Geekalicious Recommends... September 2012

Geekalicious Recommends


Welcome to the second "Geekalicious Recommends".  Here are some geek and tech links that I have really enjoyed this month.


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We shall start with a bit of self-promotion.  Over on Typecast I had a bit of a rant about an approach from a company called Flubit.  I'm all for a bit of innovative marketing but I still haven't found out how they obtained my personal details (my 'public' name isn't the same as my 'real' name).  The more I think about it and discuss this subject, the more I am convinced that they bought a mailing list.  It may have even been from a competition that I entered (I usually participate in additional entries on Twitter and Facebook so their marketing strategy would seemingly be fitting).  So, for me, the lesson is, check the small print and ensure that you have that teeny tiny box un/ticked appropriately.  What do you think?

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Have you read about why Leo Traynor met his internet troll?  Trolling has taken on many forms online over the years and, using mobile devices, it could be considered to be easier to troll someone.  Leo explains that with a bit of help he managed to track down his own internet troll but was shocked to find out who it was.  You may be surprised at the way in which he dealt with it too.

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Phil Szomszor highlights an interesting Twitter campaign that seemingly backfired this week.  The #WaitroseReasons meme was subject to some ridicule on the hashtag stream and they have attempted to join in to consolidate their position.  Phil asks if they really thought this very public approach through properly.

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On the Phronesis SEO blog, Bob Bardsley talks about the power of on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  He mentions the new Google Panda update (penalising page rank for paid or suspicious link building) and how using a copywriter can improve your unique content.

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A feature on Guardian Money spectacularly misquoted a fellow Twitter user this week.  Centered around Kellogg's Special K crisps and their pop-up shop in London (a marketing exercise), @melaina25 was targeted after she shared a picture of the crisps and information about their "points value" for a specific diet.  The author of the article did not read (or quote) the tweet in full nor did she complete her research correctly.  So my question is "Can certain Guardian journalists be trusted? The number of misprints and misquotes seriously makes me wonder..." 

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As ever, there is some glorious content on the ProBlogger blog this month but detailing the nine elements of the perfect post is a really good one to bookmark and revisit.  It hightlights the necessary features of a webpage.  Even though it sounds like it is pretty basic information, sometimes we can get sidetracked by all the unnecessary blah happening in the sidebar. 

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And lets finish on a funny.  I have a feeling that the b3ta membership is responsible for most of the crackpot reviews on Amazon but Debbie from Kommein has highlighted twenty-one products with the best and funniest fake reviews.  I'm including this just because the good Catholic girl in me spotted the communion wafers too.  And, just in cae you're wondering... YES, the canvas print of Paul Ross is featured on there too.  HOORAY!

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I hope you enjoy these recommendations.  Also, if you have a blog post that you'd like me to include in the next round up send me a link by email and I'll give it a read through.  I'm always looking for new blogs to read and recommend.


What To Include On A Media Pack

When I designed my 'media pack' for Typecast (my other blog) I attempted to keep it short and snappy.  I wanted all the information on one page and it had to be relevant, both to the blog and to the person who I was sending it to. 

The ideal media pack will be no longer than one page long, have an example of branding and include all relevant information so that the prospective client has less opportunity to ask questions about your availability.  You want to be able to start a relationship with them as soon as possible.

Below is a stripped-down example taken direct from the media pack I send out for Typecast.  I advise you to keep a copy of your media pack in Publisher or Word so you can easily amend it and *create a .pdf version to email out.

Update it regularly and stay ahead of the game.

Media Pack Example


* To create a pdf, choose PRINT then select "pdf".  You can save this version on your computer.  You can also use an freeware download such as CutePDF which adds a converter into your list of printers.


NB:  In accordance with the CAP Code (Ccommittee of Advertising Practice) all paid or sponsored relationships should be declared and 'paid-for' links should be nofollow.


How Do You Use Social Media?

geekalicious social media icons

This post leads on from the recent Blogger Hangout discussion.  We talked about which social media platform are best (or a time-suck) for bloggers, I have been thinking about the way in which social media is developing and becoming all-encompassing.  There are a number of social media platforms that I feel enhance my time online to network with bloggers and non-bloggers.

