Google Friend Connect: Quick Tip Monday

Today and next Monday I’m going to talk about Google Friend Connect.

I’m going to share with you a neat little GFC feature that you might not know about.

Most of us keep a slim (or close) eye on our GFC follower numbers, right? It’s so exciting when your numbers start growing.

But do you get email notifications when someone follows you on GFC? Most people don’t…but it’s a setting in GFC that you can turn on and I’ll show you how.

How To Get New Follower Notifications in GFC

1. Go to the GFC widget on your blog. Make sure you are signed in to your Google account. Here’s a pic of the widget on my personal blog.

2. Click on the Options link under your avatar. A dropdown menu will appear. Click Site Settings.

3. A popup window with your GFC profile settings will appear. Click Messaging.

4. On the messaging screen, check the box that says “Notify me whenever someone new joins my site.”

5. Click Done and you’re all set!

6. Each time someone new follows you on GFC, you’ll get an email that looks like this.

Next week, I’ll show you how you can take this email and instantly engage your new follower in your blog!

Blogosphere Roundup, Friday 1/28

Welcome to this week’s edition of Blogosphere Roundup!

I found some really great articles this week – have a look.

Blogging Tips

Does CommentLuv Leak Link Juice? This is a seriously good post over at Keep Up With The Web about whether using the CommentLuv plugin causes you to lose link juice. With Google Page Rank finally having updated last week, this is a must-read.

Get Over Writer’s Block. If you sit down to blog and nothing comes to you…this is a super list of techniques from SmartBloggerz to get the juices flowing again.

The Writing Rut. Now if you’re chock full of writing ideas, but they all involve a long narrative of daughter Susie’s soccer game on Saturday, check out this article by Adventuroo on how to take a different approach to your writing. (disclosure: one of my posts is mentioned!)

Social Media

The Future of Social Media. This article from The Atlantic speaks to the future of social   media – what we can expect to see as trends, and where the tech industry is at risk.

60 Signs You’re Addicted… Need a good laugh today? This will do it. The title says it all.

Is Social Media The Next Bubble? The San Francisco Chronicle thinks that it might very well be. Read on.

Using LinkedIn To Expand Your Blog Reach. This is by far one of the BEST, most helpful and most unusual articles I’ve read about blogging in a long time. I had no idea how many other ways I could link up my blog to my LinkedIn profile. It took me about 15 minutes to make the updates and I think it’ll really help my visibility (and my Klout score!)

Mom Blogosphere

What Are You Getting Paid? This is a must-read article for every mom blogger. If you don’t value your own worth, why would companies?

Google Updates Page Rank. Did you know that Google updated its page ranks for websites last week – its first major update in over 9 months? ShePosts walks you through the details.

What Is Your Blogging Worth?

Photo Credit: MediaPost.com

Today’s topic is a touchy one and I hope it sparks some interesting conversation.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a post on Jessica Gottlieb’s blog which really got me thinking a lot about several aspects of blogging. Go read the post, because it’s excellent.

In the post, Gottlieb called out cereal brand Special K for a pitch it has made to mom bloggers in several cities in the U.S.

Special K retooled its two-week Special K Challenge this year, with a new theme of “What Will You Gain When You Lose?” As part of the challenge, selected mom bloggers were asked to appear at the Special K-sponsored event and perform a variety of blog and social media tasks for a stipend of $300.

The primary responsibility of the mom bloggers was to show up at the media event and step on a supersized scale to weigh themselves. Instead of a number appearing, each participant would receive an inspirational message word to help fuel their weight loss.

Bloggers were asked to promote this event multiple times prior to, during and after the weigh-in via various blog and social media channels. They were also expected to serve as on-site reporters, gathering reactions and if possible, live blogging during the event.

Definitely read Gottlieb’s take on this PR pitch. She had several issues with it (all very interesting and meriting their own discussions!), but the one I want to talk about here is her contention that $300 was far too little compensation for the tasks that bloggers were expected to perform.

As bloggers, do we put too little worth on our work?

Many of us hope to make money at blogging, whether it be by advertising, writing gigs, sponsorships, or something else. We want our work, our effort to be validated by someone telling us that it’s worth being paid for.

I think Jessica Gottlieb raises excellent points. I also think whether $300 to do what Special K was asking might be relative.

For a blogger who’s a single mom and needs the extra cash, the chance for the Special K event to perhaps lead to future paying opportunities might be worth $300.

For another blogger, it might not.

