Save Time on News and Social – 5 Reasons to Automate with IFTTT

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Most of us wake up each morning and check our personal email, work email, social media accounts and several news sites. If we’re lucky, we find a minute to check the weather before leaving the house without an umbrella. Also, don’t forget to favorite those tech article tweets to read later (and actually come back to them). I find it time-consuming and went searching for a tool to automate some of those daily chores.

Enter: IFTTT (if this then that)

It’s a service that allows you to automate common tasks on the web by creating Recipes, which connect Channels (Twitter, Dropbox, Google Reader, Evernote, etc.) to Triggers and Actions. For example, you can set up a Recipe that autosaves all photos from your Instagram account to your Dropbox account. No more searching your phone for that amazing photo of your classy cocktail. Here are some reasons why I’m finding IFTTT (pronounced like “Lift” without the “L”) really useful:

1. Sharing Articles on Twitter, Made Easy

I was never a big fan of Google Reader until I figured out that it could make sharing to Twitter as simple as one click. I created this Recipe:

Starred Item in Google Reader Creates Twitter Post with Title and URL

So, when I star any news item in Google Reader, it is tweeted from my Twitter account in a {{ItemTitle}} – {{ItemUrl}} format.

2. Save Your Twitter Links to Evernote

I always wanted a better way to look back into an searchable archive of links I’ve shared. I’m a big fan of Evernote, so I set up this Recipe to automate the process:

Send Twitter Links to Evernote

If my tweet contains a URL, it creates a new Evernote note in my “Twitter Links” notebook and captures the link URL, tweet text and when it was published.

3. Customize Your News Via Email

Connect your news reader of choice (I use Twitter and Google Reader) and create a Recipe that allows you to star/favorite tweets or articles and automatically have the link emailed to you. Browse a few minutes in the morning, favorite articles that are interesting, then read the rest at work. Take it a step further and customize the email subject line, then set up a filter that sends the email to a specific folder. No more clogging your inbox. Here’s a Recipe for that.

4. Community of IFTTT Users

There’s an amazing community of IFTTT users sharing new Recipes all the time. You can browse a bunch and even filter by “What’s Hot” or by specific Channels.

5. IFTTT Can Text You the Weather

Here’s a Let me know if it’s going to rain Recipe. I mean, come on. Super useful and pretty genius.

Getting Started

If you’re already a fan of IFTTT, you can easily invite a friend via email. Let me know your favorite recipes in the comments below. If you haven’t yet signed up, it only takes a few minutes to create an account and connect your Channels. Also, check out the IFTTT blog for news and updates.

Bonus – Even More Automation

I haven’t personally tried out Zapier, but it looks to be another automation tool to try. It looks like it integrates some customer support and project management apps like Campaign Monitor, Basecamp, Asana, Assistly and others. More info on Zapier from TechCrunch.

Photo credit: avrene

FollowEDU – Milestones and Updates

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FollowEDU just turned 5 months old this past week. It’s has been amazing to see the directory grow with higher education enthusiasts from all over the world. Here are a couple stats:

  • Over 2,000 Twitter users have listed their profile on FollowEDU
  • 900+ schools, companies and organizations represented

To celebrate these milestones, I wanted to highlight some of the features we’ve added since our launch.

Right from the homepage, you can view and visit the top five Interests in each Category.

If you are logged in, you’ll see a “Create List” sidebar widget. This allows you to create a Twitter List of all users in that Interests with one simple click.

We’ve also added a “Suggested for You in Interest” sidebar widget that shows you the users in the Category or Interest that share the most common Interests with you.

Thank you to all the users and friends that have given feedback over these past few months. I hope you continue to find FollowEDU a helpful resource for finding others in #highered.

Huge List (100+) of Web, Social Media and Content Tools

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I’ve compiled a large list of familiar (and not-so-familiar) tools that will hopefully help you with your web content, social media, analytical and curation needs. If there’s something I missed, feel free to add it to the Google Doc.

Accessibility

WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool – WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool provided by WebAIM. It is used to aid humans in the web accessibility evaluation process. Rather than providing a complex technical report, WAVE shows the original web page with embedded icons and indicators that reveal the accessibility of that page.

Aggregation

About.me – Quickly build your personal page that points people to everything you do, all around the web.

Archivist by Mix Online – The Archivist is a service that uses the Twitter Search API to find and archive tweets.

