How wise is the crowd? feed growth! is open for article submission

Posted by tom klein November 22, 2009 at 8:23 am

Trying to keep up with digital marketing feels like chasing your tail

I’m sure you’ve noticed, if you’ve been paying attention, that we’ve, well, slowed down a bit when it comes to publishing at feed growth!

We’re currently retooling the site to make it more open to submissions and articles written by other people. After  years of writing articles about digital marketing ideas, we’re ready to open things up a little bit. There are so many great marketers out there, and despite our wish for omniscience, our readers are no doubt much smarter than any one person.

So, we’re going to put the wisdom of crowds to work.

We’ll have some minor changes along the way shortly, but feel free to submit actual articles. We’ll be sticking with the current format (just look at anything that’s in here), so keep that in mind. If you have a great idea that you would like to share with interested digital marketers, feel free to write up a short article in the feed growth format (see below), and then submit it to me at feed growth!.

We’ll edit it as sparingly as possible, and then add it to the site.  Sounds simple. We’ll see how it actually works. If you want to add more information or specific screen shots or anything, just let us know.

Oh, and for that format.

Each feed growth! article tends to follow this same format.

Paragraph 1 sort of frames the issue or the problem that the tool addresses.
Paragraph 2 introduces the tool or idea and then gives the meat of how it works, how you sign up, how you get the value out of it.
Paragraph 3 adds a fun little element or highlights perhaps well known success stories or users.

Finally, the tech morsel is the nerdy bit where you can use techspeak without concern. And, the secret sauce is intended to be the marketing principle at work or really what sets the idea or tool apart from everyone else.

Why don’t you give it a whirl?

From RFID to the Chrome OS to Rspec and Cucumber. In this tiny spot, you can speak to the left brain.

Will it aid in positioning, save you money, or maybe increase customer retention. How will this tool help the marketer?

Need to point someone to more information. Add a link right here.

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  Parlez-vous français? Increase your website’s global reach with the Google Website Translator Gadget

Posted by maggie.hunsucker October 1, 2009 at 1:27 pm

google_logoIf you take a gander at your website’s analytics, you may be surprised to find that many of your visitors come from other countries.   One way to increase your site or blog’s global appeal, is to make it readable in all languages.

Thanks to Google’s Website Translator Gadget, you don’t need to invest in a professional translator or complex multilingual platform.  Simply add a snippet of code to your site, and your site content will be available in over 50 languages.

Here’s how it works.   When a visitor comes to your site, the Translator Gadget looks at their browser settings.  If it’s different than your language (the language your content is written in), a small banner will pop up, prompting the user to push a button.  Voila!  Your site is readable in that user’s language.

google website translator gadget

Google’s been hard at work making the web truly a universal platform (the launch of the Translator Gadget just so happens to correspond with International Translation Day).  This idea is free, easy to install, and doesn’t alter the look or feel or your site.   The Translator banner only appears if a foreign user visits your site – and when they do, your site is ready.

Google also released a Translator Toolkit for translating content (HTML & Word Docs) on the fly. The toolkit includes translation search and a bilingual dictionary and ratings. It's integrated with Wikipedia and Google's own Knol, making it easy to translate published articles. Overtime the system learns from the corrections users make and improves the product.

Google Translator is not perfect, nor a substitute for a professional translator, but it does help foreign visitors get an idea of your site and your offering.

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  Feed me, Seymour! Feedly feed reader offers magazine-style layout and improved user experience

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Feed readers make it easy to get your daily web digest, but they’re pretty bare bones.  You sacrifice the on-site experience for the convenience of having all your news in one place.

That’s were Feedly comes in.  It’s a Firefox add-on that displays all your news feeds in a very readable magazine-style layout.   Instead of a never-ending feed stream, Feedly articles are grouped by source and ranked by the number or subscribers.  Articles are further enhanced by thumbnail images, comments, and retweets, so you get many of the benefits of being on the actual site.

