Category Archives: Hacks

The Complete Pinterest Guide For Power Users

    OK, so you’ve fallen for all the Pinterest hype and you’ve signed up and got started, now what? I hunted down some of the better resources, tools and how-to’s from the interwebs and sorted through the avalanche to target the best and most useful that’ll help you get the most out of your Pinning.  Just in case you’ve been slacking, here’s the official FAQs page  if you’re still playing catch up.

The Buzzsonic Music Industry Pinboard on Pinterest

 If you want to know how musicians and labels are using Pinterest you can see some great examples of execution via features at Read Write Web,  Hypebot,  MTV Hive,  Metablocks,  Make Use Of  and Billboard.

Also another more recent addition to the visual pinboard is the ability to directly pin tracks from Soundcloud. I added one of my own here.

 

99th Floor Elevators on Pinterest via Soundcloud

Soundcloud Unmutes Pinterest

“Pinterest is completely visually driven. Unlike other social networks that are focused on what you’re doing right now, Pinterest concentrates more on what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to build in the future”. Thought  Matrix

First Things First. Tune Up Those Images

One of the main things to remember, and one of the ‘rules’ you should  stick by is the (my label!)  attribution  etiquette rule, that is, giving credit to where you  sourced that pinned image from. That means it shouldn’t be as lazy as doing a Google image search and lazily pinning what you find from the search giant. Credit the source!

Mashable recently published  ‘How to Make Images Stand Out on Pinterest’  which has a great infographic on how best to present your pinned images and optimise them for everyones benefit.

Pinterest Image Optimisation

Pinterest Image Optimisation

Pinterest Browser Extensions & Plugins

A  browser plugin (for Chrome) I swear by, which streamlines my image searching ten fold (at least) is the Tin Eye reverse image search tool, which works by adding an extra search option when you right click on any image in your browser. Click search and off it goes to find alternate sources and sizes of the image you’re looking at.

Pin Search is another simple but extremely useful browser plugin which adds an extra button onto the Pinterest page you’re browsing. ‘Search’ appears underneath the default three options of Repin, Edit and Comment when you hover over an image in Pinterest, zipping off to search Google images to dig out more options on the image you’re interested in.

I always try and remember to click through directly to the source of the pinned image before re-pinning just to make sure it doesn’t take me off somewhere it shouldn’t  (spammy framed redirect-affiliate links was a recent experience).

The Pinterest Pin It button (from Shareaholic) is another essential I use daily and if there is something sleeker and more feature packed, I have yet to stumble across it. It does what it says on the tin, “the easiest way to send images from any website to your pinboards”. Either click the button or right click on the image. Simple’s

One more on the Pinterest browser plugins that I use.  Share As Image Pro (until recently known as PinAQuote) lets you highlight text anywhere on the web and easily convert it into an image and post as a nicely coloured Pin. So, good for all those classic inspirational quotes and snippets of wisdom we all love so much. The ($2.99) Pro version lets you customise the text and background colours you pin. Worth it.

Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin

Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin

There’s an increasing amount of Chrome browser extensions for Pinterest and you’ll find all the official Pinterest tools on the Goodies page. These include a simple browser bookmarklet, follow and Pin It buttons for websites and the official iOS Pinterest App.

Calculate Your Pinfluence !

This is probably as irrelevant as Klout scores (CNN Money had a piece called ‘ Why Klout scores are possibly evil’ last year) but Pinreach is actually a quite useful mixture of ‘influence’ and analytics. The fledgling service analyses your popular boards by using repin numbers and shuffles the data from your boards via repins, likes, followers, pins and comments. You can also get data on your most popular repins.

Its great for gaining some quick insight and stats as to what is working best on your profile and for calculating which board needs more work.. You get a PR (Pinreach) score out of 100 (much like Klout) though I found Pinreach to be of much more  relevance  than Klout.

Pinreach Pinterest Analytics

Pinreach Pinterest Analytics

If you want to get more indepth on the analytics and what traffic Pinterest is sending to your website, Mashable have a very useful guide on How to Track Traffic From Pinterest in Google Analytics.

Pinerly I haven’t yet got access too, but Mashable have  (natch) and it ploughs a similar furrow to Pinreach but with more onus on running Pinterest marketing campaigns.  Pinpuff is another of what they’re calling Pinfluence tools, along the lines of Klout, with the promise of ‘pinperks’ but other than that looks very similar to Pinreach.

 Pinterest, Meet WordPress

Pinterest WordPress RSS Widget

When I last looked there was already 86 different Pinterest plug-ins for WordPress bloggers to add to their websites. Naturally, one will be enough for your site, which one depends on your own preferences but the majority of them simply give you the ability to display activity from your Pinterest account either in your sidebar with a drag n drop widget or via short codes, which let you add activity to pages and posts.

