Category Archives: Product Review

“Reporters on Twitter? Say Twellow to My Leetle Friend”

So you’re on Twitter, sharing posts and chatting with your colleagues. You’re also looking out for your clients by monitoring for conversations using Summize (now owned by Twitter). But how do you tap into the power of Twitter and learn more about your target reporters? Don’t fret social media heroes and heroines. The lovely folks at WebProNews have created Twellow, a great Twitter people search and directory to help you find reporters and bloggers galore!

Check it (click to enlarge):

Yeah, I know. It looks a little one dot oh, but trust me. Don’t let that keep you from giving it a go. All those categories can help you drill down into the industries or interests of the Twitter community.

Here’s what the News Category looks like (click to enlarge):

Note that the list is ranked by number of followers. Here is the list for Bloggers (click to enlarge):

Each list is composed of mini-profiles. Here’s mine:

It shows a recent Tweet, my actual Twitter profile and the categories my profile falls under. These are either computer-defined based on search terms in the profile or user-defined. Yup, anyone listed on Twellow can “claim” their profile by logging into Twellow with a Twitter password.

It’s in Alpha, which means they are still testing, developing and working out the bugs. We look forward to seeing it improve over the upcoming months.

Areas Needing Improvement:

  • Name search engine is a little weak. Searching with “Christopher” doesn’t get picked up as being the formal name for “Chris”
  • Why is PR in the advertising category? Marketing would be a better fit [UPDATE: Twellow moved Public Relations to the Marketing category! I’m impressed! See their Tweet here.]
  • The friend count on some profiles doesn’t match the numbers listed on the Twitter profile
  • Twellow hasn’t mapped everyone on Twitter just yet. We look forward to seeing it’s directory grow

Still a Great Resource:

  • By clicking around the directories, we were able to find and add several top tier bloggers and reporters we didn’t know were on Twitter
  • With the people search, we also found several other reporters and bloggers who had not been categorized
  • Most fascinating was the number of local reporters from all across the country, including a large number from Ohio and Oklahoma!
  • Since it’s organized by categories, you can also find key audiences or other peeps who share your interests

Test drive Twellow and tell us what you think. Did you find it useful? What are some other ways you find reporters on Twitter? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter 🙂

Don’t miss out: Grab our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Best Practices, How To, Product Review, Public Relations 2.0

“With Our Powers Combined:Xobni and LinkedIn Join Forces”

A couple months ago, we reviewed Xobni’s Outlook tool, and it has proved an invaluable tool for day-to-day work. Since its already a killer app for us marketing and PR folk who make a living by the volume and management of our contacts, it’s no surprise that Xobni has become even more useful with a LinkedIn integration.

A simple, yet significant, improvement

We also put LinkedIn’s Outlook toolbar to the test. While we still think LinkedIn’s Outlook app is worth it for the grab function alone (makes creating new vCards a breeze), Xobni has engineered a seamless integration that enhances usefulness with the addition of pictures, current job information, and other pertinent tidbits that help make the most of your network.

As a PR pro, I already trust LinkedIn as one way to make sure I have all the right info on my contact, including their geographic location, job title, and place of employment. The volatile nature of the media industry requires that you do your homework before you hit send, and Xobni makes it all the more simple with the addition of LinkedIn’s data.

One thing Chris and I noticed when looking at the toolbar is that sometimes the contact information pulled directly from e-mail conversations isn’t 100% accurate. These inaccuracies have been consistent with Xobni since day one, which is why I tend to ignore the contact field, saving the nuts and bolts contact info for my vCards in Outlook. That said, it would be nice to have a greater level of trust for the information automatically generated by the program.

Another problem is that many people don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet (I know, collective gasp!) and even if they do, they probably don’t take advantage of features such as picture additions. While the integration is clearly useful, it’s not evident on a large scale yet. As LinkedIn and Xobni grow in popularity and scope, these kinds of issues should improve, making an already useful service completely indispensable.

If Xobni, for one reason or another, doesn’t boot up with my Outlook, it’s a crisis. It’s just so easy to find what I need quickly and easily. I really don’t think I could live without it after experiencing its utility.

