How To Update All Your Social Networks Using Google Voice Actions #teamandroid

A while back, Lifehacker reminded us that Google Voice Actions can be used with any web service that supports SMS or Email. You can easily send SMS and Email messages by speaking into your phone, so any service that lets you interact via SMS and/or Email is fair game. Keep in mind that most of this also applies to Vlingo or any other voice command software.

Simple Scenario

One primary example would be Twitter. By activating your mobile phone on the Twitter home page, you can send a tweet by texting it to 40404. Combined with Google Voice Actions, you would be able to say something like “SMS Twitter, That Rahsheen guy is some kind of awesome” and GV handles the rest. Of course, this assumes you have a contact in your address book named “Twitter” with a phone number of 40404.

Kicking It Up 10 Notches

If you want to be a Social Media Mogul, you will immediately recognize that this just isn’t powerful enough. There are other worlds than Twitter and you need to be able to update them all on the go using GV. Most of you already know where I’m going with this: Both a blessing and a curse, is a powerful tool for updating all of your social networks simultaneously.

Once logged into (you do have an account, right?), navigate to and save the number in your contacts as something simple like “Ping.” You want to make sure you pick a name that will be easily recognized when you say it and “Ping” works pretty well. While you’re at it, go to and add your unique posting address to this contact as well.

Now, you can long-press your search button, say what you want, and broadcast to everyone everywhere. As always, feel free to leave a comment here or hit me up on Twitter (@rahsheen) if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

Simple Examples:

  • “SMS Ping, I just ate a mango”
  • “Send Email to Ping, Flipmode is the greatest”

Lifehacker Post: Use Google Voice Actions with Any Web Service that Supports SMS or Email

One-to-Many Posting Options Still Lacking

I just recently (today) started using a service called Amplify that I learned about on Twitter. It’s supposed to let you easily share things across your social networks and provides a central place for discussion. I won’t get into too much detail about the specifics, but there is one major thing that instantly bothered me. Here is a screenshot of a post on my Ampblog regarding the RPM Challenge:


Looks good, right? The bookmarklet is excellent. Let’s you select regions of the page and intelligently pieces them together into a baby blog post. I was impressed, until I took a look at how Amplify posted to my other services.


Ok, fair enough. Twitter doesn’t do images and is limited to 140 characters. This is good. I believe the URL is only that long because I hadn’t connected yet.


Uh, what’s this? It looks just like the tweet. I’m quite sure Facebook is capable of handling images and including thumbnails of stuff when you share it, so why is this Facebook share so bland?


Here is the Amplify post on my Posterous blog. Again, no images. Why is the good stuff being stripped away?

As you all may know, I’m a It’s my go-to service when I want to speak to everyone everywhere. My problem with has always been that it doesn’t really do video and images (well, it does photos to flickr). I can’t be mad at that because wasn’t created that way. It’s all about status updates.

The other tool I use a lot for posting one-to-many is Posterous itself. It actually does do a better job of carrying over video and photos, but it has the same problem that Amplify does when it comes to Facebook. No Media!


Well, sometimes photos show up, but videos don’t embed. Oh, I also have to run it through Feed-buster to get images in FriendFeed (yes, I still FriendFeed).

I am well aware that there are probably technological, underlying issues with getting media into Facebook and getting it to display nicely. I’m also aware that there may be issues with trying to get external images and video to show up on a 3rd party service. As a user, though, none of that matters. The point is still that I can’t share stuff the way I want. I have to settle for less…and that kinda sucks. is the Authority on Bookmarklet Design


Ever since I first saw their sidebar bookmarklet, I was hooked on the url shortener (now the biggest of them all according to TC). It is the epitome of what a bookmarklet should be. I remember being amazed because I didn’t even think you could make a bookmarklet so sexy. There are other services (FriendFeed, Tumblr, Posterous, Diigo) with nice bookmarklets, but was the first I’d ever seen of it’s kind. There are a few reasons it rocks:

  • It opens up right on top of the page I’m on
  • It not only allows me to shorten and copy the current URL, but also gives me stats on the URL
  • At no point am I forced to break my workflow and actually visit the site
  • At no point does it open another tab or window for me to deal with
  • It’s pretty to look at even updated the sidebar bookmarklet today so that you can share the shortened URL on Twitter, Facebook, and via email. You compose and post your update right there in the bookmarklet. Completely awesome.