Google Reader – Google Reader is a Web-based aggregator, capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds.

GramFeed – Instagram Web Interface and Map Visualization (thanks @luker)

Instagrid – A Clean Web Gallery For Your Instagram Photos. Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app on the iPhone, we publish a nice gallery so you can view and share your photos on the web. You can even invite people who don’t use Instagram to subscribe to your feed via email.

Twylah – Create awesome looking websites and widgets out of your tweets.

Analysis

EdgeRank Checker – We’ve developed our own EdgeRank algorithm to help Page Admins understand how their Page interacts with the News Feed.

RowFeeder – Track Keywords, Hashtags, or Usernames from Twitter & Facebook. Awesome Reports in Excel!

Social Statistics – Google+ Statistics currently tracks and generates detailed statistics for 99,090 users and pulls in hundreds of the most popular posts, every second of the day, from Google+. Add yourself (see sidebar) so we can start tracking your personal Google+ statistics too. You will be able to see how many people added you to their circles, how you grow over time and where you rank in the list of popular Google+ users.

ThinkUp – ThinkUp is a free, open source web application that captures all your activity on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. With ThinkUp, you can store your social activity in a database that you control, making it easy to search, sort, analyze, publish and display activity from your network. All you need is a web server that can run a PHP application.

Tweetcharts – Tweet charts allows you to generate a report of custom data for anything you can search Twitter for: hashtags, words, phrases, usernames or URLs. Enter your query in the box above labeled “search query” and check it out.

Tweetreach – TweetReach is a social analytics tool that provides detailed metrics on the impact of your Twitter conversations. (thanks @jennymack)

Twittercounter – Twitter Counter provides statistics of Twitter usage and tracks over 24 million users and counting. (thanks @jennymack)

Analytics

ClickHeat – ClickHeat is a visual heatmap of clicks on a HTML page, showing hot and cold click zones. ClickHeat is an OpenSource software, released under GPL licence, and free of charge.

Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website.

Google URL Builder – Use this tool to create URLs for your custom campaigns.

Google Webmasters Tools – Better manager how Google crawls and views your Web domain (thanks @jakedolan)

MapmyUser – MapmyUser is a web traffic analysis tool. MapmyUser provides realtime web stats with visitor’s Geolocation. The statistics from MapMyUser are used to compute web usage share for example.

Pagelever – Pagelever provides detailed analytics around your Facebook brand or business page that goes beyond Facebook Insights.

Search Engine Spider Simulator – A lot of Content and Links displayed on a webpage may not actually be visible to the Search Engines, eg. Flash based content, content generated through javascript, content displayed as images etc. This tool Simulates a Search Engine by displaying the contents of a webpage exactly how a Search Engine would see it. It also displays the hyperlinks that will be followed (crawled) by a Search Engine when it visits the particular webpage.

Woopra – Woopra is a web analytics and customer engagement service offered by Woopra, Inc. It offers detailed individual visitor data within milliseconds and gives users the tools to analyze and measure that data in real time.

Automation

ifttt (if this then that) – Put the internet to work for you by creating tasks that fit this simple structure: “if this then that”. Think of all the things you could do if you were able to define any task as: when something happens (this) then do something else (that).

Blogging

Posterous Spaces – We take away all the hassle of sharing online, automatically re-sizing and optimizing your photos and videos! Public Spaces can autopost to other popular social media sites. (thanks @robin2go)

Tumblr – Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors, to your theme’s HTML.

WordPress – WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a dynamic content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL.

Bookmarking

Delicious – Delicious helps you find cool stuff and collect it for easy sharing. Dig into stacks created by the community, and then build your own!

Pinboard – Pinboard is a fast, no-nonsense bookmarking site.

Springpad – Springpad helps you share & discover with the people you trust. Create notebooks for recipes, books, movies or anything else that matters to you, together with friends, family and co-workers. Save ideas and info from anywhere, access them whenever, and start getting more from life.

Charts

Google Chart Tools – Google chart tools are powerful, simple to use, and free. Try out our rich gallery of interactive charts and data tools.

Commenting

Disqus – DISQUS is a comments platform that helps you build an active community from your website’s audience. It has awesome features, powerful tools, and it’s easy to install.

Curation

BagTheWeb – BagTheWeb helps users curate Web content. For any topic, you can create a “bag” to collect, publish, and share any content from the Web.