I am often asked how I manage each platform and which ones I recommend.  This is by no means a definitive list or method so it would be great if you could share your social media secrets too.  Get ready for a whirlwind tour of my life via social media.

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Facebook.  Facebook is split into three sections for me: my personal profile, my Facebook page and the groups (social media X-Factor, anyone?).  I am quite choosy who I accept as a 'friend' on Facebook as I share pictures of my family and some personal (and occasionally ranty) status updates.  My Facebook page is centered around my blog updates and is also connected to my Twitter account.  On my page I try to keep it 'professional' (i.e. blog and social media related) and encourage 'likes'.  Groups are theme-specific and I am a member of a few that interest me and educate me.

Twitter.  My first, my last, my everything.  I've joined Twitter in 2008 and loved it immediately.  The way in which Twitter performs has changed over the years and people use it for many different reasons.  I use Tweetdeck to flatten out twitter so that I can watch my @mentions column at the same time as my Home stream, Direct Messages and some lists.  This feels more interactive to me although it can take some getting used to.  Other similar applications are Seesmic and Hootsuite.  I also take advantage of scheduling facilities on Tweetdeck so that I can push out updates (usually to my blog) when I know I am going to be away from my online life.

Google Plus.  I have been interested in G+ since the beginning, especially after seeing a few of Google's products fail (Google Buzz, anyone?).  But sometimes you have to find out what doesn't work to be able to produce a better functioning application.  I have found that a G+ Page doesn't work for me and my blog(s) and I remain active on my personal profile.  I have no reason to be anonymous and would like people to know me as the blogger rather than hide behind a pseudonym.  As G+ are putting a lot of work into their underlying SEO (search engine optimisation) I feel that this is an important platform to work on.

StumbleUpon.  Working on two levels (fully explained in my What Is StumbleUpon? tutorial), this platform is a great way to find new content and to drive traffic to your own content.  I occasionally share a link from my own blog via the StumbleUpon (SU) toolbar; the more hits on this link push up the popularity of the article and give it more weight for other users of SU.  When I am using SU to find new content I will give webpages I love a 'thumbs up' and then share using Bolt for a couple of reasons.

Tumblr.  A blogging platform that works for me for updates that are too long for twitter and too short for a blog post.  I often share my Bolts (found on StumbleUpon) to Tumblr as they create great interaction from an new audience.  Many of the Tumblr blogs I follow (and those that follow me) have no idea who I am on my blog, Facebook or Twitter.  My Tumblr is connected to my Twitter account and my Facebook so if I want to expose a Bolt then I push to Tumblr which auto-pushes to the other two platforms.

Instagram.  A glorious way to share snapshots from my mobile phone.  I tend to upload on the go and I rarely use hashtags. I have the option to share to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr so choose the best combination (as above) depending on the theme of the photo.  If I want to share a picture taken on my "proper" camera, I upload the image to Dropbox and share to Instagram from there.  I occasionally use my Instagram pictures on my blog.

Pinterest.  This can drive traffic to my blog so I selfishly "pin" some of my posts over on my two boards - "Flogging the Blogging" (solely blog posts - mine and other people's) and "Unique Geek Speak" (a community board for all things blogging and geek).

Foursquare.  I have a love/hate relationship with Foursquare.  I understand the business promotion side of the platform but not the 'badges' or the 'points'.  I struggle with the balance between promoting good business and services and your followers knowing where you are all the time (I have the same issue with the 'location' facility on Facebook).  I am currently not using this platform but occasionally log in when I am at a conference or blogging event.

YouTube.  This takes some hammering on a weekend evening and my 'favourites' list is a tad eclectic.  I share the occasional tune to the incorporated social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, G+) but I am really enjoying the integration with Google Plus and the Hangouts.  There have been some majorly ingenious uses for Google Hangouts with their "On Air" facility and one that I have been using for weekly Blogger Chats.