Services like, surprise me because you would think they’d have a snazzy bookmarklet. You would think they wouldn’t drag you away from what you’re looking at. I just want to post an update and I don’t want to have to leave what I’m doing to do so. Hell, whatever I’m looking at right now may have absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to post.

Why does a URL shortener have such an awesome way to post updates and a service for posting updates does not?’s Publisher Plugin

Besides being available as a bookmarklet, the sidebar is also available as a site publisher plugin. With a single line of javascript, you can enable your readers to Tweet links to one of your pages without ever having to leave your site. By not requiring users to leave your site to share a link, you will increase engagement and user retention.

This paragraph caught my eye because it gave me an idea of what the issue here may be. Competition for traffic. As a publisher, I don’t want people to leave my blog. As a reader, I don’t want to stop what I’m doing to share something.

Besides adding up the page views, there’s no reason any service should force me to visit their homepage to use their bookmarklet. The point of a bookmarklet is to be easy, useful and quick.

Don’t screw up my workflow for pageviews.

Check out this screencast of’s new design and publisher plugin:

Know of a service with an awesome bookmarklet that I didn’t mention? Do you actually enjoy visiting a homepage everytime you click a bookmarklet? Tell me about it.

Cross-Posting Etiquette: A Few Ways To Stay Connected

Everywhere At Once

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Ok, now that we understand the evils of posting across multiple services, let’s talk about the basic ways we can go about keeping track of these services.

The main issue with cross-posting using services like and Hellotxt is that you’re not actually engaging with people, you’re just using their time-line as your own personal billboard. I’m pretty sure this is detrimental to your personal brand.

If you don’t care about your personal brand, let’s just say it makes you look like a total noob.

There are 3 simple ways that you can interact with a micro-blogging service short of visiting the website. There may be other ways, but I choose these because I actually use most of them on a daily basis.

Instant Messaging has full IM support

You can send and receive all your updates via IM. Simply login to and go to Settings->IM, then follow the directions.

Kwippy provides alerts via IM

Kwippy will IM you when you recieve new comments, private message and various other things you might want to know. To set it up, login to Kwippy and visit your dashboard. The first thing you see should be the instructions for activating IM support.

TwitterSpy pretty much replaces Twitter’s IM functionality

Twitter is currently working feverishly to restore IM functionality. They also plan to implement a monetization strategy, completely fix the spam problem, and bring about peace in the middle east. Until their work is complete, you can use TwitterSpy.

Simply add ‘’ to your GTalk buddy list. Typing “help” will give you a list of commands. Don’t worry about all that right now:

  • track @<username> (this will make sure you get your @replies)
  • twlogin <username> <password> (this logs you into twitter)
  • post <message> (now you can post to Twitter via IM….again)

For those who miss the “track” feature on Twitter: “help track”. (more info on TwitterSpy).


Most services allow you to receive basic notices via email. does allow posting via email, but I don’t see a method to receive updates on any of the micro-blogging services I’m actually using.

That is not to say this isn’t possible. There are various hacks and services you could use such as TwitterMail and this one.  Those work (I guess) for Twitter. I’m pretty sure you could do something similar with As for the others, I’m not sure.

SMS supports SMS via Email

This means that you can receive your updates if your carrier has an Email<->SMS gateway. Most do. Just check the settings to see if your carrier is listed.

Twitter has full SMS support

I know this may come as a shock, but Twitter actually has SMS support. I believe it works pretty good. You should check it out.


Earlier, I read an account of one user’s usage and he brought an important point to light. I think the majority of issues come from mobile users.

It’s easy as hell to “Ping” from your phone. provides an interface for mobile phones and a specialized interface for iPhones.

Why is this a problem? Well, the cards are stacked against us! can already post to just about any service you can think of, then they support new services almost as soon as they’re released.

These micro-blogging services haven’t even had a chance to provide mobile users with a way to access their updates. So, we have a bunch of people running around’ing the crap out of us with no way to monitor our replies without actually visiting 4 or 5 different websites from their phone.

Bottom line is, it’s still your responsibility to be aware of your actions. Just because you’re holding a hammer, doesn’t mean everything is a nail. You know you’re not very active on certain services, so stop broadcasting to them.

