Studio, +1

Back in March, 2011, Google trotted out its +1 button – a little widget that shows up next to your search results enabling you to “vote up” a particular result with the click. It is essentially another sharing button, but it comes with some strings – Google gains the ability to “tailor” your advertisements and results based on what you +1 (I see a new verb in the lexicon). In order to use and track them, you need to create a Google Profile, and your +1 saves will show on that profile, either publicly or privately. It isn’t a bad way to keep track of things you like, much like a Google bookmarking system, with benefits.

Now, Google is releasing the code to its +1 button and rolling the button out to major sites. Publishers can drop the code into their sites to make it even easier to mark down +1’s – if you click on a search result and view a page that you like, you can then hit the button there, instead of on the search results list. Check out the tutorial over at Mashable on how to add it to your site’s CSS / HTML editor. Or, you can do what I did on my self-hosted WordPress blog and add a plug-in that automatically adds the button to each post.

If you already have share buttons on your site, the +1 is a no-brainer. If you happen to garner a lot of +1’s, the number will show in the search results, which further impels your content in a viral direction. Like a universal recommendation icon for the Web. With these options, adding the button is easy, and encourages sharing, which, as they say, is caring. Hey – feel free to +1 this post, and click the little button at the top left!

Facebook Friend-zy

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Hard not to have been hit over the head the past couple of days with all of the news about Facebook . Big changes that affect your privacy, how you interact across the Facebook site and how you interact across the Web are in a state of flux.

On some level, I must have subconsciously known that these changes were in the air, because I was struck with a major Spring cleaning “friend-zy” and, over the past several days, have been strengthening the connections between my profile and business page AdvantageAdvocates and between the business page and its web page.

I found tons of great Facebook apps and some new plug-ins to assist me in the process. Rather than go through them all right now (you can see many of them in the new boxes and tabs on both my Facebook Profile (link here) or on my Business Page (link here), I thought I would highlight one that I just installed on my website. This one is part of the big story that Facebook is planning to add a “like” button to the entire Web.

Remember back, over a year ago, when Facebook was threatening to conquer the Web with its universal check-in, Facebook Connect? Well, its’s deja vu all over again. The like button is another iteration of this concept – if you have a Facebook profie and see a “like” button on a site, you can quickly connect to the and with the site wherever you happen to be.

To that end, I installed a brand new plug-in on the home page of AdvantageAdvocates (link here). It looks like this:

It’s dynamic in that it shows updates from the page. The images of the fans also change with different clicks, just as they do on your Facebook Profile page. But most importantly, the button allows a web surfer far from the confines of Facebook’s walled garden to reach into Facebook and effect a “like” of my business page. More dynamic and engaging that simply “sharing” my page into another social site.

How did I do it? Well, that was not difficult. Over at the Facebook Developers Page (link here), there are eight brand, spanking new social plug-ins that feed off of this new “like” vocabulary. I personally used the Like Box (link here). There are also a Like Button (link here), Recommendations (link here), Login with Faces (link here), Comments (link here), Activity Feed (link here), Facepile (link here), and Live Stream (link here).

Click the link of the desired plugin. Get your Page Id. I know there must be an easier way to get it than I did – I used an old Promote Your Page Fan Box Widget Link that didn’t work, but I was able to lift my Page ID out of the html. Simply insert that Page ID into the marked box, hit enter and up pops the code. Copy the code, paste it onto the desired page and in the desired location in your web site editor and Voila – dinner is served!

Will it result in more fans, better connection, better engagement? I certainly hope so! Come on over to my page (link here), jump in and let’s talk about it!

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Outbrain: A Blog Recommendation Widget

I just added a fun, new plug-in to my WordPress-powered blog called Outbrain (link here). What is it, you ask? It’s a platform for blog, RSS content and news ratings and recommendations. The widget shows recommended additional reading and offers the reader the ability to rate and recommend articles on your blog site. As Outbrain crawls your blog, the recommendations coming into your pages get better and better. Most leading blogging/RSS platforms are supported, including Blogger.com, TypePad, WordPress.org, Drupal, FeedFlare, MoveableType, and others.

You can see Outbrain at work at the bottom of each of my individual posts. For me, Outbrain is free. But for the many large, syndicated news outlets availing themselves of its coolness, Outbrain is a paid service. Correction: Outbrain’s CEO stopped by and informed me that it is in fact a FREE service for all levels of business! Another plus!

You also can buy into an additional tool called Outloud, which actively promotes your content on other Outbrain sites for $10 per month.

Outbrain is no fly-by-night service: it has secured almost $20 million in investment funding over the last three years. And they really know what they are doing: it is the very first free service I have ever dealt with that has a live chat help center! Thank you, Jackie, for helping me get the widget to work on my site! Such a relief not to have to rely on that infuriating GetSatisfaction farce. Right on top of its game, Outbrain is.

If you want to get your content into the social interaction stream, check out Outbrain. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Any Excuse to Avoid the Inbox

I admit it. I really am beginning to seriously dislike email inboxes. I have been avoiding my desktop Outlook inbox like the plague. I am better about monitoring my Gmail accounts, but even that can get tedious.

Information overload? I already employ filters on my computer and phone to strain the best news, social status updates, tweets and blog posts. Why can’t I have a similar filtering system for my overburdoned inbox?

Well, I know I already can from within the inbox itself. But that requires you to actually go to your inbox and open your folders.  

Check this out. The current version of application AwayFind (ver. 2.0) (link here), allows you to install filters on your email (no biggie) and to designate “urgent” email that will follow you by phone call, instant message,  text message or even tweet (way cool)! Never visit your inbox again!

Apparently, filtering set up is strikingly similar to the tools you probably already are using in your own inbox. Filter by person, by keyword (e.g. “urgent”), subject, receiving email address, etc. Then, here is the genius part, tell AwayFind how to alert you when an email falls into one of your filter categories: all the major IM clients, Twitter, text message or even a phone call. You can also set up an auto-response and exclude specific persons from the auto-response. You can probably figure out where to take this last feature.

If you are a Firefox user, there is a plug-in that lets you manage AwayFind from within your inbox. Apparently a Chrome plug-in is coming soon. Google and IMAP are supported, as are hosted Exchange-based 2003, 2007 and 2010.

Unfortunately for us regular folk, this application is currently in private beta, invite only. Hat tip to ReadWriteWeb – head over there now and see if you can score one of their invitations! (link here)

Buzz Your Blog With A Buzz Button

Why be the last one to the party? You too can install your own Google “Buzz This” button on your WordPress self-hosted blog and get a little sharing button at the bottom of each post.  Check mine out at the botton of this post. Essentially, the button is a simple link that ports the article share into Reader, which in turn shares into Buzz. Whatever the process, the button looks pretty cool and you can style yourself bleeding edge since Buzz only just debuted yesterday. Hit the jump (link here) to copy and paste or download and install.

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