My Columbia Twitter Revolution

cae

Several weeks ago at Social Media Club Columbia, SC, Dan Conover (@xarker) spoke about the potential for standardized Twitter hashtags for cities.

For example,  Charlotte and Charleston have been trying to adopt localized hashtags for news, traffic, etc.  For more on this, read this post.  Thanks to search lists, Charleston natives can simply add “#chs” to their tweets to be seen by other .  Here’s a wonderful example of it’s usefulness:

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Obviously, one hashtag for an entire cities worth of tweeting can get crowded.  That’s why the proposed plan adds includes tags for traffic, news, breaking stories, weather, the election, etc.  Genius.

Well, I’m ready to do the same in Columbia.  We have lots of people who use Twitter on a day-to-day basis, and our local news stations are getting into the game.  I keep up with weather updates and breaking news throughout the day by following the Twitter accounts of local papers and TV stations.  If we had standardized hashtags, it would be much, much easier.

So here’s my plan.  I’ve tweeted with a few local Columbia people and I’ve decided to try and start something.  Thanks for your help @cophotog, @mandiengram, @hollybounds!  The “base hash” for this is #cae.  This is the airport code for Columbia – just like Charlotte uses #clt and Charleston uses #chs.

  • #cae – A bit long, but #csc and #cola are already taken.  Add this if you need the quick attention of other locals.
  • #caenews – Pretty self explanatory – used for local news.
  • #caebrk – Breaking news.  Again, it’s longer but…oh well.  🙂
  • #caewthr – Weather updates and alerts.
  • #caetrfk – Columbia traffic updates.
  • #caefood – Local food tweets.
  • #caetech – Blogs, social sites, web contest, etc from Columbia.

Got any suggestions, additions, or proposed revisions?  Leave me a comment below.

Now here’s the important part.  I’m one person.  I can’t do this alone.  For this to catch on, I’m going to need lots of help.  It’s going to take getting used to, but I think if it ever does take off it could serve very useful.  Think about it – a live list of tweets to keep you constantly informed on traffic problems, breaking news, local food deals, and weather alerts.  All for free.

Let’s face it – this is long overdue.  People want news, and they want it right now wherever they are, right when it happens.  The great thing is that it’s a collaborative effort.  Everyone in Columbia (or Charlotte, or Charleston, or wherever you introduce these standardized hashtags) can contribute to a constantly updated stream of news and traffic updates.

Twitter Marketing Done Right – @HowiesIrmo

Often, businesses and organizations are such a nuissance on Twitter.  Let’s face it – we all get spammed by followers who only wish to promote their own business, sending out only formal updates with their advertisements.  Every now and then, however, a business gets it right.    Enter Hungry Howies Pizza in Irmo, SC.

howies_irmo

HowiesIrmo is a pizza place – an unlikely type of business to get involved in social networking.  However, if you’re a Columbia Twitter user (especially one active in link-sharing and everyday discussion on the site), chances are you’re familiar with Howies – you would probably even recognize the bright yellow logo.  What’s different about this, compared to other businesses on Twitter, many of whose logo’s you may be familiar with?  Howies is personal.

Howies engages in everyday discussion.  They participate in Follow Friday,  they help out my blog, they help me think of crazy Halloween costumes, and they help spread the word about Joupes.  In short, Howies uses Twitter for casual conversation – having 2-sided conversations and creating a quirky and fun personality that’s always fun to interact with.  And at the end of the day, their business is still advertised.  I’ve been out to Irmo for some Hungry Howies pizza and cinnamon bread – have you?

To all the businesses out there – study HowiesIrmo.  Be more personal, easily able to chat about things that aren’t your product.  Have fun with other users.  To all the South Carolina people – head out to Irmo.  Tell them you’re there because of Twitter.  Enjoy the pizza.  I know I will as soon as I can find another date to go (and some time that I’m not studying!).

