Fast Company: Where Ideas and People Meet


As a beta tester of Fast Company’s new business community site, I am fascinated on what they are trying to do, it’s a little bit of everything: LinkedIn, Facebook, iGoogle. So far it seems it works for me, its interface is intuitive, I understand what goes where and where I would find things and the different things find me. Of couse, for those of us that have been around long enough, know it’s the second generation Fast Company community site, after Company of  Friends.

This Site has everything you would want of a great community site of the second generation. A job very well done! What I very much appreciate is that I am not bombarded with advertising on every page, and the ads are are not animated/video ads, that flicker in front of my eyes and I am able to concentrate on the content – very much a plus. Now I just discovered that I am able to create my own blog on the fastcompany.com domain, which I find quite generous. The “beta” in front makes it bit geeky, and for a techie like me, there is no downside to it. (Google had their Gmail site in beta for about three years, before they went public with it, hadn’t they?)

After about five month intensive explorations on Facebook I am now relieved that I am again allowed to keep my business content organized on one site. Bookmarks, newsletters, feeds, and contacts: everything is about business, business technology, business ideas. Now these things don’t intermingle anymore with my private and semi-private and my charity interests like they do now on del.icio.us or on Facebook. I still am very much able to have them ‘bleed’ through by using the feeds but the collections and the administration is now
separate. And I very much like that. Fast Company I like that the “Company of Friends” are back! Thank you! And this Blog will not only be about Web 2.0, which many people still have not embraced yet, but also about how Fast Company is a major player in shaping Web 2.0 for business people of Gen X and Y and
hopefully a bit of the Boomers, too.

 

Aero-TV

Online TV Site

Example: Aero-TV


Innovative delivery of video news for today’s online publishers in the same tradition as we did two years ago with audio podcasts. A fully functional content management admin section to schedule publication and approve posting of newly uploaded videos.

Video: PSA – Think Before You Send!

A one minute television public service announcement created in 2008, produced by Jennifer Marquis, sponsored by the City of Marco Island Department of Parks and Recreation and the Art League, Marco Island’s Center for the Arts.

Video: Feature Length: Mickey B

A feature adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, written and performed by serving prisoners inside Maghaberry Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland (Educational Shakespeare Company) – (www.esc-film)
The roles are played by inmates of Maghaberry Prison.

Producer: Jennifer Marquis-Muradaz

Get the Word Out: E-Mail Newsletters

E-mail newsletters are hotter than ever. They’re a great extension of your business’ or organization’s communication toolkit, and offer you, and your clients, an excellent channel by which you can reach potential and existing customers.

 
Of course, before you create and send your e-mail newsletter, you’ll need to have relevant and timely content, or news, to share with your readers. The more content and news you generate, the more readers, or subscribers, you’ll be able to attract and keep. Bottomline, content and news drives subscriptions! The quality of your content also sets the tone for how much readers will respect you as a source of trusted advice. If the content has obviously been copied, scraped, or lacks substance, it’s likely your readers won’t view you as an authority.
 
Making it as easy and intuitive to subscribe to your newsletter is important. After all, users are giving you permission to contact them. You wouldn’t want to mess that opportunity up! Make sure the sign-up (subscription) form is in a prominent, easy to locate place. Consider putting it close to any social icons you have displayed, such as twitter or Facebook? This indicates that this is an extension of your communications with the user.
 
Next, within the sign-up form, provide a short blurb explaining what the communication is about. This gets you and your users on the same page, so that they’re clear on what to expect from your content.
Finally, ask only for the user’s email address and name, followed by a big button with a verb label: “Subscribe.” Very simple, yet packed with just the right information! How frustrating is it when you attempt to sign up for an e-mail newsletter, only to be confronted with a form that asks for your address, age, phone number, mother’s maiden name, favorite pet…? All we really need is their email address and, if we want to push a bit further, their name. They are giving you their attention, so at least respect them and don’t ask for unnecessary data.
 

Prior to sending any e-mail broadcasts, you will want to make sure you are acting as a ‘responsible’ e-mail marketer, and will need to familiarize yourself with the “CAN-SPAM Act”. This is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. For more information about the CAN-SPAM Act, click here.

Congratulations! Your sign-up form is up and running, and you’re ready to send out some content — time to figure out what the focus of our newsletter will be. Is your goal to build a following for your website content, announce upcoming events, keep members apprised of current happenings, etc.?  No matter the focus or goal, you’ll want it to be as readable and scannable as possible.

Jakob Nielsen, a leading web usability consultant and ‘guru’, has this to say about how much time users spend reading a newsletter:

“Users spend 51 seconds reading the average newsletter. The layout and writing both need superb usability to survive in the high-pressure environment of a crowded inbox.” Click here to visit Jakob’s site.

Now that you’ve got solid content, and readers who want to subscribe to your newsletter, you’ll want to take advantage of one of the numerous e-mail marketing services available, such as MailChimp, ConstantContact, JangoMail, AWeber, to name just a few.  You can integrate these services into your site design via your online subscription form and setting up an RSS feed, or you can build a contact list within the service itself, and use as a standalone. The benefits of using one of these services is that they are generally low-cost and feature-rich, including access to e-mail campaign statistics, and the ability to integrate with other services, such as Eventbrite, SurveyGizmo, Salesforce, and more.

Social Media: A Time Well Wasted?

In his post How To Boost Your Social Media Productivity – A Guide For Busy People, Robin Broitman collected blog posts by others on various aspects on making Social Media work for you in the long run. After I learned the ropes and started to get into a rhythm of listening, sharing and posting, I found myself doing various actions multiple times, many of which could be automated, if I found the tool or the time to program it myself.
Broitman’s blog post gives me a one-stop page, where I can start my research for new tools, that make my life online easier.

Ping.fm – A Tool for Social Media power users

Feed your Facebook Page through Ping.FM

If you have not yet created a Facebook Page you might want to start on this page:
Facebook: Create a Page or Manage Existing Pages

 In the meantime we have successfully integrated Ping.fm with Facebook and are now able to post on various places through Ping.fm.
Here is the link to the help site created by Ping.fm. Here’s how to set up posting to Facebook Pages.
[Photo]
Now looking at the Social Media Technology Facebook Page we will recognize the Ping.fm posting in the feed among the suggested links.

Feedly as Firefox Add-On and as Google Extension is brilliant


I admit, I am always enthusiastic when trying out a new tool, service or method. So nothing new here, the new tool of the week is Feedly, an add-on for Firefox (also available as extension for Google Chrome, beta) and it lets me read my RSS feeds in a magazine style, using tags and topics to organize all feeds items. It has featured category, uses the pictures available in the feed to illustrate and to combine content and layout. Feedly makes it a pleasure to weed through my reading list. 

This is a screen shot of today’s edition:

Doesn’t it look beautiful? It gives me the images, a headline, sharing links and fast access buttons to clear non-relevant headlines off the screen.

And if I wanted to join a conversation on Friendfeed, I would be able to do it directly from Feedly. Brilliant.

Try it out! www.feedly.com