead and Barracks O’Bama’s crew of 35,000 saw it—and they made it their own.”

via The science of the hashtag – Twitter Media.

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Is a picture worth 1000 Tweets?

Posted by Jennifer Stein on November 25, 2010

(or blog mentions, or forum posts, or… ?)

Reading a stream of content, however you monitor social media, can be interesting – but when crisis strikes nothing is more compelling, telling, or  has more impact than a graph showing a spike in conversation surrounding an issue.

When I read about this week’s recall of Junior-strength Motrin (amongst other products), I thought immediately about our FPinfomart Heartbeat demo of the pharmaceutical industry.  It monitors comparatively between the major pain-relief brands (Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin) along several issues-based criteria, including recalls.  What would the social media conversation surrounding the Motrin recall look like?

Graph of Motrin Recall

The Heartbeat "Measure" screen shows a clear spike in conversations mentioning both Motrin and recall, on the day that the recall was announced. Notice also that the conversation continued in the Twitter medium into the following day, more so than in other media types.

I was also curious as to whether the other pain relievers monitored in this Heartbeat would also receive additional attention in the context of this conversation, so I used the “Compare” tab to find out.

Comparing Motrin to other pain relievers

It is interesting to note that Tylenol received a corresponding bump in mentions in conversations about recalls on the day that Motrin's recall was announced. This was mostly due to reporters and individuals reminiscing about the relatively recent recall of Tylenol products, and using the two examples as the basis for discussions about the safety of these products in general.

As evidenced by the graphs above, having the tools available to report instantly on issues provides critical insight into the impact of any crisis event. They also show the value of strategic monitoring of your products, your competitors, and the issues facing your industry.

For more information on FPinfomart Heartbeat social media monitoring, or for a free trial, please contact your FPinfomart sales representative.

Posted in Social Media | Tagged: , | Comments Off

What’s more important than monitoring social media?

Posted by Jennifer Stein on October 13, 2010

The short answer:  actually listening to what’s being said, and acting accordingly.

It can be difficult to decide whether to act on a single voice in the crowd – but when a company as large as the Gap takes the advice of its (thousands) of outspoken customers, we should all pay attention.

Not only were they monitoring social media, they made a business decision based on the expressed wishes of those participating in the conversation.  Another excellent example of a large corporation understanding that social media is a dialogue.

New and old Gap logosLast week, Gap unveiled a new logo, one it called “a more contemporary, modern expression.” The retailer’s customers were not so thrilled about the change, and Gap decided to ask users for their logo design ideas instead. However, that course of action has now been reversed, as well.

“Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback,” the company said on its Facebook Page. “We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowdsourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”

Read more:  Gap Reverts to Original Logo After Social Media Backlash (via Mashable).

Posted in Social Media | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Media monitoring: You get what you pay for (or, why free isn’t always better)

Posted by Jennifer Stein on October 4, 2010

An excerpt from part 4 of a series by Susan Lipsey, on the Dysart & Jones blog:

“I had the opportunity recently to run a comparison between Google News results with those of other private vendor news sources. There is often a debate within organizations looking for cost-effective processes to obtain news content free of charge versus paying for content from third party vendors. My weeklong test demonstrated that Google News missed pertinent content more than 50 per cent of the time, rendering its usability low for media monitoring purposes as we could not guarantee our clients that they would be aware of all relevant competitive intelligence and/or industry developments.”

Read the rest of Susan’s article at Guest Blog Post #4: Good enough? | Dysart & Jones.

Posted in General | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Replay it: Google search across the Twitter archive [Official Google Blog]

Posted by Jennifer Stein on April 15, 2010

People are turning to Twitter more and more as a search mechanism, for real-time results on an infinite variety of topics.  One of the limitations of this, however, is that due to content volume it has been difficult to maintain a historical record of Tweets.  Searching for Tweets more than about 3 months old has been next-to-impossible.

Starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter.

via Official Google Blog: Replay it: Google search across the Twitter archive.

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