21 Essential Social Media Resources You May Have Missed

April 24, 2010 Comments Off

Social Icons ImageThis past week certainly flew by at the speed of Google Fiber. If you didn’t get the chance to take in all the how-tos, app reviews, and business tips found here on Mashable, rest assured, we’ve gathered them into another convenient resource buffet, fully stocked for some all-you-can-read weekend enjoyment.

This week’s edition includes some easy ways to make a difference with social media, a look at how video conferencing technology is improving education, some new social strategies for businesses of any size, and much more.


Social Media

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  • Dear Foursquare: This Is Not the Right Time to Sell

    The location-based network’s extraordinary growth and buzz have caught the eye of Internet heavyweights, notably Yahoo. But if the Foursquare team aims to be a worldwide game-changer like Facebook and Twitter before them, it may be wise to forego the big pay day and keep on truckin’.

  • 9 Ways to Do Good With 5 Minutes or $25

    Social media makes it easier than ever to make a difference. Whether you can donate a little bit of time, or a little bit of money, check out these easy ways to contribute on the web or on your phone.

  • How Social Media Can Effect Real Social and Governmental Change

    Transparency, open APIs, and free-flowing information are just a few of the ways societies and governments can be improved. This post discusses some important social media campaigns that have made a difference.

  • 4 Tips for Tapping Into Twitter Conversations
    Twitter is so much more than just sending updates and links into the void — it’s the world’s real-time conversation. If you want to take part, heed the advice in this post.
  • Exclusive: Tour the ‘If I Can Dream’ Command Center [VIDEO]

    The interesting new reality/online video hybrid show ‘If I Can Dream’ hit the web on March 2nd, and its impressive production and technical values have turned more than a few heads. This exclusive tour of the show’s HQ sheds some insight on the unique experiment.

  • 5 More Ways to Go Green for Earth Day

    Earth Day may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the environmental awareness hook. Explore these social strategies for going green any time of year.

  • How Social Media Helped Travelers During the Iceland Volcano Eruption

    The Icelandic volcano eruption cost millions in airline revenue and left thousands stranded, but it may have opened new windows of communication. See how travelers and airlines took advantage of social channels to relay vital information that call centers and websites could not.

For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Tech & Mobile

iPhone Green Image

  • HOW TO: Give Your iPhone a Spring Clean

    With so many tempting apps available for download, it’s easy for your iPhone to get cluttered. Well spring is here, and it’s time to organize your mobile life. Check these tips on streamlining your beloved handheld.

  • 5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Video Conferencing

    Web-based video chat has allowed students to connect with a world of experts and curricula that were previously unavailable. Take a look at these five examples of high-tech education in action.

  • 10 Free iPhone Apps to Help You Go Green for Earth Day

    Environmentalism doesn’t stop at your desktop. Staying green on the go can be a little bit easier with these 10 resourceful iPhone apps.

  • 10 Excellent Examples of Recycled Gadgetry

    If you’re all about gadget-themed decor and apparel (and who isn’t really?), you won’t want to miss these awesome products, built from the circuits and wires of yesterday’s tech.

For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Business

SAS Airlines Facebook

For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

(Via Mashable!.)

Which Social Network Is Right For You?

February 17, 2010 Comments Off

Between Twitter, Facebook, and Googles new social networking tool, Buzz, its hard to turn a corner without running into another social network. But how do you know which networking tool fits you best? Were here—with big charts and all—to help.

Last week Google Buzz made us ask ourselves what we wanted out of social networking. To answer that question, we charted what we liked and disliked about setup, privacy, usability, and other aspects of Buzz, Twitter, and Facebook. Here’s the result.

This chart doesn’t cover everything about every network out there. MySpace is (seemingly) on the decline or, at best, re-purposing itself. LinkedIn is really a business contact pool, FourSquare a geo-location game, and other networks generally too niche to be compared in the same aspects and categories.

For the simple read, here’s the full chart of our Buzz, Twitter, and Facebook comparison. We color-coded each answer to give a context of where it stood, in comparison to what we know is possible and what a smart user would like to see. Red means that you can’t rely on this network for this feature. Yellow indicates that the network offers it or makes due, but could definitely be better. Green means something works, and can be considered a selling point.

