Using Google Reader As A Twitter Search Engine

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Search.Twitter has a long way to go. It doesn’t store data long-term and it isn’t very stable. Google Reader, which relies on that relic of the Web, RSS, provides an alternative to store and search the data flowing into Twitter. Although it may be in vogue to write-off RSS and Readers, I don’t think they are going away anytime soon- in fact, Twitter itself is a sort of RSS: a reverse chronological listing of headlines.

Anyhoo, if you’re interested in conveniently focusing on a select group of Twitter accounts, search terms or hashtags, there’s an app for that: Google Reader. I use hashtags as an example in the presentation below, but any Twitter feed works, including  Twitter Favorites. I’ll share that process and my ideas about the value of Favorites in a future post. Here’s a short vid on how to set it up:

You can also use FriendFeed to store and search through tweets, Google Reader may be more manageable.

Is this helpful? Or are you satisfied with Search.Twitter?

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FriendFeed: Still Great At Social Search

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FriendFeed – the uber social-aggregation-lifestream service of the geeky and nerdy – may have an uncertain future given its recent acquisition by Facebook, but its powerful search features remain one of the best ways to search the web. I put together this short screencast for my Twitter buddy  @DaphneLeigh. FriendFeed’s interface can be difficult for some to get used to, so I’ve been assembling short visual tutorials to help out.

Why these tutorials now that FriendFeed may be “dead”? First, when Silicon Valley announces something dead, it doesn’t mean it’s not used: blogs are “dead”, and so is RSS – but they’re very much around – my view: they’re not really dead, they just have new life. Second, I think FriendFeed’s approach to lifestreaming represents the direction of the social web. Third, the FriendFeed’s search is one of the strongest on the web: whereas Google has its algorithm for finding content on servers, FriendFeed adds the benefit of human filtering, such as Likes and comments (the more Likes and comments, the more likely the content has more value and relevance).

If the video embed is working for you, here’s where you can view it (view in fullscreen mode):

Are you using  FriendFeed? Even if you don’t is real-time social search something you would take advantage of? Or might some other service some along and outshine it? Like a social version of Google Reader?

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How to Use RSS for LinkedIn Answers

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I’m not much of a LinkedIn user, but I dip into the network every once in a while. There’s definitely a big pool of talent to connect with on LinkedIn, but the interface seems a bit claustrophobic for my tastes. Still, I think the Answers feature is a valuable way to help others out and network with others whom you might otherwise never discover.

The easiest way to use Answers is to subscribe via RSS to a few categories of interest. That way you don’t have deal with LinkedIn’s interface, can quickly skim through the most recent questions and decide which ones to answer. If you haven’t used Answers before – or have but found it useless – give this approach a try:

Let me know what you think. Do you find Answers useful? Let me know in the comments or  connect with me on LinkedIn.

[Apologies if the embed is awkward. Here’s the direct link to the screencast.]

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Healthcare Technology Isn’t Social…Yet

Healthcare professionals are technologists. Social media involves technology. But there’s a substantial gap between the general public’s use of social media and the Healthcare industry’s presence along the spectrum of social networking spaces. Why? Shouldn’t health care professionals be on the leading edge of online services and community-engagement?

Here’s a short video giving a partial explanation for the gap. (The second video is a bonus. for my  #hcmktg followers):

Patients deserve the best kind of healthcare in the world: the Web is part of our world – in fact it’s fast becoming the biggest part of our world. Amateur health care is a dangerous trend – therefore, it’s critical that healthcare professionals work extra hard to establish best practices for online transactions. And that can only be done by healthcare professionals extending their role from clinical technologists to social technologists.

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How I Blog

I’ve been re-thinking blogging lately and have realized how central blogs are to the online economy. I’ve been playing around with novel ways to integrate real-time social technologies (actually, they’re near-time, not real-time) because I think that’s the direction they’re headed. It’s my sense that there’s confusion out there about the direction of online presence and blogging is increasingly being ignored.

Anyway, here’s a video on what I do with blogging – the tools and methods I use. Your approach is different from mine and everyone else’s. I’m always learning, so share your approaches with me and my followers.

Healthcare & Pharma: 10 Years of Google Gone By

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06:  In this photo...
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I like to critique Healthcare & Pharma but I do so because I think they’re one of the most important industries in the world, not just to be controversial. I think these two separate but inter-related industries have some of the brightest people working in them. If anyone should be able to figure out technologies and how to employ them, these two are the ones. So, I’ve been puzzled for over a decade over the industries’ apparent AWOL on the Web. Why so late to the party?

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS BOARDROOM

Hindsight is 20/20, of course. It’s clear today that the Web isn’t going away and that more and more patients are searching and connecting with others online for their healthcare needs and desires. Doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals are turning to the web too. It’s in the interest of both Healthcare and Pharma to have the kind of solid presences on the web which deliver priceless value to their stakeholders. So what’s been the delay? Why the well-constructed but fear-laden arguments about learning to live in the Socially Hyper-linked Economy?

I think there are many answers to that question. I won’t go into them here: if you work in the industry, please – by all means – publish your hypotheses in the comments below.

But here’s something to think about. It’s been about ten years since Google’s been around – and in the last few years it’s become the primary gateway for finding content online, even with the evolution of social technologies. Are the right kinds of healthcare and Pharma companies turning up in relevant searches? Google will be happy to give you the answer.

Imagine if you started blogging ten years ago about your healthcare organization? Imagine if more Pharma companies started blogging and posting and sharing their ideas about the future of their services – not to please brand managers and push product – just simply to establish authoritative presences online. Think of the compound interest on that Google juice! All gone.

