How to get started with the new Twingly Channels

Last week we launched a new version of Twingly Channels, which more than every focuses on group communication and microblogging. We received a lot positive and encouraging feedback and got even covered on The Next Web, one of the leading tech blogs out there.

In this post we will give you an overview about the core functionality of Twingly Channels.

Before we get started, one important note: You don’t need to have a Twingly account in order to view Channels, but being logged in to Twingly will enhance your experience with Twingly since it enables you to share links or status updates, comment and like items, subscribe to existing Channels or create new ones.

In this tutorial we show you how Twingly Channel works when being logged in with your Twingly account. If you don’t have one yet, head over to this site to quickly create one.

The Channels homepage

This is the first page you see after having signed in to Twingly – the Twingly Channels homepage. It shows you a recent stream of user comments and likes across the Channels you’re subscribed to. The new version of Channels puts the user activity at the heart of the service, and this stream shows you how Twingly users in different Channels are engaging with the content that is being pulled into a particular Channel.

When you see an item that you are interested in, click on it and you will be send to a profile page for the item, showing you the source and blog reactions from across the web as well as comments and likes from Twingly users. Another option is to click on a user’s profile photo next to an item, which brings you to the user’s public page highlighting his/her latest activity on Twingly.

You can add content to any Channel you are subscribed to directly from the homepage. Simply type or copy your comment (and/or link) in the field titled “What do you want to share” and choose the Channel you would like to publish it to. Voilà!

The activity stream and the sharing feature on the homepage are great ways to discover new conversations, discussions, links, Channels and to quickly share your opinion or content. Below the activity stream on the homepage you find a list of your current subscriptions to Channels (if you are new to Twingly you won’t have any yet) as well as a couple of featured Channels that we recommend you to check out! You can click on any of those icons to access the Channel, or directly enter them through the unique link, e.g. http://www.twingly.com/ipad.

On the right to the activity stream we present you with the option to create a new Channel (here is a tutorial explaining how to do that) or to view the Top 100 most Subscribed Channels.

Now let’s say you enter a Channel of your choice:

The conversation view


Each Channel offers two different options to view it: The conversation view and the links view. When entering a new Channel, the default is the conversation view. This is one of the main features of the new Channels release. As on the Twingly Channels homepage the Channel-specific conversation view shows you posts, comments and likes by users who are subscribed to that Channel. If a conversation item is connected to an incoming piece of content clicking on it will get you to the item’s detailed profile page. Each item can be commented or liked. Comments and likes appear in realtime.

The links view


With the two tabs “Conversation” and “Links” on the top of each Channel page you can easily switch between the two different views. As in the older versions of the Channels tool, the links view allows you to either see a selection of the most popular content during the past 24 hours or a stream of the latest incoming links. Every piece of content you find in the links view is imported either through a feed or a keyword-based blog search. The admin of a Channel can add or remove feeds or search terms. Even in the link view you are able to like and comment on items – your activity is naturally also shown in the conversation view.

Give it a try!
The homepage with the activity stream as well as lots of Channels each consisting of a conversation and a link view – that’s what the new Twingly Channels is about. And at the centre of everything: Your posts, comments, conversations, links and likes. Share and discuss, like and enjoy.

Go to www.twingly.com and give the new Twingly Channels a try!

6 different use cases for Twingly Channels

The past weeks we explained you how to start your own Twingly Channel and presented you with a list of 10 popular Channels you really shouldn’t miss. Now there might be one unanswered question left: In which situations do you benefit from using a Channel instead of tackling a problem or task in a different way? Today we give you 6 answers to that question!

1. Project collaboration
You are part of a project group, either at work, in school or university? You want to help your team to stay informed about the topics you are dealing with, and you even would like to encourage them to contribute with their sources and input so that you as a group can discuss and collaborate around the content relevant for the project? Start a Twingly Channel, subscribe to search terms and RSS feeds regarding your topic and invite your group members to join!

2. Easy link sharing and commenting
Maybe you are looking for a really easy solution to collect and share links with a group of people, for example friends, family, fellow students or people in your sports club? Twingly Channels works great for that. You can use it without subscribing to any feeds or search terms – if you are in the “incoming stories” view there is a form on top to add your link. Every link can be liked and commented.