So, B2B members, what’s your take on the Special K event? Was $300 under-compensating the participants? Would you have done it? How do you assess what your blogging time is worth?

Organizing Your Twitter Account: Quick Tip Monday

Everybody’s into organizing at the start of a new year. The signs are everywhere: plastic storage tubs getting featured placement at Target, magazine articles prodding you to get your life in order, a pained foot from stepping on one too many Legos left on the carpet.

So if you are doing a little housekeeping right now, you might want to consider organizing your Twitter account as well.  Today I’ll share a couple of tips on how to better manage your Twitter relationships.

1. Get a Twitter management application. If you are using Twitter.com to tweet, you’re not using your time as effectively as you could be. Twitter.com is incredibly hard to navigate when you have many people you’re trying to follow or engage with. Consider using either Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to Tweet going forward.

Both applications have their pros and cons. Hootsuite runs in a browser, so you can access it anywhere. Tweetdeck is a desktop (or iPhone) application that requires a download. I personally use Tweetdeck because I prefer the look of its interface.

Both take some getting used to, because your tweets are displayed in a multi-column format. It’s like having seven chat windows open side by side, all moving and updating at different times. But I promise that if you stick with it, you’ll find your Tweeting to be much more effective.

2. Have an Unfollow Day.  There are probably many people in your Twitter following who don’t need to be there. Either they’re spammers, or they tweet about things that are not relevant to you. Maybe they just annoy you to death.  Set aside some time to clean up your following.

I also like to periodically check who’s not following me anymore and stop following them if needed. Of course, I choose to follow some people whether they follow me or not. I like the application Just Unfollow to do this. With one click, I can view my list of non-followers and easily unfollow back if I wish.

3. Use lists. To cut through all of the noise that is Twitter, it’s essential to organize your followers into lists. This is easy in TweetDeck or Hootsuite, because you can create a column to follow each of your lists separately. Out of my full feed, I have a couple of different lists that I utilize. This is not an exhaustive list, but one to get you thinking about how you might set up your own.

* An Inner Circle List – this is a list for my “close” friends – people whose Tweets I don’t want to miss.  I include myself so I can keep track of my own tweets in the stream.

* A Brand List, where I can keep updated on the companies I love or have a relationship with. This is a great list to use if you’re working on approaching brands for pitches, sponsorships and the like.

* A Media List – where I can follow what’s going on in mom blogging, social media, technology and blog conferences.

Taking these three steps to organize your Twitter account will make your Twitter time more effective and impactful for your blogging. And we can ALL use a little extra time each day!

Tell me what things you do to organize YOUR Twitter account.

Blogosphere Roundup, Friday 1/21

Happy Friday! We’re back with this week’s blogosphere roundup. It’s a great way to stay on top of what happened this week in blogging and social media.

If you write a post about blog tips, social media, or blogging in general, consider submitting it for submission in the weekly roundup! Email kludgymom@gmail.com with your piece!

Blogging Tips

Keyword Optimization Tool. I am loving the fairly new site called The Link Medic. He has awesome, practical and free tips on blog improvement. This past week, he introduced his readers to a tool called Keyword Eye, that gives you keyword ideas in a cloud format. Great for SEO!

Check names in multiple media. Learn how to check domain names and social media usernames in one fell swoop.

5 Overlooked Analytics Features. ProBlogger had a supersecret guest poster this week who talked about his five favorite, but often overlooked, features in Google Analytics.

3 Types of Readers That Will Visit Your Blog. Do you read blog posts word for word, or do you skim or just read the first line? This is a great article at BitRebels about how people read blogs and how you can structure your blog posts to appeal to every type of reader.

7 Colossal Mistakes Bloggers Make. While this article seems to be focused more on tech blogs that are trying to heavily monetize, there are definitely some nuggets of wisdom in here for us all.

Social Media

5 Questions and Answers About Facebook Marketing. If you have any interest in social media and how it affects your blog, you need to follow Dan Zarrella. He doesn’t just comment on social media, he digs deep into social media data and offers his readers great info on the whys and hows. In this article, he reveals 5 really surprising things about promoting on Facebook, like what day of the week gets the most “shares.” Fascinating stuff.

Quora: The Next Big Thing? Just when you thought you had Twitter figured out…here comes another social media platform. Grace Duffy from ShePosts gives the skinny on Quora.

Are You A Good Conversationalist? San Fiorella is another great guy to follow for social media. In this article, he asks some pointed questions of the reader to determine – are you a good online conversationalist?