I looked and tried a few here on Buzzsonic.com and settled on the ‘Pinterest RSS Widget’ which enables you to display thumbnails of your Pinterest general feed (or a specific pinboard) in your sidebar and also the ability to add feeds to any posts and pages using short-codes.

Pipped into second place was ‘Pinterest Pinboard Widget‘ which displays some very nicely laid out thumbnails in your sidebar of your activity but unfortunately (as yet) no ability to display from specific pinboards which was the clincher for me. If you just want to display action from all your boards in one neat looking display this is the way to go.

‘Pretty Pinterest Pins’ was my weapon of choice initially but display size options were limited with no thumbnail square option which meant the pins took up much more space in the sidebar. Other than that it allows you to choose from specific pinboards, item count etc.

The neatest (at least for me here) social sharing WordPress plugin at the moment is Digg Digg, which gives you several options to share content, including ‘Pinning’. You can display buttons above or below content or choose the floating social sharing bar (which you can view next to this post). Similar to the one used by Mashable no less. Easy to set up, modify and looks great.

One service I nearly missed but stumbled on via Make Use Of minutes before finishing this post is Pinstamatic which is an insanely useful shortcut to posting things directly to any of your Pinboards. You can add website screenshots direct from a URL, post quotes, sticky notes, tracks from Spotify, your Twitter profile and a bunch more. Insanely addictive.

Pinterest, Where’s The RSS?

The Sociable  have a great guide on how to pull in RSS feeds from specific Pinterest Pinboards so I wont ramble on repeating what they’ve done so well.

” Following a specific board created by a user via RSS is less obvious. If you visit a user’s Pinterest Board you’ll see that there are no links to subscribe to that board’s RSS feed. But you can still generate a feed for it. To do this, first open the board (e.g. Felicia Day’s Geekin Board), then, Remove the last “/” from the URL and add .rss – your end URL will look like http://pinterest.com/feliciaday/geekin.rss ” read the full post at The Sociable…

12 More of the Most Useful Pinterest Articles from this Year

13 ‘Pinteresting’ Facts About Pinterest Users:Infographic (Mashable) Who are these feverish pinners? According to full service agency Modea, the majority are female mothers — 28 percent have a household income of $100k+.

Shopify Survey: Pinterest Users Spend 2X More (PinnableBusiness.com) Ecommerce store platform Shopify just released numbers on the profitability of Pinterest for their shop owners. They looked at over 25,000 Shopify online stores to see how Pinterest drives sales. The results are dramatic.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest for Marketing (HubSpot) As with any hot new social network that comes onto the scene, marketers are chiming in with, “Can I use it for marketing?” “…and, how?” The short answer? Absolutely. The longer answer? Read on to find out how.

20 Awesome Tools Which Will Have you ‘Pinteresting’ Like a Pro (The Next Web) With such an active community, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of other interesting tools, apps, and sites which aim to enhance the Pinterest experience beyond the Follow Button and Pin It button which can easily be installed on any website.

Proof That Pinterest Drives Sales, And Its Fans Spend Big (Fast Company) Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but spend more on average than their Facebook counterparts, according to new data from Shopify.

16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest (Infographic) (Mashable) OnlineUniversities.com have put together an infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation.

56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest (CopyBlogger) Think those inspiring vision boards don’t result in referral traffic to websites and blogs? Think again. In January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube — combined.

Infographic of the week: Pinterest Marketing Strategies (Populate Digital) The infographic gives you 64 marketing tips and tactics that you can apply to your Pinterest account now, to help give you a head start.

Pinterest Marketing Tips & Tricks to Drive Targeted Traffic(Search Engine Watch) Having little experience beyond personal playing around on it, my view was that Pinterest was shaping up to be a fun toy, but had little value for marketers. Of course, I love to be proven wrong when someone can bring the numbers to back up their experience with a new “toy.” Steve Gerencser from Steam Driven Media did just that.

How local businesses can do research and gain an edge with Pinterest (SmartBlogs.com) Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest.

Why Online Marketers Better Get An Interest In Pinterest, Fast (Forbes) A few months ago I wrote of the need for brand managers to get “pinterested” due to the fact that women, AKA the one responsible for the majority of household purchase decisions has “developed an affinity for the latest and greatest social media platform.” It would also appear that those in the e-commerce world better also get “pinterested” if they have not already.

