For Starters - 5 Social Media Tools

My girlfriend says to me, "I like social media and want to do more with it... but it's just so exhausting and time consuming." And so begins the conversation. We discuss the social media phenomenon, how quickly it's emerged and how fast things change. Smart phones, tablets, gaming systems, laptops - the opportunity to network with friends and strangers is everywhere. 
Perhaps you're like her. You want to take advantage of social media but don't want to spend your life staring into the digital abyss. We laughed about the Windows Phone commercial. You know, the one where a woman is texting in the shower and another, while tweeting and jogging, smashes into an innocent bystander. The announcer declares, "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones." So true. But it's not enough to be saved from just our phones. We need tools to maximize efficiency across devices and social media platforms so that we can live our lives.
Let's begin with some efficiency tools. If you feel like you're spending too much time on different social media sites, it may help you to group them together. HootSuite and TweetDeck are what I call social aggregation applications. Essentially, they pull information from your social accounts and slap it on one screen. By setting up one account you can handle business for all the others. New information - like status updates and tweets - is updated continuously. Want to share a funny video with Facebook friends but not with LinkedIn contacts? No problem. Just select the appropriate platform(s) for which to share and you're golden. Do the same thing on the go by using one of these on your smartphone. 

If you're a visual person, one option for managing your social world is Spindex from Microsoft. While this application is similar to HootSuite and TweetDeck, the interface is strikingly different. Instead of organizing everything into text-based columns like the others, Spindex presents information visually, like a magazine. Additionally, there are sections for "recent photos" and "trending" topics - both of which are generated from the user's network. For better or worse (think: staying focused), Spindex is integrated with Bing so that when a user clicks on something, the search engine displays related information. For all the upside, Spindex doesn't support LinkedIn yet, so it may not fit your needs. 
After you've established a social media command center, you should consider some simple analytic tools, especially if you're in business. PeerIndex and Klout are great places to begin. PeerIndex can reveal if you're staying on topic by mapping the information you disseminate across eight categories like technology, sports, and politics. A little yellow box indicates your PeerIndex score (from 1-100) which is derived from your activity, audience, and authority. Ever wonder how your influence ranks against the competition? Select up to five others and PeerIndex will plot a graph for comparison. I like to monitor how I'm stacking up against social media gurus like Jason Falls... heh.

Like PeerIndex, Klout has a formula for measuring influence. Your Klout Score (1-100) is a factor of over 35 variables broken into three categories: True Reach, Amplification, and Network. The Klout Classification is a matrix that illustrates your influence and how you use it. A few weeks ago, I was a Specialist but today I'm an Explorer. Who knew? Dig deeper into the analysis to learn details about your reach (audience engaged?), amplification (are you generating action?) and network (are they influencers?).
So what are you waiting for? Get organized, get efficient, and learn more about your social activity. After that, get outside and have some fun!


Essential iPhone Apps - Two for January

By: Marc-Alain Reviere

There are now more than 133,000 applications available for the iPhone.
For crying out loud, make sure you have the essentials.

Music Essential: Public Radio Player

Music is marvelous! It inspires, moves, and grooves. For me, public radio can't be beat. It's authentic. It's diverse. It's America. KRVS in Lafayette, Louisiana features New Orleans jazz and creole zydeco stomp. Seattle's KEXP beams the best indie on the planet from artists like Arcade Fire and Wilco. The Public Radio Player is a sound way to catch the waves.
In no time you'll forget about opening browser windows and Googling for something of interest. Launch this app and search for public radio every which way: by state, call letters, or even program name. Honkey Tonk Heroes anyone? Yeee-ha!
You'll probably want to create a favorites list to archive the amazing, obscure stations you'll discover. Within the app, internet browsing is available but you won't be able to run other apps simultaneously like you can with the iPod app.
If you're a lover of music, throw one hand in the air. Use the other to download Public Radio Player. 

Creative Essential: Instagram

If you enjoy picture taking but don't like toting a camera around, you'll appreciate what Instagram can do for you. Although digital cameras capture higher resolution images than any iPhone, Instagram levels the playing field with fun, creative filters.
Filters are effects that can be applied to existing photos or to those that you are about to take. Big deal right? There are a thousand photo editing programs that can do the same thing. Well, not really. Instagram turns ordinary looking pictures into captivating ones almost every time. What's more is that its free, and ease of use is unmatched.
The effects take names like Nashville and Apollo. An ordinary digital picture of my dog was transformed into a Polaroid from the 80's. The new image now similar to a hazy memory or a memento from an old picture album.
Those who like to share will fancy Instagram's integration with popular networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. There's also a community within the app where members can view and rate pictures. If your snaps are good enough, they just might make it onto the Popular page.
If I had to gripe about anything at all, it'd be that Instagram is available on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad only. That means, augmenting photos stored elsewhere will require a transfer process. Even so, Instagram is a fun, creative tool that takes iPhone photography to a whole new level.
~ Essential iPhone Apps. A new monthly scribble from thecompanyproductions.