So GO, download it now if you haven’t already, and join the other savvy marketers and PR pros who are using it to streamline their communications. You won’t regret it

Don’t miss out: Got RSS? [what’s that?]. Or, start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox!

Contributing writer Marie Williams also blogs at www.flackette.com about PR and agency life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

1 Comment

Filed under Beta breakers, Marketing, Product Review, productivity, Public Relations 2.0

“LinkedIn’s Outlook Toolbar Grabs You By the vCard”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer, Marie Williams.

LinkedIn Logo

Whether Journalist or Public Relations professional, your contacts are your currency. Last month, socialTNT gave TechCrunch40 darling, Xobni, a test spin. This month, the socialTNT BetaBreakers team put popular professional social network LinkedIn‘s Outlook Toolbar through our rigorous testing process.

All You Ever Need to Know: The “Grabbing” Function is Magic

  • By far, the best thing about the toolbar is the “grab” function. It makes it devastatingly simple to transfer contact information seamlessly into your Outlook contact list.
  • How it Works: When you have an e-mail open from the person you want to add, highlight their signature block, click on the little grab button on the top right-hand corner of your menu, and voila! All the contact information is entered in the appropriate boxes. Sometimes fields get switch, such as “company” and “title,” but it’s a small inconvenience that doesn’t detract from the feature’s utility. Check out the screenshots below for a visual:

[Click to enlarge]
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

  • Just do it: If your contact list is key to your business success, you cannot be without this amazing resource. Go download it. NOW. 🙂

There’s No Place Like LinkedIn Home to Manage Your Networking Savvy

  • Your LinkedIn home page can be easily accessed through your Outlook, and the interface is clean and aesthetically pleasing. It’s easy to track your inbound messages, friend updates, profile views, and all the other features that LinkedIn provides.
  • Bottom Line: If you live and die by your LinkedIn network, you will love how simple it is to manage your connections without ever leaving your inbox.

Don’t Press That Button! The Danger of the Dashboard…

  • The toolbar’s “Dashboard” feature lets you see contacts to invite to LinkedIn, contact information updates for your LinkedIn friends, and keep-in-touch reminders. It’s a hybrid of your e-mail and your LinkedIn account homepage.
  • If you press the button, it takes anywhere from 2-5 minutes to load, which is a long time for us ADD techies accustomed to split second satisfaction.
  • Why you should pass: Xobni’s search function is way more intuitive and lightning fast. The utility of the information on the dashboard is negligible and more easily found via Xobni.

Hello Promo!

Beyond the uber useful grab tool, 85% of the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar is clearly a promotion of LinkedIn’s contact management services and will only work for you if you’re a) already an avid user of the network or b) think you want to start becoming more involved in that community.

That’s a Wrap

Our overall impression is that while Xobni reigns supreme when it comes to inbox add-ons, LinkedIn’s grabbing feature makes it more than worth the download. Think of Xobni as your full-service inbox search solution, while the LinkedIn toolbar provides some “Ah ha!” features you’ll come to rely on. If your a LinkedIn Junkie, download it NOW!

Don’t miss a post: Please add socialTNT to your RSS reader [what’s that?]. Better yet, subscribe to socialTNT by email!

5 Comments

Filed under Beta breakers, How To, Product Review, productivity, Social Media

“Jealous, YouTube? Find Your New Video Platform Valentine”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer, Marie Williams.

Let’s face it: When it comes to online video, YouTube may be your main squeeze, but that shouldn’t keep your eyes from wandering. Ever wonder what hot, new online video service is waiting in the wings to sweep you off your feet?

