5 Digital Media Tricks that Save Me *Lots* of Time Online

Online communication is becoming central to most of our social and business lives. Face it – a laptop and smart phone/iPhone are the tools we use these days. It used to be the traditional telephone and the mail box, but now we have a lot of different ways to “explode” our messages, “go viral” and keep large groups of people updated.

The problem is… it’s really difficult to figure out what tools to use and how to stick to some habits and processes.

Here are five of my favorite tools/processes (I don’t have any affiliation with these co’s – I’m just an online tinkerer):

1)       Ping.fm – I use Ping.fm to update business messages to a variety of different social media/business platforms. I use the ping.fm toolbar to share stories that I find useful with my Twitter, Plaxo and LinkedIn groups. I find that some people are more active on certain networks, and I don’t want to have to manually update everyone separately. Ping.fm works great for this. I don’t update my primary Facebook page with this tool because those are mostly “social” friends in there. But I do have it set up to update my QualityWriter fan page.. which is really a nascent thing. There’s a good article about the best ways to set up Ping.fm here. Chris Brogan and ProBlogger Darren Rowse have good articles about how to structure your information sharing hub with a “home base” and “outposts.” They’re worth checking out for strategy purposes.

2)      Eye.fi – This is an SD memory card that goes into my digital camera. It stores photos and has a built-in Wi-Fi antenna (I’m amazed at how small the technology is – looks just like a regular SD card!). Whenever I arrive at my local network/home wireless network, Eye.fi auto-downloads all my photos and videos to folders on my computer and automatically uploads them to my services (Kodak Gallery, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook) based on my settings. This thing is dynamite. This has changed my photo managing habits. I now try to delete all bad photos and videos off of my camera before turning it on near my wireless network… before the “auto-up-suckage”. Another way to handle this is to use the Protect feature on your camera. Only photos that are protected are uploaded to your folders and networks.

3)      Google Voice – Google has a voice/phone service that integrates your landline and cell phone and texting into a unified “inbox”. I give out my Google Voice number to select clients and friends. When they call it, both my office phone and cell phone ring. It’s like a “Bat Phone.” From my laptop, I can SMS text my Gmail contacts (which are really all my contacts). This makes it easy to type out longer txts without doing the big-finger-blackberry thing. All messages go through my Google Voice inbox. They’re transcribed into text and emailed to me, too. I think I can have them sent as texts to my cell phone, too (not sure about this one). There are lots of other cool features – check it out, you’ll see.

4) ShareIn – If I want to update Facebook and/or Twitter friends about a story I’ve just read or a video I’ve just watched, I use ShareIn. This is a browser bookmarklet that gives you a “one click” way to do so. No more copy and paste. I wrote an article on how I came to embrace ShareIn here: How to Simplify your Social Media Life: The Pros and Cons of Posterous, Soup.io, ShareIn and FriendFeed. Ping.fm does this, too. But Ping.fm is better for touching all groups at once. ShareIn is good when you know exactly who you want to send something to – Twitter folks (who are more business for me) or Facebook (who are more social friends).

5)      Posterous – This blog/hosting services is a quick and easy to share photos, thoughts, articles, sounds and videos with friends and associates. See the “How to Simplify” link above for more of my thoughts on Posterous. Essentially, I use Posterous as a place to update close family and friends with my videos and photos of family life. I wouldn’t do this kind of in-depth posting on Facebook, because I don’t want to spam a loose group of social friends with too much cuteness, kid soccer games and such. Posterous, however, is a great place to archive stuff and allow family members to catch up. My family and friends don’t need to have an account or log in any way. It’s just my Posterous URL. Simple… and I can update it via email or the browser toolbar bookmarklet. Easy peasy.

Check out these awesome services. They’re all free – except for Eye.fi, which is a one time cha-ching (mine cost $69.99 at Amazon – with free shipping – shipping is a little steep from the main eye.fi site).

Please let me know your tips and tricks too by commenting below and sharing this post with your networks and groups. Thanks. – Phil

A New, Better, Web-based Mind-Mapping Solution: Popplet Review

A lot of people use mind mapping software these days to gather their thoughts and start creative projects. This applies to many different creatives, including software developers, writers, producers, screenwriters, marketing teams, executives. . lots of different people and applications.

You can storyboard scripts with these tools, outline PowerPoint and Keynote presentations, conceptualize products, delineate workflow processes and much more.

I’ve used several mind mapping programs – freeware mostly. The most recent one I used was called Compendium. It was good, but it was pretty complex. With most of them, you’ll find them overly-complex. Compendium was nice, but I’ve found something better.

It’s called Popplet. This one is different, because it’s a Web application that has all the features I need in one package. The mind maps I make are shareable and “social,” so I can show people all my thoughts and even collaborate them without any local client program. They don’t need to install anything, and I don’t. It’s all Web based.

As far as I can tell, Popplet is pretty new. The app allows you to intuitively create detailed, flexible mind maps with just a few mouse. You can easily share these maps with others. You can easily collaborate with others to manipulate that maps in real time.

The product is a godsend for anyone involved in creative planning, software development, workflow, organized analysis of any kind. I made a quick video that shows you how easy it is to make a Popplet and how easy it is to share one. You can see that the below.

Take a look and please comment if you’ve tried and like Popplet. . or if you have any questions about this cool little app. Thanks.

Aside: The app is beta right now, however, I had no trouble getting an invitation. That may change as Popplet becomes more popular.

Gist.com Is Awesome: A Serious Contender in the Small Business CRM Space [SMB]

[Gist.com is no longer in business, but Rapportive does the same kinds of things.]

A Brief Gist Review and Some Added Thoughts About What Else Gist Could Do

Gist allows me to do one thing really well. I can be “contextually relevant” when communicating with my business contacts (and even with my friends).

So what is Gist?

Here’s my description: It’s an integrated, web-based, social contact management system for staying relevant and communicating all in one place. It’s also a great customer relationship management (CRM) system that’s useful for tracking leads, keeping notes on important accounts/companies, and prioritizing your communications.

Here’s Gist’s CEO, T.A. McCann, explaining it in his own words.

Gist overview by CEO T.A. McCann from Robert Pease on Vimeo.

My own Gist set-up integrates all my Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, Blog/RSS, news and Gmail contact information. What do I mean by that?

It connects all of my contacts to the unique comments and content they generate all over the web. If I click on Mary Lilamb, for example, I can see her Twitter feeds, any blog posts she’s made, her Facebook status and more all in one place (next to her email link, phone number, address and other contact info).

So, if I want to send her an email, a Twitter DM, a Facebook message – or just call her the old fashioned way – I can easily see what she’s been up to lately and be *relevant*. I can understand the context of her recent life and comment accordingly. No more “hey, how’s it going” emails from me, for example. If she’s been reading something or viewing a video that I’m also interested in, I can share my thoughts with her immediately.

That’s powerful!

You should give it a try.

What follows are some Gist improvements or features I’d be interested in seeing:

  • It would be nice to see a clearly marked box for “suggested profile information” in the person’s contact area (this has changed a little over the past few days)
  • If I could ask a particular network (facebook, linked-in, etc.) a question from within Gist that would be cool
  • Also, if the responses from that question could be flowed into a tagged Gist group (tying the question to the group/topic) that would uber-cool

Have you been using Gist? How do you use it? And, what kinds of improvements would you like to see? Please comment below. Thanks.