Monday, 23 August 2010

Our post-hootsuite options

Since my post Thinking about alternatives to Hootsuite I've been mulling over what other services we could use to manage our social media for Student Development. I don't mind paying a bit, we just can't afford (and I object to anyway) paying what Hootsuite are charging. I had thought to put up a blog post asking if Hootsuite had plans for an educational licence, but I've just noticed on their blog that they are offering a 20% discount for not-for-profits. I guess this is a start but a) it's not enough for us given we'd still need to pay more than $79 per month and b) as an University we're not CIC registered so we wouldn't be eligible anyway

Alan pointed out this helpful article to me on Top 5 alternatives to Hootsuite, which suggests the following:
You'll  notice, if you scroll down the comments in that link that someone also suggested MediaFunnel.

There are a number of things I need a service to allow me to do, the main criteria are as follows:
  • Support multiple Twitter accounts
  • Support Facebook pages
  • Allow multiple users to post to the accounts
  • Shorten URLs
  • Allow scheduled posts
  • Allow attachments (especially images)
  • Have a reasonable charging model
So, I've been having a bit of a look at the options and here's a summary of how they match up to the above criteria (as far as I can tell).
  1. I gave up with Brizzly because it kept asking me if I wanted to 'create a picnic'. Very annoying!
  2. Buzzom will be including a URL shortener soon - see. Also see comment on this post from the Deep Sherchan from the Buzzom team re premium version.
  3. MediaFunnel will be going Freemium but I'm assured there will be no bad surprises. Rumour has it it will be two users and two social media accounts for free., then each additional user/channel pack will be $4.95/month. This is much more realistic than Hootsuite.
Other features that would be good too are workflow, roles and co-tags. MediaFunnel has all of these.

So we'll be trying out MediaFunnel in the next few weeks and I'll let you know how we get on. So far it's looking extremely promising :)

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Just putting up a quick test post for the nice people at Apture. I'd seen this tweet from RWW about using Apture on their site. I clicked on the first link which was a YouTube video and after a quick delay it opened in YouTube rather than playing as a pop out in the RWW site (as shown on this quick screenr). So having had this reply from Apture I thought I'd try this video of Mark Cavendish winning stage 6 sprints on TdF 2010 on my blog to see if it does the same.

PS. I think Apture is brilliant.

Annual report wordle

Yesterday I was tinkering with Student Development's annual report for 2009/10. It's largely for internal purposes but I may well publish it on here when it's finalised. In the mean time here's one of those natty little wordles of it. I'm pleased to see students most prominent.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Acting up

Today I start 'acting up' as Head of Student Development. Maria Graal, the previous Head of Student Development, has left for Bangor University to be their Director of Student Experience. She's going to be a tough act to follow but I'm looking forward to working with a great team. There's going to be a review of Student Development's activities starting in September which will report in December. We hope to be able to show the review panel what a great job we do, as well as receive some useful suggestions. I guess I'll be acting up (it's a great phrase, isn't it?) until at least Easter, and then who knows...

So if you have any tips or suggestions about managing a big team, strategic planning, dealing with budgets and anything acting up related, I'd be very pleased to hear them.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Thinking about Hootsuite alternatives

Today Hootsuite announced a freemium plan. I understand the need for a freemium model and Student Development already have a subscription with Flickr, however Hootsuite's price plan looks like it's going to be prohibitive for us.

Hootsuite has been brilliant for us in the following ways:
  • team collaboration - allowing us to have lots of people (currently we have 6) posting to multiple accounts, especially our Student Development Facebook and Twitter accounts
  • monitoring response and progress - this is a really handy feature, especially when we have so many people posting to the accounts - it helps us keep track of who's responded to what
  • statistics - the stats give us a really useful snap shot - daily clicks, referral data and, most helpfully, most popular tweets
  • scheduled posts - great for delaying posts to more appropriate times
  • assign tasks - we can even assign responses to individual team members - but we haven't used this feature much yet
All in all it's been brilliant, but at $99 per month for what we'd need (8 team members) I'm sad to say I think we're going to have to switch to something else. So does anyone have any recommendations of something that will do much of the above at less cost?

Friday, 6 August 2010

I've just discovered image maps

I'm probably being a bit slow off the mark here but I've just discovered that I can make image maps (or to be more accurate Matt showed me how the other week - he's going to blog about but he's been busy with other posts). I don't need to know about programming to do it (which is just as well), instead I just used

Below is a photograph of Tryfan that I took last time I went up it. It's not the best example but I wanted to demo something that doesn't have straight lines. So if you hover over the image you'll discover various links:
  • the stile links to the Wikipedia entry on stiles (fascinating, I'm sure)
  • the wing mirror links to the 'Let me Google that for you' link for the same
  • and the rocky profile that is Tryfan links to the Wikipedia entry on Tryfan (and if you hover carefully you'll see that the image map for that follows the skyline of the ridge)
All-in-all I think it's pretty clever, and more importantly, potentially very useful, especially since we've tested it and we know it works in our Plone CMS (not everything does). Obviously it will work with any image - not jsut photos, so all I need is a reason to use them. I'm hoping that Marta or Steve or someone else in the team might think of how this would be useful.


Looks like uploading the image is a bit flaky (worked to start with then stopped working) so I've recreated it with a url to the image to see if that's better...