Listen to the (Google) Voice In Your Head

google_voice

It’s easy to get lost in all the buzz over Google’s latest babies – Voice and Wave.  Both are generating a lot of attention among bloggers and tech-enthusiasts, even though each service is still only available by invitation.

I have been invited to use both, and for the past week or two I have been trying them out.  Here are my thoughts about Google Voice:  I love it.

That was easy.  Over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to try and convince you why you should, too.  Before that, however, it’s probably good to do a quick overview.  If you aren’t familiar with Voice, it’s essentially a service to manage your current phone system.  No matter how many phone numbers you have (work, home, mobile, etc), Google Voice can help you manage them efficiently.

Can I have yo’ numba?

When you first sign up for Voice, you’ll have to pick your phone number.  That’s right – Google Voice gives you a new number.  Don’t worry, your old number will still work as Voice simply forwards calls to your phone.  For me, picking a number was the fun part.  Not only do you get to choose from a list of available numbers, but you can search for number or letter combinations for convenience.

As far as setting up, that’s about it.  You’ll customize a few settings before getting started and then you land on your Voice page.  Ah, the beauty.  All of your Voicemails, Contacts, and SMS messages stored in one location, in an interface similar to Gmail.

Read the rest of this entry »

Get More Traffic with Su.pr!

For the past few days, I’ve been trying out Su.pr – the new URL shortener from StumbleUpon.  When I first heard StumbleUpon released a link shortener, I couldn’t care less.  Honestly.  I’m really, really happy with bit.ly – why change?

This is why:

supr

Now, the click counts aren’t all that impressive – I generally get between 20-40 clicks per link I post to Twitter.  The important number is what’s in the little blue box.  This, my friend, is the number of people who viewed your link through StumbleUpon.  See, when you shorten a URL using Su.pr, you have the option to “Thumbs Up” your link by reviewing, categorizing, and ensuring that it’s family friendly.  Once that’s done, it’s ready to be stumbled and is made available to other StumbleUpon users.

So the obvious reason for using su.pr is more traffic.  In the past 3 days alone I’ve received a few hundred StumbleUpon views from the few links I’ve posted.  For a small, part-time blogger, this is a big deal.

Apart from that, Su.pr offers some other great tools for link management.

Thumbnail Previews

Sure, it’s not all that useful, but I like it.  It let’s me know at a glance whether or not my link has been reviewed and it lets me know what I’m clicking on without reading the title.  This sounds incredibly lazy, but…well…yeah, it’s lazy.  But I like it.

Statistics

Su.pr offers a variety of statistics – retweets, reviews, stumbles and clicks.  They also offer the option to download your link statistics in CSV form.

Post to Twitter, Facebook

Like bit.ly, Su.pr offers the option of posting your link to Twitter, along with your message.  However, Su.pr also allows you to post to Facebook – or both!  On top of that, it allows for scheduled updates (like HootSuite).

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Promoted Websites

Once you add your domains to your Su.pr settings, you will start to see click report graphs in your sidebar.  This is useful because it shows your most popular websites and posting times at a glance.

Suggested Posting Times

Su.pr analyzes your updates and link counts to provide you with a nice visual graph of the best times to post.  For me, I tend to drive more traffic in the early morning.

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Upgrade Your WordPress Plugins

If you’re like me, you probably don’t check your plugin page very often.  Aside from activating something new you’ve uploaded, there’s really no reason.  The problem, however, is that your forget to update your plugins.  After taking a look at my page the other day, I found several notifications like this:

upgrad_wordpress_plugins

Yikes. That sounds urgent. Just like upgrading your WordPress installation, upgrading plugins is very important. New versions often fix security issues, known bugs, usability, etc. Be sure to backup your installation and deactivate the selected plugin before performing major upgrades – the last thing you want is a PHP error that makes your blog inaccessible.

If you’ll be spending a few minutes upgrading multiple plugins, you might want to install Maintenance Mode – a cool little plugin that shows a message to visitors that your blog is being worked on and will be up shortly.