Click on the chart for a bigger view, or right-click to download the full-resolution file.

There’s a lot of text there already to parse through, but it’s obviously segmented and specific to each function. Having dug into the settings of each network and debated it with my fellow editors, I’ll try to offer up a concise take on how I’d explain each network to someone completely new to any of them. I hope it might spur some thought about which network you’re using now, too, and why.

Facebook

Facebook’s strongest feature, as it stands now, is that it’s relatively easy to figure out who your ‘friends’ are. You can pull them from your webmail address book, sure, but you have to check off those you want to be a friend with, and they have to reciprocate. After that, you start seeing their status updates, photos, and other activities on Facebook.com, right when you log in. Simple enough, right? Not exactly.

You cant, or at least shouldnt, create two separate Facebook accounts for personal friends and work contacts/co-workers/casual acquaintances, all of whom are likely to hit you up on Facebook sooner or later. So its up to the user to create groups of friends, set what those different friends can see. Also, your Facebook identity is tied to certain ‘networks’—an employer, a school, a location—that you have to remember to set controls for, too. Dig around and youll almost certainly find the very fine-grain controls you might need. But then, every few months, Facebook changes up their offerings, for better or worse, and it’s up to the user to notice and re-learn how to decide what’s private, to whom, and, in a much more worrisome way, what’s being made public and search-able on the web.

Facebook does have a pretty great iPhone app, and offers a good amount of access to third-party clients like Brizzly and TweetDeck. But they’re still limited in some ways meant to drive you to the web site, and their non-iPhone mobile apps and sites are tough to love.

Twitter

What’s easy to like about Twitter is the simplicity. You get an account, you see a suggested list of famous users that you can feel free to ignore, and then you’re asked to write 140 characters about something, anything. It will be made public, search-able, and able to be re-broadcast by other users, unless you’ve decided to lock your entire account and require your permission to view it. You can follow other people, block the occasional jerk from following you, reply to others’ posts, message other users privately (if you both follow each other), and, over time, you’ll learn about third-party apps and context tricks that make the service make more sense. I started using Twitter one day into my first SXSW, and I had it mostly figured within one or two over-eager days.

That simplicity, and reliance on third-party sites and apps for picture posting, link shortening, and the like can be confusing to newcomers that aren’t into digging around, for sure. And the speed and volume of the main stream can be overwhelming and off-putting. But Twitter has grown slowly into a network that adapts to users’ needs, whether by force or through user innovation. If you don’t like how noisy and fast your main feed is, creating a list of high-priority friends and thinkers will do the trick. As you figure out what you like and don’t like about Twitter, you’ll be able to find third-party apps and interfaces that cater to those interests. We’d love to see expanded features here or there (for discovering who’s following you, and perhaps hiding certain posts from all but a few close followers, for example), but Twitter is a pretty novel solution for those who like to share short updates with the web at large.

Buzz

Whatever we write about Buzz will be slightly inaccurate in a week’s time, most likely. Buzz is brand new, and already it announced an apology and upcoming ‘fixes.’ From what weve seen, though, it seems like it wants to be the solution that FriendFeed never was to tracking your friends and contacts multi-varied interests. Some friends change their IM status to say whats up, while others post on Flickr, Twitter, their own blog, and other places. Rather than making you head to each site, or make those friends become endless self-promoters, Buzz aims to connect you to everything your friends are doing from a place youre already familiar with—your Gmail and Google contacts.

And that, of course, is where the uproar started. Buzz showed up, suddenly, inside Gmail, and when asking users to sign up, assumed too much that they’d like to turn their email contacts into people they ‘follow,’ and maybe make that following status public. If Google could reassure Buzz users that what they did on the network was only among their followers they’ve individually approved, it would be more appealing. The service also needs a dedicated home, instead of being spread across mobile sites, Gmail, Google Maps, and elsewhere, and gain better controls for how much ‘buzz’ flies at you. But it’s promising, still, because it’s not a public-type Twitter, or a walled-off Facebook, but something else entirely.


