11 iPhone Apps for the Expert Content Aggregator

Photo cred: Tony Eccles

Sharing news and interesting stories related to social media is a big part of how I use social media.

By making a commitment to aggregating content for my followers, it keeps me up to date with any new developments in the industry.  Every morning I pick up my phone and scroll through a bunch of different news apps.  I’ve never been a huge “news” reader, but something about having it right on my phone has made it into a habit that I’m glad to have.

So, I wanted to share with you the apps that I use to stay on top of everything going in in my industry.

Here are the news apps I check regularly:

1. Huffington Post:  This app is awesome.  Not only is it constantly updated with new articles, but it’s sharing function also works with some of the most popular twitter apps (except hootsuite for some reason).  So when you click “tweet”, it takes you to your iphone app to share…which could also be considered annoying.  I like it.

2. Mashable:  I check Mashable daily.  Sure, not all the articles are interesting to me, but it’s easy enough to scroll to the good stuff.  I can be sure that I’m on top of any notable developments in the social media space.

3. New York Times:  I use the New York Times to start up to date with news in general, as well as tech news.  I can almost always find a good read to get my brain warmed up in the morning here.

4. Fluent News: Basically, a big mix of all the most mainstream news resource from CNN to ESPN to BBC.

5. ReadWriteWeb:  I don’t check this app too often to be honest. When I do, I’m usually looking through the ReadWriteStart section for startup tips.

6. Marketing Profs:  Sometimes I have to get my fix of marketing articles.

7. The Onion App:  Because what’s fun about only reading real news?

8. Regator: The best app to find high quality blog posts on different popular topics.

9. NetNewsWire:  My google reader…on my iphone.  I don’t use this as much as I’d like to these days but I’ll check up once in a while.

10. Techcrunch:  Much like the Mashable app, I don’t find every story interesting.  I love to read about the new startups that are sprouting up and how they’re developing.  Unfortunately, the share on twitter function on this app gives you a link and says “Check out this post” instead of inputting the title of the post.

11. Hootsuite: After I read an article, I can click ‘share’, copy the tweet into hootsuite and schedule them throughout the day.  By scheduling some of the tweets, I’m not overloading people with links in the morning.  If it’s a really great article, I may even schedule it to be shared again later in the day. It allows me to send it out from any of my twitter or facebook accounts.  Beyond that, hootsuite is my go to iphone app to follow twitter, where I always find loads of new articles to read and share.

That’s what I use.  What apps are you using to stay on top of the news in your industry?

5 Creative Ways to Use Sponsored Tweets

sponsoredtweetsBack when Sponsored Tweets launched, I wrote a post asking if it will survive.  (Disclaimer: Ted has since given me credit to test the service, which I wrote about here.)

I continue to think about the service and it’s possible value.  If done right, I really like sponsored tweets.  The goal isn’t always to manipulate the follower into finding value in a product…Sponsored tweets simply allow you to tap in to a community that you don’t currently have access to.

And it’s not always ads.  The message they choose to send can be a number of things. Here are some different ways that businesses can use sponsored tweets.

  1. Market Research. Want to know a community’s thoughts and opinions?   The answers you get will be more quality than a mass snail mail campaign, and it’s probably cheaper too.
  2. Contests.  If you want to start a contest for a specific community, you need to be able to reach the people in that community.  Sponsoring a tweet can be a great way to give away prizes.  It involves no “opinion” from the tweeter so their followers probably won’t be too offended.
  3. Crowdsource ideas. Pull in ideas by sponsoring tweets in different communities and asking for feedback. For example, a company wants to launch a new diaper product, and wants to gather ideas from mothers.  If you aren’t tapped into the “mom-blog” community on twitter, good luck finding answers there. Sponsor a tweet from a prominent “mom-twitterer” to ask questions for you.
  4. Collect donations for a cause. Most tweeters probably won’t even ask for money, assuming you have a worthy cause and you approach them respectfully.  Either way, you can reach a larger audience to get your charity off the ground.
  5. Sponsor a Q&A Expert Session. Say you have a site for bloggers.  Sponsor a Q&A session on twitter with Darren Rowse where he can answer questions from new bloggers directly.  Add your hashtag to the tweets, promote the event with your site.

See a re-occuring theme?  Again, sponsored tweets simply allows you to tap into communities that you don’t currently have access to.  Sure, if you’re trying to engage with the community, sponsored tweets aren’t the best method.

Not all tweets are meant for participating in conversation and building a community.

You can sign up to try out Sponsored Tweets here. (affiliate referral link)

What are some other creative ways to use sponsored tweets?

I Used Sponsored Tweets!

I know I know…OFF WITH HIS HEAD!  But wait, read, you might learn something.