If you are hell bent on trying to talk to everyone at once, you need to be just as passionate about being able to listen to everyone at once.

Cross-Posting Etiquette: The Evils of and HelloTxt

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A little while ago, I did a post on using without spamming FriendFeed. This was followed up with a post by Andy DeSoto, where he talks about whether this cross-posting is saving time at the expense of others. Now, I know there are a lot of people in the social media community who are against etiquette and I totally understand where they are coming from. The problem is there are some things that you can do that make you look like a very bad and inconsiderate person.

There are people that I am really interested in following. I want to be aware of things going on with them. That’s why I follow them. I hate to see these people tarnish their image by abusing community technology tools. Social media is about being social. You have to listen as well as talk. Services like and HelloTxt are very powerful and can cause a lot of damage to this interaction in the wrong hands.

Using an ‘@’ symbol in

Are you serious? As Andy pointed out in his post, the ‘@’ is pretty specific to Twitter replies and doesn’t really translate to other services. Even in the rare case where you might be talking to a person who actually exists on two or more different services, why would you ‘@’ them on all of them? I don’t need to see your Twitter ‘@’ replies on The person you’re talking to don’t live here and nobody can piece together what you’re talking about.

Your follower count is 0, Zero, Zilch

Are you broadcasting to a service where you are following 0? Nobody? Nadie? Why would you do this? I know I’m new here and all, but having a large number of followers and a low (nonexistant?) number of people you’re following is the mark of a spammer. I understand that you may not be active on every service, but come on. You didn’t even try. People may be interested in what you broadcast and then totally reversed once they see you are not listening.

You Never Check Your Updates

Have you ever received a call from an automated message? Annoying, isn’t it? If you are not available to speak to me live, why the hell did you call? I figure that most of us use Social Media to connect with others, but how are you doing this effectively if you don’t even respond when people try to engage with you? When you broadcast to a service, people expect that you are actually there. You are available for discourse. When you don’t respond, that leaves people with a bad impression.

Step Your Game Up

We can’t all be on every service all the time. It’s just not possible unless you’re a robot or you have some slick software yet to be released (I can haz beta key, please?). You have to set realistic goals for interacting with the community. It’s fine if you want to jump on every new service that comes out. Go ahead, play around with it. That’s what we do, right? Here are some basic guidelines to help you out:

  • Do not plug every service you have an account with into or HelloTxt just because
  • Do not make your primary method for using Twitter or any other specific service
  • Do not ever use to send an @reply. Period.
  • If you are not going to check a specific site at least once or twice a day, don’t broadcast there

Think about a person you would just love to have a discussion with. You have followed there blog or maybe heard them speak on a podcast. You would really like to get into this person’s head and here they are right in front of you! The problem is, no matter what you do to get their attention, they ignore you. They have a megaphone in hand and they are shouting at someone you can’t even see. Other people nearby are looking at this person like they’re crazy. Now, turn things around. Are you the nut job with the megaphone?

Stay Tuned

This post is not aimed at anyone in particular. I just felt compelled to share because I really hate running into situations where very interesting and intelligent people are misusing these services and probably don’t even know it. I took Plurk out of because I never go there. I dislike it immensely, so it would be wrong to continuously post there. Be considerate of others. This is a community, after all.

Far be it from me to call someone ashy without being able to provide a little lotion. There are many ways that you can make your life easier in keeping track of all these different micro-blogging services. I plan to share them with you at a later date, but this post has become entirely too long and I got updates to check.

Get the next installment here: Being Everywhere At Once Updating Your Social Networks Without Spamming FriendFeed 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 strategy to see what others think.


This is all about increasing my social networking influence. I want to interact with a diverse selection of people because I have diverse interests. 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 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.


Before we get into those details, it’s important to understand how each update type shows up on each social networking service you subscribe to, so here is a table describing a few: Update Type Bebo Facebook Hi5
Statuses Changes Status Scraps Dent
Blogs Blog n/a Blog n/a
Micro-Blogs n/a Status n/a Dent 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, 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, and Twitter both get my statuses, but I’m mainly only watching for responses on 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!) 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:

  • – 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
  • 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 website, or you can send the content via email (Settings->Edit Profile to find your posting address). By default, sends out a status message, so your email should be of the form:

  • @b <title>^<body>


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 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 Do you use a different service for this? Tell me about it.