Social Networking Sites and Their Impact on My Life

As you may remember, last week I wrote a post about Twitter, where I mentioned I am doing my best to send tweets more often.  So far, I’ve been pretty good at doing 1-2 a day, which more than enough in my opinion.  If I’m doing it more often than that, I’m probably giving to much information.   I’ve also had troubling keeping up with others in my Twitter account, so I’ve considered dropping a few people I follow that send 5+ a day.   It makes it hard to follow everyone.

Anyway, on a typical day after updating my Twitter account, accepting follower requests and using the Find and Follow feature to track down others on Twitter, I hop on over to Facebook to do the same.   Approve requests for friendship and application invites, then check my wall for new messages, then check the homepage.  Then, I’m off to check my StumbleUpon profile, sometimes my MyBlogLog profile (which sorely needs updated).  Once that is done, now its time to check my Google AdSense account, Parked domains account, then E-Junkie/Clickbank/Commission Junction accounts.  Once that is done, I’m off to my sites to check for comments that need moderated.   Now comb through domain backorder lists and check on some of my domain auctions.  Once that is done, now I head over to my feed reader and start flipping through the feeds I track.   One days worth usually isn’t to bad, but more than 1 day backlogged and I have to get selective on which ones I choose to read. Once that is done, now its finally time to write some posts!   But wait, my kids need put to bed.

So, as you can see, keeping up with social services can sometimes be difficult.  If I maintain them, along with my other responsibilities, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time to blog or do website maintenance, which is probably the most important part, right?  I mean, I probably enjoying blogging more than I do all this other stuff.  It is kind of the behind the scenes stuff that needs done but isn’t fun to do.

How do you guys do it?  It seems I’ve got to many accounts and I find that I’m neglecting several, rather than just committing to a few of them and making them actually useful.

Ultimate Guide to Using Del.icio.us

What is Del.icio.us? Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website, owned by Yahoo!, that allows you to store your website bookmarks online. The benefits of this are numerous, but most importantly, it gives you access to your bookmarks from any computer with internet access. When a bookmark is created on Del.icio.us, you simply enter a description, any notes you want to leave for yourself, and then you have the option of assigning tags or keywords to the bookmark. Assigning tags or keywords to your bookmarks will help when you start to acquire a lot of bookmarks and begin searching your bookmarks using the Del.icio.us Search feature.

What makes this website social? Del.icio.us not only allows you to store your favorite links, but you also get access to the links everyone else has stored on Del.icio.us. You can search their website for other great links you may have missed. Obviously the more times a link is bookmarked, the better the bookmark will likely be; therefore, Del.icio.us added a Most Popular section which tracks bookmarks saved so you can see what the most bookmarked stuff is out there. If you are one of those people that needs to know everything first, you can also monitor their Most Recent section, which shows the most recently tagged bookmarks. If you have a feed reader, you can always get any page imported into your feed reader by going to the bottom of any page and clicking the orange RSS button, then throwing the feed into your feed reader.

How do I get an account? First thing you gotta do is register for your Del.icio.us account. It’s free and last I checked, an E-mail address isn’t even required! Now, before you start using Del.icio.us, you’ll want to check out some of the add-ons and bookmarklets that are available for your web browser or desktop.

Integrate Del.icio.us into your Web Browser

Integrate Del.icio.us into your Operating System/Desktop

  • Cloud.icio.us – MAC OS X dashboard widget that adds a Del.icio.us tag cloud to your desktop.
  • Del.icio.usTray – Sits in Windows system tray and provides instant access to your Del.icio.us account.
  • Dashilicious – Dashboard widget that allows you to post to Del.icio.us directly. It is optimized for Safari users and NetNewsWire.

I’m registered and I’ve got my bookmarklets, where do I begin? Del.icio.us gives you the option of Importing/Exporting your Bookmarks in the Settings panel. To import your bookmarks, go to the bookmark section of your Settings panel and click on Import/Upload. This will import your existing bookmarks. Once you’ve got everything imported, hit the Internet full speed and begin bookmarking! Don’t worry, you can’t overdue it. As mentioned above, if you find your bookmark collection is getting to large to manage, you can use the Del.icio.us Search feature to search for the bookmark you are looking for. You can also delete bookmarks if you no longer want them. Just make sure you tag your posts with the terms you would mostly likely use in your search so it can easily be found at a later date when needed.

