Yesterday I participated in two fabulous webinars, each with a different focus, yet both with social learning themes. During each I was asked about some of the tools I use personally to get the most from social media–and ultimately learn as much as I can. Because the names flew by fast, here’s a recap of the tools that I use personally and some additions I didn’t have a chance to mention.[I’ve made bold links to the primary social tools that I use. The other links are either not quite as popular or they are tools supporting those main ones.]
Twitter – A commercially available microsharing tool full of short bursts of information allowing you to learn quickly from people around the globe. Take a look at my primary twitter account @marciamarcia if you’d like to see how I use twitter to share and learn from others. Also take a look at some of the lists I’ve created to more closely listen to groups and topics.
Bit.ly – A link shortening tool that also allows you to track the popularity of the links you share. The links you generated with this tool can be used anywhere online, not just Twitter.
Buffer – Providing an easy way to share tweets (or status updates to most every social network) by allowing you to choose set times to post each day. Mobile and desktop versions available.
TweetCaster – Mobile client for Twitter that allows me to manage several different twitter accounts at the same time from my smartphone. Although I often use the Twitter client for Android too, at times I want to tweet from one of my other accounts (for example, @newsociallearn) and this tool makes the process easy.
Socialbro – Feature-rich tool for analyzing those you follow (or who follow you) on Twitter, telling you for instance when most of them are online and are most likely to see your tweets.
Grabinbox – I love quotations and sprinkle them into my tweetstream throughout the day. I use this nifty tool to create a running queue of quotations that “drip” into my stream over time no matter what I’ve posted directly or through Buffer. The creators of this tool also created JustUnFollow.
In addition to Twitter, I also use Socialtext Signals, Socialcast, and Yammer with different organizations I work with. These are microsharing tools specifically designed to be used with specific groups of people, for instance a company or a team that shares a email domain name (that second part of the email address such as @marciaconner.com) or people attending a conference.
Facebook – The largest social network on the planet, with more members (901M in April 2012) than the population of Europe, Russia, and the Middle East combined (780M). I wrote a post several years ago called “Face to Facebook Learning” challenging the notion you can’t learn on Facebook. I learn from it every day!
Google+ (also known as G+) – Google’s multilingual social network. In addition to an activity stream, similar to Twitter or Facebook, G+ also offers Hangouts which are easy-to-set-up video chats that can be recorded and posted on the web and G+ Communities that are groups requiring permission from the group owner to join. I belong to a community focused on educators using G+ hangouts in their classrooms. As soon as Buffer supports posting to G+, I’l likely begun using it more in my routine. After all I’ve loved the hangouts I’ve been a part of because they have a very personal connection feel to them and often find terrific information when I wade into my circles.
LinkedIn – A social network dedicated specifically to work connections, I participate in several LinkedIn groups and often look up people’s online resumes prior to meeting with them in person or corresponding with them online. I also find it to be an invaluable tool to find who in my own social network might be able to connect me with people I’m interested in contacting and because I have a large network, people often reach out to me because they see I know someone and want me to make an introduction. All you need is my email address (found in many places on this site) to invite me to connect with you on LinkedIn.
Pinterest – (pronounced to rhyme with Interest) This visually compelling social network features images from the web collected on bulletin-board style. I maintain boards on subjects ranging from professional topics like Social Media How Tos and Collaborative Work to more personal collections on amazing Lego creations and Ingenious Designs.
IFTTT – Standing for “If This, Then That” this is my favorite tool to manage and automate activities across all the social tools that I use. For instance, I have a recipe (an automated script that was super simple to create) that appends a note to my Evernote account each time I shorten a link in Bit.ly, reminding me later what I’ve posted and how it was shortened. Another recipe creates a bookmark on Delicious whenever I post a link through Buffer to Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Another reposts my Instagram pictures to Flickr. The possibilities are endless.
Instagram – A media sharing social network, used primarily on smart phones, provides special effects you can apply to photos to make them look terrific. Because Instagram links with 4Square and other social tools, you can also check into the location where you’re taking the picture and post your photos to other social sites. Although today you can only post pictures through a mobile phone, you can now view photos on a desktop if you know the link address to that photo.
Slideshare – A media sharing social network for distributing, viewing, and downloading presentations. You can see there my slide decks for the two webinars yesterday. They were for ON24VLE “If Social Learning is the Answer, What’s the Question?” and NASSP13, “Everything You Want to Know About Social Media But Didn’t Know Who to Ask.”
Learni.st – Curated collections of text, images, video and audio, to help you learn almost anything. I find it a terrific place to learn and create boards focused on topics such as new technology that will influence learning in years ahead called LearningNext. Another board (called LearningNow) focused on all of the online courses available today, mostly without charge.
Foursquare – A location-based social network for people with smartphones. You check into venues to share with your network what you’re doing and perhaps run into people you know. Because of Foursquare I’ve been able to see friends in airports around the world who I wouldn’t have known were nearby. The network also has some gamification features, awarding badges for people who check in frequently to places. I use it primarily to keep a running log of where I’ve been, providing especially useful to remember the names of really good restaurants and even what friends thought were the best dishes.
YouTube – The video sharing website which now also hosts live events. While I find this site full of terrific educational resources, over the past few days I changed my YouTube channel (now found at MarciaConnerTube, as cheesy as that sounds) and wanted to pull all my hair out for how unintuitive the process was. I’ll chalk it up to being older than their primary demographic… or something.
Feedly – With the closing soon of Google Reader, I’ve begun using Feedly as an RSS reader, automating how I can easily keep track of posts on my favorite blogs. I’m sorry it took so long to try out this site which is very intuitive, beautifully designed, and as terrific on smartphones as on the web.
Google Talk (GTalk) – This txting tool is as easy to use on my smartphone as through the gmail.com interface. Although I used to use Skype exclusively for quick chats, I find myself using GTalk more and more.
WordPress.org – My favorite blog platform. I use the version of WordPress than needs to be hosted on a website. I’ve also used and liked WordPress.com, which doesn’t require you to have your own dedicated website.
Flickr Search – This photo sharing website can be searched specifically for images with Creative Commons license so you can share the images across social sites. I use this search to find terrific photos to compliment my blog posts and presentations. Without a doubt, my favorite photographer who posts photos with a CC license is Thomas Hawk (also ThomasHawk.com).
Lastpass – Password safekeeping site I use to keep track of my logins for all of these tools!
[Image: CC image by Kathleen Donovan, Social Media Heart Collage]