Bottlenose: Fighting Information Overload With a Smarter Social Media Dashboard


The first time I looked at Bottlenose, a web app that bills itself as “the smartest social media dashboard,” it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. It just looked like a slightly overcomplicated Twitter client at the time, but things have really changed now that the team has released its second beta version. It’s now my go-to client for checking up on what’s happening in my network on Twitter and Facebook. Support for RSS feeds is also planned in a later version.

I'm not really sure what changed (that's how little of an impression the first version left on me), but this new version feels miles ahead of the first beta. Maybe it’s the new three-pane layout that providesmore information at a glance, maybe it’s the fact that media and even web previews are now embedded in your stream, or maybe it’s just that nagging feeling that Twitter itself has simplified its own tools like TweetDeck to the point where they aren’t very useful for power-users anymore and where it feels the company is taking more steps backwards than forwards.

At its core, Bottlenose is a social networking client and its multi-column layout is quite reminiscent of TweetDeck and Seesmic. Its core mission, however, is a bit different. The service wants to help you cope with the massive amount of information that comes at you from your social media sources. Instead of just presenting you with long lists of unfiltered tweets (though Bottlenose will also do that for you if you ask it nicely), the service is more about letting you find the most important stuff. A lot of other apps obviously also promise to do this, but somehow Bottlenose makes it all feel rather natural.


Your Friendly Bottlenose Assistants

Here is how this works in practice. Bottlenose features a tab called “Assistants,” for example, where you can easily create filtered lists of tweets. If you just want to see tweets about news that were posted by users who have more than 10,000 followers, building that list takes just a few clicks. Bottlenose’s algorithms will decide when a tweet is about news for you. In the same way, you can create a column that just shows gossip stories that also include videos and that were retweeted at least twice.

Maybe the most interesting feature of the service, though, is its “Sonar” tool. Here, you get a tree-diagram view of what the people in your network are talking about. The view changes, depending on which one of your columns you are looking at. This, more than any other Twitter tools I have recently seen, makes it easy to get a quick glance at what the most important topics of the moment are. You can, of course, click on any keyword in the sonar view and see who talked about it and what exactly is being said about it.


Invite Codes

Bottlenose is still in private beta, but you can use the code “getsonar” to get in right now. If you have a Klout score over 30, you can also get access right away.

11:20 am

McDonald’s: A Glutton for Social Media Punishment


McDonald's has been an active but somewhat timid participant on many social media platforms for a long time. For the most part,  but lately, the company's efforts, especially on Twitter, have been quite a disaster. What's even more astonishing is that the company's social media team doesn't seem to be learning from its earlier mistakes.

Earlier this week, McDonald's used the hashtag #McDStories in a few tweets. That hashtag quickly took on a life of its own and people started making fun of the company within minutes. Virtually no tweets with the hashtag were positive and most simply related how people found finger nails in their fries and how much they hate McDonald's in general. Talking to PaidContent earlier this week, the company's social media director explained that the company "carefully selects the words or phrases used to describe its promoted tweets."

Today, however, McDonald's made yet another mistake by using the #littlethings hashtag in a tweet and actually asking its followers for a response. As expected, the response so far has been similar to the previews event:

What's even worse, hotel brand DoubleTree used the same hashtag just a little while ago, too, and used it in a promoted tweet campaign.

As the Next Web's Stefan Meeuws noted when McDonald's ran the original #McDStories campaign, the company's efforts failed partly due to the simple fact that the hashtag was so vague that anybody could attach virtually any meaning to it. On Twitter, that's basically an open invitation for punishment, especially for a company like McDonald's which must surely be aware of its many detractors.

It's hard to say what McDonald's should have done differently, but it's its best solution right now is probably to lay low for a while and just let this latest storm pass.

