Why I’ll never use Delicious again

I want to like Delicious, I really do. I’ve been using it to trap links of interest for a while now, and as someone who’s probably used 10 different computers regularly in the last few years, it seemed a handy way to store content I want to access again later, from anywhere. I installed the Delicious extension in Chrome recently and that made it easier and more likely that I’d share and tag links.

But my days with Delicious are over.

The social networks that have stood the test of time so far (“time” in Internet world meaning more than a year or two) have constantly added functionality, features and new design. Facebook does it every few months, it seems. Delicious, for whatever reason, never seemed to graduate into a really robust, useful platform for people to share and save content. It was hard (nearly impossible) to import and find friends, the interface was ugly and clumsy, and search was frustrating. It earned the moniker “Where links go to die” and that’s not too far from the truth, in my case.

It’s too late for Delicious. Google Reader has completely lapped it.

Google Reader started as a way to keep track of blog feeds, and I didn’t use it much beyond that. But then they began rolling out more useful features. You can tag and star items and organize feeds into folders. Then Google rolled out the “Share” function, which, with one click, allows you to post to your own public feed any item from your reader you wished. Google added the ability to find and follow friends via Google Reader and see, right from within your reader, what they are sharing. You can add notes and comments on items or send an item to someone via eMail. And let’s not forget the nifty ‘Trends’ stats feature (this is Google, after all) that shows you which feeds you’re most engaged with. (The official Google Reader blog is a great resource on all these features.)

For a long time, the only thing that kept me saving items to Delicious was the concept of “discovery.” Anything I wanted to save, share or tag in Google Reader was limited to feeds I was already subscribed to. If I happened across something on the Web or clicked to a link from Twitter, I didn’t have a good way to get it into my reader. Plus, I often found a single post interesting and bookmark-worthy, but had no desire to subscribe to the entire blog.

So, it was a two-party system for me: Google Reader to share and save the most interesting posts from among the feeds I already subscribed to, and Delicious for tagging and saving sites I randomly “found” out on the Web.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Google Reader has a “Note in Reader” bookmarklet! It does! And it has for two years! Drag the bookmarklet onto your browser’s toolbar, and wave goodbye to Delicious. The bookmarklet lets you save and/or share anything you find on the Web into your Google Reader. You can add notes and comments, just like you would on a blog post. I don’t know how I missed this feature, but to me, it pretty much means the end of Delicious.

The “Note in Reader” feature completes the content consumption round trip for me. Using Google Reader I can:

  • Subscribe to a blog or Web site’s feed to receive all its content
  • Arrange and sort feeds into folders and bundles
  • Star, tag, like, annotate and share specific items from those feeds to my own public “shared items” feed
  • Find and follow friends via my GMail contacts or other social networks, or even search for people via keyword or location, and then see and subscribe to items they are sharing
  • View recommendations for new feeds that Google generates by comparing my interests with feeds of users similar to me
  • Share and save content into my Google Reader from anywhere on the Web I happen to find it

I haven’t tinkered with Google Buzz much, but obviously Reader and Buzz are easily integrated so you can share items across that platform, too.

(I’m not even going to get started on Google Reader Play, which is possibly the biggest time suck I’ve ever seen – it curates and presents fun and interesting information from the Web it thinks I may like into a visual slideshow type of format and lets you share, like and save right from the screen. I’m talking hours lost here discovering fun stuff.)

So I’m sorry Delicious. I can’t even say that it was fun while it lasted, because it was always a bit cumbersome. It’s too bad we have to part ways, but with “Note in Reader” and all the other amazing options Google Reader offers, can you blame me?

Check out what I’m reading, saving and sharing via Google Reader here.

How I use Google Reader without going insane

It’s a never-ending refrain in the social media world: “There’s just so much content out there!” So many good blogs to read and think about. For a while my Google Reader was getting out of control as I continued to add RSS feeds.

I’ve tried various ways to get a handle on the many blogs I read, but my latest incarnation is to group all my social media/marketing blogs into folders, labeled by the frequency with which I want to read them:

Google Reader Organization

Blogs in my “Check Daily” folder are my top priority. These bloggers typically post regularly and it’s content that I continue to find valuable or thought-provoking. Currently blogs from folks like Amber Naslund, Olivier Blanchard, Dave Fleet and Todd Defren are in this folder.

Next is my “Check Weekly” folder. It consists of interesting blogs that either don’t post as frequently or that I’m not as religious about following. Their posts might not usually be as time-sensitive and I can wait until later in the week to catch up. Or they may tend to be bloggers who write longer posts that take me more than just a few-minute scan in the morning to digest. I try to rotate different bloggers into this folder every so often. Right now people like Tom Martin, Brian Solis, Jason Baer and Mack Collier live here.