Today, socialTNT gives you the rundown of most eligible suitors. Let’s make YouTube a little jealous this Valentine’s Day by checking out your options:

Viddler: The girl (or boy) next door
Viddler has a great selection of organic video content created by people like you and me. The coolest part: You can comment at various time stamps in the video. Viddler even has the heart of online lifecasting and social media queen iJustine (she’s even featured in the “How To” video on the site). C’mon, if iJustine thinks Viddler’s hot, isn’t it worth a try for you? Check out iJustine’s original music video, “Lifecaster.”
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Revver: Good for a short-term commitment

The content on Revver is well-produced and slickly packaged. The site is also endorsed by iJustine. The plus for Revver is its revenue sharing programming, splitting the revenue 50/50 between Revver and publishers. I have to admit: The ads running across your screen are a bit annoying, but it’s still a great place for short n’ sweet clips like this one by Mike Burk of Cupid dancing on a stripper’s pole. Dance, Cupid, dance!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Blip: Content Casanova

Blip, currently in beta, will charm you with its sleek design and professional-grade content. Billed as a TV alternative, it has a lot of cool, well-produced serial shows by publishers like Alive in Baghdad and Wallstrip. Like Revver, there is a 50/50 revenue sharing. Yes, there are embedded ad captions, but, due to Blip’s spacious screen, the ads appear less intrusive than on Revver.

With so much amazing content, you’re guaranteed to find something you like, and may even want a second date (or a third, or a fourth, if you get hooked on one of their original shows). Here’s a video by WatchMojo for you singles (and possible V-day haters):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Metacafe: You hafta get to know ’em first

With reposted television advertisements and promo vids taking up prime real estate on the splash page, Metacafe initially seems devoid of original content. After we scratched the surface, however, we came across a huge cache of technical videos–perfect for Geek Love!

Metacafe’s publisher rewards program and well-organized interface make it great for distributing content. The below video, from KentChemistry.com, helped them earn a whopping $9,299! But ads BEFORE the videos are SUPER annoying. Who wants to watch a full-on spot for Jack in the Box before you get to the goods? Total deal-breaker. Our reviewers are not giving it a second date.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Now that you have some newbies vying for your heart, tell us: Is YouTube still the top dog, or are you finding yourself attracted elsewhere? Who’s your online video sweetie and what’s your fave place to create and view content? Tell us in the comments!

Don’t miss a post: Add us to your RSS reader [what’s that?], or Sign up for our Email.

[The above photo, “._* { Sometimes I wish my life was a movie, I can puase, rewind and forward when ever I want or need to !! } *_.” by Adoodi , ™ in Manchester ❤ , on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

9 Comments

Filed under Just For Fun, New Media, Product Review, Social Media, Video

“Review: Xobni And The Pursuit of (E-mail) Happiness”

Today’s post was written by Contributing Writer Marie Williams.

Last November, we heard rumblings of a possible game change from both Google and Yahoo that would marry social networking and e-mail into “Inbox 2.0.” Since then, whispers of a revolution have gone quiet. And with a Yahoo merger possibly on the horizon, it remains to be seen when–or if–the concept of Inbox 2.0 will ever see the light of day.

In this age of four hundred Facebook friends and the ever-increasingly crowded inbox, how can you sift through the clutter to find your most important peeps? While we wait for the search giants to figure out Web 2.0, content yourself with the impending promise of Xobni Insight.

Xobni–pronounced Zob-nee or “inbox” spelled backwards for you word wizards–is an Outlook application that wants to help you keep up with all your BFFs. After receiving an invite to the closed Beta, socialTNT decided to take Xobni Insight for a test drive. Here’s our review.

Why Xobni rocks:Xobni screenshot

Snapshot to your (Inbox’s) soul

  • Direct from the widget, you have all your friends’ contact information.
  • Like a true social network, Xobni let’s you see a friends list of shared contacts.
  • Quick and easy access to all of your e-mail threads or files you’ve exchanged in the past.
  • Xobni scrapes your Outlook calendar and puts free time into an organized list, allowing you to send your schedule to any of your friends–very cool!
  • To help you get a better idea of when it’s best to contact your friends, Xobni even graphs times during the day when you most frequently exchange e-mails with each person–sweet!
    • Check out this screenshot (right) of Chris’ Xobni profile. He’s typically active on e-mail in the AM, at noon, and in the late afternoon.

Super search capabilities

  • Need to find a contact quickly? Search their name and you get a Xobni profile and a list of relevant e-mails mentioning and/or from that person.
  • Looking for an email about a certain topic or conversation? Xobni gives you instant access to the top Yahoo Web results, as well as any recent emails with that topic.
  • The best part: The e-mail results highlight the exact portion of those e-mails that is relevant to your query.

