A How To in Glueing All Your Social Networks, and Making it Easy as 1, 2, HootSuite…and more
Does your work require you to communicate on every network on the internets? Are you a creative who wants to have as much exposure for your work as is possible? Do you just want to try out new networks for the fun of it? Good, then keep reading. This is particularly for those I know who want to glue their digital lives together.
Preface: Sometime around Christmas, I took a deep breath and put the breaks on my digital life. With a passion, I enjoy my blogging and sharing ideas with the internets. All the dialogue and personal growth is invaluable. But like every field, there is a time to lay fallow in order to rethink the use of the space. After lots of presents, an amazing amount of time with lots of family and friends, and stuffing myself with too much candy and seafood soup (something my wife’s family enjoys each year around the holidays), I was ready to jump back in.
There was a problem to jumping back in, however, and I wasn’t sure how to surmount it at first. It was twofold as well. (1) I was bored with the Twitter/Facebook link that carried the burden of most of my digital thought-life; and (2) a lot of new social networks with different functions were starting to be incredibly interesting to me (ex. Instagram, Path, LinkedIn, Tumblr, but not Pinterest…I don’t know why). The problem unfolded towards a greater void when I realized that I wanted all these networks, but I wanted them all to work as some mega-cyborg-like entity. If I update on one (ex. Instagram), I want that social network to update all my others. If I post on another, vice versa – forever and ever. Initially I thought maybe Path might be the way to go. The layout is beautiful and the bumpy, swaying graphics were charming. Its music integration was brilliant – and I wanted it to work. The hangup? Well, it created a fat entry on all other formats. What do I mean by “fat”? I mean, it had a huge advertisement for PATH every-time it posted a little thing. All subtlety of posting a slight “like” of the Smashing Pumpkins song “1979” was lost in the red envelope of branding. I could not have this.
So I tinkered with all the other sites, and I tinkered, and I broke stuff, chains destroyed, virtual links ruined…until I found a good synthesis once again. How did it turn out? Well:
My Current Virtual Life is Go!
I’ve successfully linked all the networks that are important to me in some way. That includes the big ones: Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. The classic trifecta. Truly I don’t think most people need more than that. But this also includes my two Tumblr accounts (Daniel Griswold Thought This, personal tmblr; and Multempire, youth ministry tmblr), my LinkedIn account as well as Foursquare and Instagram.
THE FIRST GLUE-SITES
How did I glue all the sites together? Mostly, its in my mind, but the flow works like this: Instagram and WordPress have robust sharing engines that can force update the other sites. They don’t do it in a flashy way, and so it looks natural. Most posts I have these days are in picture form with a status update, so Instagram does quite well. It’s owned now by Facebook, so it has a robustness to it. I update almost all my social networks through that – even checking in at sites through foursquare. Wordpress pushes out my blogs to most sites also, through its robust Publicize feature. Well worth checking out.
But there is something much much bigger that I need to mention. This is the kicker.
THE KING OF SOCIAL MEDIA (at the moment) – HootSuite
Back in the day I experimented with HootSuite and I found it wanting. It was rather slow, and had lots of kinks to work out. It was a novelty. I checked it out again this Christmas, and it has lots its naiveté in every way. The full version that runs in your web-browser has expanded to allow you to pull in the data from all your other social networks (the well known brands) including Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Foursquare.
There is also a mobile app that can be downloaded that has far less functionality, but which allows you to shoot out quick status updates to most of your networks. So Remember when you just updated Twitter and Facebook automatically updated? Now you can do that with just about all of them – at least the ones that matter.
And if you use Chrome, there is an app you can download which places a HootSuite Owl in the corner of the browser, and updates can be made as simply as clicking which networks you want to update and then typing in your content. Submit – and boom. This is my new controlling trifecta. It has re-simplified an overcomplicated social network space.
Conclusion: So why does all this matter? As new internet startups keep getting more sway, and digital pioneers continue to herald new types of services for different types of people (ex. Spotify for music, Instagram for Pictures, Tumblr for Gifs), there will be a need to bring updating, at least at a broader level, towards simplicity. I can update FB, LI, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr at once. It makes life simpler. But it also allows us to reach out to more people in different ways. My use of Instagram has changed how I see the world. I am definitely getting sick of “selfies” and baby pictures, but some people have a truly wonderful eye and I get to see their world and I show them mine. Its great when it works.
So dive in, check out some of the new services, and link them all together with HootSuite and others like Instagram and WordPress. Its fun, it challenges us to think in different ways, and the discussion continues. Have fun!