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Posts tagged ‘Social Media’

Startups We Love: Flumes

Flumes provides snapshots of any conversation happening on social media. Right now, they’re focusing on world news, detecting and tracking keywords and removing spam to find the best images, videos, articles and analysis around sentiment, gender, volume and geography. Everything is automatic and in real-time.

How a simple design decision made Pinterest a household name

In the two years since launching, Pinterest has grown incredibly quickly to become the third most visited social network in the US, only behind Facebook and Twitter.

One of Pinterest’s most recognizable features is its layout. Photos seem to spread out like they were individually placed on a light board. But the layout is not the secret to their success.

So, what did Pinterest do differently? They featured social interactions.

On every Pinterest page, social interactions — repins and comments — take up just as much space as the content itself. Profile photos cover the website, showing conversations are alive and ready for you to join. It’s easy for users to contribute to the discussion as well, because users can log in using their Facebook or Twitter accounts. The design decision to feature the social interactions makes Pinterest feel like a vibrant community in a single glace.

Other networks choose to hide these interactions from the end user. Tumblr has plenty of social interaction across their network, but it’s not showcased. Take a look at the screenshot below:

This particular post has 154 likes, comments or reblogs. That’s a lot of activity for one photo, but the social activity is concealed. Users need to click-through to the post itself to see how readers are responding.

A recent report from comScore shows user engagement rate exactly equal between Tumblr and Pinterest, which means Tumblr isn’t necessarily doing anything wrong. The two networks serve different purposes anyway. Instead, Pinterest’s example shows how social media can be used to their advantage.

Where does social media belong? Front and center, not buried and hidden.

It’s rare to come across a business website that forgets to remind us to “Like” or “Follow” them. On many websites, the opportunity for social media has been compressed into a button. Social widgets are tacked onto web pages almost as an after thought.

It takes a truly integrated approach, like Pinterest, to do social media well. And when websites facilitate conversations, users respond.

Ifttt: A Scriptable Social Web


Ifttt, or “If This, Then That”, is a new web service that activates triggers based on specific events. The service works in conjunction with your social networks, so if someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, you could set up a service to send you an SMS. Ifttt has a seemingly unlimited amount of uses. Once you get the hang of creating tasks, you’ll find it difficult to stop creating and tweaking.

When you create a new task, you’re given the ability to specify your trigger. A trigger forms the first part of the task, like the “If this” part. Triggers can come from just about anything: receiving an email, fluctuations in the stock market, changes in weather, particular times of the day or week, or new posts on Facebook, just to name a few.

The second part of the task is the action, or the “then that” part. Ifttt likes to focus a lot of its potential on communication. As a result, the actions generally cover the ability to send a tweet, email, text message or IM. When you put them all together, you can be SMSed once your stock drops below a threshold or texted when you’re tagged in a photo on Facebook.

Ifttt is currently in private beta. Sign up for your own invitation through their sign-up form.

The Feed: Stylized Google Reader for iPad

If the iPad is the best way to view the web, then The Feed may just be the best way to browse your RSS feeds.

Using a highly stylistic interface, The Feed pulls RSS feeds from your Google Reader account. Unread posts stand out with what we’ll call an “RSS burnt orange” edge, while read posts turn gray and show a bite mark.

View your feeds rendered with full text and images, or toggle the view to only show a snippet from each post. Either way, The Feed manages to display both perspectives well, allowing you to choose the setting that fits your mood.

Your feeds are organized into stacks of paper, which is unlike anything we’ve seen. Interface designers typically use badges to indicate the number of items remaining. But The Feed uses a different approach. It tosses out badges and simply uses proportionately deep stacks of paper to indicate how many unread posts are remaining. After all, when it comes to things like feeds (versus unread email messages, for example), concrete numbers aren’t really necessary. For The Feed, an indication like “only a few unread posts remaining” or “a lot of unread posts remaining” is really the most vital metric. It’s this kind of fundamental interface decision making that surprised us in The Feed, and it feels right at home on your iPad.

The Feed is completely free from the App Store. We’re willing to call it a must-have for any iPad owner.

RainMaker: Donate as Easily as a Tweet

It’s becoming easier and easier to donate online. The next step in the evolution is RainMaker, which lets you donate using nothing more than a tweet.

After linking your Twitter and PayPal accounts to your RainMaker account, donate by sending a quick tweet with a dollar amount, a cause and RainMaker’s Twitter handle. Something like, “#redcross is doing wonderful things, so I’m giving $20 through @rainmakerapp” does just well. As long as you include the three parts, you don’t need to stick to any format. Your donation is transferred from PayPal to RainMaker within a few hours.

Each cause is given their own page on the network, complete with a progress bar and a feed of other Twitter users supporting them.

Donating to a cause is great, but the real power in RainMaker is helping causes get their messages to mass audiences. Each time you tweet a donation, all of your Twitter followers see it. Additionally, you can also setup a fundraising goal for yourself to encourage your followers to donate. It’s the perfect way to organize a mini Twitterthon on your own. RainMaker tracks performance on your user page.

