You Be You

FeaturedYou Be You

“Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music for the first time, as if I had never heard it before. Being so inescapably a part of it, I’ll never know what the listener gets, what the listener feels, and that’s too bad.” – John Coltrane

When it comes to social media, there is a fine balance between creatively staying true to yourself or brand and becoming an numbers-driven lifeless robot. With the vast array of analytical tools and research out there today, the amount of information we can gather on our followers and the insight we have on content engagement is seemingly endless. We really have everything we need for crafting the most likeable, shareable, retweetable pieces of content.

When Coltrane crafted a jazz piece, he described it as an expression of the inner most parts of his being. To him, his music was a way to paint a picture of his spirituality and life experiences. He also desired for it to have a deep positive affect on the listener. Coltrane saw music as a medium to uplift people and “help humanity free itself from its hangups.” And while he desired for his music to be received well, it never clouded him from writing music that came from the depths of his soul; music that was true to who he was, not just on how the listener would respond. It’s a fine balance.

Social media is also a fine balance. Unlike Coltrane, we actually have the capabilities to know what the customer or follower gets and what they feel. We can craft our content to incite the responses we want and then sit back and watch it happen. The problem starts when we swing so far to this side that we depart from who we (or our brand) really are; there’s no soul left in it. We become tone deaf robots, all banging the same notes. This is also a danger of automation. And if you know me, you know how much I rave about automation tools like Buffer, but you can’t let them get away from you.

Find a way to use automation to your advantage. Use your analytics to craft engaging content. But don’t let your lust for likes, retweets, and follower growth devour your authenticity. Find your voice and let it stand out. There’s already plenty of noise to go around. Play your own notes. Be YOU. And be you in a way that makes others’ lives better for following and listening to you being you.

“You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” – John Coltrane

You can GIF with this, or you can GIF with that.

That whole alphabet system thing is so 7th century BC.

We all (hopefully) know that animated GIFs are nothing new. Graphics Interchange Format (aka GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987. The developers pronounced it jif, like the peanut butter. But I guess they also pronounced graphics as giraffics. Take it away Chris…

Animated GIFs have particularly blown up on Tumblr as a primary form of media shared. You can get lost in there for days on end.

Until recently, though, sharing GIFs on Twitter and Facebook has been difficult. Twitter finally realeased a feature that allows animated GIFs to be viewed directly within your timeline and Facebook has come around some too (more on that below). When it comes to engagement, especially from a brand, utilizing media in clever ways can be one of your best strategies. GIFs can often be the perfect extra touch for many occasions.

But the real question is: Where do I find that perfect GIF?

Answer: Giphy.

Giphy is a massive database of animated GIFs. Giphy is to GIFs what Google Image is to images. If you’re a community manager, social media marketer, or whatever else you want to call your position of writing tweets for a fun brand, then Giphy should be at the forefront of your toolbox. You can either save a GIF and upload it to Twitter, or you can share the direct link from within the webpage, and Twitter will add the GIF into the timeline. I avoid the latter method because I don’t like the extra link cluttering up my character field.

For Facebook, uploading a GIF directly does not work. It will come out as a still image. However, sharing the link from Giphy does work. It will embed the looping animated GIF for all of your friends to enjoy! One little tip is once the GIF is pulled from the link and embedded, delete the link from your text field to clean things up a bit.

And for all you Chrome users, go get yourself this handy dandy little Giphy extension for finding the perfect GIF on the fly.

Now, GIF on with it.

Nuzzel: News Feed Curated by Your Friends

I follow a lot of awesome people on Twitter, many of whom share links to really great articles that I want to read. Many of those links I catch, but still many of them I miss.

I’ve always wished I had a way to simply filter and view all tweets in my timeline that contained links. Well, Nuzzel has helped with that wish. Nuzzel is a news feed app for web and iOS that shows you all of the articles that your friends on Twitter and/or Facebook have shared. Simply sign in with either Twitter or Facebook, and Nuzzle shows you a feed of articles and who shared them. You can even receive custom alerts for breaking news that is shared by many of your friends.

You can organize the timeline by either timeframe of post or number of friends that shared the link, and the timeline of posts can be filtered anywhere from the past 24 hours to the past hour.

