Where last week was an introduction to microblogging, this week is about learning some tools and strategies for managing the plethora of services and ways of communicating in this social media landscape. The immediate problem that occurs for most people who choose to engage in social media is how to choose which communities/services to get involved with and how to most seamlessly integrate them into their daily lives online. Here’s the scenario:
In real life (IRL) Joe knows Bob, Adam, and Sue. Joe’s looking to start venturing more into social media, to see what all the buzz is about. Joe created a Facebook account a while ago, but never uses it. Joe is friends with Bob on Facebook, but Adam and Sue don’t use Facebook. Joe chats with Adam on IM, but Sue and Bob don’t do IM. Joe knows Sue is a huge fan of Twitter, but Bob and Adam don’t like it one bit. Joe really just wants to connect with all of them online and it seems like such a hassle to have three different ways of communicating with them using social media.
In this common scenario, Joe is overwhelmed by it all and gives up before even getting started. While there is a lot to keep track of, it can be simplified a bit.
For instance, microblogging is very similar to “statusing” which occurs in Facebook and in all IM services (where the user leaves a short message about what s/he is up to). So, in order to save the hassle of updating Facebook, GTalk, AIM, Twitter, and Identi.ca with information about his latest project, Joe can use a service to do it for him.
Ping.fm is a service designed to do exactly this by offering one place for updating all of the microblogging/statusing services Joe uses. After creating an account on Ping, Joe configures his Facebook, GTalk, AIM, Twitter, and Identi.ca accounts and then updates all of them simultaneously from Ping. It not only saves tons of time by creating a one-stop updater, but Ping offers a number of different ways for users to input updates. For instance, Joe can update Ping (which will update all his services) from the Ping website, IM, e-mail, text-message/SMS, and iPhone/mobile app. So, while he’s working away on his project, he sends an IM to Ping, which updates all of his services and lets Bob, Adam, and Sue all at once know what is going on with his project.
While Ping is an absolute lifesaver for posting across a variety of services, FriendFeed is the key for aggregating and keeping track of activity across these same services. After setting up an account, Joe can configure all of the services he uses, just like with Ping. But, instead of allowing him to post to these services from FriendFeed, FriendFeed creates a feed of all of Joe’s activity from all of the services he configures. With this feed, Joe can have a single aggregated feed (much like the Facebook feed which aggregates activity across the different parts of Facebook) which he can share with his friends. FriendFeed then lets him become friends with others using FriendFeed and gives a real-time aggregated feed of all of his and his friends’ activities across the Web. Within FriendFeed, they can then have discussions by commenting on each other’s posts and activities. For Joe’s friends who are not on FriendFeed, he can create an “imaginary” friend in FriendFeed that he can configure to aggregate all his friends services, which will then display in his social feed.
FriendFeed is much smaller than Facebook and Twitter, but is growing quickly as a result of a unique and open feature set and a rapid pace of development. In fact, many technology commentators think that Facebook is copying most of FriendFeed’s feature developments.
With these two services, it becomes much easier to participate and keep track of all the microblogging and social media networks and services on offer nowadays. Let us know if you would like more information about these services in the poll below.