More on Crowdtap. Since we talked about Crowdtap on Wednesday, I thought sharing this article from Mashable would shed some additional light.

Mom Blogging

Gadgets for Blogging. Mom Blog Magazine went to the Consumer Electronics Show this past week and found some great must-have gadgets to take your blogging business to the next level.

From Blogger to Marketing Pro. This is a great interview by Mom Blog Magazine with Lia Freitas on how she grew her blog into a career as a digital marketing professional. Fun read!

BlogFrog Gets Funding. BlogFrog got an undisclosed amount of investment funding this week and launched the biggest mommy-blog network. Read all the details on ShePosts.

That’s it for this week…have a fabulous weekend!

Crowdtap: Yay or Nay?

"crowdtap: abusing power of bloggers?"

I’m talking Crowdtap today.

How many of you are members of Crowdtap?

For those of you who don’t know about Crowdtap, it’s a fairly new media platform that is supposed to connect consumers with brands. Crowdtap asks you questions about products, trends, shopping habits, and more – presumably to help brands be better educated about what consumers really want.

As you answer these questions and participate in group discussions on Crowdtap, you earn points. In some instances, you earn cash, too.  The more points you have, the higher “level” you attain within Crowdtap, which is supposed to qualify you for even more exciting opportunities.

Crowdtap’s marketing material says that you’ll be eligible to host house parties, sample new products, brainstorm with brands and more. A very cool concept on paper – it takes follow-me-home studies and focus groups to a whole new level.

I’ve been a member of Crowdtap for a few months now. I’ve answered more one-question polls than I can count. I’ve participated in group discussions. I’ve done a lot (274 things to be exact).

 I’ve achieved Level 4 Bronze status, and I’m supposed to receive those house party and sample opportunities. I’m also supposed to get “priority notification” of new opportunities when they are available.

me and my kids, waiting for Crowdtap.

But so far, all I’ve got to show for my effort is 8955 points, $7.90 and not much more.  The top member of Crowdtap, a guy with username Matt M., has 85,000 points and has earned about $65.

It gets me wondering about Crowdtap’s model. Somehow, I can’t think that Matt M. is getting jetted off to red carpet premieres in Monaco and being treated to free iPhones.  Is he in strategic planning meetings with Disney? Focus groups with Procter and Gamble? Sponsorships from Ford Motors?

I just don’t think so.

There are so many things clamoring for our attention as bloggers each day – writing, commenting, reading blogs, promoting our work, finding new opportunities – that we have to be mindful of our time and put it to its wisest use.

At this point, I’m not sure Crowdtap is the best use of my time. I had hoped that I’d be making some contacts with great brands, or at least gotten a product or two to sample by now, but it feels like I’m giving a lot and not getting a whole lot back.

In fact, it sort of feels like I’ve given a ton of input to numerous brands for free (okay, almost free. There’s that $7.90 in my account). Has Crowdtap figured out that marketing research can be had much more cheaply than brands ever thought possible?

So I want to hear from you about Crowdtap. Do you use it? Are you happy with what you’re getting out of it so far, or do you think it’s a time suck?

Make A Free Facebook Welcome Tab: Quick Tip Monday

Today we’re headed to Facebook for our Quick Tip.

Most of you likely have a Facebook fan/like page for your blog. If you don’t, you should consider creating one. It’s very simple to do (if you need a tutorial, tweet me and I’ll send you a link to one!)

The problem is that fan pages for bloggers all start to look like a dime a dozen. Facebook doesn’t allow for much creativity within the standard “create page” option.

One way large brands make their fan pages stand out is by adding a welcome, or splash tab, to the fan page that makes them look really slick.

But I found an easy-to-use service called Pagemodo that lets the little people like us create a pretty cool welcome tab for free -and it automatically integrates with Facebook. Here’s how you do it:

1. Go to Pagemodo. They have a great video tutorial you can watch right on the home page, but I just jumped right in and clicked Get Started.

2. On the next screen, click Connect with Facebook. (it’s easier than setting up a separate account with Pagemodo). You’ll have to also agree to allow Facebook to connect with Pagemodo.

3. The main PageModo screen will appear. Click Create A New Page. You’ll be taken to a layout chooser that looks like this:

The left pane shows you sample layouts to pick from. The right pane shows you a preview of what the page will look like in Facebook. Once you’ve decided on a layout, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Continue.