Nuzzle instantly made its way onto my front page along with my other go-to content apps (News360, Digg, and Feedly).

Smarter Social Monitoring with Mention

If you spend time browsing through multiple tweet streams in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, or if you clutter up your email inbox with Google alerts, you may want to look into Mention. I started using this app with Land of a Thousand Hills about a month ago, and I cannot imagine working without it now.
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With Mention, you set up various “Alerts” that can be customized to include a single word, phrase, or set of words. For example, I have a Land of a Thousand Hills alert that pulls in anything on the web that includes “Land of a Thousand Hills,” “@1000HillsCoffee,” “1000HillsCoffee”, or “Thousand Hills Coffee.” Anytime any of these expressions are used, whether in a tweet, Facebook update, Instagram, blog post, or whatever, I see it. And the best part is, I can react from directly within Mention. I can retweet a tweet, reply to a tweet, comment on a Facebook post, etc. Mention even integrates with Buffer so you can add retweets or replies to your Buffer to be scheduled out. If you handle support or customer service as a team, mentions can be shared and responses can be delegated amongst the team.

Really, I do not think that I can recommend this app enough. If your company or personal brand requires you to be able to actively listen or monitor what is being said to you or about you, or even what is being said to or about your competitors, you need to sign up for a free trial of Mention. I am pretty sure you’ll be sold within the first week at how great of a tool this is.

3 Apps to Help You Read More and Share More

If you are looking to spend more time this year reading about things that you love or discovering new interests and sharing more with your social networks, here are three great apps to help you do so. Each of these apps have become part of my daily routine of sifting through articles, finding ones of interest or educational value, and then sharing many of those with my followers.

Feedly

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When Google announced that it was pulling the plug on Google Reader, a certain level of panic ensued. I was using Reeder for iOS and Mac at the time, and was quickly looking for another option, even though Reeder had plans to ride out the transition (they now integrate with Feedly).

Feedly quickly jumped in to the rescue, providing a replacement for Google Reader. The apps were already pretty slick and only got better and better with new updates. Now I can’t remember how I ever operated without Feedly before all of this. From form to function, they have really put together one stellar experience for efficiently plowing through hundreds of blogs or thousands of headlines.

Feedly integrates with Buffer and enables you to easily add new links and updates to your Buffer. This comes in handy when browsing through a ton of interesting articles and allows you to space out sharing those articles on Twitter or elsewhere, instead of bombarding your followers with a flood of links in a short period of time.

Feedly is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up, or if you already use Feedly, click here to add this blog to your reading list.

Pocket

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Previously known as Read It Later, Pocket serves as a place for you to save and tag any interesting website, article, video and more for you to revisit at a later time.

I use Pocket closely with Feedly. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs and in no way have time to read every article posted. Instead, I simply scan through article titles and if I come across one that looks like something I want to read but not right that second, I use the “Add to Pocket” feature. The article is then saved and I continue scrolling.

At some point later, I go to Pocket and browse through my articles. Pocket provides a great reading experience as it strips away all of the website’s clutter and provides you with just the content. If there is something I want to share, I just add it to my Buffer, an option that is built in to each of Pocket’s apps.

Pocket is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up.

Buffer

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I have loved using Buffer for some time now. Buffer started as a simple way to load up tweets or updates and it would take care of spacing those out throughout the day. You simply set a particular posting schedule for each social network or use the default schedule and just start adding posts. Buffer has since added the option for users to schedule particular posts for a specific date and time, instead of just adding them to your regular schedule.

I use Buffer most when reading articles in either Feedly or Pocket. When I find one I want to share, I add it to Buffer and select which networks I want it to send to. Buffer can currently sync to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, App.net, and Google+ Pages. I’m really looking forward to the day when I can use it to post to my personal Google+ page.

So if you are wanting to start sharing more to your social networks and need an easy way to schedule them out throughout the day, Buffer is the best option.

Buffer is FREE for personal use on all available platforms, and they also feature upgraded plans that allow for more Buffer space, more networks, and collaboration with other social media managers. Click here to sign up.


Do you currently use Feedly, Pocket, or Buffer? If so, how do you use them? What do you love about them?