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Posts Tagged ‘Social network’

Ireland’s Lost and Found Dogs, Cats & Other Pets Now on Google+

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

In our continuing drive for complete Web domination  for our lost and found pet listings we are happy to announce that you can now find  our official page on Google+ (or Google Plus if you prefer).

A screenshot of Lost & Found Pets Ireland on Google Plus

Our engagement with Google’s social networking efforts has been relatively sparce up until now.  We did have a Google Buzz account to which we piped our listing Tweets and we also had a dedicated Google Wave, I even went so far as to code a bot to automatically respond to listing requests from our Wave participants but both these services have since been axed by Google.

However, it looks like Google+ is here to stay, particularly with the fundamental seachange in search to a social model.  Now when users who are logged into Google (including GMail users as well as those using Google Plus) conduct searches, the results they see are increasingly influenced by the activities of others in their social circles that Google is aware of such as friends, family and colleagues, in an attempt to increase personal relevance of the results.  Much like the Facebook ‘Like’ button, the Google +1 button aims to fuel a recommendation engine for the entire Internet to make its search results, more relevant and therefore more useful to its users, and more users equals more advertising revenue for them. To put it another way, if one of your friends ‘+1′s a particular web page or site, you are much more likely to see it in your results than if your friend had not ‘recommended it’.

So, what does this mean for Lost and Found Pets Ireland and more especially the visibility of the listings here in Google search results.  Well, as with our listings on Facebook, in order to maximise the reach of the listings in people’s searches and their news streams on Google Plus, those who list here should ‘like’ and ‘+1′ their own listings and make a concerted effort to get their family and friends to do likewise in order to get the listing out there to the maximum extent possible.  All pages on the site, including the listing pages, include a ‘+1′ button as well as a ‘like’ facility and I cannot stress highly enough the importance of using these.  While I have done my best to automate the distribution of listings around the web via our networks, the change in search I spoke of above now gives YOU the power to make the absolute most of the technology.

Similar to Facebook Fan Pages, this week, Google opened up facilities to businesses and organisations to create Google+ Pages.  As mentioned above, users = advertising revenue for both Facebook and Google and therefore it is difficult to imagine that Google will not use its substantial lead over Facebook in providing search to promote its own social network by favouring its own ‘pages’ in search results and that is basically why we are now on Google+.  Its also worth noting that our presence on there makes accessing the listings from mobile devices somewhat easier for folk as there are Google+ apps now for all the main phones out there and these will compliment our own mobile site.

At the moment, I am posting listings there manually while I await Google to provide a facility to automate that process as Facebook have.  With on average around 10 listings per day, this is obviously quite a time consuming activity and  I will be closely monitoring (both in terms of user engagement with our Google+ page (whether folk are adding it to their circles and +1′ing the listings & site and in terms of performance of listings in the Google search results) whether the extra effort is really worth it or if I should simply wait until an automated solution is possible so again, you basically get to decide on the resources I put into this.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on Google+ and any ideas you may have to make it even more useful for folk using the site.  Just drop a comment below.

The Poster Child for Social Petworking – Literally!

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

A preview of our offline promo posterI know, I know, the post titles are getting worse but bear with me because this one is to let you all know that following a conversations over on the Facebook page, I have just uploaded a poster which you can download and print for distribution in your local area to help us promote our service in the ‘real’ world.

The poster is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format and will produce an A4 sized poster when printed.  In the unlikely event you don’t already have Adobe Acrobat already installed on your computer, you can download a copy for free from here.

Possible venues for you to get the poster displayed in would be your local vets, groomers, butchers, convenience stores, hairdressers and any other community noticeboards you know of.

Let us all know where you put yours via the comments facility below.

Lost and Found Pets Get All Up in Your Face(book)

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Since I started the site back in June I’ve been planning to really dig into Facebook. With users claiming to be located in Ireland numbering about the million mark at this point, and with many of those engaging on a daily basis, it seemed like the perfect vehicle for getting the listings out to a wider audience.