Spotlight at NecessaryCool

If you follow on Twitter or Facebook, chances are you’ve already heard about this.  Sorry for the excitement, but it’s a big deal for me.  🙂

rybo stops by

Jef from NecessaryCool contacted me a few days ago and asked if I would like to be spotlighted on their blog.  NecessaryCool is a daily blog that features…well, “cool” stuff.  That’s really the best way to describe it. From t-shirts to comic books to cars, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s cool.

I’m really honored by this invitation and it was neat getting to summarize all the things going on right now for another audience. I talked a bit about my two main projects at the moment – The Graff Blog and Joupes.

Check out the spotlight and some of NC’s other posts – including this one written by a friend of mine a few months ago.

New Music Store Comes to BlackBerry

7digital_logo

BlackBerry users have cause for some serious excitement – a new UK mp3 store called 7digital has come out with a BlackBerry music store to rival the popular iTunes mp3 store for the iPhone and Amazon mp3 for the Palm Pre. Finally.

What’s more, 7digital boasts cheaper (and DRM-free) songs – many of which are only $.77, as compared to the many new $1.29 price increases iTunes has seen. For some time now, it seems as if the only option for BB users was to transfer music with desktop software or through a removable media card. No longer.

For me, the immediate problem with this was slow 3G speeds. I love my Curve, but sometimes even keeping an ESPN game tracker open could take forever. 7digital has an answer for this. When you choose to download a song over a slow connection, you will be downloading a lower-quality track. The next time you’re in an area that can handle more data transfer (or in a WiFi spot if your BB supports it), the song will re-download in high quality and replace the old version. Pretty cool, right?

After browsing the available songs in their store, I’m impressed. There’s even a “Future Releases” section to showcase upcoming music – though this is mostly EP’s and lesser known Indie bands. 7digital reports that it currently has over 7 million songs for download.

It seems like the number one thing I get attacked about when comparing the BlackBerry to the iPhone is the lack of music playability. While 7digital currently does not offer a compatible app for the Curve 8320, I’m still excited about the possibility.  Take that iPhone users – and I can listen to my music without squealing in delight at the word “Apple”. Sure, the BB’s storage isn’t comparable to that of the godPhone, but it’s a step in the right direction – and we’ve been able to picture message for years.

(via PCWorld)

Text to Joupes

joupes

Yep, I’m doing it. Joupes is my baby and I’m going to do everything I can do advertise it. It’s my blog. Get over it.

Hopefully you’re already a user, and hopefully you’re subscribed to the Joupes blog. If so, you can ignore this post. Right now, we’re still only accepting users by invitation. However, in the next week or two, we will be removing this and making it open registration. Until then, request an invite and we’ll get you an account!

On October 3rd we were happy to announce the new text-to-Joupes feature. We know that you might not have time to always log into your Joupes account just to add a task or goal. Thanks to TTJ, you can simply text-message or email us your tasks and we’ll add it for you! Below is a re-post from the official release explaining how TTJ works (from the Joupes Blog).

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Here is the list of the letter combinations you’ll want to remember when you text Joupes. As of right this second, we’re offering 3 options for remotely handling your account.

Send a text to 88147. While this is certainly the easiest option, there are a few things you need to know. First off, this is a shared shortcode. Since we’re poor college kids and don’t have $30,000+ to drop on our own shortcode, we’re experimenting with Zeep Mobile. So, if you decide to use this method, you will need to start each text with “joupes”. So to add a task, you would send “joupes nt pick up the milk”. Also, you will get a short advertisement on the confirmation text. To use the shortcode, click here to confirm your phone and get started (sorry for the bad formatting :-/).

Send an SMS (text-message) to joupes@joupes.com. This is exactly like using the shortcode, but you won’t have to deal with advertisements or appending ‘joupes’ to the beginning of your texts. If your service provider does not allow texting to email addresses, you can sometimes find SMS gateways to get around this.