Bundlr – Create topic pages with photos, videos, tweets and documents. Share them with everyone.

CurationStation – Curation Station can add value to your business, customers, employee teams, and clients by providing up-to-date content on any subject matter.

Paper.li – Paper.li is a content curation service. It enables people to publish newspapers based on topics they like and treat their readers to fresh news, daily.

pearltrees – Pearltrees is a place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web. You can keep at hand the web pages you like and enrich your account with Pearltrees from other members of the community.

Scoop.it – Easily Publish Gorgeous Magazines. Leverage Curation to increase your visibility. Give persistence to your social media presence.

Storify – Storify lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative. We are building the story layer above social networks, to amplify the voices that matter and create a new media format that is interactive, dynamic and social.

Timeline – “Beautifully crafted timelines that are easy, and intuitive to use.” Timeline is also great for pulling in media from different sources. It has built in support for pulling in Tweets and media from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud.

Social Dashboards

Argyle Social – We provide software to help your organization participate in conversations with prospects and customers, drive brand awareness, and integrate social media deeply throughout your organization. And behind the scenes, we crunch your social activity through our big data engine to provide you with the most actionable social intelligence in the business.

Bottlenose – Bottlenose is a smart social dashboard for keeping up with all your streams in one place.

Crowdbooster – Crowdbooster offers social media analytics with suggestions and tools to help you improve your online presence.

HootSuite – The leading social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks.

Involver – Create and manage engaging experiences on social networks and across the open web on the most scalable social marketing management platform. Leverage the Conversation Suite to monitor the conversation across – and publishing to – Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Use the Application Suite to deploy engaging apps on your brand pages. Or design your own pages and social applications using Visual SML™ and Involver’s Social Markup Language (SML).

radian6 – Salesforce Radian6 is more than a simple social media monitoring platform. We’re a full service social solution that helps you listen, measure, engage and discover online conversations so you can build your community and your business.

Sendible – Sendible is a platform for engaging with customers, measuring results and monitoring your brand across multiple social media channels at once.

SocialBro - Manage and analyze your Twitter communiy.

Sprout Social – Monitor your brand & manage conversations brilliantly with one, easy-to-use tool.

Tweetdeck – TweetDeck is an app that brings more flexibility and insight to power users. (Twitter only)

Viralheat – Viralheat delivers social media management, monitoring, engagement, analytics, and deep insights to meet the needs of any business.

Virtue Publisher - Vitrue Publisher is the leading social marketing publishing platform for brands looking to engage in two-way conversations with their fans, followers and social community from one centralized location, with scheduling, moderation and analytics right at your fingertips.

Discovery

dribbble – What are you working on? Dribbble is a community of designers answering that question each day. Web designers, graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, typographers, logo designers, and other creative types share small screenshots that show their work, process, and current projects. (thanks @robin2go)

StumbleUpon – We help you explore new and interesting things from every corner of the Web.

Editing

BBEdit – BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Macintosh. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides an abundance of high-performance features for editing, searching, and manipulation of text.

Line Breaks Tool – Remove line breaks from a block of text. Useful for copying text from some PDFs for use in visual editors (thanks @jodineufeld)

Information Architecture

Freemind – Freemind is an Open Source mind mapping tool that’s really useful for creating clickable HTML sitemaps. It’s not as slick as some of the other mind mapping tools out there but is very quick to use and has more features than the free edition of XMind.

XMind – XMind is a really nice mind mapping tool that’s great for building site maps; for collating information; and for generally capturing thoughts and feedback.

Live Conversation

backchan.nl – backchan.nl is tool for involving audiences in presentations by letting them suggest questions and vote on each other’s questions. backchan.nl is intended for conference or event organizers who want a new way to solicit questions from the audience and make better use of question and answer time.

CoverItLive – CoveritLive is the leading live-event publishing platform. Since its release in late 2007, CoveritLive has been used by thousands of writers to engage millions of readers around the world. It is actively used both by traditional bloggers, journalists, major brands and the mainstream media.

ScribbleLive – Your broadband audience demands news, social media and user-generated content in real-time. ScribbleLive makes it easy for you to post/edit content and interact with audiences up-to-the-second. Turn your breaking news into live-feeds and stay relevant with every post.

