Saturday, 27 November 2010

Holy Crap! Another App?

As 2010 wraps up and we get ready to head into another year full of unknown yet hopefully exciting adventures I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect back on my social networking learning curve of 2009.  At the beginning of the year, I started keeping a tally of all the Twitter apps that were available to help manage the sometimes overwhelming demands of the Twittersphere.  We’re still not sure if it’s going to be worthwhile in the long run but if you’re not Tweeting you’re missing the boat…maybe.  I keep trying to find the best measurement tool and tracking metrics and voraciously read about other people’s and companies’ experiences.  It really depends on what you’re hoping to accomplish but there’s rarely any time to step back and take a breath.

Anyways, I also wrote a couple articles and blogs about different apps I had found and was using but then as they kept coming at me thick and fast and I would find ones that were better or as I used a particular app more I realized its shortcomings and started searching for the ever-elusive all-in-one answer (i.e. Tweetdeck vs. Socialoomph – started with Socialoomph but now I use Tweetdeck more regularly).  Of course, we’re all looking for the freebees too (especially for us solo-preneurs and small business owners).  I stopped writing about any particular app for a while because I thought people might think I was wishy-washy or schizophrenic.  Now I realize it’s the race-to-create-the-best-app syndrome that’s actually the problem.  Developers have to rush to get theirs out because there’s bound to be 100 more just like it ready to compete.  First out is typically most used (generally speaking).

So, my New Year’s resolutions (that I promise to keep) are to: keep Tweeting, keep following, keep reading, keep testing, keep measuring and keep writing about my experiences (because we all learn from each other). 

Here’s a short-list of the apps I’ve gathered in 2010 (some I’ve tried and some I haven’t had a chance to yet), in alphabetical order because I couldn’t think of an easier way to categorize them.  Just pick one and give it a whirl!!!

Addictomatic – create your own tracking page with the latest on your chosen topics
Followerhub  - find friends and followers
FriendFeed – customized feed of your friends and collaborators
FutureTweets – schedule Tweets
hashtags.org – search top hashtags (to have your hashtag tracked you must follow)
Justunfollow
Klout – identify influencers on Twitter
LaterBro – schedule Tweets
Manageflitter – a quick and easy unfollow tool
Mashable – the latest and greatest news and tips on social media (more a great resource than an app)
Monitter -  target specific geographic areas for searches
MrTweet -  recommend someone
MyTweetSpace – for fresh backgrounds or Twitbacks
Pu.ly – notifies you by email when you have an @reply or mention
Search.twitter - real time search for subjects being tweeted about
Seesmic – manage multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook feeds
SocialOomph – social media management tool
Twaitter – manage multiple accounts, archive, back-up and schedule Tweets
Twazzup.com – managing real time news feeds
TweetAdder – run multiple profiles
TweetAlarm – keyword notification service
Tweetbeeps – track what’s being said about you and/or your company
TweetBlocker – minimize SPAM
Tweetchat – choose hashtags to follow, converse in real-time
TweetDeck – monitor and manage multiple social media accounts
Tweepi – find and follow people
Tweetsqueus – schedule tweets
Twhirl – social media management
Twilert – key word alerts, social media monitoring
Twitpic – share photos
Twitstra – see who’s tweeting about you – will send you any @ messages about you
Twittercounter – shows followers from your website
TwitterGrader - will rank you on how you are doing with your updates and content (taking into account for example the number of RTs you give and receive)
Twitterkarma - dossy.org/twitter/karma – check to see who is following you back
TwitterSearch (like Google) – search Twitter conversations in real time
Twittersphere – search the most talked about stories
Twittertracker.com – monitoring tool
Twuffer – schedule tweets
Ubertwitter
Untweeps – unfollow Twitter users who don’t Tweet
Ugotwit – sends you a message if your twitter handle has been tweeted
We Follow – find Twitterers to follow

