Maximize Your Feeds with Feed-Buster

Being an avid FriendFeed user, I’ve had hours and hours of experience in figuring out what items will get attention there. One thing that most users will agree on is the fact that images will usually catch a viewer’s eye. Even before FriendFeed really opened the fire hose and made realtime the default, items with image thumbnails always seemed to get the most attention. Feed-buster is a web application that ensures your feeds are at their best. When you import a Feed-buster feed into FriendFeed, you’ll get all the images and video properly formatted and embedded. Check out this image to see what I mean. Which feed would you find more interesting?

fbDemoPic

This brings me to my experience with my Posterous blog. The reason Posterous has become so important in my workflow is that it allows me to simply forward interesting emails I get directly to my blog (@woodchuckonbass is one of my primary sources in that regard). Not only that, but Posterous automatically posts to all my social networks for me. Check out myPosterous getting started guide for more information.

The problem is that, whether you import your feed from Posterous or set up Posterous to post directly to FriendFeed, you can never ensure that all your images and videos will actually show up in FriendFeed. Feed-buster changes all that and should help with any other feeds that don’t seem to do what you want them to.

Feed-buster has definitely solved a huge problem for me, so maybe it can help enrich your online experience as well. Tell what you think in the comments.

The Key to Closing the Social Media Sale

Photo of the reverse side of the Key to the Ci...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently caught a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Steven Hodson over on Winextra Shooting Bubbles (gratz on the rebrand!). He was talking about The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of SEO and Marketers. The post basically covers how marketers jump into the social media space and flail around with no clue what they’re doing, all the while claiming to be “ninjas” and “experts.”

One particular section stood out to me because it’s the same exact line of thinking I’ve formed about marketing as it relates to social media:

You know who a successful marketer is?

It’s the person who you can talk with on Twitter or Friendfeed or by email and feel like you are having an actual conversation – not the target of a sales pitch or that you are riding trapped with them on an elevator. Sure you could be talking about product or service but the moment you throw out a buzzword or two you have crossed the line from being an interesting person to talk with to being just another marketing dreck.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Steven just gave you the key to the city if you’re trying to make money using social media. As a matter of fact, this same mentality works everywhere else.

I believe that every conversation ends in a sale. Problem is, nobody likes being sold or pressured. They would rather evaluate the situation and make a decision on their own.

How do you get someone to make the decision you need them to make?

This is such basic stuff that I’m surprised so few actually get it. You have to convince a potential client or customer that your product or service will benefit them or otherwise provide value. With standard sales, you’d go through a process like:

  • Engage – make an initial pleasant connection
  • Build Rapport – small-talk to make your target feel comfortable
  • Discovery – at this point, you are trying to find out how your product will benefit this specific person
  • Close – by the time you get here, you and your target are buddies. You know exactly how your product or service fits into their life and they feel like you are doing them a huge favor.

For some reason, marketers in social media just keep trying to close the sale, skipping all the important steps necessary before that. This may still work with email marketing (maybe), but it does not work in social media. These are real people you’re talking to and if you don’t treat them as such, you will never succeed.

You have to put the work in if you want this to work for you. This means being real and genuine. Trying to be a part of the community for the purpose of making money won’t work. You have to just be a part of the community. With the web heading towards real-time, it’s all too easy to spot a fake and I or someone else will point you out. If you’re not here to provide value to the community, you may as well pack your things and move along.

Oh, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out…

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8 Ways to Make the New FriendFeed Work For You

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Many people can’t handle the new Beta FriendFeed design. It’s ugly, it’s too fast, it doesn’t have service icons, the layout sucks. This is pretty much the same thing that happened with the first beta and I bet most people don’t even remember what FF was like before that. Whatever the case may be, here are a few things you can try to make the new layout work for you.

1. Go Back to the Old FriendFeed

This may seem like an obvious choice, but you don’t have to use the new beta design. Only problem with this approach is that you will be totally screwed when the Beta becomes the standard.

2. Pause It

The tiny Pause button at the top of your feed will stop real-time updates until you hit Play. It doesn’t matter if you refresh the page or even log out, it stays paused for you. You can also pause the feed by hitting ‘q’ for quiet. This will emulate the behavior of the old FriendFeed, except that you have to manually refresh your browser…which many FriendFeed users were doing anyway.

If manually refreshing is a problem, try the ReloadEvery Firefox plugin or this Refresh Any Greasemonkey script that I Googled for you.