Top articles are featured prominently at the top of the page, while a column on the right explores the world beyond your personal reading list and offers up top recommendations from other users, YouTube, and Twitter.  It might be easier to just show you Feedly in action:

feedly feed reader magazine google reader

Feedly doesn’t stop at just an improved user experience.  It has some pretty nifty features of its own – particularly the search functionality.  You can drill down within the current page or all your sources – or – explore the most recent results from other blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Amazon, and more.   It’s a great way to incorporate new sites in your diet and if you’re like me, a great source for further news on a topic of interest.  When you find something you like, you can subscribe with a single click and add to your Feedly reader.

I’m neglecting the best part too.   Feedly automatically syncs with your Google Reader.  There’s no need to populate feeds by hand or import a file.  After installing the Firefox plug-in, Feedly had all my old favorites ready and waiting.

You can easily toggle between different Feedly views. If you prefer the old feed reader style, there is a view for that. You can also view articles from you friend's shared list. Feedly also integrates with your personal Twitter, FriendFeed, Delicious, and YouTube accounts.

Feedly is definitely on to something here. As both a daily feed reader user and feed publisher, I've been vexed by the poor user experience - articles are often choppy, images appear out of place, and you have to click over to the real site to access all the content.

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  Decent Exposure Stream your social activity in a Flash-based widget with BloggyBits

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 31, 2009 at 12:23 pm

bloggybits logo

The trick with social media is learning how to advertise yourself in order to advertise your company and products.  If no one knows you’re blogging, tweeting, and digging, what’s the point?

An easy way to promote your social media presence is to add a widget to your site. BloggyBits is a free, Flash-based widget that streams your Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, Flickr, and Delicious activities.  Of course, you don’t have to use all those services, but it’s nice to have some variety.  You can also add a custom feed, which comes in handy if you maintain a company blog in addition to your main site.

Plus, a BloggyBits widget is dead simple to create. Check the social services you want to feature.  Plug in your username (or the RSS feed) and arrange the services in the order you want them to appear. Push a button, and your widget is instantly generated with a preview window and embed code.   That’s it.

bloggybits blog BloggyBits flickr

The widget, itself, is nothing fancy, but it is clean and simple to navigate.  A user can toggle your social profiles by clicking on a service icon.   Arrows at the bottom of the widget let them page back and forth for older content.

BloggyBits makes a nice addition to any site or blog sidebar.  It’s an easy way to tie-in your company or brand’s social media activities without adding the ubiquitous “follow me” icons.

BloggyBits drops public feeds in an existing shell. There's no styling options or customization, which means no need for user accounts. However, if you want to manage your widget (i.e. change up some of the services), you can give BloggyBits your email address, and it will create a URL specifically for your widget.

Curious why Facebook didn't make the cut? We were. Then, we stumbled upon this tidbit on KillerStartups, which hints to BloggyBits's monetization strategy.

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  Photogenic Live blog pictures and video with the PicPosterous iPhone app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Ever notice how the most popular bloggers are also the most active?  It’s no coincidence.  The more you post, the more reasons you give a reader to come back.

An easy way to churn out content is to use an app like PicPosterous.   PicPosterous is a free photo and video blogging tool for the iPhone.  Picposterous image 2So when you’re out and about – or covering an industry event – you can take and publish photos and videos with no down time.  Plus, the application is dead-simple to use.

Either snap an image/film a video with PicPosterous (instead of the iPhone’s built-in camera application) or choose an image/video from your library.  PicPosterous gives you the option of creating a new album or posting to an existing album, which is great if you’re taking a series of pictures and want them to appear in the same post. Tap a button, and you’re done.

Already have a Posterous blog? Login via the app and publish to that.  You can also create a new account for free.  The benefit of registering (besides the fact that it is free) is you have access to Posterous’s email blogging capabilities, an idea we discussed last year in Start me up.

If you’re the type that doesn’t have time to update a blog – but you do have a smartphone – Posterous and PicPosterous can take care of all of your publishing needs.

PicPosterous image

Another reason to register with Posterous is the ability to automatically publish your posts to Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, and more.

Keeping content fresh (i.e. plentiful) was our number one tip at our recent Digital Marketing Meetup, the Top Ten Ideas for Creating and Managing Site Content. We've posted the full presentation online, and you can also download a PDF version here.

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