This article originally appeared in AIIP Connections V27(1), 2013 March
Twitter has become a mainstay now in online communication and many people have opened Twitter accounts, gotten their Twitter handle and then tweeted for some period of time. However, invariably they slow down posting and many become inactive. I’ve been through that and I’ve asked others about why they had become less active or inactive on Twitter. One of the most popular answers I hear is “I don’t know what to Tweet about.” Another popular answer is that it takes too long to surf the Internet and find something worth posting and then posting it. Well, I’ve got a way to overcome both of these objections that I’d like to share with you. It might also help some of you deal with those newsletters and blog emails that you receive.
Like many people, I subscribe to quite a few blogs so their new posts (or at least links with part of the post) appear in my email. I always check email everyday usually multiple times a day but I don’t always go out to the various websites that help me keep up with news in my areas of interest. In my morning routine of going through email, after I’ve taken care of any urgent or personal email, I then turn my attention to those blog subscriptions or newsletters.
One of the problems I always run into is that I can become easily distracted and find many of these items interesting and many are indeed worthwhile reading. However, I sometimes find myself having spent several hours reading and not working on those important task for the day. If I leave them in my inbox marked as unread, I never remember to get back to them and if I leave them unread, pretty soon my inbox is overflowing and it makes it difficult to find what I need. It was clear I needed to come up with a process to deal with this.
Here were my requirements for dealing with this situations.
- It had to be a quick and easy process.
- It must allow me to easily come back to articles I wanted to read.
- The articles must be available online and offline on both my work computer as well as my mobile devices.
- I must be able to access the information at a later date easily.
After searching for quite a while I finally hit upon a solution that works for my needs. I use a web service called Pocket (formerly ReadItLater) which lets you install an extension or bookmarklet in the menu bar of your favorite browser. This then allows you to easily and quickly add any articles you come across while surfing the net to their service for reading later. When you are on a web page you wish to read later, you simply click on the button in your browser or choose the bookmarklet from you bookmarks and after signing in, it saves that page to your Pocket cue. You don’t have to sign in each time only the first time and occasionally, ~every week. Another advantage of reading articles this way is when you view the article within Pocket, all you see is the article without any other distractions such as ads, sidebars, headers, etc found on the normal web page. It is very quick and easy and so met my first criteria. It also allows me to view the articles I’ve saved for later in one place called Home on either their web site (www.getpocket.com) or in their mobile app available for iPhones and iPads as well as Android phones. For other phone systems such as Windows or Blackberry, they recommend using the web interface, so regardless of what brand or operating system you have for your mobile device, Pocket supports it.
When reading the articles you have several options you can access at any time as well as two different views. One is the article view I mentioned earlier and the second is the full webpage as it would appear in your browser. There is an option in the preference for which view or you can allow the application to choose the best view which is what I do. You can tag the article with whatever keywords you want to help you retrieve the article later, you can mark the article read with a checkmark, you can star it as a favorite, you can delete it, or you can share the article with a wide variety of services such as Facebook, Twitter, Email, LinkedIn and more. These sharing options fall into three categories and are outlined below.
- Email (emails the link)
- Email Article View
- Open in Safari
- Report Article View (used to report the web page to Pocket if the article view doesn’t appear correctly)
- Google Reader
- Google Chrome
- Twittelator Pro
- Twitter for iPhone
As you can see, it supports all the major ways you might want to share content. This is one of the features that attracted me to this solution. It includes the two services that are a necessity for me; Evernote and Buffer. I use Evernote as a storehouse of any information I want to save for later reference but Pocket gives you the option to store the articles in several different applications. Buffer is my central location for sharing articles and posts with various social networks. This is where the productivity in tweeting consistently comes in.
Buffer is a web service I couldn’t live without. It allows you to buffer posts to various social networks and schedule them over time throughout the day or week. You have total control over how often posts go out. They have a free option which allows you to connect Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn social networks and have up to 10 items in your buffer. They also have the very reasonable price of $10/month you can add up to twelve accounts from four different social networks (Facebook Pages, Facebook Profiles Twitter, and LinkedIn), an unlimited number of posts in your cue as well as allow you to add two other people to help administer your Buffer account.
Within Pocket, you can find the article you want to share and then choose to share with Buffer. This then brings up a dialog box allowing you to add or edit the link, as well as choose which accounts you would like the information to go to. Hit “Done” and it is submitted to your Buffer cue. You can access Buffer from either its web interface or from mobile apps they have for either Android or for the iPhone. There are also other apps and browser extensions that can interact with Buffer. Once in the mobile app or webpage you can edit or delete posts that are in your cue waiting to be posted as well as change the order in which they will post. If you come across a time sensitive item it will automatically be added to the end of your cue and may not go out for a day or so depending on how many items you have in your cue and often per day they are scheduled to be sent out. You can just drag and drop the item to the top of your list or anywhere to change the order. Also if your cues happen to be empty, Buffer will even suggest something interesting to tweet, usually a quote.
So here are the steps I use for tweeting and posting to my personal and business twitter accounts, to my Facebook profile, to my Facebook business page and to LinkedIn
- Find content for sharing: You can find blogs you want to read regularly and subscribe to their blog postings. If they don’t have a subscription, you can always use If This Then That (IFTTT.com) to get them into your inbox. This avoids having to go visit each web site individually. Or you can mark pages as you come across them in your web surfing.
- Go to Pocket either on the web or mobile app and choose the article you want to share
- Click on the option for Buffer
- Choose which accounts you want to share to
- Edit or add to the posting
- Choose “Done” and let Buffer take care of the rest
I’ve used this process for quite some time now successfully. From going through my email to capturing the content to posting it takes about 10-20 minutes each day. I like the ease with which I can choose articles to share and the ability to share it to whichever social networks I want.
So how does this process help you save time?
- You no longer have to go find content to share.
- You have a central repository of articles in Pocket for future sharing.
- You can post selective information for different audiences on each social media account
- You no longer have to visit each social network to post the same information. Just post once to Buffer and let it take care of pushing it out to the social networks you chose.
- Buffer posts the content at the times of your choosing so you only have to go through this process once a day.
So a combination of Pocket to quickly capture content for future use and Buffer to allow posting to several accounts at once and schedule them leads to a consistent social media presence.