NOTE: I AM TESTING THIS AS AN ADVERTISER PAYING TWEETERS TO SHARE MY MESSAGE, NOT AS A PAID TWEETER. This was confusing for some people.  I have not posted any sponsored tweets, I’ve just sponsored tweets with the credits Ted gave me.

When Ted Murphy offered me some “credits” to trial the site, I was actually very excited after the great conversation we had on my post “Will Sponsored Tweets Survive?” opened my eyes a bit and made me really wonder, will this thing work?

The moral implications of a service like this are still unsettling for many, but I’m more concerned with whether or not it will work, because that will determine whether or not it sticks around.

SO…I signed up and had $100 in credit to mess around with.

First thing you do is “create an opp” and so I created this…

Spostwts step 1Notice…you can click the box over the instructions which means that YOU will choose what the tweet will say.  I can see a lot of people having a problem with this.

Next, I had to fill this out…

spns twts step 2

Which did pretty much nothing, since there aren’t enough “tweeters” using the site yet, so no one fit my criteria, and I had to choose from “premium” tweeters.  I’m sure this will get better as more tweeters sign up.  In the “targeting” step I got to choose what audience I’m looking to reach.

I was then brought to this page where I could check off the people to whom I’d like to make an offer, which looked like this…

Picture 10Sponsored Tweeters

I chose a few people (the only ones I could afford…notice most are well above $100/tweet!) and sent out 5 offers.

Within minutes I had an offer, then over the next day or so I received two more, and the other two declined.  I am then shown the proposed tweet, and can approve it, deny it, or request an edit.  I didn’t request an edit on any of the tweets…I just approved them since we are here to learn and I wanted to see how well they’ll work.

Here are the tweets: YoungMommy(Worst) OhGizmo(Better) Magical_Trevor(Best)

And here are the results… spns twts results

There were 0 retweets, one (angry) comment, and 0 twitter conversations started. This is probably because of who tweeted out the message.  I would have chosen a better audience, but I could only choose from the “premium tweeters” and none of the ones I could afford really fit my target audience.  Still, this could be indicative of the actual value of a sponsored tweet.  It got me some hits, but nothing of any real value.

Note, I didn’t try to force my message anywhere, and I didn’t tell the tweeter what to say, I just told them to post their opinion of my blog, which gave it more eyes from an audience that I did not have access to in a manner that wouldn’t seem intrusive. My offer required that the person actually reads my blog first, so that they can develop an opinion.

You can still find bias results in this method though, as if there was a response that was overly negative, I probably wouldn’t have approved it, and so you’re only getting to see the more positive results.

So what do you think?  Do you see a legitimate use for Sponsored Tweets that won’t upset people?  Do you see the system working?  If you had a chance to test the site, how would you use it?

Switch to Seesmic Desktop…Now.

Seesmic DesktopFor the longest time, Tweetdeck was my Twitter application of choice. Those days are now long gone. With my new job, I realized I was going to need a service that allowed me to maintain multiple accounts. I was disappointed since I was under the impression that no other apps compared to tweetdeck, but it was a sacrifice I was going to have to make.

I decided to try out Seesmic Desktop as I was a follower of @loic for some time and heard some good things about the app. Goodbye Tweetdeck.

Seesmic offers everything that Tweedeck offers and then some. Here are a few things that have made me a Seesmic Desktop evangelist

  1. Customer Service.  First and foremost, the @askseesmic twitter account was enough to make me switch.  I would constantly have issues with Tweetdeck, complain about it on Twitter (naturally) and the only responses I would get were from other people facing similar issues.  When starting to use Seesmic Desktop, I had a lot of questions, and a couple issues.  Not a minute after I said something on Twitter @askseesmic responded and answered my questions.  Afterwards, any time I had a question, I sent a reply to @askseesmic and received a prompt, helpful response.  This, to me, is invaluable.
  2. Prompt Updates.  I don’t know if the Tweetdeck creators have been listening at all, but there is an array of issues with the application that have gone unfixed for months…where are the updates?  Since starting to use Seesmic Desktop less than a month ago, there have already been updates fixing issues and adding features that customers have been asking for. Is it perfect yet? No…but I guarantee you that they will constantly be working to make it better.
  3. Functionality. Aside from basic things actually working, like adding people to groups, there are a number of features that makes Seesmic Desktop my favorite Twitter app.  Danny Brown lists a bunch here.  For me, the big ones are multiple accounts, smoother/easily organized columns, ability to save searches and a few more of “the little things”.

Unless Tweetdeck starts listening and responding accordingly, they are going to lose all of their momentum.  Seesmic has already begun to cut away at it.  Until Tweetdeck does something, switch to Seesmic Desktop…now. You’ll thank me later.

