Easily Create a Social Media and Small Business Command Center with iGoogle
What is iGoogle? iGoogle is a free web-based tool offered by Google which allows users to pull information from around the web and display it in ‘gadgets’ on your personal iGoogle page. This presentation provides step by step directions for setting up iGoogle to pull business-related information from across the web, including email, industry news, and real time updates from social networks. This will offer a birds-eye perspective on your industry and company/brand, as well as a ‘one stop shop’ for other business needs.
A Google Account If you don’t already have one, you will need to sign up for the free iGoogle account: http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en . For the moment, just go with the default selections. You can easily change them later.
Once you are signed in, your new ‘ig’ page will look like the one below, with several default gadgets added. Click ‘Add stuff’ in the right corner with the red arrow.
Adding Gadgets to a Page On the gadgets page, you can filter and search for interesting gadgets to put on your iGoogle page(s). In future slides, we will selectively add gadgets to different pages in order to create the command center, but first we must add some new pages, so click the ‘back to iGoogle home’ link (red arrow).
Adding and Editing Tabs By adding new tabs, we can begin to build out the categories of the Command Center. You can add as many tabs as you like, but ‘too many’ will become unwieldy. The end result will look something like this:
Before starting to build the Command Center you will need to know how to edit the layout of a tab. Click on the dropdown arrow in the tab name, and choose ‘edit tab’. This will open up the ‘edit’ page with its variety of layout options. One annoying note: every time you ‘save’ your work, it shoots you back to a tab and you have to click ‘edit’ again to get back here, so try to make all your changes to a tab at once.
Building the Command Center Now that you know how to add and edit tabs, as well as how to add gadgets to a tab it’s time to discuss what tabs you actually want in your Command Center. Here are some suggestions, and we’ll walk through the details of these: Tech News Tab (contains RSS feeds from Tech sites) Industry News Tab (contains Google Reader RSS feeds about your industry) Competitors Tab (contains Google Reader RSS feeds about your competitors) Twitter Tab (contains in iFrame gadget to show a web-based twitter client) Facebook Fan Page Tab (contains an iFrame that shows your Fan page) Blog Tab (contains in iFrame to see your blog and comments) Analytics (contains gadgets to show the analytics of your website) Email Tab (contains an iFrame for convenient access to your email) Whatever else you want. The easiest way to add tabs en masse is from the Edit screen, where you can add all your tabs at once and then click ‘save’.
Click ‘Add a tab’ 9 times and name the tabs something close to what is discussed in the previous slide. Note: “Twitter”, “FB Fan Page”, “Blog”, and “Email” tabs will all require a one column layout, so change them here. A link to download and import the finished layout will be available at the end of the slideshow.
The end result: This page uses existing gadgets to populate it, but ‘My Industry’ and ‘Competitors’ will use a Google reader gadget that is populated by creating a blog search in http://blogsearch.google.com/.
Browse to http://blogsearch.google.com/. Since conXt is an Address Book utility, we will do a search for ‘Address Book’ in the search bar. That search returns this page:
Return to your iGoogle page and click on the ‘My Industry’ tab. Then click ‘Add stuff’ link. On the bottom left of the ‘Add stuff’ page, you will see a link that says “Add feed or gadget”, like so:
When you return to your iGoogle tab, you will see that the results of your blog search are now part of an RSS gadget on the ‘My Industry’ tab. In this way, you can piggy back on Google’s indexing to provide a very broad overview of what is happening in your industry in the online world. Continue to add these blog search RSS gadgets for the terms that represent your industry. Repeat this process for the ‘Competitors’ tab.
Next we are going to build the tabs for twitter, Facebook Fan page, blog and email. They all use the same gadget so I will explain this using the twitter example. When you return to your ‘Twitter’ tab, click the ‘Add stuff’ link, and type ‘iFrame’ in to the search bar.
Return to your iGoogle twitter tab and you will see the iFrame gadget taking up one large column. Click on the drop down arrow and edit the settings: Note: For some reason, twitter doesn’t allow itself to be seen in an iFrame (it busts out of the frame), so you cannot simply use the standard twitter URL (as in the example above). A better option is to use a tool like seesmic(http://seesmic.com/) to display not only your twitter feed, but also @mentions, and search results. This strategy provides a more comprehensive overview of the ‘twitterverse’ and I would highly recommend it. You can use other web based twitter clients, also, just change the ‘src’ url which is pictured above.
The result of adding seesmic twitter client as the src for the iFrame: You can also tweet and search from this interface.
Follow the same iFrame process for your Facebook Fan page…
Your blog page, so you can keep track of activity….
And even an email page, if you choose to: By utilizing this iFrame solution, I can easily consolidate much of the meaningful web-based activity that I participate in into one interface: iGoogle.
Conclusion Setting up a “Command Center” in iGoogle allows us to easily consolidate a lot of disparate information into one place. This information can be used to keep an eye on your or your business’ online reputation, keep up with customer service issues which are being talked about online, stay abreast of news involving your industry and competitors, and can even be a one-stop shop for email, analytics, and pretty much whatever you conceive of. You can download the xml file that was created for this slideshow here: http://www.conxt.com/files/SocialMediaMarketingCommandCenter.xml After saving it to a file, open your iGoogle edit page, click ‘import’ and choose this xml file. The structure of the Command Center will be created for you automatically and you can simply edit it from there. I hope you learned something from this slideshow. Please email me at email@example.com if you have any questions or suggestions. Thanks!