RainMaker was produced by Company 52 and led by Michael Poythress, Jonathon Hill, Matt Blackwell and Paul Jones.

Editor’s note: For those keeping track at home, we recently profiled another app called Rainmaker, which helps organize your Google contacts. These two apps are completely separate from one another.

Crowdbooster: Bring Analytics to Twitter

Even with so many companies investing in social media, we still struggle to make sense of our data. You may tag your links with utm_source and utm_content to measure best performing Tweets. Or you may run recurring media sentiment analyses to see how people are responding to your brand online. There’s plenty of space for these tools to evolve, and Crowdbooster may be the next step.

Crowdbooster, now in private beta, brings analytics-driven insight to your Twitter account. It goes beyond tweets and frequency to allow you to uncover new ideas on how people are responding to your messages. The service plots your tweets against retweets and people reached to identify your most magnetic messages. Crowdbooster can also track your activity and your followers’ activity and actually recommend the best timeframes for when to tweet. Seriously. Paid members can generate custom reports and export them to PDFs and Excel. Ultimately, Crowdbooster tells marketers what’s working and what’s not working in a matter of minutes.

The twittersphere is not by any means lacking tools for people to plugin and use. Ever since Twitter launched their API, script kiddies and hobbyists have been looking for any excuse to build an app. Fortunately, Crowdbooster provides real business value, and it’s powerful enough to make marketers wonder how they ran their campaigns without it.

Crowdbooster is available in private beta at the moment. Be sure to mention “MiniSprout.com” when you sign-up.

PopBuzz.me: Captivating News

PopBuzz.me gives us another way to view the web’s most popular articles.

It’s a really simple concept. Sites like Digg and Newsvine call upon users to vote for stories, which control how highly they rank on the main page. PopBuzz.me, however, realizes the web already contains an awful lot of data about each article, like Facebook likes, Tweets and Diggs. Instead of creating another network asking users to opt-in and tell us what they like, PopBuzz.me takes buzz from across the web and sorts articles without any user involvement on their site.

The service itself is nothing short of captivating. Users can view articles across business, entertainment, tech, sports and life. We caught ourselves spending more time on the site than expected, especially since you can adjust the scope of time between “Most Recent” to most popular articles over the last two hours, day or week.

PopBuzz.me’s interface needs refining, but they have launched an app that already rivals Digg and Newsvine, and it doesn’t require supporting a user community to stay afloat.

Badgeville: Reward Your Visitors

Badgeville is a tool that gives publishers the ability to reward their users. When a person visits a website running Badgeville’s service, the user receives badges for going around and completing little tasks. Things like posting a comment, viewing X number of articles or uploading content may be rewarded. If you have an action that is measurable, Badgeville can give people badges for it.

People like being rewarded for little effort, and they will continue to return and perform easy tasks for the chance to move up. In part, it’s the same reasoning that causes apps like Farmville and Mafia Wars to become so successful.

Services like Badgeville are helping us take incremental steps to further socialize the web. Not only may people be rewarded for tasks on your site, they can be rewarded for external actions, like sharing your website across social networks. Suddenly, publishers have a userbase of people excited to post about their content. In this way, Badgeville helps new people join existing conversations on websites they would otherwise not encounter. Everyone wins; the publishers, the people sharing your content, the people discovering your content and Badgeville.

Badgeville is not a free service. In fact, price points are not listed at all on their website, so it’s difficult to gauge whether or not the service is worth the investment. For publishers and advertisers looking for new ways to engage their users, it may be one of many opportunities to explore.

Donat.io: Surprisingly Simple Donations

Donat.io brings the fun of a primetime TV pledge drive to any USTREAM account. It’s all there: the creative direction of a game show, a typeface that reads like an announcer’s voice, and even an extra large ticker in the background showing the total dollar amount raised.

To set up your own pledge drive, enter your USTREAM user account and fill in the blanks. Donat.io will create a custom page highlighting your goal and also pipe in your USTREAM video and chat feed. For any guest viewing the page, they just need to type something along the lines of “I want to pledge $50″ in the chat window, and they’ll be taken to PayPal where they can finish the donation. Donat.io reads the amount a guest enters, which allows PayPal to be ready on the checkout page. The text algorithm is intelligent since it looks for the number following a dollar symbol. So, “$30 for me” works just as well as “I would like to donate $1,000″.

PayPal simplified the process of handling transactions online, and Kickstarter supports the ambitious long-term goal setter. But there is certainly room for a service like Donat.io that offers the ability to collect donations with very little technical effort.

Storify: Tell Great Stories Via Social Media

Storify is a service that allows users to tell stories using tweets, YouTube videos, photos and bookmarks. The end result almost represents a scrapbook, in the sense that it was collected from many sources, but also a social network, in the sense that a conversation can grow within the story.

Create a new page on a topic, and begin searching through your Twitter feed, TwitPic gallery and videos. Easily drag-and-drop components onto the page and reorganize as needed. Once your page is ready, share it. People may comment on different parts and reply to tweets.

Storify is currently available as invitation only, but even users without an invite can view a view of the pages already created here.