3. Kill the Comments

Get the FFLite Greasemonkey script by Matt Shaulis to hide all the comments in your feed. This will make it easier to scan as you won’t have to deal with random comments popping up while you’re trying to read stuff. It doesn’t appear that you can toggle the script on and off, so you’ll need to disable it to actually participate.

4. Use Filters

Filters are a powerful way to keep track of things you might be interested in and there are a couple of ways to create them. The easiest is to simply search for something and then click make a filter. The other way is to click edit on the “Filters” list (you have to hover it before you see the edit link). The second allows for much easier creation of really complicated filters, including filtering on how many comments/likes something has.

Check out the FF Filters feed for more on filters, including a bunch of examples.

5. Get Your Service Icons Back

Many people miss the little favicons that show you what service each item came from, so Chris Peoples created a Greasemonkey script to bring them back. It uses FriendFeed’s API to grab the icons. You can get FriendFeed Beta Service Icons over at Userscripts.

6. Make It Cleaner

Go grab AJ Batac‘s Cleaner FriendFeed (New Beta Widescreen) Userstyle. It makes the new Beta layout a little more familiar and gets rid of most of the empty space. It also makes it easier to follow conversations by highlighting your comments and those of people you subscribe to in different colors. The entire background of the comment is highlighted so that you can tell what’s going on at a glance rather than trying to focus on those tiny speech bubbles.

7. Tweak Your Twitter

The FriendFeed Twitter Tweaker Greasemonkey script by Ken Sheppardson (sensing a pattern here?) will make it easier for you to pick out tweets in your feed and see who they’re from. You simply create a new Feed that includes the phrase “twitter-friends” in the name and add the Twitter feed for each user you’d like to track.

8. Use Lists

I’ve never really liked lists but, with the hose at full blast, I’ve been looking at implementing them a lot more. The problem is trying to figure out where I should put people. The easiest way to add someone to a list is to hover their name or avatar and hit add/edit. From here, you can add someone to an existing list or create a new list for them.

List ideas: Tech, Social Media, Music, Favorites, Baconites, NSFW, FFersILF, Business, Pleasure, Politics, FFholics, Video, Fitness, Zombies (feel free to add your own favorite list names in the comments).

How Are You Holding Up?

I remember the original beta did cause quite an uproar, so we’ll need to do everything possible to make the transition smoother this time. What techniques, resources, or features are you taking advantage of to cope with the new Beta FriendFeed? Do you like the beta just the way it is? Let me know what you think.

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Chi.mp: It Only Sucks Because You Don’t Know What To Do With It

I previously talked about Chi.mp in regards to uniting your online identity. After getting a chance to speak directly to the Chi.mp team (Thanks guys and gals!), I gained new insight as to what the service is for. Chi.mp does have the ability to aggregate your data, but that’s not really what it’s for. It isn’t competing with any of your current social networking sites.

Click through to read the whole article (written by yours truly)

via Chi.mp: Not Just Another Data Aggregator

Save Space In Your Sidebar with Tabbed Widgets

I am engaged in an ongoing battle with my blog’s sidebar. I’ve never been sure what I’d like to put over there or how I want it laid out. When I recently switched to Tarski, I decided to revisit my widgets (hey, I made a funny) and see what I could do to make things easier.

Let me give you a little background. I like hacking code. Doesn’t matter what kind of code it is or even whose code it is. On the flip side of that, I don’t like re-inventing the wheel or making things harder than they have to be. I have no problem digging into my WordPress plugins and themes and fiddling with the PHP code in order to bend it to my will, but if there is an easier way, I’m all for it.

The Quest For a Tabbed Interface

Tabbed interfaces are pretty popular. They let you squeeze lots of info into a small space and help your interface to look cleaner and simpler. I was originally using the Javascript tabifier to achieve this type of widget in my sidebar, displaying my Recent Posts, Popular Posts, and Disqus comments.

Continue reading “Save Space In Your Sidebar with Tabbed Widgets”

After an Intense Debate, I’m Back on Disqus

Intense Debate and Disqus   

Intense Debate and Disqus (Image by inky via Flickr)

Let me start by saying that both of these services are great and I value the work they have done and continue to do. I would recommend either to someone looking for a hosted commenting system.

I had originally switched from Disqus to Intense Debate because ID imports comments from FriendFeed. Disqus has been talking about this feature for quite a while now, but it still doesn’t exist. I’m a FriendFeed fanatic. I need this type of integration. The FriendFeed comments plugin has been my main standby for this, but I crave an all-in-one solution.