My initial feeling about this has been more than backed up by the success of the site fan page which now has around 350 fans, with that number steadily growing. It has been really great to see people engage with the listings and other content I have posted there, both commenting and sharing, and it has also been a great source of feedback on the main site too.

Basically Facebook applications, some developed Facebook itself but most mainly by third party developers run inside Facebook and add extra functionality to the site – everything from games and quizzes to full-blown e-commerce portals. I had been using the platform these applications are built on to provide the ability to share listings from the main site and to bring them into Facebook since the start but it is only now I have begun to use its full potential.

Introducing the Lost and Found Pets Ireland App

Our application allows users to:

  • View the latest lost and found pets without leaving Facebook.
  • Display the latest pet posted on your profile page automatically.
  • Share any posting displayed here with your Facebook friends.

Facebook App Widget

It comes with three interfaces. The first is a widget that both regular users can add to their profile pages and page administrators can add to their fan and application pages which automatically displays the latest pets posted to the site with a photo where applicable along with links to both share and view the full listing. Others viewing the widget are also offered the opportunity to add the widget to their own profile or page. The second is the tab interface which, once again, both regular users and page admins may opt to display. The tab shows a summary of the latest blog posting from the site, a selection of the latest pets posted on the main site (with links to share) and a link to give feedback as well as links to both our site and app fan pages.

Finally we have the main application interface which features all the elements of the tab interface above with the important addition of a link to invite friends to use the application.

Now anyone who has used Facebook for any length of time is bound to develop ‘app fatigue’. Many of the applications on offer range from simple to annoying amusements, built purely for revenue making purposes. I’m hoping that the practical nature of the app will encourage people to install and use and share it. I guess time will tell.

Facebook App Tab

I intend to develop out the application some more in the coming weeks and I am looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts and feedback on it.

So What Happens When I Post A Pet Here

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I have just realised I have never explicitly outlined on the site what happens when a new lost or found pet is posted to the site.

Basically when someone completes the relevant posting form for a lost or found pet, I receive an email alerting me to a new posting. I then log in to the site’s administration section, review the posting, making any changes I feel will make the posting more useful to site visitors and indeed the search engine spiders who index the content on the site frequently, and then mark the posting as approved which in turn initiates the following actions.

  1. The geotagged  posting goes live on the appropriate section of the site. We are currently seeing around 9,000+ visits per month.
  2. The site contacts the major search engines (Google, MS Bing, Yahoo, and Ask) and alerts them that there is new content to be indexed and tells them explicitly where they can find it. It is only when these search engines come in and index the posting that it can appear in the search results.
  3. A text message with geolocation information is sent out on our Twitter account which appears in our followers (currently numbering around 3,250 Twitter streams and is also publicly available from both our Twitter page and from our own site where we republish our Twitter stream.
  4. If the posting is accompanied by a photo, this photo is sent to our Twitpic account so that people using Twitter can easily view it – currently we are seeing an average of about 50 views per photo this way.
  5. If the posting is accompanied by a photo we also automatically publish it to our Flickr account along with its geolocation information which allows it to appear on our Flickr map and also to our own Flickr group and to other relevant Flickr groups we are members of such as the Irish Flickr Users group. This brings a potential audience for the posting to about 4,000 people on Flickr alone and in addition makes the posting even more visible in search engine results.
  6. If a photo is included it is also published automatically to our Google Picasa account.
  7. The posting is sent to our Facebook page and will appear in all our fan’s activity streams unless they explicitly prevent it – almost 6,100 more sets of eyeballs seeing a posting.
  8. Full details of the posting including the photo if included are posted to our MySpace account.
  9. The posting appears in our main RSS feed (geolocation information once again included) and all relevant filtered feeds so is automatically distributed to individuals and other sites such as Galway SPCA, Topdog.ie and TailsandTrails.ie – we have provided some tools and help to easily display our feeds on third party sites so we hope more sites will syndicate our feeds in time.
  10. Listings are also exposed via our Google gadget to those who have installed it on their personalised iGoogle homepage or indeed on any other web page where it is installed.
  11. The individual submitting the post is informed that it has been approved and published and they are provided with the direct URL for the posting where they can then share it via their own social networking sites and, if the posting includes a photo, print out a custom poster to distribute locally.
  12. I am now also manually publishing the listings to Google Plus where we have a page at http://gplus.to/lostfoundpets – be sure to add us to your circles.

