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Posts from the ‘Social Media’ Category

Needed: The Busy-Person’s News Reader

Photo Credit: gettyimages.ca

Albert Wegner (from Union Square Ventures) has a great post up where he talks about  the need for an Opposing View Reader, a news reader where you can see stories from different angles, with different opinions. While it’s a very important problem (and a really tough one to solve!),  we also wanted to draw attention to a similarly urgent issue – the need for a “Busy-Person’s” Reader. But first, let’s debunk a myth…

 

The Perfect News Reader

The usual review or feedback of a product in the news space ends up being something like this:

it’s great for use-cases X & Y, but I won’t use it for all my news reading because of reason Z“.

Ever since we’ve been in the news reading space, we’ve seen this common theme of the “Perfect Reader” that should exist, but nobody has built it… yet!

It’s arguably understandable why people could expect a perfect reader — lots of industries are like this: social networking = Facebook, search = Google, news = ??? — but  after talking to news readers, from casual Twitter users to “1000-feeds-need-to-read-them-all” junkies, we believe there’s no such thing as a perfect reader. It doesn’t exist . News reading behaviours are too diverse! On average, we’ve found that people actually have 2-4 news sources that they use daily to get their news, in very different ways. For example, it could be Twitter for real-time news, Reddit for funny pictures and cool comments and Summify for when you’re busy and just want to be on top of what’s happening… whatever the mix is that suits you, we think it’s OK! It’s OK to have more than one tool in your news toolbox, and it turns out that’s how most people actually consume it in the offline world as well: newspaper, TV, radio, etc.

Why a “Busy-Person’s” Reader?

It all starts from the explosion in social sharing that’s happening on the Internet right now. There’s lots of content, growing at an exponential rate, and an increasing focus on real-time breaking news, whatever is happening NOW. Well, that means a lot of interruptions and I think we all know that interruptions and frequent context switches significantly affect productivity, especially in activities that require a high level of concentration (most modern jobs).

At the same time, nobody wants to be left out of the “loop” and not be aware of what’s going on today in the (my) world. So how do you balance lots of information, constant interruptions and the need to still be productive during the day? With a “Busy-Person” Reader, of course!

We think Seth Godin explained it best  (Day old news is fresh enough):

The value of breaking news (news = whatever is new to you) is dramatically overrated, and the cost of keeping up with what someone else thinks is urgent is just too high.

If it’s important today, it will be important tomorrow. Far more productive to do the work instead of monitoring what’s next.

We’d like to hear what do you think. Is there a need for a “Busy-Person’s” Reader? If so, what would it look like? We obviously have some ideas on the subject (hint: check our homepage), but we’d really love to hear other opinions.

Getting the Most from #Summify: How to Make Your Summary Better

Most aspects of our lives could benefit from a little clean-up and our content consumption is no exception. Summify filters through heaps of incoming content and helps you consume only the most relevant stories, reducing your stress and increasing your productivity. We have some helpful tips on how to make your summaries even better, but before jumping in to that, take a quick look at our post on How Summify Works for some helpful background.

When piecing together your summaries, Summify considers links from everyone you follow and all of your RSS feeds. Do you really want all of these sources influencing your summary? Maybe not. Here are some helpful ideas on how to manage influencers and maximize your summary’s usefulness.

Optimizing your accounts

The more accounts you connect, the better your summaries will be.

Twitter

1. Clean up your account – only follow people that you’re actually interested in. You can put other users, who you don’t want news from, into Twitter lists. This allows you to receive news from those you follow, while keeping an eye on other useful people. If you’re unsure if you want to follow someone, create a list and name it “new people.” If you like what they share after a couple days, follow them, if not, they’re out!

2. Find interesting people to follow using http://twitter.com/who_to_follow

Suggestions – Twitter accounts suggested for you based on who you follow and more.

Browse Interests – select the topics you are interested in. Browse the list of people and find a few new people you want to hear from.

Find Friends – search through the other services you are using to find your friends who are on Twitter. Look through your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, AOL and LinkedIn accounts.

Influencers of influencers – who comes to mind as one of the most interesting people you follow? Find your favorite people and look at who they follow; it’s a great way to expand your network and find new people who share similar interests.

Facebook

Since Facebook is used more for casual socializing amongst friends than Twitter is, there is a serendipity in the way our conversations occur, especially between people we don’t interact with all the time. For this reason, we don’t suggest a major cleansing of your “friends” list, unless however, you’re one of those people who adds everyone under the sun. Instead of deleting any friends, our suggestion is to discover pages you like and add them to your News Feed.

Discover Facebook Pages allows you to explore pages you might enjoy. Browse by category, see your current page invites, and see which friends like similar pages to you. Click like on any page to receive updates in your News Feed.

Google Reader

Google Reader shows you all of your favorite sites in one convenient place. It’s like a personalized inbox for the entire web. Watch this one minute video to better understand Google Reader and how to add subscriptions to your account. Now that you’ve been acquainted, you can get started by adding subscriptions from your favorite websites. Not sure where to start? Browse and Search some feed bundles here.

Using Google Reader with Summify allows you to customize which feeds you want considered for your summaries.