ZOMG! Where are my comments?!

I was alerted by @nukirk on Twitter that all of my comments had disappeared from my post on the Blackbird browser. Now, as you can see, I do not have a huge blog. I do not get much traffic and I don’t really get many comments, so it was highly unacceptable for all of the comments to disappear from one of my most discussed posts. I tried frantically to restore my missing discussion. After resetting the Intense Debate plugin, disabling WP-SuperCache and everything else I could think of, I just ended up getting rid of Intense Debate entirely.

Continue reading “After an Intense Debate, I’m Back on Disqus”

A Plea to Fellow FriendFeeders

As many of you already know, I’m not a Twitter fan. There are many reasons why that is and none of them actually matter at this point because I have been trying to change my mind about it. You may have seen me around (@rahsheen). I decided that extending and remaining connected to my network of friends and associates online was far more important than any reason I had for avoiding Twitter.

Now, most of the people I have decided to follow on Twitter are people I was already subscribed to on FriendFeed, which is really my primary place of residence when it comes to online communities. Recently, FriendFeed added the ability to dump your stream directly into Twitter. This is the issue that me and you need to discuss.

Please, for the love of all that is geeky, stop dumping all of your FriendFeed stream into Twitter. Wait! Wait! Hear me out. Allow me to explain:

Twitter was not designed to be what it is today. It was to be something much simpler and people found more exciting ways to use it. We all know how that turned out. Now, FriendFeed has basically given each of it’s users a cannon to blast away at Twittter’s weak infrastructure and unsuspecting community. Most of those poor Tweeters have no clue what’s going on.

Back when I was active on IRC and dinosaurs roamed the earth, anyone who posted several messages in a row was considered to be flooding and would probably be booted from the channel, immediately. Now, if it’s impolite to flood an interactive live chat, why would it be ok to flood Twitter? You barely have the ability to scroll back.

We are burying everyone’s updates with truncated FriendFeed items.

Are you really adding value for your followers?

I just figured I would put this out there because I’ve seen a few people drop so many consecutive updates it looked like they were the only person I followed, and they weren’t even using Twitterfeed. Think about your strategy before you open the floodgates between services. Your audience will thank you for it.

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FriendFeed Beta Moved the Sidebar: Community in an Uproar (Better Beta FriendFeed v0.2 Released)

FriendFeed users are outraged today that they were not notified there would be a change in the layout of the popular aggregation site before it was put into place. The sidebar was moved from the right side to the left side and made slightly smaller.

FriendFeed should have tested the design first, maybe on a Beta site of some kind using a select group of users who could provide intelligent feedback. The early-adopter community would have been a perfect fit for something like this and it is still unknown as to why the FriendFeed developers chose not to go this route.

Wait…this just in: The changes were actually made on the Beta site a http://beta.friendfeed.com. We are still not sure what all the fuss is about, http://friendfeed.com is still intact and running the same boring layout that it has been using all along.

In other news, a new version of the Better Beta FriendFeed GreaseMonkey script has been released to accommodate the new design. If you miss your tabs with the latest upgrade, you can download the new version  of the script here:

http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/32513

Let me know if you have any issues….with the script.

Here are details on the FriendFeed Beta Design Update

To complain..uh…provide feedback on the new design visit the FriendFeed Beta Feedback Room.

Better Beta FriendFeed Greasemonkey Script Release

FriendFeed made the beta site available, but in doing so they broke all my Greasemonkey scripts. Better FriendFeed no longer works, Cleaner FriendFeed is broke, and a few others I was using. The only solution I could come up with to make sure I could still add custom tabs was to update my Better FriendFeed script.

Features in this release:

  • Add/Remove custom tabs (access any site inside of FriendFeed so you don’t have to leave it)
  • Cleaner FriendFeed support allows clearer color indicators for your comments and your friends’ comments, as well as making the text easier to read overall
  • Change the word “Like” to another word of your choosing so that you don’t feel bad about Liking bad stuff in your feed

Whenever this actually goes live, I’ll need to make a simple update to the script because it will only work on http://beta.friendfeed.com for now.

Download Better Beta FriendFeed

Update: My main man Andrew Trinh reminded me that you have to disable the Better FriendFeed script or it will clash with the Better Beta FriendFeed script  (thanks Andrew!)

