Life Goals and other Random Nonsense: August 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Review of 6 "Social Media Status Widgets"

Want to show off the buzz about your favorite topic and contribute to the virtuous circle of tweeting, re-tweeting, feeding and re-feeding? Well then you need to add a 'social media status widget' to your site to let your readers know what the tweeters are tweeting about what your readers are reading about! Below I review three Twitter search widgets and three newfangled 'social media status widgets' that show the buzz across a variety of sites. It's interesting to note that while they all have similar purposes they show pretty different results.

Pros: Easy to set up and customize (color, size, etc.). Nice Animation. And you can also loop old Twitter search results - which helps the gadget look less lame if your chosen query has low traffic.

Cons: Obviously, this only shows results from Twitter, but what's less obvious at first is that unlike normal Twitter search, it doesn't show retweets (anything with 'RT' in the message) so you could be missing some good chatter if people are retweeting and adding on commentary. Also, although this is easy to set up, integrating this widget into your site could be challenging (e.g. this one doesn't play nice with Blogger - which seems to have something to do with referencing the external CSS style sheets and line breaks in the JavaScript code) so you might have to play with it to get it to work properly. Also, it doesn't show tweets older than about 2 weeks.

Example for query 'teampedia':

Pros: This has several advanced options including filtering bad words, and choosing if you want links to open in a new window or the same window. And if you want to use it on Blogger you can simply point and click to add it as a gadget on your blog.

Cons: If you are not on Blogger, you have to download some code files (JQuery and JavaScript) and configure them - this requires more than my level of knowledge to set up, so you are own your own here. Another Twitter only search.

Example for query 'teampedia':
I would show you an example here, but I can't figure out how to embed one in the body of this post, so just go to Juitter to see their example.

Pros: Allows you to show a default twitter search for one topic, but then your site visitor can use it to search for something else.

Cons: Figuring out how to embed this it is not obvious from the website, but you do so, by using iframes. It only searches Twitter, but does show retweets unless you encode '-RT' into the search query. Also it includes ads in the bottom of the gadget, which means it not as clean as the other ones.

Example for query 'teampedia':

Pros: Pulls in more sources than just Twitter, and it has some customizable elements (items per page, hide user profile images, font size, etc.) It also has a nice cascading animation effect.

Cons: Doesn't pull in as many sources the site seems to suggest, and requires some skills to edit it. Basically if you can distinguish a variable from a comment you can edit it... but it seems like it would be easy enough for them to create a form for you to enter the variables which then spits out the code for you to copy/paste to your site.

Example for query 'teampedia':

This one isn't quite a widget the way the previous two are... you just do a search on FriendFeed, and then chose the 'Share / embed search' link in the top left corner of the page. This gives you the option for an iframe of the search results which you can embed anywhere that accepts iframes... FriendFeed does have a whole page of embeddable gadgets but those only allow you to share your feed or a room's feed, not a search feed.

Pros: Includes buzz from the wide range of sites (actually the most for my test query 'teampedia'). including Delicious, Diigo and Twitter.

Cons: No options to customize to make it blend into your site better.

Example for query 'teampedia':

Pros: Nice clean style

Cons: Doesn't pull in results from many sites e.g. it says it is getting results from FriendFeed but not ones that I can see in the embedded FriendFeed search results above.

Example for query 'teampedia':

[update 9/22: this one no longer seems to be working]

Overall there doesn't appear to be one killer widget yet, but drop me a line and let me know if I missed one. I am sure these will be 'all the rage' soon enough.

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