My “Twitter Friends and Tweeted Posts” folder is where I put a lot of bloggers I’m friends with whose content I’m likely to see on Twitter long before I get around to checking my reader. Arik Hanson, Lauren Fernandez, David Mullen and Scott Hepburn are all in this folder. Usually I see tweets and retweets to their new posts throughout the day and so I really just use this folder to scan headlines and peek at any posts that I might have missed. For the most part, though, the posts that end up in this folder are ones that I’ve already seen.

The folder I call “Popular and Prolific” features blogs like Chris Brogan, Danny Brown, Copyblogger and HubSpot. These are “big name” blogs that post a lot of content. I don’t necessarily have time to read them every day, but I can count on their content being good and useful and I want it all in one place to go back and access later.

My last folder is the “Check Infrequently” folder. These are blogs that don’t update frequently or that I haven’t found a real connection with yet – but I still want to be alerted when new content is available. I find that I enjoy blogs that are less frequent but more thoughtful. Every once in a while I’ll check this folder to see if Lisa Hoffmann or Shonali Burke have anything new.

To see what posts I like and am sharing, you can check out my Google Reader public share page.

The result of this folder system: It’s still way too much content, but at least now I feel like I can take it in chunks and read a little at a time based on how I’ve prioritized the blogs I’ve subscribed to. Every few weeks I’ll look at the trends and analytics that Google Reader provides and see if there are blogs that I’m consistently reading or not reading and move them to a different folder (or unsubscribe) as a result.

What works for you in organizing your RSS feeds? Do you use a plug-in like Postrank to help you sort through content? Do you find yourself relying less on your feed reader to discover new content? I certainly see plenty of posts shared on Twitter, but I’m in no way ready to give up RSS because I feel like I’d miss too much.

Share your strategy for managing the beast that is your feed reader in the comments.

Back to school: 10 years later, what has changed in PR?

This August marks 10 years since I started my freshman year of college, and while it doesn’t seem as though I should be that far removed from today’s college freshmen, consider this list:

  • I did not own a cell phone and would not get one for two years.
  • I did not have a laptop, nor did many of my classmates. My new desktop cost around $1,100.
  • The most cutting-edge portable music player of the day involved CDs.
  • Digital cameras were an expensive novelty that few of my classmates owned.
  • Text messaging was not widely available on all mobile phones.
  • “Google” was not a regular part of our vocabulary.
  • Facebook would not even be dreamed up until well after I had graduated.

Today’s students are arriving at college with all manner of gadgetry and Web savvy. Most have had Facebook profile for a few years, are all but addicted to text messaging, regularly snap and share digital photos of their friends (often on their phones) and can’t think of a question that Google hasn’t been able to answer.

universityFor students studying PR and communication, the key foundations of the curriculum haven’t changed (communicating an organization’s story in an engaging way) but the tactics are vastly different. Students are now focused on telling stories across platforms and using video, audio, photography and graphics to do so. Writing is still the paramount skill, but it’s not the only tool in the kit anymore.

Whereas I was taught “traditional” media relations in terms of developing pitches and news releases to send to editors and reporters, today’s PR students are learning about blogger relations, Twitter pitches, direct-to-stakeholder Web campaigns and word-of-mouth marketing. Designing Web pages is now a more coveted skill than designing newsletters, and knowing how to write a compelling blog post is as important as understanding the fundamentals of AP style and writing media advisories.

Even today’s students, though, who grew up on technology, must continue to adapt. The PR industry is constantly evolving and now more than ever it’s becoming more integrated with marketing, advertising, sales and even customer service. Ten years from now any one of today’s freshmen will probably be able to write a very similar post to this one.

Check out Beloit College’s annual Mindset List to see just how differently this year’s college freshmen view the world. What’s changed since you were in college? How have you managed to keep your skills sharp with the onslaught of new technologies and tactics that are constantly challenging the way you were taught to do things?

Image via Flickr user jeremy.wilburn

Facebook dominates how people share content on the Web

Check out this chart was posted last month to Silicon Alley Insider: Facebook is the most popular platform for sharing content — even surpassing e-mail:

Chart

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that sites like Google Reader have attempted to become more Facebook-like recently, adding the ability to follow friends and “like” links or posts. Delicious also recently made changes in hopes that the site will become a more interactive place for sharing links instead of a repository for storing them.

What also caught my eye was how fractured the social bookmarking sites are. There doesn’t seem to be a truly dominant service among Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit… all hover in the 3-5 percent range.