The Ultimate Pinterest Guide for Your Online Store (Shopify) The whirlwind of excitement that surrounds Pinterest provides online store owners a great opportunity to leverage it’s popularity (and overall awesomeness) to bring attention to their online store. Whether you’re already setup on Pinterest or you’re a complete newbie, this is a guide that will teach you the basics, and also help the more experienced pinners get the most from this popular social media platform.

Happy Pinning!

And don’t forget to connect with me on Pinterest OK and dig into some of my most popular boards too: Social Media, SEO & Digital Marketing  and the Buzzsonic Music Industry Board for starters.

Follow Area239.com on Pinterest

How to Become a News Ninja Using RSS

RSS has been much maligned of late but still remains one of the easiest and most convenient ways of keeping in touch with breaking news and subscribing to new content on your favourite websites and blogs.

My Overworked Google RSS Reader

Social Media Today, summed up RSS very well here: “using RSS in combination with Google Reader can be a very powerful option if you do content curation or disseminate information to a determined audience. I use RSS very actively as my primary channel for receiving information instead of having to remember every site I have to visit every day to get news.”

RSS Still A Killer App

There has been talk that Twitter and Facebook are replacing RSS as a key broadcaster of news, but thats something of an over statement, RSS is still a key app for me as I curate/read an extensive array of news feeds daily and Twitter is still way too ‘noisy’.

Subscribing to a specific RSS feed in Google Reader is still the best way, at least for me, to stay on top of any key developments in my field of  choosing and certainly in the Music Industry, Tech and Social Media field there isn’t a key name out there that isn’t blogging and syndicating that blog with an RSS feed. Fact.

RSS enables me to skim hundreds of article headlines in minutes enabling me to click only on those that are of key interest to me. This would highlight the importance of writing those killer article titles too!

My RSS Toolbox of Choice

I use the Chrome browser pretty much exclusively these days and there’s a couple of browser extensions I use that enhance my usage of RSS and my content curation in general.

RSS Subscription Extension adds one-click subscription to your toolbar and shows the familiar orange RSS subscription icon when a RSS feed is detected on the website you’re browsing making it an easy click and go to subscribe to a feed.

Postponer Manager is a pair of extensions that add extra function to Pocket (aka Read It Later). The Postponer Adder adds an icon next to every article in your Google Reader to add it to your reading list.

So, if you’re short on attention span or time you can simply click on the Adder icon next to the article you’re interested in, in your reader and the post will be saved automagically on your Pocket page for you to return to and read at leisure. Lifesaver! Sign up free here.

Postponer Adder Chrome Extension

Postponer Adder Chrome Extension

Feedly is basically a news curation plugin of sorts and syncs with your Google Reader to become your ‘Social News Reader’. Basically it does what services like Paper.li and Twylah do to your Twitter feed, turns them into personalised newspapers from content you’ve collected yourself (in this case from your collection of RSS feeds).

My Social Media RSS Feeds via Feedly

My Social Media RSS Feeds seen thru Feedly

You can use Reeder iOS app to sync your Google Reader account to your iPhone or iPad too.  For more tips there’s a great post from last month at Lifehacker that digs around for resources to customise your Google Reader experience here: ‘Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions’.

I’ve kind of moved away from desktop RSS readers simply because my reader is so busy it was using 70% of system resources at times and slowing everything else down! Not everyone is an ‘info freako’ like me and if you do want to read offline too then Feed Demon is about as good as it gets and syncs with Google reader too. Brill.

Your OPML Starter Kit!

Acronyms you’ve never heard of? We got em! OPML is, in laymans terms is a portable data format with  the most common usage being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators. So.

Here’s a quick and easy lesson in how you can use it to move your collection of feeds around (or indeed back them up). I try and export my list of feeds from my Google Reader account monthly at least, then if for some (unlikely) reason my reader settings get corrupted I can simply re-import my original list.

To export your OPML list of feeds (which is actually a very small text file so its quite practical to share via email) in Google Reader go to Reader Settings, then the Import/Export tab then right click and download under OPML download (natch!).

Downloading your RSS feeds as an OPML file in G Reader.

If you have a specific category and want to grab just that collection of feeds, you’d click on the subscriptions title then ‘Folder Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Create a Bundle’ then save. You can see my collections below with several sharing options.

You can grab the OPML and download, email to your friends, get the HTML to post your collection as a widget in your blog or simply add the bundle as a link on your website.

RSS Bundles in Google Reader

Getting Started With Stuff to Read!

Lets assume you already have a Google reader account (and if you use GMail then you do). Here’s three OPML (XML) files for you to download from my own RSS reader account.