Plays Well With Others

  • If you are actively using it, Xobni folds out on the right-hand side of your Outlook. This helps you search and navigate your inbox without a lot of distraction.
  • When minimized, Xobni shows contact info or upcoming calendar appointments relevant to the email you’re viewing.

How Xobni could be even better:

Slow Children at Play
  • After downloading Xobni, we noticed other applications seemed to run quite a bit slower…major bummer when you’re trying to streamline your e-mail flow.
  • We uninstalled and re-downloaded and that seemed to help, but Outlook’s still not as nimble as it should be with the Xobni add-on.
Make It Personal
  • In its current state, you can’t store additional information beyond Xobni’s pre-defined categories. Add a personal e-mail or cell number? Nope. Note their birthday with reminder to send a thoughtful card? Uh-uh. Add notes about an offline-convo? Sorry.
  • User definable fields would add significant value to Xobni’s already helpful service.

Data Checks In, But Never Checks Out

  • Data Portability is a hot topic this year. LinkedIn and Outlook both allow export of contact information. Xobni should, too.

With the rise of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, e-mail may eventually go the way of the DoDo bird. Be on the lookout for socialTNT’s review of LinkedIn’s Outlook toolbar.

Want a chance to check out Xobni Insight for yourself? socialTNT has some Xobni Insight Beta invites and wants to share. Send an email to marie [at] socialTNT.com and tell us why YOU need Xobni to fulfill your pursuit of e-mail happiness.

Already a guru at the networking game? How do you manage your connections? Let us know in the comments below.

add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank

Don’t miss a post: Add us to your RSS reader [what’s that?], or Sign up for our Email.

2 Comments

Filed under Beta breakers, Product Review, Social Networking

“Stick It To The Man: Choice Shirts, California Cosmetics, Technomic Asia”

//www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=76988191&size=oAs the rest of the blogosphere debates Enterprise marketing, we at socialTNT want to bring it back to the people. Big corporations meet behind closed doors to figure out social media, while thousands of people are trying out new ideas every day. This week, socialTNT is gonna “Stick It To The Man” by showcasing small businesses and individuals experimenting with new media as promotional tools.

Choice Shirts is a t-shirt site where visitors can browse, purchase and create graphic t-shirts. I know, there a literally tons of online t-shirt purveyors, but how many of them use Twitter? Choice sends out daily special tweets with discount information. There are only 20-something followers right now, but this could increase if they promoted their Twitter-stream on the site.

California Cosmetics, mentioned in my post on rethinking online video strategy, is the product of a 20 year old girl named Lauren, a certified cosmetologist working her way through college. She uses YouTube to give video tutorials on achieving certain looks. Since starting on October 29th of this year, Lauren has more than 570 subscribers and is the 16th most subscribed director in the “guru” channel. Many of her posts come from requests and questions she receives from her fan-base. By listing upcoming posts, Lauren keeps her viewers coming back.

Technomic Asia is a strategic consulting firm for businesses moving into the Asian market. The firm has approximately 25 employees. Their (mostly) weekly podcast includes tips for executives visiting China or special news relevant to companies doing business in that market. According to feedburner, their podcast has about 550 subscribers. With most episodes rack up to 2000 downloads, Technomic Asia places itself in a good position to establish thought leadership.

By looking at these three examples, how can you reach your customers directly and in real time? Do you have special knowledge or skills that you can offer your customers? What’s holding you back!

How are you using social media to promote your small business? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email or hit me up on Twitter. We will be showcasing unique angles all week!

[Above photo by Mika Hiironneimi under Creative Commons]

4 Comments

Filed under How To, New Media, Product Review, Small Business Social Media, Social Media, Stick It To the Man

“Hi Mom! I’m on TV: A Seesmic First Look”

Image by Domake Saythink on flickrLast Friday I was honored to receive an invite to participate in Seesmic’s Private Beta. For those of you who don’t know, Seesmic is the hottest invite in Silicon Valley. That’s due, in part to French Founder Loic Le Meur‘s charisma plus a lot of blogger outreach. It also doesn’t hurt that TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington is an investor.