Now that we’ve run down the three biggies above, give us your take:

Which Social Network Fits You Best?(survey software)

How would you revamp our chart of social network strengths and weaknesses? What did we get right, wrong, and miss entirely? We’re open to your ideas, suggestions, and links, in the comments.

(Via Ian Scott.)

Google Buzz Has Completely Changed the Game

February 16, 2010 Comments Off

The Social Analyst

is a weekly column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

Google may have finally figured out social media, even if there have been some major slip-ups in the way. The implications of that realization could dramatically change social media as a tool and as an industry.

On Tuesday, February 9th, Google launched Buzz for Gmail, a service for sharing thoughts, multimedia, and your social media feeds with your friends utilizing Gmail as the conduit. The result: over 160,000 Google Buzz posts and comments per hour.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Google didn’t launch a small addition to Gmail — no, it has dropped a nuclear bomb whose fallout will permanently alter the social media landscape. I could never have predicted that it would become so popular so fast when I first learned about it.

Why? Why has it grown so rapidly? Why has it riled up such strong emotions on both sides? Are the privacy issues going to permanently damage Google? And most of all, what does Google Buzz mean for Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the social media world?

I’m going to tackle all of these questions and more in this week’s in-depth column.


Google Buzz’s Skyrocketing Usage


While it’s still very early into Buzz’s life cycle, initial indications show that Google has a hit on its hands. Linking Buzz to Gmail’s millions of users has clearly brought people into the company’s new social domain.

Google has only released two numbers so far: there have been over 9 million posts and comments in about 56 hours, amounting to around 160,000 posts and comments per hour. That’s even more impressive if you consider the fact that most users didn’t get Buzz until Wednesday the 10th.

The other number: over 200 mobile check-ins per minute, nearly 300,000 mobile check-ins per day.

Those numbers are simply stellar.


Why Have Users Embraced Buzz?



It’s a question that has both simple and complex answers: why has Google Buzz taken off as a service (thus far) in ways that Orkut, Google Friend Connect, and Google’s other attempts at social media did not?

Let’s start with the most obvious one, and one I think was a brilliant move, despite the privacy issues: it’s wired directly into Gmail. With a flip of a switch, Buzz gained tens of millions of users. With the Buzz tab just directly under ‘Inbox,’ the service creating its own unread count, and Buzz emails flooding inboxes, how could people not try it out?

The embrace goes deeper than that, though. I asked the Mashable Buzz community the following:

Why do think Google Buzz has gained traction so quickly? What’s the #1 reason you find yourself using Buzz?’

Here are some of the responses we received that I believe really sum up Buzz’s popularity:

Adrian Eden: Ease of use and simple interface

- Eyal Herlin – it just works for me. i like the zero effort setup and the making of connections easy

- Sheldon Steiger – #1? It’s embedded into Gmail. After that, it seems to be exposing me to people and subjects that were not readily visible in the other networks.

- Roy Ruhling – On a scale of 1-10 for ‘socialness’ of social networks Twitter is about a 3, Facebook is about a 4 and Buzz is about a 9. It honestly and truly connects people from all over the world instantaneously

- Daniel L – The main reason buzz is growing so quickly is because it is easily accessible to Gmail’s large and already established user base. Normally, Gmail is the one site i always have open because it has my calendar, my to do list, and my chat all in one window. Because of this, i always see when i have new Buzz, and i will tend to check it and respond. This is the #1 reason i use it — convenience.

Summary: Easy to use, accessible, convenient, closer social circle, moves in real-time, engaging…

Google’s got a monster on its hands.


Addressing the Privacy Issue



One of the obstacles to Google Buzz’s growth — and a major point of criticism — has been the privacy issue. Since it’s linked directly into Gmail, people can figure out your email address. Since it auto-followed your most emailed friends, people could figure out your email habits.

All of these issues are legitimate, but here’s the thing: Google is responding with lightning speed. Yesterday the search giant made some serious privacy tweaks, making auto-follow into auto-suggest and giving you the ability to completely kill Buzz if you so choose.