Once you’ve got your bookmarks the way you like them, check out the Del.icio.us Inbox feature, which can be found at http://del.icio.us/inbox/{username}. Click the Edit Inbox link on the right hand sidebar. This will allow you to subscribe to a particular tag you want to track, as well as a particular Del.icio.us user that has similar interests. If you have a friend or know someone that uses Del.icio.us and you want access to their bookmarks, simply type their username here and click Subscribe. You can also subscribe to multiple tags if you want to get more specific. Just like Technorati, you need to add an addition symbol in between multiple tags, otherwise they will be considered seperate tags. For example, if you wanted to track Google Calendar stuff, instead of typing a general tag like Google, you would type Google+Calendar into the Inbox Tag field and click Subscribe. Once you’ve got your inbox tracking everything you want it to, go to the bottom of the page and click the orange RSS button, which will provide a feed that you can throw into your feed reader for easy updates!

Blogging Features

Ever wonder who is talking about your blog? You can use the Del.icio.us Check URL feature to see who is talking about your website using Del.icio.us. Here are some other nice blogging features Del.icio.us offers:

  • Network Badges – This feature allows you to place a Network badge on your website, allowing you to display your Del.icio.us username, network count, and fan count. Once you’ve selected what you want to display, it will generate javascript code to place on your website, giving your readers full access to your bookmarks!
  • Linkrolls – This feature allows you to have your Del.icio.us bookmarks displayed on your website’s sidebar. You determine the size and look of it, then paste the javascript code on to your website.
  • Tagrolls – This feature allows you to have your Del.icio.us tags displayed on your website’s sidebar. You determine the size and look of it, then paste the javascript code on to your website.
  • Daily Blog Posting – This feature allows you to post daily links to your website. If you don’t bookmark anything that day, nothing will be posted on your website for that day. This has several benefits, giving your readers access to useful websites, but it also serves as a backup for your bookmarks on your website.

If you’re interested in adding Daily Links to your blog, here is how to go about it:

Once you’ve set up your Del.icio.us account, go to the upper right corner and click on Settings. Under the experimental column on the right side of the screen, you will find an option called Daily Blog Posting. You’ll want to click Add a New Thingy. Here is the information needed to create Daily Blog Posting for your site:

  • Under job_name put the title you would like to use. Many people simply use “Links” or “Daily Links.”
  • Under out_name enter your log in name.
  • Under out_pass enter your blog password.
  • Under out_url you will need to place the following code, depending on which blogging service you use:
    • WordPress – http://blogname/ xml rpc. php (remove spaces)
    • Typepad – http://www.typepad.com/t/api
    • Movable Type – http://blogname/ mt-xml rpc. cgi (remove spaces)
    • Blogger – Currently there is no out_url (confirmed)
  • Under out_time you will want to place the GMT time each day you want to have your post made. For those in the United States, a zero is 8 PM EST, 5 PM PST (midnight GMT).
  • Under out_blog_id you place your blog’s ID number. In typepad, this can be found by clicking on the manage link. It should appear in the address menu link this: http://www.typepad.com/t/app/weblog/manage?blog_id=[Blog ID Number]
  • Under out_cat_id this is where you place the category you want your post to be under (if applicable).

Hit Submit Query and your done!!

Adding Del.icio.us Search to your Blog

A few people have inquired about how to make a Del.icio.us Search box for their blog’s sidebar. In order to make this, I simply took a look at the source code on the Del.icio.us Search page and adjusted the URL and manipulated the code a bit to fit in a sidebar the way I wanted it to look. Here is the code:

<!-- SiteSearch Del.icio.us -->
<center><form method="get" action="http://del.icio.us/search/" id="searchform" onSubmit="doSearchType(); return true;"> <input type="hidden" name="fr" id="searchfr" value="del_icio_us"/> <p><input name="p" value="" type="text" size="22"> <input type="submit" value="Search Del.icio.us"></p></form></center>
<!-- SiteSearch Del.icio.us -->

It’s important to note that the search uses the logged in users information, so if you search for a particular tag, it will show you any tags you have saved under your name, and also any other ones. If you would prefer to have a select box on your website that the user can choose between Your Bookmarks, Del.icio.us, or World Wide Web, then you will want to use a slightly modified version:

<!-- SiteSearch Del.icio.us -->
<center><form method="get" action="http://del.icio.us/search/" id="searchform" onSubmit="doSearchType(); return true;"> <input type="hidden" name="fr" id="searchfr" value="del_icio_us"/> <p><input name="p" value="" type="text" size="22"> <select id="searchtype" name="type"> <option value="user" >Your Bookmarks</option> <option value="all" selected="selected">Del.icio.us</option> <option value="web" >World Wide Web</option></select> <input type="submit" value="Search Del.icio.us"></p></form></center>
<!-- SiteSearch Del.icio.us -->

This will add a select box, giving the searcher more options.