Send an email to joupes@joupes.com. This option is great for people at work who don’t have time to keep checking online accounts. You can easily manage your lists and add tasks/goals without ever visiting the site.

Your confidence is important to us. Every time you add a goal or task, we’ll send you a confirmation message letting you know it’s been added to your account.

confirmation

Use the letter combinations below to start Jouping remotely:

  • nt : adds a new task – eg. “nt pick up the milk”
  • ng : adds a new goal – eg. “ng retire by the age of 40”
  • due : sets the time this task is due – eg. “nt pick up the milk due today 3pm”
  • lt : lists all tasks – eg. “lt” (returns a list of all tasks)
  • lg : lists all goals – eg. “lg” (returns a list of all goals)
  • help : returns a list of all letter combinations in case you forget
  • rmdr : sets the time that you will receive a text reminder – eg. “nt pick up the milk due today 3pm rmdr 5 minutes”* rmdr has not been released yet – however it is almost completed and should be out in the next week

That’s it! We hope this makes Joupes even easier to use and helps you get stuff done. As always, we hope you follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think of the site. If you don’t have an account, register here and we’ll send you an invitation. If you’d like to get in touch with me, find me on Twitter or send an email to ryan@joupes.com.

Enjoy!

The Unofficial Color Reference Pt. 2

This is the second installment of the Color-Reference collection.  You can see the first post here.

This reference was somewhat popular, possibly more due to the neat looking graphic than actual usefulness.  However, I’ve decided to do another one.  This collection lists the main colors for Digg, Technorati, Reddit, and Joupes.

colors2

* Please note that these may not be the “official” colors of the respective sites. I have done my best to double and triple check all of these on their actual sites.

Poster Giveaway from Digital Room

UPDATE – The contest is over. Congratulations Daniel Farmer!

digital room

Thanks to the great guys at DigitalRoom, I have been permitted to give away one custom 18×24” rolled poster print. You can see more details by checking out poster printing. The contest is open to anyone in the United States, and the winner will get their poster delivered UPS Ground for free.

Since DigitalRoom is so cool, they have given me a free poster print simply for hosting this contest. I’m ecstatic. The only problem is, I’m also a horrible decision maker. While I am tempted to go with the classy and sweet choice of enlarging a family picture for my poster, I’m feeling a little more selfish and a lot more ghetto. I love graffiti. LOVE IT. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will already know this, as I am constantly TwitPic-ing my work, linking to Facebook albums, and so on. The obvious choice, then, is to put together some work (I’m thinking somethings from COPE2, SEEN, maybe some old Dondi pieces) and have it printed up and framed!

DigitalRoom specializes in high quality digital printing, so the quality reviews are fantastic – my graffiti should look great!  But that’s just me. And now that you’re a bit turned off, here’s how to enter the contest for your chance to print whatever you want.

    To be entered, all you need to do is leave a comment below explaining what you would like to have printed. Please be sure to use a real email address, since I will need to contact you for your information if you win.

For extra entries, you can:

    Tweet the giveaway:

    @rybo is hosting a custom printed poster #giveaway from @uprinting and DigitalRoom.com! http://j.mp/IAQU8

    Write a post on your own blog that links to this post and DigitalRoom.com – due to time restraints, go ahead and send me a link on Twitter @rybo or ryan at rybomedia.com.
    Subscribe to my blog – I’ll be going by the honor system, so just let me know in your comment.
    Follow me on Twitter – Leave your Twitter username in your comment below.

This contest will close September 28rd at 2pm. At this time, I will use random.org to generate a winner. For each of the 4 things you do for an extra entry, I will add your name once.

So that’s it! Good luck everybody – I look forward to reading what you want printed!

UPDATE: In an attempt to get a few more entries before the winner is selected next week, I’m adding “refer a friend”. If you refer someone and they mention your name in their comment, you will get 2 extra entries, and the person who referred you will get 1 extra entry.