With Facebook continuing to grow at a surprising clip, adding users and also buying up the technology and talent of FriendFeed, it’s well on its way to becoming the online content-sharing juggernaut. But while it’s slowly moving away from this direction, most of Facebook’s content sharing still happens behind the wall. It’s tough to do a detailed analysis on what people are saying about content after it’s shared on Facebook. Accessing, aggregating and interpreting that information is the real goldmine for marketers and advertisers.

The chart data comes from Add to Any, which is the toolbar I use on the blog to allow readers to share or save content. It’s one of many similar options blogs and Web sites can use to encourage content-sharing (Share This, TweetMeme, Socialize) so I’m unsure as to how the data would hold up if the study were replicated across all these services.

What are your impressions of the chart? Have you made changes to your organization’s Web site so that users can easily share your content to Facebook? Would the fractured nature of social bookmarking sites deter you from incorporating a bookmarking strategy into your campaigns?

3 reasons even “social media types” still need a resume

Remember Elle Woods and her scented, pink-paper resume in Legally Blonde? She’d be an anomoly today, as most people don’t print paper resumes anymore. But despite lamentations that “Google is the new resume” or “Resumes are useless in the Internet age,” you still need one if you plan to apply for a position at a large company. Even a social media position.

While those of us who blog, tweet, post, message and tag each other all day long would like to think that our online presence is enough to stand on its own as a testament to how smart and savvy we are, the human resources department is still going to want you to submit a formal application, which often includes uploading a resume. If you’re trying to land a job with a funky little start-up or a tiny shop with a handful of employees, then the resume matters less and all of your other online work will likely be a bigger factor. But if you’re looking for a job with a big brand or company, have it ready.

I’ve worked very closely with the HR department in some of my previous jobs, so I’ve had the chance to observe some of the machinations that go along with trying to hire someone at a large company. Here are three reasons why, no matter how sexy your blog, Posterous, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or “personal brand’ might be, you still need to have a resume:

1. Your blog can’t be entered into a corporate resume database

There are several reasons big corporations use resume database-systems like BrassRing or HireGround. Probably the most important one is compliance. In order to be in compliance with myraid hiring laws with acronyms like OFCCP, EEO, and FLSA, companies with more than 100 employees need to show ratios of applicants to interviewees to hires, show that they have consistent hiring practices across the company, and show that they actively sought out diverse candidates.

Making each candidate go through an online hiring system, which usually includes a resume upload and screening questions, allows for easy data collection for compliance purposes. Companies can’t run your blog or Google profile through its screening processes when it comes time to file compliance reports each year.

2. The first cut of candidates may be made by someone who doesn’t know what a blog is

Often an HR associate sorts through the company resume database– sometimes arbitrarily, sometimes by keyword– to find an initial group of candidates to screen. This is where networking is huge. If you submit your resume online, it can be a total crapshoot whether it even gets viewed. But if you know the hiring manager or someone who can pass your resume along and help it move to the top of the pile, you’re in a much better position.

In all likelihood, however, the HR associate probably isn’t going to find and read your blog. It would be extremely time consuming to do that for each candidate in an initial screen. They may check you out on Google or LinkedIn in a cursory manner, but their goal is to fill the role as quickly as possible. That’s their metric. So unless someone tells them to flag your resume, you’re at the mercy of whether or not you appear in the database search results (so make sure you have the appropriate keywords in your resume).

3. Many companies still aren’t comfortable with social media for the hiring process

The mere fact that a company would hire for a social media position is a step in the right direction, but if they’re looking for someone with expertise in the area, it’s because they lack it. The hiring manager may not know where or how to start screening candidates based on their social presence. Should they be looking for quantity or quality of blog posts? Does number of Twitter followers matter? How many LinkedIn connections should the candidate have? Why aren’t they on FriendFeed? What is FriendFeed? Corporate HR and hiring managers are used to resumes, comfortable with resumes, and still expect resumes. They’re not quite sure yet how to integrate social media into established hiring practices.

Even a company like BestBuy, ahead of the curve on social media adoption, didn’t quite know how to structure a traditional job posting for its Emerging Media Manager role. Kudos to them for reaching out to the community and crowdsourcing ideas for key skills and requirements for the position. But anyone who applies  for the role must do so by submitting an application and uploading a resume via BestBuy’s corporate career site.

Yes, it would be great if someday we could all just let our work stand on its on merit wherever it happens to live online and not have to put together verbose and formal resumes. You certainly should mention and even highlight your online outposts on your resume (at least your blog and LinkedIn profile), and as you move further along in the hiring process there’s a greater chance that someone in the hiring process will take the time to look at your work. Just don’t expect the traditional resume to disappear any time soon.