In a few months, few will remember these privacy snafus. Just as people have forgotten about the Facebook News Feed fiasco and other Facebook disasters, people will forgive and forget about Buzz’s initial privacy concerns.

In that sense, Google will get the best of both worlds: it has seeded Google Buzz with people and content via the auto-follow and automatic opt-in features, but it won’t feel the heat for privacy issues due to the recent changes to both. It may have been unintended, but it was savvy.


The Potential Impact on Twitter and Facebook


Now that we’ve established that Google Buzz is growing and isn’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon, it’s time to look towards what will happen next.

If Google Buzz is here to stay, what does that mean for the two kingpins of social media, Twitter and Facebook?

If you don’t think both companies haven’t had constant meetings over the potential impact of Buzz, then you are kidding yourselves. There’s no way both companies don’t have people analyzing scenarios and Google’s plan for its social media wunderkind.

To analyze the potential impact of Buzz on both services, lets look at the key questions for Twitter and Facebook, and some possible answers:

Q: Will Buzz Kill either Facebook or Twitter?
A: No. There’s probably nothing that could kill either service. The user bases are too large and passionate for that to happen.

Q: Could Buzz slow down the growth of Fb/Twitter?
A: Absolutely. Imagine that 15 million people are spending 15 more minutes in their Gmail inbox because of Buzz, whether that’s browsing what their friends are saying or creating their own posts. There are only 24 hours in a day, so that time has to be taken from somewhere.

Yes, part of that time is being taken away from tweeting and facebooking. Even if it just means one less status update per person per day, that adds up to millions of updates lost to Buzz.

The effect could be a lot worse. We just can’t know yet.

Q: Could Buzz become bigger than Twitter?
A: It already is:


While we can’t pinpoint an exact number, Twitter has probably around 18-25 million users worldwide. Heck, let’s say there are 30 million to be generous. Gmail has over 38 million uniques in the U.S., and that was back in September 2009. Worldwide, that number is simply larger.

Yes, there are far more tweets than comments/posts on Buzz right now, but beating those engagement numbers isn’t out of the question for Buzz.

Q: Could advertisers and brands switch some of their dollars and focus from Facebook and Twitter to Buzz?
A: With millions of people using Buzz, how could they not?

Buzz is already taking a chunk out of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media services. That’ll only grow as brands and advertisers better understand what they can do with Buzz and its millions of users. Buzz is equivalent to throwing a giant super magnet into a room filled with nails.


Predicting How Google Buzz Will Play Out


Google Buzz has landed, and its impact is already changing the landscape. Gmail integration, real-time commenting, ease of use, and a new base of users that might not have been as socially engaged are now part of the Buzz universe.

Not only can you expect Facebook and Twitter to respond with their own features and partnerships, but you can expect developers to shift their focus as well. Remember last year when there was a Twitter app gold rush? I do — as the service skyrocketed, countless developers embraced Twitter’s API and built amazing apps on top of it. Facebook had the same experience when its platform first launched.

Now it’s Google’s turn. Buzz is an open platform, meaning that developers will soon be able to create new apps for Buzz — everything from iPhone apps to analytical services will be built on top of it.

Now if Google wanted to really shake up the developer ecosystem, it could offer ad revenue share for Buzz apps and its own app store. Gmail advertising is already well developed, and if you haven’t noticed yet, Buzz already has Google ads being placed against it. Offering apps the ability to quickly and easily monetize within Google Buzz could really take away from development resources being placed towards Twitter, Facebook, and mobile platforms.

If Buzz can keep up the momentum, everyone from publishers (like ourselves) to developers to Fortune 500 companies will have to pay attention to the conversations happening on Buzz. If this thing can drive traffic or put a big brand on its toes because of a buzz that goes viral, then there’s no telling how far it will go. Oh, and Google’s only just begun with this thing — more killer features are in its immediate future.

The social media landscape has been permanently altered. To ignore Buzz would be a costly mistake, because Google has finally created the definition of a game-changer.

(Via Mashable!.)



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