It flows both ways Cross-promote content on community toolbars with Conduit Open

Posted by maggie.hunsucker June 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm

conduit logoAs we discussed in Raising the Bar, a branded toolbar is a great way to keep your content in front of readers, even if they’re browsing other sites. However, when you’re competing with the likes of Google, MySpace, and Digg, you may need to sacrifice some browser real estate to create a stronger content offering.

Conduit (the toolbar builder we discussed in Raising the Bar) just unveiled Conduit Open, a component marketplace (i.e. feeds, applications, custom content) for your Conduit toolbar.   Conduit Open lets you partner with other content providers to cross-promote goods.   The idea being:  I make my content available for use on your toolbar; you make your content available for use on my toolbar; we both win.   There’s a wide variety of components to choose from in the marketplace, including:

  • WikiAnswers
  • Hulu
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Talk
  • Netflix
  • CNN
  • Fox News
  • And more

You can add and edit components with a single mouse click, changing icons and text to suit your needs.

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We designed our original toolbar to strictly promote feed growth!, but the addition of a Twitter widget, YouTube search, and Mashable RSS feed adds value for our readers.  These are resources they would use and enjoy anyway.  By adding them to the mix, we’re increasing our own toolbar’s chance for long-term adoption.

Conduit remains a free resource for white label toolbars, so if you didn’t create one the first time around, give it a try.  You can also download the new and improved feed growth toolbar here.

Thanks to Conduit's open API, you can develop more advanced custom components that appeal to your target audience - and publishers looking to add content to their toolbar.

With over 180,000 publishers and 38 million users in the Conduit network, you might want get in on the Conduit action just to promote your content on other people's toolbars.

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  Fiddler on the web Send quick links, files, and to-dos from your browser address bar with Futz

Posted by maggie.hunsucker June 10, 2009 at 9:45 am

picture-4We spend the majority of our day in front of a computer screen (ah, the glamorous blogger lifestyle) and have adopted a small arsenal of sites and services to help us manage all of our tasks.   Still, there’s always that one to-do item that slips through the cracks, an image we didn’t save, or a URL we forget to bookmark.   Perhaps, all our services are just overcomplicating the matter.

If all you need is a mental drop box, check out Futz.me.  Futz is a quick and ridiculously easy way to send yourself notes, links, images, and files – all from your browser address bar.  Futz is like a personalized tag that, when attached to a web address, prompts the service to send that content to your email or cell phone, depending on how you configure your account.

For example, if I run across an article I like, I add futz.me/feedgrowth to the URL, and it’s in my inbox 5 seconds later.

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Likewise, for an image file:

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Want to create a reminder to pick up groceries (granted, not relevant to the web)?  You can still use Futz and your browser address bar to send yourself a note:

futz.me/feedgrowth grab some more bait.

You can even send an image file from your computer by futzing the file path:

futz.me/feedgrowth file: maggiehunsucker/documents/imagetitle.jpg

Of course, it’s a little more complex to send a local file, so Futz requires an extra step here, and you will need to drag and drop the file into your browser.

Futz is a free service and can be used by anyone (gentiles included).   We see it as a great tool for bloggers who incessantly surf the web and run across bits and pieces of information.  Since toggling between your web browser, Delicious account, Google Reader, and personal hard drive is not always convenient, Futz is a great tool for quick grabs.

If you enable text message delivery for images, your phone carrier must support images for the service to work correctly. Futz uses your carrier's text (SMS) and picture (MMS) email addresses for delivery.

Futz is still a send-only service (i.e. your Futz content isn't accessible by webpage), so if you're looking for a way to save URL's for later reading, check out Read It Later. This oldie but a goodie is now available for any browser (previously a FireFox plugin) and your iPhone.

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  Birds of a feather Manage and monetize multiple Twitter accounts with HootSuite

Posted by maggie.hunsucker May 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm

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It’s common to have more than one Twitter account, depending on your audience – one for personal use, one for your company, one for your product or brand, etc.

If you’re having a hard time keeping up with all those personas, look into a service called HootSuite.   HootSuite lets you manage multiple Twitter profiles from a single dashboard.   That’s pretty convenient in and of itself, but HootSuite also lets you pre-schedule tweets, shorten URLS, tweet your blog’s RSS feed, and monetize your Twitter account.

So how does it work?  First, you will need to create a free HootSuite account and provide login information for your various Twitter accounts.  Once you’re set-up, you can start tweeting from the HootSuite dashboard.  You can send the same tweet to all your accounts or to a single account by selecting the profile image(s) to the right of the tweet box.   Click on “Send it Later” if you want to schedule a tweet in advance – a great feature if you want to coordinate a promotion or press release.  Again, you have the option of tweeting with one or all of your accounts.