 4. At the Page Builder screen you’ll populate the layout with your content and photos. The left pane of the PageBuilder screen allows you to upload photos, change colors, and add text. Each time you add or change something in the left pane, the right Preview pane updates.

Get creative, play around. Make the page reflective of your blog’s vibe. Just make sure you scroll all the way down to see all of the different areas of the page you’ll need to fill in.

5. Install to Facebook. At the bottom of the PageBuilder screen, you’ll see a section entitled “Choose Your Subscription.” That’s because there are paid options that let you build more than one Facebook page. But it gives you ONE page for free. So simply click on the yellow Personal  – FREE Forever tab. Then click Install to Facebook.

That’s it! You’ve got a eye-catching Welcome Tab on your Facebook page! This is what new users to your page will see when they arrive. They can then click over to your Wall to see your blog posts and updates.

The welcome tab for my personal blog looks like this.

This is just one way that you can stand out from the crowd on Facebook. Have fun!

Blogosphere Roundup – Friday, 1/14

We’re going to finish out my first week here at Business 2 Blogger with a new feature. It’s a roundup that highlights some of this past week’s important news and great articles on blogging and social media.

Blogging and Social Media News

StumbleUpon Surpasses Facebook. Surprise! This news happened the first week of January, but I think it’s important enough to mention. StumbleUpon has moved past Facebook as the #1 source for social media traffic in the U.S.

Top 10 Mom Blogger Dramas of 2010. The land of mom blogs is often peppered with controversy, and last year was no exception. Take a look back at some of the hot dramas from last year with ShePosts.

Brands With The Best Social Media Buzz. Mashable uses a great graphic to identify what brands had the best social media buzz last year.

Mom Bloggers To The Rescue! Interesting article from Mom Blog Magazine about how Kroger Grocery Stores credits mom bloggers with the high download rate of their new iPhone app.

The Blog Economy of 2010. This is a fascinating post by Nitty Griddy that uses an infographic by the Grasshopper Group to break down a lot of the demographics of the U.S. blogosphere. Surprise: part time bloggers claim to make an average of $14,000 a year!

Blog Improvement

SEO Advice. Spice Up Your Blog did a great piece this week on some nuts and bolts to improving your search engine optimization techniques.

Taxes and Blogging. B2B member The WIC Project published a great recap on her conversation with the IRS about taxes and blogging. Be sure and drop by to give her a shout out!

Optimizing Blogger Posts to Improve Page Rank. One of my new favorite sites I follow is The Link Medic. This week he posted a fantastic article on making a tiny tweak to your Blogger code to make your blog posts appear in search results by blog title first, not the name of the blog.

Using Google Adwords Tool To Improve SEO. Fellow B2B member Betsy from Funky  Mama Bird wrote an extremely helpful article on how to utilize the Google Adwords tool to better monetize your blog or improve your SEO results in any free lance writing you do. SEO is my weak area – this is an article I’ll be coming back to!

Talk The Talk and Walk the Walk. Feeling overwhelmed with all the things you can be doing on your blog? Adventuroo has a great post this week about how to stop following the crowd and do what’s best for YOUR blog.

Trademarking Your Blog. This is  a great article from ShePosts on how to DIY on trademarking your blog.

Thanks for your support and comments this week. Keep ‘em coming and have a great weekend!

Klout: Much Ado About Everything, or Nothing?

"klout score", "klout"

There’s a lot of talk about Klout these days.

If you aren’t familiar with Klout, it is a measure of your social media influence. Klout assigns you a number between 1 and 100, 100 being the most influential and 1 being the least influential.

"klout score"

Klout scores fit into a Meyers-Briggs type of matrix that tells you what type of influencer you are as well. People who only play around a little bit online are “dabblers” or “observers”; people who are more involved in social media might be “thought leaders,” “specialists” or the top status, “celebrity.”

Klout started out measuring this influence solely based on Twitter activity: how many times you retweeted posts, how many times your posts were retweeted, lists people you added to, and so on. But as Klout’s visibility has grown, the company added Facebook and LinkedIn to its algorithm to give people more of a “big picture” on their influence factor.

If you Google “Klout score”, you’ll get dozens of articles since about June of last year that advise you on how to improve your score. Klout seems to be the next Big Thing in social media. Everyone wants a higher score. Why? Because large companies, like the Palms Hotel and Casino, have started to target market to consumers based on their Klout scores.