FriendFeed Beta Around the Blogosphere

How I Keep Up With Identi.ca, FriendFeed, Twitter, Kwippy, and Rejaw

This is quick video showing how I keep track of multiple micro-blogging services using Pidgin, Launchy, and Ping.fm. I basically send everything via Ping.fm and recieve everything via IM.

One thing I forgot to mention here is that I can also “post” to Twitter from TwitterSpy (which I mentioned in a previous post).

How I Keep Up With the Micro-Blogosphere–>

Make FriendFeed Slightly More Productive: Script Updates

Everyone knows how awesome Duncan’s FriendFeed tabs are. After reading Smaller Tabs, More Choices , I created a couple more tabs to help increase my productivity while using FriendFeed. I agree with Duncan, though: “Ideally these will one day become one script and user definable.” So I decided to go ahead and make that happen.

This new script will allow you to enable/disable tabs right from the configuration GUI. You can also create new tabs by specifying a name and a website. The script will try to automatically figure out where the favicon is if you don’t specify it. You can also toggle Cleaner FriendFeed from the config GUI. If you are running any of the tab scripts or Cleaner FriendFeed, you should disable them as I don’t think they will play nice with this script.

I created a quick screencast to demonstrating some of the features.

You can download the script from here.

Ping.fm: Updating Your Social Networks Without Spamming FriendFeed

Ping.fm is a service that allows you to send out updates of various types (status updates, blogs, micro-blogs) to multiple social networks. I have been using it for some time and my results have been mostly positive. This is not a tutorial on how to use it. After seeing the topic on numerous occasions (here, there, everywhere) and reading DeSoto’s “Must blogging be a balancing act?“, I decided to share my Ping.fm strategy to see what others think.

Why?

This is all about increasing my social networking influence. I want to interact with a diverse selection of people because I have diverse interests. Ping.fm allows me to keep all these different groups updated with whatever is going on with me. I can share new music I create, content I’ve written, whatever I choose and I can share it across multiple social networks. I want to learn from others and get their feedback on what I’m doing.

Updating all of your social networks from one place is definitely a time-saver, but it could also have the community thinking you are a spamming moron if done incorrectly. For instance, Most of the services supported by PIng.fm are also supported by FriendFeed, so you could potentially send one update and have it show up several times. This is usually not desirable. I say “usually” because some FF users actually advocate turning everything up to full blast and allowing the user to filter accordingly.

That solution is less than ideal for me. I really don’t want anyone to Hide any of my FriendFeed services because I haven’t really figured out how I’m going to organize them yet. I may duplicate content now, but that may very well change in the near future. So, I decided to devise an updating scheme that allows me room for more flexibility.

What?

Before we get into those details, it’s important to understand how each Ping.fm update type shows up on each social networking service you subscribe to, so here is a table describing a few:

Ping.fm Update Type Bebo Facebook Hi5 Identi.ca
Statuses Changes Status Scraps Dent
Blogs Blog n/a Blog n/a
Micro-Blogs n/a Status n/a Dent
Ping.fm Update Type LiveJournal MySpace Tumblr Twitter Xanga
Statuses Blog Status Blog Tweet Pulse
Blogs Blog Blog Blog n/a Blog
Micro-Blogs Blog n/a Blog Tweet Pulse

Yeah, I have Bebo, MySpace, and Hi5. Big Whoop. Wanna fight about it?

Using Ping.fm, I can actually stay active on networks that I don’t really visit any more than once a week. Here is how I decided to break everything down:

  • I will post full, original content here at SheenOnline. I will also post more personal or off-topic content on LiveJournal and/or Xanga. I haven’t really figured out how this will work yet.
  • The social networking sites that provide a blog service will get excerpts and links back to whichever blog has my full article. I also would like to send excerpts to LJ and Xanga which link to my posts at SheenOnline.
  • Obviously, Identi.ca and Twitter both get my statuses, but I’m mainly only watching for responses on Identi.ca at this point.
  • I have no idea what I’m going to do with Tumblr. I’m thinking I want to pipe everything I write online to Tumblr, but I haven’t researched how much of a pain that would be.

Now that we have a basic (hah!) Ping.fm strategy, how will this fit into FriendFeed? If I were to pipe all this directly in, I would post a total of around 4 items anytime I made a blog post and I don’t think my followers would appreciate that very much. Also, I don’t want any of my services to get hidden.