Not to mention, the industries by now would have groomed a generation of bloggers and social media agents who would have learned from their mistakes and be able to lead the industry forward with online presences and communities. Now, it’s catch-up time. Now, all the companies who finally understand the need to be online and to be socially remarkable have to muster through huge, steep ramps. Bonus: they now will be competing with each other, so Google Juice will be harder to grab off the table. And as “easy” as it is to sign up for Twitter and Facebook, the noise you have to compete with gets louder everyday. The cost of attention grows exponentially these days.

Well, that’s all behind us now. A lesson learned I hope.

LOOK FORWARD, ANGEL

Looking forward: if you’re running one of these industries, learn your lesson, reflect on the psychology that held you back from the powers of the web and think seriously about your overall business strategy (not just online) and where you need to go next. Do you understand how the Web may be affecting your business’s ecosystem?

I think for years we have been entering a period of Web Illiteracy – not among the poverty class, but among Corporate Cultures. This is a problem that may be costing our economy billions of dollars: it’s up to you to overcome it.

Here’s my tip to you (I’m including C-suite here): spend an hour a day learning something about the web – no matter how busy your day is. If you’re “old-fashioned”, buy some books about the web (Amazon is generous in this regard – and if you want suggestions or if you want a personal touch, call me 484-362-0451 – I’ll be happy to converse). Here are some offerings for you (they’re just pointers):

  • Learn a tiny amount of HTML (you don’t need to be an expert, but it enhances your understanding of what’s under the hood)
  • Build a simple web page (again, you can skip this, but it helps to know a little something about how a web page works – it’s the practice that may give you an important insight)
  • Learn a bit about SEO (yes, this is still important) – [UPDATE: Social SEO)
  • Ditch Internet Explorer 6.0 – On Windows use Google Chrome or FireFox (to learn the value of extensions). Better yet: invest in a Mac.
  • Learn what blogging really is (it’s not just posting content on a web page) – even if a few people read your blog
  • Learn some things about  Analytics
  • Find out why  RSS is still an important tool (you see those objects on the side of this site – do you know what they mean?)
  • Sign up for Google Reader – it’s been getting social lately
  • Get a Twitter account and play around with it (Copy and paste this into your first tweet: “@PhilBaumann I just signed up for Twitter. What the heck do I do now?“)
  • Tinker with Facebook – poke around all the crazy settings and find out if you can make sense of it yourself
  • These are just tools and tidbits, but they’ll help introduce you to the way things are on the web

Bonus:

  • Question everything you learned during the course of your career and see if any of it means anything anymore. Do you know  what’s changing?
  • Get everyone’s attention in your organization and ask them who knows how to blog or otherwise use social media. Take them out to lunch, listen and learn.

There are other ways to get up to speed on the web. I’m offering the above because they’re rudimentary – they’re the building blocks of the Expanding Web.

THE WEB WILL NOT BE OUTSOURCED

You see, the lesson of the web is this: once the costs of publishing messages reaches zero, the models developed when the costs were in the $Millions cease to hold their relevance.

It’s not enough to outsource your social media practices – I’m not referring only to outside agencies but also to your direct reports. None of us know everything about the web. Since it’s human nature for careerists not to admit to their bosses that they “don’t know”, you can’t rely completely on others to develop your strategy. [Sidenote: in my days as an accountant and analyst in Enterprise, I irritated my executive leadership with “I don’t know”; you know what?: I was promoted like a golden boy. You can’t learn if you’re not curious. Just something for you to think about during your human resources choices.]

You’ve invested decades in climbing to the top. What will be your legacy? Will you discover after all that hard work that you gambled on a dying world?

If you’re an executive of any kind, you need to understand the problems which the web pose – and you can only do that by sitting down, getting online and learning this crazy stuff on your own; and by connecting with the multitude of helpful smart people you can discover via social media. The web is now becoming a brain-to-brain network. Take advantage of that.

Ten years of Google indexing has gone by you. Are you going to let another ten years go to waste?

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10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents

Chris Brogan has a new book called Trust Agents, co-authored with Julien Smith. I guess it’s about Trust and Agents. Agents of Trust. If you’re serious about being successful online and learning how to meaningfully connect with your stakeholders, you’re better off not paying attention to what some obscure authors who’ve achieved results have to say.

I haven’t read this book because my order hasn’t arrived. I’ve only followed @ChrisBrogan and read his blog and benefited from his content. So how one earth should I know whether to trust him when he says he’s got a book about his stuff published? And why should you?

It’s very simple. Do not buy his book. Here’s why:

  1. You know everything.
  2. Social media is a fad.
  3. Trust is over-hyped.
  4. You don’t need “actionable steps and case studies that show how social media can positively impact your business”.
  5. There’s no need to pay attention to authors with ten or more years of experience in social media – you can go it alone.
  6. Your brand is safely and entirely in your control.
  7. It’s really not the 21st Century
  8. The Web is a dangerous morass of whiners who you can ignore – you’re better off sitting on the sidelines.
  9. The big PR and Communications firms got your back.
  10. Your version of the Status Quo is here to stay.

I’ve never met Chris face-to-face but he’s been what I’d call a valuable online acquaintance – a good man who has helped me along my exploration of the web. I’ve never known him to be useless or unkind or out of touch with our ever-changing social landscape.

If you’ve been following my blog or putting up with my antics on Twitter and wonder why I still blog and explore the possibilities beset before us by social technologies and the communities they can engender, don’t buy Trust Agents. You might learn too much. Trust me.

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