Flickr.  Whilst I don't use Flickr to host my photographs any more, I do use their advanced search facility to find images with a creative commons licence that I can use on my blogs.  I always thank the photographer and leave a link to the post that I used it on by way of good manners.  You never know, you may gain a new reader in the process.


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What is your social media activity like?  Do you use a platform that I haven't mentioned?  Do you use one completely differently to the way I do?  What would you recommend that people use and that people steer clear of.  Let me know in the comments.  I also thought you would enjoy this video - The Social Media Revolution 2012.


Your Header Image On Social Media Platforms

It seems that the main three social media platforms - Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus - are using similar layouts which give you the opportunity to display a small avatar (sometimes used for a good quality head and shoulders shot) and a larger landscape display area.

Below are some screengrabs of what my social media profile pages look like at the moment.

How To Create Pages In Blogger

Pages are a fantastic way to provide important information to your readers and they can generate quick links to your "About Me" or "Contact Me" information.  You can use Pages in a variety of other ways such as to introduce a series that you write, to link to another webpage or even to display a few photos that you like.  
(please click images to enlarge)


Blogger Chat - Google Plus Hangout #2

Our second Blogger Hangout On Air was based around the use of social media and how much time we spend networking and attempting to drive traffic to our blogs.  Joining me in the Hangout were Emily Leary, "Helpful Mum" (Sian), Ruth Arnold and Sinead Safford.  Aly Hodge attempted to join us but had some technical difficulties and Helen Wills managed our admin this week which was an enormous help.

How To Back Up Your Blogger Blog

As I mentioned in my Cybher presentation in May 2012, performing a back up on your Blogger blog is simple and should be performed regularly.  You should be backing up your blog template AND saving your posts.  Please click all images to enlarge.

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SAY 'NO' TO CAPTCHA AND TURN WORD VERIFICATION OFF NOW!

An example of word verification
Captcha has taken to swearing back at me...
When I was invited to speak at Cybher in May 2012 I made sure that I included a slide about word verification.  It is currently the most viewed slide of the online presentation.  However, I am hearing that many people are still (annoyingly) using word verification - sometimes known as "Captcha" - on their blogs.

As is the case for the Blogger platform, word verification can be default on a new blog and many bloggers don't realise this.  We all love comments on our blog and word verification is one main barrier to interaction (let's just put comment moderation to one side for a moment).  And it sucks you in.  It lets you write your comment - long or short - before it sneaks up on you as you press the "publish" button.


Blogger Chat - Google Plus Hangout #1

Born from an idea that Thursdays should be "Google Plus" day to help us find our way round the G+ Platform and to encourage the community aspect of blogging we (myself, Aly, Maggy and Chrissie) have agreed to host a half-hour hangout each Thursday evening.

10 Ways To Become A Better Blogger

A while back I found my old website/blog.  I've been searching for it for ages using random keywords and old usernames.  It was on Yahoo Geocities and didn't appear to be cached.  Yes, it was that shit that even Google decided not to take screenshots of it.  But for some reason it has popped up in a very random place.  It's incredibly old because it says that my children are 10, 8 and 2.  The 10 year old is now 21!  Anyway, it has very garish pages - the type that make your eyes bleed - and one day, when I have rehashed all the good salvageable material from it, I may let you see it.

One part of the website, my obsession for cross-stitching is clear.  There are about six pages (that are still linked) with project ideas, jokes (!!), hints and tips and a little "10 ways to become a better stitcher" narrative.  We've all seen those "10 ways to become a better..." across the internet so, just to prove how adaptable they are, here are some of the "Stitcher Rules" cheekily rehashed into "Blogger Rules".

Ten Top Tips For Bloggers

blogging themesWe are always looking for ways to improve parts of our life - or, as bloggers, our blogs.  Recently I have attempted to organise my blogging by separating out the different themes into four different areas
and so far it is working but that doesn't work for everyone.  Here are my Ten Top Tips for Bloggers but this is by no means a definitive list.  Feel free to add your Do's and Don't's in the comments.

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