Friday, 26 November 2010

Word Play

I was chuckling to myself the other day as I was enjoying a day at the water park with my friend's two teenage daughters and one of them told me she liked my "swimming costume."  It took me a minute to realize what she meant.  Ah...It would be what my fellow Canadians would call a bathing suit.  Of course her terminology (which originated from her Kenyan upbringing) is more literally accurate, isn't it?  This is something that us global writers have to contemplate with every single project we take on.  Where does it originate and who is the main target audience?  We must choose our words very carefully.  I remembered another story this same friend was telling me about her daughters visiting their paternal grandmother in Canada.  When it was time for supper she told them to put their toys in the "bin."  Well, in Canada she was referring to the large plastic Tupperware container that she was using as their toy box.  The girls burst into tears not understanding what they had done that was so wrong that their grandmother was telling them to put their toys in the garbage can (which is called a "bin" where they grew up).

We can all be speaking the same language but depending on where we grew up the same words can have very different meanings depending where you are geographically.  Or some items just have totally different names like swimming costume verses bathing suit, running shoes verses sneakers, pants verses underwear, bathroom verses the loo, etc.  Using expressions that are common in your country may not work when writing copy for a more global audience. 

When I take on a new project, along with the general questions revolving around developing the content brief, I always ask, UK or American spelling?  Here in Dubai, it's usually UK but there are always exceptions to every rule, right? 

(note:  Tupperware is probably a term that not everyone is familiar with either...it's a very popular brand name of a maker of plastic containers of varying sizes and a variety of kitchen implements)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Pitch the Publisher

During a recent visit to my hometown, Halifax, Nova Scotia, I stumbled upon an amazing opportunity to learn more about the book publishing process.  As I was sitting around the kitchen table with my mom, having coffee and perusing the Chronicle Herald (the local paper), I spied a notice about an event that was coming up the following weekend called, "Pitch the Publisher" which was part of The Word on the Street Festival, a day long literary event that's held every year.  It was a call for all aspiring authors to bring their manuscripts, ideas or proposals and test them out on an actual panel of local publishers (yes, I am working on a book about living in Dubai and it's to the point where I'm developing my proposal and researching agents and publishers).  I decided it was too great an opportunity to pass up and called right away to find out how to get on the list.  Alas, the schedule was full but I was put on a waiting list and reassured that the previous year they did get around to hearing from everyone on the list.  I was psyched!  I fine-tuned my proposal, had it copied and bound at the UPS store, wrote out my pitch and practiced it over and over again.  I was excited!

The day arrived and I made my way to Victoria Park on Spring Garden Rd.  It was a crisp, cool day and the event was outside so I added an extra layer figuring the nervous energy coursing through me would keep me warm.  I often forget that I've been living in warm climates for 17 years...brrrr! is all I have to say.  Anyways, I sat through all the scheduled pitches eagerly awaiting my turn with butterflies in my stomach - not sure if it was the cold making me shiver or nerves!  The minutes ticked by and all of the sudden, they were wrapping up and thanking everyone for their time and the publishers were selecting their favorite pitch to award a prize to.  But wait!!!  I haven't done mine yet, I screamed inside my head.  It eventually sunk in that they had run out of time and weren't going to get to the waiting list.  Rats!  I made my way to the front, made a quick introduction to the publisher who had indicated that he was interested in books of my genre, handed him my proposal (I wasn't going to let the opportunity totally go to waste) and then gave the other two copies to the organizer of the event just in case she knew of other publishers who might be interested.

Initially I was so disappointed.  Then I sat back and reflected on the pitches I heard (which were amazing and I believe will result in more than a few book deals...which the publishers actually said during the process).  I looked at the notes I had taken during each publisher's critique.  It was a public forum with an audience and three publishers on stage who each commented after each pitch.  I realized what an invaluable experience I had just had.  Being new to the whole process, the more input I can get, the more I fine tune my proposal, the more I learn from other authors (and aspiring authors), the better chance I'll have in getting published.  It's a long haul and I'm still on the fence about whether or not to continue to seek an agent or publisher or to just self-publish.  The learning curve is steep but I'm enthralled with the business and everything I research and read is fascinating!  I'll keep you posted on my progress as I make my way through this sometimes frustrating but always exciting process.