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Why Scribnia Is Valuable To ME

scribniaIf you haven’t heard the big news from my last post, I’ve been hired as the community manager for Scribnia.  Perhaps because of my newly acquired position, you may think that a review of Scribnia on my blog may be biased…fair enough.  I hope that if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know I wouldn’t post anything that I didn’t think would be valuable to the community.  Either way, I’m not going to tell you that Scribnia is awesome, or that you have to go sign up, or even that it would be valuable to you as a blogger/reader.  I’m going to tell you why Scribnia is valuable to me, as a blogger and reader, and I’ll let you decide whether or not it’s valuable to you too.  Fair?

Value as a Blogger

  1. Transparency. One of the big values of “social media”, bloggers are expected to be transparent and gain respect and loyalty for doing so.  I’m open with my community members about who I am, my honest views, or any bias that I might have.  When people write a review about me on Scribnia, they are increasing my transparency, allowing new readers to feel more comfortable when visiting my blog for the first time.
  2. Learn how I’m viewed by my readers. I might have a bias that I didn’t realize existed.  My readers might be looking for different kinds of posts.  They aren’t necessarily going to come out and tell me what they think of my writing.  Scribnia is a call to action, where your readers are asked to share their opinions.  You can add a “rate me” widget to your blog and encourage your readers to share their thoughts.
  3. SEO.  My Scribnia page will come up when people search for my name on search engines (once the site goes public).
  4. Engage conversation about YOU. I’ve told businesses before that their customers are talking about their brand online and that they need to engage the conversation.  Time to practice what I preach.  If my readers care enough to share their thoughts about me as a blogger on Scribnia, I have the opportunity to convert negative views into positive ones, and to further engage with my community.  Danny Brown does a great job of joining the conversation about him and responding to reviews of his work.

Value as a Reader

  1. Find new bloggers. A lot of recommendation engines that I’ve seen base much of the recommendation on content, without really taking into account my personal reading preferences.  Scribnia takes the reviews that I’ve written, and based on how high or low I’ve ranked different aspects of each author, other authors that might be valuable to me are proposed.  I can also browse by category or industry to find new bloggers and publications.
  2. Share. I love to suggest bloggers that I follow to others.  When Scribnia users view my profile, they can see all the reviews that I’ve written, which bloggers I like or don’t like and why.  Linking people to other bloggers is great, but it  helps to show them why I like those bloggers.  (Tip: Try it out on Twitter… next #followfriday, give your recommendation’s twitter name and provide a link to their Scribnia page)
  3. Preview bloggers.  There are a lot of author profiles I have come across that don’t have a very good “about” description.  I’d have to read multiple posts before really understanding what the blog is about and the blogger’s style.  This is especially time consuming when doing blogger outreach.  Bloggers typically condemn misplaced pitches to their blogs and the last thing you want is to anger the bloggers in the community you’re reaching out to.  By reviewing an author’s Scribnia profile, you can learn a little bit more about a blogger before contacting them giving you a better understanding of what they find valuable.

All in all, I accepted the job of Community Manager for Scribnia for a number of reasons, one being because I thought it provides a valuable service that bloggers would really appreciate.  We are trying to build a blogging community for authors, readers and their networks to connect, share and grow.  Once we have developed a solid amount of quality content, Scribnia will be open to the pulic.  If you think you’d be a quality contributing member of the alpha community, send me an email at dspinks5@gmail.com for an invite.

You can find my Scribnia page here.  Review me…I dare you. (=

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Where Twibes Went Wrong

twibesTwibes is a new twitter app that allows users to choose their top 10 favorite twitters. The users’ picks are then included in a running tally and a list of the twitterers that were chosen the most is provided.  I think this is actually a pretty cool concept that could work well if done right.

It’s like an ongoing record of recommendations, something that could be good for things like #followfriday.  I would find it valuable to see how many times each twitterer was recommended every friday.  I’d be more likely to follow someone that recieved a great number of recommendations than someone who recieved one…right?  Maybe, but making that assumption is where Twibes went wrong.

Twibes ignored a very vital characteristic of the twitterverse, it’s focus on personal interaction. #followfriday works so well because it allows users to share with their followers the people that they enjoy following most.  It is a personal recommendation, and it is not based on popularity.  I’ve seen recommendations to follow people that have 25 followers, and followed them!  On twitter, a personal recommendation goes a long way.

Twibes takes away the value of a personal recommendation, and makes it a popularity contest.  To make things worst, in order to view the list of recommended users, you HAVE to recommend TEN people, no more no less.  That means that even if you only really have 5 favorite twitterers, you have to choose 5 more that you may not even want to recommend.

Then, to pour salt on that wound, you HAVE to either send out DMs to every person you recommended, or post a tweet listing them which completely disregards the personal interaction aspect of twitter (yep, that means you have to put your password in too).  Only then can you view the list of recommended users, which I’m sure you can guess, it is pretty much a list of the most followed users.

Twibes needs to rethink how recommendations and people work on twitter, and stop sending me automated DMs.