Location-based Services

Foursquare – Foursquare makes the real world easier to use. We build tools that help you keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock deals. (thanks @jennymack)

SCVNGR – SCVNGR is a social location-based mobile gaming platform. The application has both a consumer and enterprise component. Companies, educational institutions, and organizations can build challenges, the core unit of their game, at places on SCVNGR from the web. (thanks @robin2go)

Mobile Development

Appcelerator Titanium – Mobile framework for developing mobile apps. (thanks @jakedolan)

Kurogo – Kurogo is open-source Mobile Optimized Middleware™ for developing content-rich mobile websites and iOS and Android apps.

Phone Gap – Open source mobile framework for developing mobile apps. (thanks @jakedolan)

Rhomobile – Mobile framework for developing mobile apps. Ellucian is building various Banner integrations with this framework which may make it appealing to institutions that use Banner. (thanks @jakedolan)

Photo Sharing

500px – 500px is a photo community powered by creative people worldwide that lets you discover, share, buy and sell inspiring photographs.

Flickr – Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community.

Instagram – It’s a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.

Path – Path is a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices. The service aims to be a place where users can share with close friends and family. (thanks @robin2go)

Presentations

Prezi – Prezi is a web-based presentation application and storytelling tool that uses a single canvas instead of traditional slides. Text, images, videos and other presentation objects are placed on the infinite canvas and grouped together in frames. (thanks @robin2go)

Sliderocket – Presenting a Better Way. Create, collaborate and share stunning, media-rich presentations.

SlideShare – SlideShare is the best way to share presentations, documents and professional videos.

SpeakerDeck – Share presentations without the mess. Speaker Deck is the best way to share presentations online. Simply upload your slides as a PDF, and we’ll turn them into a beautiful online experience. View them on SpeakerDeck.com, or share them on any website with an embed code. (thanks @robin2go)

Publishing

Flipboard – Yes, it’s easy to get your publication, blog or social media or RSS feed up and running on Flipboard. Post your stories, updates and photos to any of the social networks on Flipboard. Then tap on the red ribbon in the upper right of your Flipboard. Use the search bar, type in your social account or publication name and start reading your content on Flipboard.

Google Currents – From leading publications, to blogs you follow, you can browse, read, and share favorite content, presented in a swipable magazine format.

iTunesU – If you’re an educator at a university, college, or K-12 school, now you have an easy way to design and distribute complete courses featuring audio, video, books, and other content. And students and lifelong learners can experience your courses for free through a powerful new app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Kindle Publishing Programs – If you are a publisher or author, you can make your books available electronically using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All you need to get started is your book in digital format, e.g., word, html, text, etc.

Twitterfeed – Feeds the last posts published in a blog via the RSS feed to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

QR Codes

delivr – QR code generator (thanks @jodineufeld)

Scheduling

Buffer – Be awesome on social media. Easily add great articles, pictures and videos to your Buffer and we automagically share them for you through the day

Timely – Timely uses your past 199 tweets to determine the best time to post new content to Twitter. You choose how many tweets a day between 1, 3, 5 or 9 and also can invite others to collaborate on adding tweets to the same account. It’s very similar to Buffer, but takes the time-choosing out of your hands and tries to predict what’s best for you.

Search

Google Alerts – Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.

Google Custom Search Engine - Create and manage custom search engines for your Web domain using the Google backend. (thanks @jakedolan)

Google Trends – With Google Trends, you can compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most.

PostPost – PostPost home page is your timeline topline – a rich digest of topics, photos, videos & links from the people you’re most connected to on Twitter.

StoryCrawler – An intelligent news and information gathering software product. This innovative solution intelligently searches and gathers information across multiple online platforms—whether it be social media, news articles, blogs, RSS feeds, video sites forums and user generated content—to bring users the most relevant real-time data.

Topsy – Real-time search for the social web. Enter a URL or search term to see all tweets surrounding it. Google Plus support added. (thanks @jennymack)

Social Platforms

Facebook – Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Facebook Platform – Facebook Platform enables you to make your website more social. You can use our Social Plugins, such as the Like Button to drive user engagement with a single line of HTML. Our Login Button and Registration Plugin let you simplify or eliminate your own user registration and sign-in. Lastly, the Graph API lets you access the full social graph of a given user, allowing you to create a truly deep personal experience.

Google+ – Google+ is about having great conversations. Share photos, videos, links, or anything else that’s on your mind. You can use the share box on any Google site or +1 buttons across the web.