Does Del.icio.us have a blog? It is always important to give your business to companies that blog, because then you have direct access to communicate with that company. Del.icio.us is no exception, keeping their users up to date with the Official Del.icio.us Blog.

What are the downsides to Del.icio.us? Well, there are only three downsides in my opinion. The major flaw I see is the lack of competition. There are numerous social bookmarking websites, but none that have truly taken off like Del.icio.us has. The closest thing to a true competitor was Yahoo’s MyWeb service (now Yahoo! MyWeb2). However, shortly after launching their MyWeb service, Yahoo actually acquired Del.icio.us, giving them a virtual monopoly in the social bookmarking market. In my opinion, this has caused a lack of urgency in improvements to their services, which brings me to my other two complaints. The user interface is awful and sometimes the navigation can be tricky. They also have a very slow customer service turn around time if you run into a problem (took almost two months for me to get a response to an issue I was having). I think competition would go a long way towards fixing both of these flaws.

So there you have it! That is everything you should need to know to get the most out of Del.icio.us. I will be adding quality links as I find them, so if you know of any I have missed, please leave a comment below and they will be added.

How to: Add Social Bookmarking Links with Icons to WordPress

Since my recent site redesign, several people have told me they love how I set up my social bookmarking icons at the bottom of my posts and wanted me to provide the code and explain how to do so. Here is a quick rundown of my thought process, then an explanation of how to do it on your site.

Why did I want them set up like this? If you’re a WordPress user and looking for an easy way out, there are several great plugins you can use to easily accomplish what I did (without the links next to the icons). The two most popular extensions are WP-Notable and WP-Sociable.

Although you can select which services to use in the control panel, you are still likely going to flood the reader with icons that will serve as more of an eyesore than anything else. The point of these buttons is to encourage bookmarking, digging, etc., so in my mind having little tiny icons defeats the purpose. My setup below seems to be more encouraging to readers to bookmark or stumble articles on this site, which can improve traffic and hopefully increase the amount of readers that return. The icon draws the readers attention and the link encourages it to be clicked.

What is the code needed? Although there are probably 50+ social bookmarking services available to users, only a few are really needed. I went with the only four I feel are truly worth the space on my blog. Here is the code for them:

Digg

<a href="http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=<?php the_permalink() ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>"> Digg This!</a>

Del.icio.us

<a href="http://del.icio.us/post?url=<?php the_permalink(); ?>&title=<?php the_title() ?>"> Add to Del.icio.us</a>

Google Bookmarks

<a href="http://www.google.com/bookmarks/mark?op=edit&bkmk=<?php the_permalink()?>/&title=<?php the_title(); ?>"> Google Bookmark It!</a>

StumbleUpon

<a href="http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=<?php the_permalink(); ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>"> Stumble it!</a>

I’ve also done some digging around (pun intended) and found a few others that I don’t use, but others may be interested in for their sites. I have not tested them, so please let me know if they don’t work for some reason and I’ll try to get it corrected in this post for other readers.

Netscape It!

<a href="http://www.netscape.com/submit/?U=<?php the_permalink() ?>&T=<?php the_title(); ?>&C=<summary>">Netscape it!</a>

Add to Google

<a href="http://fusion.google.com/add?feedurl=<?php the_permalink() ?>"> Add to Google!</a>

Add to MyYahoo

<a herf="http://add.my.yahoo.com/rss?url=<?php the_permalink() ?>"> Add to My Yahoo!</a>

This is just the code for submitting the URL to the various sites. Now that you have that, you will next need to get the appropriate icons for each service (the easiest way to do this is download one of the plugins mentioned above, then load the icons into your images folder). You can place the images just before the link by typing the following code with the appropriate .png or .gif file immediately before the code provided above for each respective service:

<img src="<?php bloginfo('template_url'); ?>/images/{Name of Your Image}" border="0" alt="tag" />

You’ll want to replace the bolded brackets section with the name of the image (for example, netscape.gif). If you don’t know how to do this, or don’t use WordPress, you can create a free account at Photobucket, upload the images there, and get the URL that it gives you. Insert that in between the first set of quotes.

Hopefully many of you have found this post useful. Please post questions below and I will do my best to answer them. Also, if you have the code for other services, feel free to link to it and I’ll update my post. Enjoy!