Front and center Stay on top of Facebook activity with the new Notifications desktop app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

facebook-logoEvery once in awhile, a product upgrade comes around and you wonder “what took so long?”.

That’s how we felt when we discovered Facebook Notifications for Mac.   Notifications is a desktop app that alerts you when there is new activity on your profile.  To boot, you can update your status from your desktop.  The rest of your basic Facebook functionality (newsfeed, email, profile, etc) is a mere click way.

One of Facebook’s drawbacks (and a serious one at that) has been the lack of a proper desktop client.   Sure, you could stream updates with a handful of independent applications, but anything more required a user to log into the site.   Quite the hassle if you’re trying to juggle a proactive social media campaign with your regular workload.

Notifications is actually one of several new apps released through Facebook’s Prototypes.  Prototypes is a testing ground for new features and improvements – very Google Labs in flavor.  If widely adopted, we could see an improved version of Notifications being rolled out.   We’re not complaining, but it would be nice to have a real interface with this application.  Not to mention, the ability to toggle between different Facebook profiles.

facebook desktop notifications

Other Facebook Prototypes include a photo tag search, a comments filter, and enhanced events emails.

Prototypes gives Facebook developers an opportunity to create products and enhancements off-the-clock. Not exactly an open-source model, but still, it paves the way for new features and functionality that Facebook is sorely lacking.

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Round and round Promote your business locally with MerchantCircle’s Answers & Neighbors

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 9, 2009 at 11:54 am

merchant cirlce logo

We believe it’s important to establish – and maintain – a presence on the various online business directories. Consumers turn to sites like Yelp and MerchantCircle, because they trust recommendations from other consumers.

For the most part, these conversations happen organically.  Consumer A writes a review of a restaurant.  Consumer B reads it and makes a reservation.  When you, the business, have an opportunity to be apart of the conversation, you should take it.

Merchant Circle recently introduced two new features, Neighbors and Answers.   On the surface, both appear to be geared toward the consumer, but we see them as excellent marketing tools.

Answers lets consumers post a question, and merchants offer advice.  For example, if you’re looking for a personal trainer in Miami, you can post a question about beach workouts.  A local trainer can respond with tips, but really, he’s establishing a connection with you and promoting his own services.

Neighbors is a social network within MerchantCircle.  Consumers can follow a business and receive updates on promotions and events.  There’s no mistaking the Twitter feel here, but Neighbors lets consumers keep an eye on their favorite merchants without leaving the site or sifting through tweets.  For example, a coupon for a half-price manicure at my favorite nail salon is automatically deposited in the coupons area of my profile, where I can easily retrieve and print it.

With over 20 million unique consumer visitors a month, MerchantCircle has already arrived.   The service is free, so there’s really no reason not to register your business.  Features like Answers and Neighbors are just the cherry on top.

merchant circle answers

MerchantCircle was created with the small business in mind. The service offers a free web page listing, blogging and email newsletters, and a local business social network, which connects you to other businesses in your area.

Most businesses are struggling to find a way to use social networking to their advantage. Here's a way to connect one-on-one with a customer when they actually want more information about your products and/or services.

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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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Let the Mountain come to Mohammed Turn site visitors into Facebook Fans with the Fan Box widget

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

If your company’s social networking efforts are stalled, it may be time for a new strategy.  Instead of waiting for your brand enthusiasts to find you, try socializing on familiar turf – your own website.

Facebook Fan Box

Facebook has rolled out a new promotional feature called Fan Box.   Fan page administrators can now add a Facebook widget to their website that streams both Facebook activity and a list of your current fans.  There’s also a button that lets visitors become your fan without leaving the page.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or digital scientist for that matter – to see the benefit here.   The widget helps convert your existing site audience into Facebook fans – a move that positions them to interact with your brand more.  Not to mention, it provides yet another avenue to pull content into your site.

Facebook has made it pretty easy to add Fan Box too.   Just grab a few lines of Javascript, and you’re set.   You can find a link to the code in your page’s navigation bar, under “Edit Page”.   The widget requires a minimum of 200 pixels (w) x 554 pixels (h) to fit on your page.  If you want, you can reduce the size of the widget by eliminating some of the features.

It should come as no surprise that Facebook Connect is powering your Fan Box widget.

Several major brands are already using Facebook Fan Boxes, like Newsweek & Coca-Cola. Think of a Fan Box like a company news ticker, reporting anything and everything you promote about your products and/or services on Facebook.

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Firestarter Create and distribute a branded interactive promotion on Facebook with Wildfire

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 18, 2009 at 11:46 am

Wildfire AppPart of creating a brand presence on a social networking site is, well, being social.  This means finding ways to engage your customers and keeping your products relevant.

Consider holding a branded contest or promotion with the Wildfire App.  Wildfire gives you the tools to create and distribute interactive promotions on the biggest social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, and Ning).  You can choose from Wildfire’s existing templates or go completely white label.  There are packages and pricing for just about everyone.

Here’s how it works, choose the type of promotion you want to hold:

  • sweepstakes
  • contest
  • product giveaway
  • user-generated contest (video, photo, essay, etc)
  • coupon distribution

Wildfire provides layouts for each type of promotion, but you also have the option of creating your own custom design.  Again, it depends on the package you choose and your CSS skill level.  Once your contest/application is launched, you can start monitoring your campaign through your Wildfire account.  You can also pull data reports from your contest, like name, age, gender, email information, address, etc. of the participants.

The beauty of any social networking promotion is the built-in viral capabilities.   As someone interacts with your application, it appears in their news feed and perpetuates brand exposure.  Users also have the option of inviting their friends to participate.

In addition to your social networking application, you can create a custom contest widget for your website to reach your existing (and non-social) audiences.

Wildfire is an fbFund grant winner. The fbFund was created by Facebook and partners to reward third parties for outstanding application development through the Facebook platform.

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  • facebook-logo
  • merchant cirlce logo
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  • Facebook Fan Box
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