1. Connect your Google Reader account by clicking the “g connect” button in your settings

2. Once connected, all of your Google Reader feeds will be imported into Summify. Go to Feed Settings and manually X any feeds you don’t want considered for your summary.

Note: Your Google Reader account does not synch automatically. If you add feeds to your Google Reader and want them considered in your summary you must re-connect your account in Account Settings by re-clicking the “g connect” button. Likewise, if you delete a feed in Google Reader it is not automatically deleted from your Summify feeds. If you would like to delete a feed, you must do so manually in the Feeds area of your settings.

I use a feed reader other than Google Reader

No problem! Import an OPML file to populate your Summify feeds. An OPML file is package of feeds that you can grab from your other feed reader. The button to import an OPML file is in the Feeds area of your settings.

Filters: domains and users

If you realize that a certain domain contributor is responsible for uninteresting stories in your Summary just X them out. In your web summary, hover your mouse on top of the story’s domain source and click the X to filter it out from future summaries. Likewise, hover your mouse on top of any one of a story’s contributors and click the X to filter out their influence from future summaries. You can always undo these actions in the Filters area of your Settings. Your filtering actions are completely private and nobody will ever know when you’ve eliminated them from your summary.


Like button

Using the Like button is a strong positive signal which helps your summary recipe understand what you enjoy reading. There is also another direct benefit to the Like button; when clicked, you “Like” the link on Facebook as well. Give it a try. You can find the Like button in your web summary, when you hover your mouse on a story headline; and on the share bar beside the share button, once you’ve clicked through to read a story.


Summary

Frequency – adjust how often your summaries are generated and how many stories each contains. Increasing your summary’s frequency or number of stories forces Summify to pull more content from your network. This can lead to a broader range of sources appearing in your summary, but only if you follow a significant number of sources on Twitter, Facebook or Google Reader; otherwise your summaries may feel thin. Our recommendation is to keep your summary schedule on the lighter side, to ensure quality. The default schedule is five stories, once per day.

Privacy – we recommend leaving your summary public, as it is by default. Public summaries are better for everyone, enabling others to explore your summaries, and allowing you to discover the summaries of people you know and others you don’t. Here are a few samples:

Kevin Rose – founder of Digg.com
Jay Baer – author of the Convince & Convert blog and co-author of The Now Revolution
Liz Gannes – covers the social web for AllthingsD.com
Jodi Ettenberg – world traveler, former lawyer, legalnomads.com
Emily Leary – communications consultant and blogger, co-founder of #CommsChat
Zee Kane – editor-in-chief of The Next Web

We will continue working hard to send you top notch summaries, but despite our hard work there’s no way we can know you as good as you know yourself. Try out some of the tips we’ve provided you with and fine-tune your summaries to make them that much better.

Everyone uses Summify a little bit differently and we’re sure that many of you have discovered your own nifty ways of enhancing your summaries. Do you have a tip or creative idea on how other Summifyers can get the most out of their summaries? Please share them in the comments section or feel free to pass them on to us at team@summify.com.

Getting the Most from #Summify: How It Works

This is the first part of an ongoing series that will help you better understand how Summify works and how you can get the most out of your summaries. First things first. In order to improve something you need to understand it.

You all know that Summify automatically identifies the most important news stories for you across all of your networks, but how does all that actually happen? Does it have something to do with extra-terrestrial beings from Area 51? Well that’s confidential, but here’s a few things we can say.

How do the algorithms work?

Plug in your social accounts > links are collected > links are filtered > summary arrives!

Accounts

You can plug-in three types of social accounts to Summify: Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader. How many accounts can you plug-in from each service? There is no limit for Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader, add as many as you have!

Collecting links

Once you’ve chosen which accounts to connect, Summify begins analyzing them, collecting all the links found in your news streams. Currently only links to articles (text-based links) are collected. Summify does not consider any other link types: e.g. youtube links, audio links, download links etc. But hey, things change pretty fast around here, so you never know what’s next.

Filtering links: cut the S***

The Summify algorithms use dozens of signals, but in general news that has been shared, liked and retweeted a lot by your friends is considered more important. However, not all of your friends are equal and we pay special attention to those who you interact with more. Global popularity signals such as the total number of times a link is tweeted, or liked and shared on Facebook are also considered, but are less important than the sharing activity of the people closest to you.

Filtering links: learning

The Summify algorithms are also fans of learning. As you continue using Summify, we analyze your click history and understand your interests to further improve your story recommendations.

We understand your interests indirectly by looking at what you click on. We notice if you tend to click more on stories:

  • from a particular user on Twitter, Facebook, or a certain RSS Feed;
  • from a particular domain or with common keywords in the story title; and
  • if you prefer Twitter stories more than Facebook stories.

We hope that this break down has helped you understand how stories make the cut into your summary. On average, for each story that makes it into your summary we reject 150 other less relevant stories, so with Summify you’re reading only the good stuff. Not only is this a huge time saver, it also makes your Twitter and Facebook experience more useful.

To gain a greater perspective on the volume of news being shared and the amount of stories being filtered from your summaries, check out our recent Social Sharing Infographic.

Finally, if you haven’t seen it already, take a peek at our “What is Summify?” video to get a helpful visual representation of some of the things we just covered. Next up: optimizing your summaries.

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