Klout has also started working with large brands to offer promotions and freebies to specific Klout users in the hopes that they use their influence to create buzz. I received an offer from Disney via Klout back in November. I was sent a package with all sorts of licensed merchandise promoting the film “Tangled.” The idea was in exchange for all this cool stuff, I’d talk up the movie and the merchandise in my social media channels.

But there is a flip side to the Klout discussion – the one in which people are asking whether Klout truly measures someone’s online influence, or simply popularity.

Do you know who is Twitter’s most influential celebrity, according to Klout?

Justin Bieber. His Klout score is 100.

Oprah Winfrey’s score? 71.

For comparison, my score? 60.

I hardly consider myself nearly as influential as Oprah. But you can be certain that I consider Oprah MUCH more influential than Justin Bieber (the 8-16 year-old girl demographic excepted).

I’m reminded of the old voting contests we’d have during senior year of high school. There was a clear difference between Most Popular and Most Likely To Succeed.

As with any tool of measurement, Klout’s going to need to fine-tune things as its visibility continues to grow.  It’s going to need to be able to distinguish the people who are most popular from those who are most likely to succeed (i.e. influence). It’s also going to have to distinguish popularity and influence based on demographic.  Sure, Justin Bieber probably influences trends for teenagers, but Oprah might influence what book a typical Mom reads this month.

The venture capitalists think Klout’s on to something – they just got an $8.5M round of funding to create the “page rank of the web.”

I for one will be watching carefully as this all plays out. And I’ll have yet another stat to add to my growing list of numbers to obsess over!

Are you following your Klout score? Have you connected your Facebook and Linked In profiles to it? What role do you think Klout will play in your blogging and social media activity going forward?

Your Twitter Persona: Quick Tip Monday

Hi, Business2Blogger readers!

Let me introduce myself. My name’s Gigi Ross and I’m working with Holly, Jay and Shauna here at Business2Blogger to keep things rolling here on the B2B blog.

First, a little about me. I’m a “recovering” attorney and ex-high tech marketer. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and 2 kids, age 7 and 5. My personal blog is called KludgyMom and I give my snappish take on motherhood, cooking and blogging. I ran a 6-week blog improvement series on my blog last fall called Back to School, Back to Blogging and I’ve always enjoyed talking about blogging and social media!

I have a lot of great ideas to make the B2B blog an awesome resource for all things online! You’ll be seeing more frequent posts from us starting this week.

Each Monday, I’ll be sharing a quick tip on blog improvement. On Wednesdays, I’ll focus on a specific blogging or social media topic in more depth. And on Fridays, I’ll gather up some of the week’s best articles and posts about blogging and social media that I’ve found in the previous week to share with you.

I hope that the information you get here is helpful and fun to read. Always feel free to provide feedback! I look forward to getting to know you in the coming weeks. So let’s get started with our first Quick Tip Monday.

Today I’d like to talk about your Twitter persona.

Whether you’re already active on Twitter, or you’re considering getting on Twitter, it behooves you to think carefully about your Twitter handle. Here are some tips that I’ve learned from the School of Twitter Hard Knocks.

1. Make it consistent with your blog brand. Make it easy for people to find you in EVERY social media outlet. Don’t make them connect the dots. If your blog is Save with Sally, your Facebook fan page is Frugal Savings, and your Twitter handle is SallyJackson, people may not realize it’s all the same brand.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of having 1 or 2 Twitter accounts. If you have a current Twitter account that is not consistent with your brand, consider whether you want to a) change your existing handle or b) set up a second account.

Twitter allows you to change an existing handle with no impact to your follower numbers (so long as the new handle is available).  If you set up a second account, you would have to notify all of your followers somehow and pray they make the switch. This may be worthwhile if , for example, you need to keep your first handle for personal reasons.

3. Read the fine print. If you deactivate a Twitter handle for any reason, it is permanent. There is no undo button. And that handle, as far as I can tell, is put into the Twitter Handle Graveyard forever and is never made available for someone else to use. I learned this the hard way. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

4. Think about your Twitter profile pic. I suggest using your blog badge or button if you’re fairly new to Twitter. Again, it’ll help people “connect the dots” between your blog and your tweeting. If you’ve been on Twitter awhile, like I have, a nice shot of your lovely face can do wonders for making you seem like a “real” person to your followers.

I recently changed from my blog button to a profile picture, and people were delighted to “see my face” and connect it with my blog.

I guess that’s better than them running away screaming from their laptop!

Have you had any Twitter persona horror stories? Leave a comment here, or talk back to me right on Twitter. I’m at @akludgymom.