Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Five useful social networking tools

In preparation for a keynote speech that I am giving next month, I took some time to look at a variety of social media consolidation and notification services. You might find one or more of them useful for your purposes, even for those of you that still don't poke, tweet, or know what RSS really stands for.

First is Ping.fm that can post to multiple social networks at once. You sign up, give them your login credentials at Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Flickr, Twitter, Wordpress and many others. When you want to update your social networking universe, you send one message to your Ping.fm account via an email, a text message, or a Web form, and it goes out to everyone. This can be a big time-saver if you post across different networks and don't mind sending the same information to all these places. I haven't used it as much because I tend to post different things to LinkedIn vs. Facebook, as an example.

Friendfeed.com works in reverse. It consolidates your entire social network "feeds" together in one place, so that your network can follow your posts across your blogs, your social networks, and other sites. You set everything up using the various RSS feeds that these services create, which is pretty clever when you think about it. The downside to Friendfeed is that your adoring public has to sign up separately for this service, which means Yet Another Social Network Request to fulfill. Still, I have been surprised at how many people are following me in this fashion, and how many of them are the A-list blogger types that you want to engage and be at top of mind in any event. Clearly, this is one service to pay attention to if you are trying to get the word out about your products and services.

Twitter is certainly all the rage these days, and a number of services have taken some of the best notification-style pieces out of it in interesting ways. If you like the way Twitter works but don't want to share your updates with the public, such as just with your work colleagues or a special task force, then take a look at Presentlyapp.com. You can use the free Web service or pay to install it behind your own firewall for the ultimate private group. They even make use of the same kind of scrolling interface that Twitter has made popular.

Another take on private discussion forums is from Yammer.com. They cost $1 a person a month. Think of this as one of those old-school BBS's that has been updated for the Gen-T and Web 2.0. I think if you want something quick and dirty and need to have a group discussion to knit your project team together, this is worth a closer look.

Buzzable.com can be used to create groups of Twitter users if you want to send out notifications to all of your partners or customers at once. LinkedIn is finally implementing this feature on their groups, but that is probably too much work to get the initial group assembled, given their still draconian triple opt-in rules.

So these are just five services that I have found that have something going for them. Whether any of these companies will be around next year is hard to tell. And I can guarantee that none of them have received any TARP funds from the US Government. If you have other suggestions, email them or post a comment on my strominator.com blog.

Self-promotions dep't

Since I mentioned my speech, I might as well give you the URL where you can see what I am going to be talking about here:

I write about a half dozen articles a year for the New York Times, and last week you can read one that I did about various services that help automate meetings and scheduling tasks here:

Also, last week I began a series of columns for PC World that will appear every Wednesday under the title of NetWork, geared towards practical solutions for small businesses that don't have a lot of IT depth. They are collected here:

Finally, today I gave a Webinar on ten things that you can do on the cheap to improve your security posture for TechTarget. You can reply the seminar here:

No comments:

About Me

My photo
David Strom has looked at hundreds of computer products over a more than 20 year career in IT and computer journalism. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine, and now writes for Baseline, Information Security, Tom's Hardware, and the New York Times.