11:00 am

iStatus+: Post to Google+, Facebook and Twitter With Just One Click


As of now, Google isn’t making it easy for developers to create apps that can write status updates to the service, but that didn’t stop Nadan Gergeo from building iSatus+, a little iPhone app ($0.99) that lets you post to Google+, Facebook and Twitter at the same time. I’m a big fan of simple apps that only do a few things, but do those right. iStatus+ is exactly that kind of app. You enter your account information for any of the networks you want to use – and if you are in the market for this kind of app, you’ll probably put in all three anyway – and start posting. It really couldn’t be any easier.

Istatus iphone update google plus

Given that Google+ isn’t actually giving developers the ability to post status updates directly yet, Gergeo had to hack his own way to do this, but it works perfectly fine. You can even choose which circles you want to post your updates to. Because of this, tough, you are currently also relegated to just posting text updates. The app doesn’t support any media uploads (yet).

As it also supports Twitter, the app is probably best suited for short updates under 140 characters, but you can easily exclude Twitter from longer updates by just tapping its icon above the keyboard.

One additional small caveats: the app doesn’t handle links very elegantly. On Google+, likely due to the nature of how it’s accessing the service, links won’t show up as snippets and there is no auto-shortening of Twitter links either (so they count as part of your 140-character limit).

If you want to give the app a try, just head over to iTunes.


9:26 pm

AddThis Adds Real-Time Sharing Analytics


AddThis, the popular service that allows publishers to monitor how their content is shared on over 300 different social media sites, just introduced a new service that displays sharing activity as it occurs in real time. Whenever a user now uses the embedded AddThis links in a story to share your content on any of AddThis’ supported networks, the new Live View dashboard will update immediately.


12:56 am

Google Acquires Social Media Analytics Service PostRank


Google just acquired PostRank, the Canadian social media monitoring and analytics company that allows publishers to see how their content is shared on the social Web. PostRank launched in 2007 (and was still called AidRSS at that time) and currently offers to main products: Connect and Analytics. Google was most likely more interested in PostRank’s Analytics package, which would make a nice addition to Google’s own Analytics service.


6:39 pm

Skype’s Outage: A Lesson in How to Handle a Crisis in the Age of Social Media


Skype, the immensely popular VoIP service, experienced the first major outage in its history yesterday and even though this will surely hurt the company in the very short run, its excellent crisis management will reduce the outage’s impact to close to zero in the long run.

How Skype Got it Right

Almost immediately after the cascading failure on the Skype network took place, Skype posted an update to Twitter.

With this, customers got the reassurance that it wasn’t just their computers that were having issues and that Skype was aware of the problem. The team then continued to post updates to Twitter in the following hours. While these tweets kept users informed, they also didn’t promise anything the company couldn’t deliver. Things would have looked really bad for Skype if it announced that the network was recovering, yet none of its users were actually able to sign in yet.

Besides using Twitter, Skype also used its Facebook page to update users there. Facebook’s users were more than willing to interact with the brand there and some of the updates now have close to 2,000 comments.


In addition to all of this, Skype also updated its own blog regularly and posted more in-depth information there. Sadly, though, Skype did not put a big link to its blog on its homepage, so users who went to first to get updates probably didn’t find the information they were looking for (Skype’s various blogs aren’t exactly easy to find from the homepage). Skype also doesn’t highlight comments on its blogs, which would have given users another point of contact with the company and the ability to interact with the company.

Finally, Skype’s CEO Tony Bates also recorded a short video, apologizing for the outage and explaining what happened and what the company plans to do to prevent similar issues in the future. For the most part, this video is effective, though it probably would’ve helped Skype’s cause if Bates actually noted that he is the company’s CEO at some point. In this video – and the accompanying blog post – Bates also promises credit vouchers for those paying users who were affected by the outage.

Overall, I was surprised by how effectively Skype managed its first major crisis. Over on the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries wonders how much this outage will hurt Skype. As much as people noticed this outage, I don’t think it will affect the company much. Skype’s already such an ingrained part of the Internet and people’s live that switching to an alternative isn’t an option for most people. It’s also worth noting that Skype Connect, its business-class service, wasn’t affected by this outage.

3:34 pm