Search and SEO (right click and save as..) 36 different feeds,
Social Media  30 different feeds
WordPress  21 different feeds

After you’ve saved one or all of the files, fire-up your reader of choice and go to reader settings, then Import/Export and it’ll ask you to import your subscriptions, select an OPML file>Choose File>Upload and done. You’ll now see your categorised folder in your reader and you have more to read now than you can possibly manage!

Do comment below if you use any particular reader, RSS tool or browser extension that hasn’t got a mention here (and there is many!).

 

Related Reading

Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions (Lifehacker)
RSS is dead… long live RSS! How to replace your Google Reader shared feed (SocialMediaToday)
Replacing your RSS reader with Twitter + Hootsuite (ItsWorthNoting.com)
The War On RSS (Vambenepe.com)
Will Twitter Replace RSS? (Twitip.com)

How To Follow an Interesting Twitter Conversation (On One Page)

An interesting question. I posted this Tweet

[blackbirdpie id=”191088423925317633″]

from @Mark_Mulligan which had a bunch of responses which involved a lot of clicking and timewasting if you’re reading via Twitter’s web page. A quick search via the Goog came up with 445 million possibles but thankfully Brad McCarty at TheNextWeb hit paydirt with the top result, a useful run down on ‘how to follow a Twitter conversation’.

Which basically lead me to Aaron’s Twitter Viewer where you add that long number at the end of the Tweet URL and bingo, you get this:

Aaron's Twitter Viewer, helped Buzzsonic view a twitter conversation

  How cool….

EDIT..

I noticed the conversation on Aaron’s app seemed to get cut off along the way so I’m continuing my search. I tried Twitter’s own search using my user name but that sends back the flow from all interaction including none related streams.

Keeping Up With Buzzsonic

I was using Twitter Tools to gather my machine gun Twitter feed and post the days shouting into one neat post over here. Worked OK for a while, but after a WordPress update somewhere (I don’t know which one) things started getting a bit moody with the database and I found I was getting duplicate posts every day which was a real pain to edit out daily.

So, have been looking for an alternative that looked a little better too and am now trying out Twitter Blackbird Pie, which basically uses shortcodes to post selected tweets in a blog post like thus..

[blackbirdpie id=”188582647847600129″]

Actually looks much better than what I was doing here (let me know what you think OK).

[blackbirdpie id=”188575222360834048″]

Having said that, am looking into the new beta of Twitter Tools, so may well revert back or use a combination of both!

[blackbirdpie id=”188560953204420608″]

Other ways of keeping track of the resources I post via Twitter are at my Delicious account, which grabs all the URL’s I post (why they had to mess up Trunk.ly I don’t know), and another really cool tool I’ve been using is Twylah, which basically grabs your Tweets and arranges them in a neat categorised news display, excellent!

New Commenting System

I’ve pretty much neglected the comments area on this blog, probably because there was never much activity. But as the blog starts to pull in more readers this year there’s been more feedback and I was beginning to realize how crap the default WordPress commenting system is. Ideally I was looking for a plug-in that offered threaded commenting to keep the conversation flow more fluid and easier to follow.

I’d seen Disqus on a few other blogs but was unaware of the speed and efficiency of this neat little WordPress plugin.

In about half an hour I’d downloaded the plug-in, installed it and set it up. The other really neat feature is that Disqus will import all the comments already on your blog. It makes it more user friendly with its threaded commenting.

Its also integrated with the option to include Facebook Connect so people can comment using their Facebook login details rather than having to go through the new sign up process just to comment. Will have to see how much, if any difference this makes, but whatever, am really loving this set-up right now. Highly recomended.

Some Simple Branding Hacks To Supercharge Your Social Media URLs

I remember trying to design one of those flash pro-looking Twitter backgrounds where you list all your social media profiles in a box in the top left hand corner. You know, like all those MLM ‘gurus’ have. I gave up.

But it did bring attention to a couple of things for me. I noticed that not all my social media profiles are blessed with URLs that fit in with my ‘social profile’ (or, branding if you like) and my Facebook URL is particularly unruly. (As is everyone elses!)

So I took five minutes to login to my website management software and using the sub domain feature added a couple of new subdomains under buzzsonic.com. Then I pointed them to my social profiles. So……

www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528551668 becomes www.facebook.buzzsonic.com and my Linkedin profile goes from www.linkedin.com/in/fusiarski to: www.linkedin.buzzsonic.com  And so on. Typing in the shorter name takes you directly to the long one.

What you need. 1.Your own domain name 2. A webhosting account 3. A few minutes.

Its all done using a simple trick using sub-domains and URL re-directs.

