Relax. With a bit of planning, you can streamline the process of keeping all of your Social Web accounts fresh and engaging without breaking your back or the bank or taking away from the writing that you love to do. The trick is to make your social accounts work together. Most social sites use the concept of open source to make it easy for developers to write applications that enhance the features of the site. For our purposes, we will look at applications that can help us streamline our existing presence in the Social Web.
To demonstrate streamlining the process, I’ll start with an example. Imagine that you have the following social media tools and accounts already in place on the Social Web:
- A WordPress Blog
- A Facebook Profile
- A Facebook Page
- A MySpace Profile
- A Twitter Account
- A YouTube Account
- A Flickr Account
- An Upcoming.org Account
- A GoodReads Account
Your 6 Step Streamlining Plan
Generally, you want to investigate and implement ways to integrate these tools and Websites.
Step 1. Optimize Your Blog Feed
The first step in streamlining your Social Web presence is burning your blog’s feed to Feedburner. This is a free service that will help you manage and track your feed subscriptions easily. Once your feed is burned to FeedBurner, note the URL of your new feed. It will look something like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/MyBookName.
Step 2. Feed Your Blog
Now, you want to make sure you're getting the most mileage from your blog posts. To do this, feed your blog entries into all of your social accounts that offer blog feeding applications. Remember that each social site may provide its own different way of accomplishing this.
Facebook, for example, allows you to feed blogs into the “Notes” section of your Facebook page. Click “Edit” in the Notes box of your Facebook page and find the option that allows you to import notes from an external blog.
Feeding blog entries into MySpace is a little different. Find and add the application “RSS Reader.” You can access many MySpace applications by clicking “More/Apps Gallery” from the main menu of your MySpace homepage.
It is possible to feed your blog posts into Twitter, but blog posts are typically too long for this purpose. Read on, and I will clue you in to a better solution for streamlining your microblog entries.
Check all your other social networking accounts for similar applications. Good search terms to use for this task are RSS feed or blog import. If you can’t find a way to search the available applications, or if the networking site does not have them, try searching the support forums.
Step 3. Maximize the Use of Your Multimedia
Maximize the exposure of your images (book cover) and video clips by adding galleries and badges to your blog or Website, and by feeding your images and videos into your social networking profiles and pages.
WordPress offers many plugins for integrating Flickr images. My favorite right now is Flickr Tag, a plugin that allows you to easily place your Flickr images right into your blog posts, and create galleries by posting entire Flickr sets.
A Flickr badge is a snippet of Flash or HTML code that you can place on the sidebar of your Website or blog that will pull in and highlight random or specific photos from your Flickr account. To generate the code for your Flickr badge, sign into your account and go to this URL: http://www.flickr.com/badge.gne.
Similarly, you can use your YouTube channel and playlists to embed video galleries into your blog or Website. After you’ve added videos to your YouTube channel and playlists, you can generate code for a video gallery and place this code on your Website or blog.
To feed images from Flickr into your Facebook page and MySpace profile, find the appropriate application and add it. For Facebook, I use an application called “My Flickr”; for MySpace, use “Happy Flickr.”
You can place videos on your Facebook page by implementing an application called “YouTube Box”, and using the application “YouTube Favorites,” you can display video clips on your MySpace profile.
Step 4. Integrate Other Social Tools
The way you proceed in step 4 depends entirely upon which social tools and sites make up your existing Social Web presence. In our example, we have accounts with Upcoming.org (a social event calendar) and GoodReads (a book sharing, book reviews, and author site) that have not yet been integrated. By searching the applications in Facebook and MySpace, you’ll discover that Facebook offers an application that allows you to integrate your Upcoming.org events, and both Facebook and MySpace include applications that allow you to display your GoodReads bookshelf and reviews.
Step 5. Take Advantage of Streamlining Tools
You can add short posts to your minifeeds on Facebook, MySpace, and your microblogging sites like Twitter and Jaiku using one of my favorite social tools, Ping.fm. This is a useful tool that lets you post one brief entry, or often a status update, and feed it into a number of social sites.
One caveat about using this service, though: Don’t use it to blog. Ping.fm has an option for letting you populate your blog, but to get the most from your blog posts, they should originate at the source. As an author, if you are optimizing your blog entries, as you should be, with SEO plugins and proper tagging and categorization, then feeding from a service like this will undercut those efforts. There is no harm in using this tool in addition to regular, full-length optimized blog posts, however.
Step 6. Research and Repeat
The very nature of the Social Web involves connecting people through social platforms and applications; therefore, when deciding whether or not to invest time and resources into a new social tool, it’s best to research the ways that tool will accommodate your existing Social Web presence. Can you feed in your blog posts? Does it allow you to import images from a photo sharing site or video clips from from your video sharing community? Have sites like Ping.fm integrated the new tool yet, or do your existing social sites offer applications to integrate the new tool?
When you decide to integrate a new social tool or Website to make your book more visible, do so as best you can by repeating the applicable steps above.
By Deltina Hay, author of A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization. This article appeared in a similar form in the January 2009 issue of IBPA's Independent.
Deltina Hay is the principal owner of the independent press, Dalton Publishing, and the social media consulting and Web 2.0 development firm, Social Media Power. She is also the founder of the innovative Web 2.0 site, PlumbSocial.com.