Lanyrd – See what your friends are going to or speaking at, find conferences near you or browse conferences by topic.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with 161 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

Pinterest – Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Twitter – Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations.

Social Login Tools

Gigya’s Social Login Tool – Social Login allows users to register and sign-in to your site or app with an account from more than 25 identity providers including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. It also helps increase registration rates by simplifying the registration process and providing sites with first-party, permission-based social data from users.

OAuth – An open protocol to allow secure API authorization in a simple and standard method from desktop and web applications.

Streaming

Livestream – Livestream is a live streaming video platform that allows users to view and broadcast video content using a camera. It offers a free ad-supported service and multi-tiered premium services.

Ustream – Broadcast video LIVE to the world from a computer, mobile or iPhone in minutes, or watch thousands of shows from News to Entertainment to celebrities, 24/7.

URL Shorteners

Bit.ly – Create shortlinks for social sharing, and then track clicks and visitors.

Google URL Shortener – Google URL Shortener

YOURLS – YOURLS is a small set of PHP scripts that will allow you to run your own URL shortening service (a la TinyURL). You can make it private or public, you can pick custom keyword URLs, it comes with its own API. You will love it.

Usability

Concept Feedback – Concept Feedback is an interesting tool for getting second opinions on a design. You can post a design to the site and then a community of designers will give you their feedback for free.

FiveSecondTest – Five second test is a great tool for capturing first impressions for a design, or for perhaps carrying out some quick A/B testing. You can have one or more designs, in the form of images and then people are able to view them for 5 seconds before entering some feedback.

Loop11 – Loop11 is a great tool for carrying out unmoderated usability testing. You basically set-up some tasks for people to do on a website and let them try them out at their own convenience. Loop11 is not free but does allow you to set-up a trial test with a maximum of 5 tasks and 2 questions.

Protonotes – Protonotes are notes that you add to your prototype that allow project team members to discuss system functionality, design, and requirements directly on the prototype. You can think of it like a discussion board/wiki in direct context of your prototype.

Screenfly – Screenfly allows you to view your website on a variety of device screens and resolutions

WebNotes – WebNotes makes it easy to highlight and add notes to web pages from directly within your web browser. Notes are saved automatically and will reappear any time you visit the page.

Video

Vimeo – Vimeo makes it easy to upload the videos you take. We adore many different kinds of file formats and give you great tools so you can make sure your videos look amazing. We even support HD!

YouTube – YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.

Visualization

Google Fusion Tables – Visualize and publish your data as maps, timelines, and charts. Host your data tables online. Combine data from multiple people. (thanks @plautmaayan)

Wireframing

Balsamiq Mockups – Wire-framing mockup tool for easy deployment (thanks @jakedolan)

Lucidchart – From static wireframes to rapid prototypes, web developers can do it all with Lucidchart’s wireframe tool. Collaborate with your client and design team in real-time to cut down on iterations.

Want to Add More?

See the Google Doc and add more web tools and resources.

Photo credit: marc_smith

EDUchats – A New Resource for #HigherEd

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I’m happy to help promote the launch of EDUchats, a new resource for discussion in higher education. EDUchats was founded by A.J. Dicembre and Isaac Williams in an effort to dive further into higher ed. marketing topics, solve specific problems, discuss upcoming trends while catering to the challenging schedule of the higher ed. professional.

From EDUchats:

EDUchats invites all Higher Ed. marketers to participate in an online round-table discussion featuring an expert on each chat’s topic. Marketers are invited to share their experiences related to the chat’s topic, ask questions of the chat’s expert and their peers.

EDUchats is a tool for higher education marketers to connect with their peers in an online chat to talk about specific topics relevant to higher education marketing, retention and enrollment management. Each chat will have a featured expert on the topic and will be a roundtable discussion of the topic. This is a higher ed marketer’s opportunity to dive deeper into a topic and ask specific questions that may not be covered in a webinar, or conference.

Read more information on the launch. You can also follow them on Twitter at @educhats.