I also carry out a number of other actions to ensure that the posting is indexed in as timely a manner as possible. Since I use these techniques on some of the commercial sites I have built and/or maintain I can not discuss them here but in general, a listing will be available in the Google search results within 30 minutes of approval and often less.

With current monthly traffic of around 9,000 monthly visits to the site alone,  I believe that currently no other site offers the breath of distribution and therefore exposure of postings this site offers. It is also worth noting the extra benefits in terms of exposure one gets by including a photo with the listing.

I will be updating this post as I add more features – we are a long way from done!

How “Free” are Free Lost & Found Irish Pet Listings?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I am writing this sad post today to express my shock and deep disappointed at the actions of well known animal focussed site IrishAnimals.ie over the last couple of days.

Up until yesterday, I had been promoting lost and found tweets from Irish Animals on the website here combining them with those automatically generated from the free  lost and found pet listings on this site via @lostfoundpets, of course giving full attribution and a link back to the original tweets.  I had been doing this via their publicly available feed which they themselves invited subscriptions to on their own site.  As a firm believer in the power of the social web, I believe that the more exposure these listings get, the more the chance these unfortunate Irish animals and their owners have of being reunited.

Unfortunately, for reasons best known to herself at this point, Denise Cox, who runs Irish Animals, appears to hold a different view.  Over the course of the weekend it came to my attention, quite by accident, that our subscription via the @lostfoundpets account to the lost and found twitter stream from Irish Animals has been blocked.  I contacted Ms Cox in an attempt to find out what was going on.  In response Ms Cox sent me a one line email requesting that I discontinue promoting her tweets on this site.

This to me is a situation beyond weird.  We have Irish Animals, a website which, as one of the many services it offers,  invites the public to list lost and found pets for free and public display and in addition  invited subscriptions to its Twitter feed on its own site.  However, when another website, dedicated  to the area of lost and missing Irish pets promotes the Irish Animals lost and found tweets to an even wider audience on its own pages with full attribution and links, Irish Animals summarily and without notice attempts to block that site’s access to their publicly available feed.  One has to wonder what would happen in the event that one of our fans on the Lost and Found Pets Ireland Facebook page were to attempt to share a link to one of our listings on their Facebook page.

If this situation were reversed and Irish Animals were promoting listings from Lost and Found Pets, I would be thrilled knowing that the listings were gaining maximum exposure. Right from day one on the site, I have welcomed and continue to, welcome anyone to syndicate the listings and other feeds I provide here.  If parties interested in the area of lost and found Irish pets can not even see their way clear to sharing data on those pets freely, what hope do we have of ever centralising this data in a well structured, searchable, indexed form which at the end of the day, is what really needs to be done to properly maximise the effectiveness of online lost and found listings.

Now I could speculate until the cows come home on why Irish Animals are adopting this approach (believe me, I have more than just theories) but I do not think that is in the interest of the animals we all claim to serve at this point.   Instead I appeal to Denise Cox to rethink her position on this matter,  to end this anti-social networking and restart the conversation about mutual cooperation we were due to have at the start of this project but which she subsequently postponed indefinitely.

In any case you can all rest assured, Lost and Found Pets Ireland will continue to promote information sharing in this area as we develop the services we offer to lost Irish pets and their owners.