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The real kicker is the Google Adsense integration.  HootSuite lets you attach your own advertising to your ow.ly links (a.k.a. truncated URLS).   Just paste your Adsense code (for 234 x 60 half banner ad) into HootSuite and select which Twitter profiles apply.  HootSuite will serve up your ad when someone clicks on the ow.ly link; actually, they serve up your ad 50% of the time and their ads the other 50%.  Still, its not a bad exchange as your ow.ly (and your ad) has the possibility of being re-tweeted by your followers and the system provides real-time analytics for it all.

One more thing worth mentioning- you can assign other administrators to your HootSuite and give them access to only the Twitter accounts you choose.  So if you’re using HootSuite to manage both your personal and your corporate accounts, you can let coworkers tweet from one and not the other. Nice.

Editors Note:  Shout-out to Ann Tran with Purchasing Power for the great tip on HootSuite.

You can also install the HootSuite bookmarklet, which lets you browse the internet and tweet URLS to different accounts through HootSuite.

If you think about it, HootSuite is designed with the corporate Twitterer in mind. So, if you haven't already, now may be the time to finally get an account. When they start making Twitter tools specifically for business marketers, you know it's a good bet.

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  Starts a big fire Connect to influential bloggers with My Blog Spark

Posted by maggie.hunsucker April 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

picture-13You’ve heard the story, right? A blogger happens upon a great, but relatively unknown product and gives a glowing review.  Other blogs pick up on it and do the same, and overnight, the product becomes a viral sensation.

So how do you replicate this type of success with your product or brand?  Try using (or even creating your own) service like My Blog Spark.   My Blog Spark was developed by General Mills as a platform for connecting bloggers and brands.  In exchange for information about your products (and the occasional giveaway or coupon), the service matches you with a blogger of similar interest who will review or talk about your product.  No money exchanges hands, in fact, there are no promises that your product will be reviewed favorably – My Blog Spark just facilitates the connection.

If you’ve ever tried to launch a viral campaign, then you know that getting the attention of bloggers and influential consumers is half the battle.

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There is a lengthy sign-up process to become a participating blogger or brand, but the idea is to match your products with the right bloggers – those who talk about similar things and are read by your target demographic.  Categories include food and beverage, beauty, home, electronics, health and automotive, but My Blog Spark also looks at at blog’s traffic, their Technorati ranking, and just how social they really are.

Word travels fast online, but no one really knows what will spark the next big brand conversation .  You could venture out on your own, contacting individual blogs, leaving comments, hitting social networks, OR your could use a viral matchmaker like My Blog Spark to get people talking.

My Blog Spark requires bloggers to identify their connection to My Blog Spark and the brand they are highlighting when they review a product. They also let the blogger administer any promotions or product giveaways. This ensures that the product reviews and giveaways are transparent and big brands aren't manipulating the situation.

My Blog Spark, given its lineage, has partnerships with several big brands, including Cheerios, Macaroni Grill, Yoplait, and RainX. Check out this Fruit Roll-up Promotion featured on a participating My Blog Spark blog.

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  Parla Italiano? Increase natural traffic by claiming your blog on Technorati

Posted by maggie.hunsucker February 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm

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Want to make sure your blog gets noticed?

A good place to start is with Technorati.  Technorati is one of the oldest and, until relatively recently, the largest blog search engine.  It categorizes and grades blogs based on the number of unique blogs within the Technorati system that link back to that blog, referred to as “Authority”.

To become a claimed blog, you will need to submit your URL to the system.  This is a painless process that requires you to create a Technorati account and publish a Technorati profile link somewhere on your blog’s homepage (you can delete this after the claim process is completed).   Then, you will be asked to enter a description and tags for your blog; this will help Technorati place you, as well as help visitors understand what your blog is all about.  You can also add a Technorati favorite link to your blog to grow your fanbase.

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While Technorati rankings hold clout in the blogosphere, what you’re really doing here is promoting your blog and generating natural traffic (to clarify, not natural search traffic. See the Tech Morsel for more info).  However, the more eyes that see your blog and the more sites that link back to it, the better your Google PageRank, offering an indirect natural search benefit.

If you're looking for a more direct route to improved search results, submit your site to an internet directory like DMOZor Yahoo's Search Directory. DMOZ is free but picky with its inclusion, while Yahoo charges a yearly listing fee. Either one will improve your organic search ranking with the major search engines.

We frequently hear the claim from clients that they have no competition or there is no product or site like theirs on the market. The truth is, everyone has competition and in the blogosphere, you probably have more than you can imagine. A site like Technorati is good for keeping tabs on other guys. You can find out who the other bloggers are in your field and take cues from their success to help drive your own.

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