Join me on April 11, 2012 for the first EDUchat discussion. I’ll be covering Admissions and Yield in the Age of Social Media.

eRecruitment Web Forum Live Video Presentation

webinar

Date: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Time: 12:00pm – 2:00pm EST
Register for this free live video presentation »

Hosted by CollegeWeekLive and Noel-Levitz, the eRecruitment Web Forum will feature two live video presentations:


“E-Expectations Trends: Mobile and the Live Conversations Happening Online”
Stephanie Geyer
Associate Vice President, Web Strategy Services
Noel-Levitz


“Social Media from Search to Yield: How Social Impacts the Recruitment Cycle”
Mike Petroff
Web and Enrollment Technology Manager
Emerson College


The eRecruitment Web Forum will focus on the latest research and strategies for engaging prospective students online. The live video presentations will be followed by a Q&A with webinar attendees.

Register today!

 

Photo credit: ncwiseowl.org

FollowEDU Launch Announcement

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I am very pleased to announce the launch of FollowEDU, the searchable directory of Twitter users in Higher Ed. FollowEDU allows users to sign in with Twitter and create an account, list their profile under Interests within higher ed, schools, companies, and more.

I invite you to add your Twitter profile today! It’s very easy to create your account. Just visit FollowEDU.com and click the Join button, then follow the steps to connect your Twitter account.

Join FollowEDU »

During registration, you can add Interests to your profile. FollowEDU organizes users under Interest lists, making it easy to find others in specific areas of higher ed. Or, find Twitter users to follow by browsing some Interests that may be new to you.

You can also read more about FollowEDU and find information about our Terms of Service and Privacy information.

I welcome your feedback on the site. Please tweet @WhoToFollow with questions or comments. If you find any bugs or errors in the site, please include #FollowEDUbug in your tweet. If you have a suggestion for a new Interest to add into FollowEDU, please use #FollowEDUinterest.

I hope you find FollowEDU to be a resource for connecting, networking and sharing!

Colleges Join In For Google+ Pages Launch

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This post was originally published on .eduGuru on November 8, 2011.

Yesterday, Google announced that they are rolling out Google+ Pages. According to Google, “this means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour. Google+ pages give life to everything we find in the real world.”

At launch, only a few Google+ Pages were available but more will be coming soon. You can check out the the Google+ Page create page if you plan to create one for your school. Access is somewhat limited but the Page creation option should be open to all users soon. Quick tip: Only ONE admin per page is currently allowed, so it may be better to create a Google+ Page using a department Google account (and not a personal account). Multiple admins should be coming soon.

After one night of some searching and crowdsourcing, I found about 20 schools that have already created Google+ Pages. If you’re a Google+ user, you can view a Shared Circle I’ve created to collect and showcase colleges with Google+ Pages.

UPDATE: Huge thanks to Travis for sharing this Circle from  filled with over 180 schools on Google+.

Some of the first schools to join include:

Google+ Page Features

Even though Google+ Pages are still in the very early stages, they still include some interesting features for colleges looking to experiment on a new social platform.

Google+ Page for Emerson College (click for larger image)

Circles

Google+ delivers a few standard Circles for Pages, including Team Members (possibly employees of your school), VIPs, Customers and Following. The approach here is that you’ll segment your posts out to specific populations of Circles if that content is audience-specific.

In the future, colleges may want to create Circles for audiences like Prospective Students, Parents, Faculty, Alumni, etc. One downside is that Pages can’t add people to Circles until the page is added first or mentioned. So, you’ll have to do some marketing of your Page before you can segment your users into Circles.

Direct Connect

An interesting feature is Direct Connect, which simplify searching for and following colleges on Google+. After connecting your website to your Google+ Page, you are eligible for Direct Connect through Google searches. A user can then type in + then your Page’s name into a Google search and be sent directly to your Google+ Page. More information in this video:

Hangouts

Pages can interact with other Google+ profiles by starting Hangouts. This could be an easy way to create video chat with specific Circles from your Page. Let’s say, maybe, that you want to connect accepted students online before they move in. You could start a Google+ Hangout from your Page and invite students moving into a certain dorm on campus. Or, you could have your college’s president initiate a Google+ Hangout to talk to select members of the college community.

Your Thoughts?

Google+ Pages have just arrived, but because of the possibilites with Google search and Adwords integration along with Direct Connect, we’ll be seeing brand Pages pop up more in our search results. It’s really just a question of “will your audience actually visit their Google+ stream to see the information you share?”. That seems to be biggest hurdle for Google+ to overcome.

Have you created a Google+ Page for your school? What are your initial thoughts of the platform and eventual growth? Share your thoughts in the comments.