So What Is It?

On its most basic level, Seesmic is a social network for people engaged in video conversations. Because of its use of video, people are apt to draw comparisons with YouTube. The design of Seesmic, however, is much more intimate than YouTube. Instead of being overwhelmed with content, when you login to Seesmic you can either watch the most recent videos uploaded (the public timeline) or record your own. Even Seesmic’s tagline, “Join the video conversation,” contrasts YouTube’s “Broadcast Yourself,” highlighting the underlying difference: YouTube is more for those wanting to create or share video content while Seesmic, on the other hand, is intended for short video messages woven together to create conversations. YouTube is about You. Seesmic is about the community.

Speaking of community, it has grown very quickly over the last month. On November 20th, Michael Arrington reported that there were 300 users. In a Twitter interview Sunday night, Loic said the site has about a thousand users. With almost half posting daily, Seesmic’s community is very active. Loic also stated that there are still around 7000 people on the waiting list for an invite. [See this video explanation of why they can’t expand any faster]

Usability

Seesmic is very easy to use. My MacBook’s built in camera allowed me to just hit the record button on Seesmic and start talking for up to five minute. If you don’t have a webcam, you can also upload videos that you record with a digital camera. Because the site is powered by flash and Ajax, some users might experience a drain on their CPU.

Many people have called Seesmic a video Twitter. Since Twitter is text, you can easily read, re-read and edit before you hit send. Video feels much more spontaneous.

I have to admit, when the camera started rolling, I didn’t know what to say; it really felt like the first time I’d ever left a voice message: “Um, Hi, this is Chris and I, um, just wanted to say…” Thank goodness Seesmic allows you to playback your video before posting and discard if you aren’t satisfied. After typing a subject and a brief description, hit save to post the video. Voila, you message has been sent out to the community and, if you’ve registered your Twitter account, a Tweet is automatically sent informing your Twitter friends that you have posted on Seesmic. Now others can watch your video and instantly reply. And then the conversation starts…or continues.

[Loic does a fun 3-minute video tutorial of how to use Seesmic here.]

Initial Impressions

First off, I have to give mad props to the Seesmic team for creating such a beautiful platform. Scrolling through the Seesmic stream, I watched conversations discussing everything from light-hearted music trivia to more esoteric topics like the psychology behind Seesmic. Loic’s team makes it easy for the lurkers–or those not always on the site–to catch up on the day’s major meme’s by offering a daily review, appropriately titled “Seesmix.”

As a newbie, it was hard to figure out what to say. Twitter asks “What are you doing,” but Seesmic leaves you hanging. Since Twitter’s purpose has evolved as the site has grown, I’m not sure if this is really a big deal. Also as a newbie, I don’t have any friends to converse with. This, however, wasn’t intimidating; all of the Seesmic users seem very open. It’s also just a matter of finding people I know.

In the upcoming months, members will soon be able to send direct messages to each other. Users will also soon have more options like message recording through Skype and distribution through email, Facebook and YouTube. When Seesmic launches in February, tagging and video grouping capabilities will make it easier to follow conversations. This feature will prove invaluable as the site grows. I also see RSS capabilities as something very useful.

Applications

Due to the visual nature of the media, video has a stronger impact that text communication could ever allow. For that reason, I would love to see Seesmic incorporated into company websites. I see it as a place where customers can leave video questions to the company moderated by the Community Manager with conversation threads left for future visitors to see. I can also see Community Managers interacting with customers through polls, quizes or direct relations with the press. It might also be used for internal communications like a video IM.

As I play around with it, I’m sure more ideas will come up. Like any community, it’s going to take some time and energy to fully understand how it works. As I learn and experience, I will pass it on to you. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to pass out a few invites. In the meantime, check out my first Seesmic post.

Are there any quesitons you would like me to ask the Seesmic community?

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.seesmic.com posted with vodpod

 

[Above image used under Creative Commons License by domake.saythink on flickr]

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

8 Comments

Filed under Future of Media, Internal Public Relations, It's A Conversation, New Media, Product Review, Review, Social Media, Social Networking, Video