Services that post to FriendFeed:

  • Identi.ca – Center of my micro-blogging world 🙂
  • LiveJournal – “Personal” blog
  • SheenOnline – Primary blog

Services that didn’t make the cut:

  • Twitter – This would just end up being a duplicate, I rarely post here directly
  • Xanga – Not sure what will go here yet. Possibly nothing 🙂
  • Tumblr – This may end up aggregating just about everything, so definitely not needed for FF

Caveats and Notes

One of the main points of all this is to be able to link everything back to my primary blog here at SheenOnline. Here are the details I found out as far as linking and HTML go:

  • Bebo will make a link clickable automatically
  • Facebook does appear to convert a link properly for statuses
  • Hi5 handles HTML weird. I haven’t figured out reliably how it handles links
  • Identi.ca and Twitter handle links just fine (duh?)
  • LiveJournal converts your links
  • Myspace will convert your links and handles HTML
  • Xanga will handle HTML links

In order to explicitly create a blog post, you can either go to the Ping.fm website, or you can send the content via email (Settings->Edit Profile to find your posting address). By default, Ping.fm sends out a status message, so your email should be of the form:

  • @b <title>^<body>

Conclusion

Please keep in mind, this is not a step-by-step guide that you should follow. I am simply posting this to describe my thought processes surrounding how I leverage Ping.fm to maintain my online presence. Maybe you don’t subscribe to some of the stuff I do and you’re not trying to balance eleventeen blogs.

In a future post, I will talk about drinking from the firehose or “playing in the stream” as J. Phil puts it. If your efforts at connecting with others actually pan out, you will have a lot of incoming data to deal with.

How do you use Ping.fm? Do you use a different service for this? Tell me about it.

Make FriendFeed Slightly More Productive

FriendFeed is becoming more and more central to my online activity. I feel I have only scratched the surface of what can be accomplished with it. Even at this early stage, I know that I have accelerated the development of relationships, and the growth of my personal knowledge just by being a regular FriendFeeder.

A recent discussion started by jeff(isageek), got me thinking. I really should have tabs for web apps I want to keep tabs on right there in FriendFeed. I mean…I’m always in it anyway, might as well try to get things done while I’m there. You may remember Duncan Riley creating a slew of scripts for adding various tabs to FriendFeed, but there were a few missing that I still needed.

You can’t be productive without access to your Calendar and your Task List, so I created a couple of quick and dirty Greasemonkey scripts based on Duncan’s.

And, just for good measure, let’s go ahead and add a tab for Identi.ca:

Another script that I find I am using a lot is the FriendFeed Read Later script. I don’t see how anyone survives without it. It will allow you to mark an item as “Later” and creates a “Read Later” tab where you can view all of the items you marked. I primarily use it to follow discussions I find interesting without having to hope they resurface or searching for them. I also use this feature to mark items I may want to blog about later.

How do you keep up with your FriendFeed? How do you make sure you stay productive while using it? Enquiring minds want to know. Leave me a comment.

The A-List Doesn’t Care About Your FriendFeed

“You can have relationships and discussions with people on FriendFeed without them actually being a part of your network”

I finally decided to check out this friendvenn app and was actually surprised at some of the names I saw that don’t follow me. There is no reason I should have made the assumption they cared about my content, but I did. What I realized is that you can have relationships and discussions with people on FriendFeed without them actually being a part of your network. I hadn’t really thought about this before. Not directly, anyway.
As for those people that don’t follow me, there was some discussion on

FriendFeed here and there where some FriendFeeders say it’s just not possible to keep up with that many subscriptions.

Not being part of the popular clique myself, I wouldn’t know anything about dealing with a huge number of followers. What I do know is this:

  • Stuff that is probably boring, not interesting, or blatant crap won’t stick on the first few pages of FF
  • The Hide feature is quite useful in trimming the fat
  • FriendFeed users (FriendFeeders?) may very well need better ways to figure out who to subscribe to. I mean, how do you deal with hundreds of Follows? View each person’s feed? *shudder*

“I would like a personal message from all A-Listers explaining why they don’t follow me”

I am a bit curious as to why some people haven’t followed me back:

  • Did I say something wrong?
  • Is it because I’m black?
  • Is it the missing LinkedIn Profile?
  • Does my breath stink?

In the end, it really is just curiosity. If I was to ever post something interesting, it would probably get Liked by someone they do follow. What I wonder is, have people made a conscious decision to ignore me? If so, I would probably be a better person for knowing why.

So, I would like a personal message from everyone on my list explaining why they don’t follow me. Oh…wait…they won’t see this anyway. Nevermind.