I've been meaning to share some examples of new social and digital apps that I've been using recently in day to day PR. If you're in digital PR you might find it useful to try some of them out. If you're using some of them already, I'd love to hear the ways you use them.
Feedly - This service has completely changed the way I read news online. I've used RSS readers to track the news, all the blogs that I read, and clusters of client feeds (here's exactly how I structure my feeds). Well, in the age of microblogging my RSS reader has started to gather dust. Feedly has changed that. It presents your news, buzz, blogs and everything else you need to digest in a format that's much more captivating, creative and useful. It's also social, and also plugs into all other websites you use, showing buzz from the social web on them. For example, I read this story just now, and Feedly's little app in my browser tells me how many times it's been added to FriendFeed, Digg an Twitter, including highlights of online buzz. The other thing FriendFeed does is, when you Google something, it shows you, embedded in the search results, social media buzz on that topic, in the white space that Google leaves empty. You'd almost miss this, as it's very nicely integrated. All-round a fantastic buzz tracking tool.
FriendFeed - The best new startup of 2008 according to TechCrunch has been changing the web habits of the early adopters for over a year. Now it's a matter of time before a community big-enough moves the rest of us over (or enough for it to be a proper destination). It's not only a destination site - you can post things on it in a similar way you do on Facebook or Twitter - it's also a funnel. In other words, plug all your other social sites, like Flickr, YouTube, your blog, Twitter, almost anything, into your friend stream. It can then pipe it out to somewhere else, like Twitter.
FourSquare - This one is new new. FourSquare is a service that asks you, through an iPhone app, the mobile web or a text message, to check in, so that people know where you are. Here's Cnet's review of it from earlier this month. It's one of the hotter and more talked about versions of location-based mobile friend services that help you keep in touch with your community based on your location, but in the simplest way possible. When Twitter came along, it was a massively stripped down and basic version of Facebook. Twitter is to Facebook what FourSquare is to Google Latitude, Brightkite and the other hugely useful but complex location-based mobile apps.
Evernote - Whopping disclaimer, because we work with Evernote, but as you might remember I've been just a little bit fanatical about this service for about a year now. With the social web stretching us thin and far, this technology is your digital brain. Use it for note taking, snapping flipcharts at workshops, group projects or coverage saving. One to watch. Evenote, like FriendFeed, hot with the cool kids.
4chan - It's a picture-based message forum that brings users together in a way that goes against the grain for those that 'get' old social media. You don't have an identity, so no username, and anything goes (ie, really not safe for work in a lot of places. Just to be clear, I don't approve of it's content, I'm simply saying the kind of way topics spread on 4chan is something relatively new to the blog/twitter/facebook way of thinking). There's no archives, so no way of showing off about how long you've been on it or what your most popular post was. Very un-Technorati. This creates swarm like behaviour that turns things viral. In its own words, 4chan's collaborative-community format is copied from one of the most popular forums in Japan, Futaba Channel. Check out some examples on just how its different community approach changes the ways things happen on the web.
Some feedback I've received on Twitter about this post is questioning whether 4chan is mainstream enough to warrant people needing to know anything about it at all. My gut feel is that this style of forum will be the next wave online, with anonymity, speed and currency changing the way people share content and swarm on issues.
- update - I have re-edited this post to ensure it's clear that I'm neither ranking these by importance or sanctioning content on the sites.