CPanel online webhosting management software

When you get a webhosting account you’ll get an online control panel that goes along with it to admin things like file uploads, email accounts, database stuff, installs and other geeky stuff. I think the two most popular web control panels are probably Plesk and CPanel. If you use Plesk you probably hate CPanel and visa versa. Its kinda like the Mac vs PC thing but even more nerdy!

But anyway. CPanel is my weapon of choice. There are several other control panels you may use but they all kind of do the same thing. So these steps should be similar on any software.

To set-up a sub domain login to your control panel (and there’s a live demo of CPanel here if you want to check it out) and head for the subdomain area.  First thing to do is to head for the sub-domain admin area. Its a simple task of adding your subdomain of choice.

CPanel online webhosting management software

So for example I added facebook.buzzsonic.com. Then added my lengthy default Facebook URL. So. What happens is simply that you (or anyone from now on!) types in your new shiny short Facebook and off it goes to the crappy URL that Facebook gives you!

Just follow the process for any URL you want to point to. I’ve actually seen people use one of those URL shortening services to hide their long Facebook URL. This looks way better.

Related Reading

URL Redirection (Wikipedia)
A Bloggers Guide to Branding With Social Media (ProBlogger)
100 Personal Branding Tactics Using Social Media (ChrisBrogan.com)

Google Gone Wild!

Google is broken this morning, EST 10.18am.

Was looking around for Pro Tools 8 M Boxed/LE prices this AM and headed to Google search to check the shopping comparison for the iLok USB key. Surprised to find that the manufacturers site had been tagged with the dreaded Google malware ‘kiss of death’ page. Searching around for other terms brought up the same results.

youtube2

Even Google’s own paid shopping links were being redirected to the malware page. Last gasp try to search for my own music as 99th Floor Elevators. Every search result for that term got the malware redirect including the link to my video on YouTube.

Headed to Twitter to see what people are finding.

Breaking:What’s The Matter With Google? (Geekbrief.TV)
The Day Google Broke (The Next Web)
Google Broken (Google News Search)

Greedy Torrent, A BT For Leechers

The Bit Torrent protocol has been well documented. BitTorrent is a method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the whole of the corresponding costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources.

So, filesharing in the truest sense if you like, where downloaders also upload as they download (if you follow). The more bandwidth and upload stream you share the faster your download (in theory).

greedy2

Going against that whole equal sharing thing comes a new ratio cheating program called appropriately, ‘Greedy Torrent’. The India based software author Alex NJ calls his app “the survival kit for a leech” . What the freeware program promises to do in a nutshell is boost your bittorrent upload ratio.

GreedyTorrent promises to help you survive on trackers that enforce a minimum 1:1 trading ratio, and can keep you from getting banned for not uploading. It modifies the conversation between your bittorrent client and the tracker, suppressing the actual upload amount.
via Zero Paid

Related Reading

How To Cheat BitTorrent Ratio By Spoofing (Raymond.cc)
RatioMaster (Moofdev.org)
Is BitTorrent Share Ratio Enforcement Really Necessary? (Zeropaid.com)

Converting Word Docs to PDF

 

I was designing an invoice last week for a friends business using Word. I hate the way Word formats everything and although I was pleased with the end result it took me longer than I would have liked. Still, before I sent it off to my colleague I cleaned up the final article and made it more printer friendly by converting it to a PDF which gave it a final polish.

pdf-online

There’s a number of PDF converters online though the one I’m using right now is the excellent PDF Online. One of the beauties of the (free) service is the simplicity and speed of it. Upload your document, enter your email address and bingo, you’re done. Your document is emailed to you minutes later. Brilliant.

Flickr4Writer Adds to Live Writer Usability

I’m toggling between using Windows Live Writer for posting right now vs. using the Performancing Firefox add-on ScribeFire. Though for the last two days the Live Writer has been crashing everytime I try to add an image to the post. After losing two hours work yesterday I was on the brink of dumping the app completely and returning to ScribeFire.Having second thoughts Writer is simply fuller featured and offers things like the ability to add images to posts (ScribeFire doesn’t) and preview the post in your blog before publishing (much like WordPress does in the admin panel), two features I cant really do without.

flickrforwriter

Also ScribeFire doesn’t seem to have a minimize option so you either have to put up with it hogging the bottom of your screen, or you save and close. Obtrusive and I hate obtrusive, its what sends me rushing to the delete option!

Anyway, the crashing. Until I find the conflict (it used to work fine) I found an excellent plug-in which works around the problem Flickr4Writer.

Flickr4Writer is a simple plugin for Windows Live Writer that enables you to browse Flickr and insert an image from Flickr into a Writer post. The project is part of CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source project hosting web site.