3. Social Media monitoring
There are dozens of expensive Social Media monitoring tools out there. If you are working with communication or marketing you might want to focus on the most important sources for monitoring what is being said about your brand or products. Twingly Channels is the solution! Subscribe to all the search terms relevant for you and see what the blogosphere is saying, including all the articles and tweets that link to those pieces that mention your brand or product. And yes, of course it’s free.

4. News reader 2.0
We already have explained how you can use Twingly Channels as a “RSS reader 2.0”. If you think that RSS is too unsocial, if you want to be able to share your personal news reader with other people and if you enjoy to see feed items based on how many reactions in other blogs and on Twitter they got, not in chronological order without any intelligence behind, then Channels might be your news reader of choice. In case you mail us the OPML-file containing your subscriptions from another RSS client (like Google Reader) and the URL of your Twingly Channel, we load it up with all your feeds: support@twingly.com

5. Aggregate your content
If you are an avid blogger, Social Media addict or if you work with communications/marketing, it’s likely that you publish content on more than one platform. Twingly Channels is a great way to aggregate everything you publish anywhere in one handy stream – and it’s showing the reactions from around the web on the articles, videos, photos and everything else you post online. Have a look how the Swedish city of Katrineholm or the Foreign Office is using Twingly Channels for exactly this purpose.

6. Content curation
Maybe you have a hobby or a topic that you are really interested in and that you would like to spread the word about. Use Twingly Channels for aggregating selected sources about your specific area of interest and promote it among your friends, through your blog, Facebook and Twitter account. This Channel for instance gives insights in how it is to live in France as a Swede, containing a collection of sources from Swedish bloggers in France.

Maybe you use Twingly in a very different way as mentioned in those 6 use cases? Let us know!

10 popular Twingly Channels you shouldn’t miss.

Three month ago we explained you in detail how to start your own Channel in our social news reader Twingly Channels. And last week we introduced Twingly Channels as an evolution of the basic, unsocial RSS Reader. But the best way to get started with Channels is probably to subscribe to some of our most popular Channels, so that you can get a feel of the service. We are sure that after some testing you will want to create your own Channel. And that’s totally fine with us!

So from our top 100 list of most subscribed Channels, here are 10 that you really should not miss. They are filled with great, up-to-date content and will help you to get your daily dose of information and news about the topics you are interested in.

Tech Web
This is our most popular Channel with almost 3000 subscribers, dealing with the broad and exciting sector of web technology. The Channel imports articles from 188 blogs and news sources focusing solely on web and technology news and analysis. And as in all Channels it is up to you if you want to use the “Top stories” view that puts those pieces on top that have led to most reactions in the blogosphere and Twitter world, or if you want to see the stream of all incoming articles in chronological order. http://www.twingly.com/tech

Social Media News
If you are reading the Twingly blog there is a big chance that you are interested in Social Media. In this case you should really check out Social Media News, which presents you with the latest trends and news about what’s going on in the vibrating field between media, Internet, pr and marketing. The Channel contains 30 sources, from Mashable to PR 2.0, from Social Media Today to Social Times. http://www.twingly.com/socialmedianews

Apple
For all the Apple fanboys there is a dedicated Channel. A fine selection of 12 well-informed and Apple enthusiastic sources will help you to stay informed about rumours, product launches and Steve Jobs’ latest email replies. http://www.twingly.com/apple

Android
There is an (until now) unwritten rule: If you serve Apple fanboys, you also need to serve Android fanboys. Fortunately, we don’t need to break this rule because we have a dedicated Android Channel. Its being fed regularly with the latest Android coverage by 6 well-renowned sources only focusing on the increasingly popular mobile OS. Subscribe now if you love your Android smartphone! http://www.twingly.com/android

Sneakers
Yes, there are other important things besides the tech, web and mobile world: Such as sneakers. If you are a sneaker addict you definitely should take a peak at the Sneaker Channel, providing you with everything you need to know about your favourite kind of shoe, based on 8 selected sources and search term-based content from the global blogosphere. http://www.twingly.com/sneakers

Entertainment
You might have heard about those people who like to read all the gossip about celebrities, and you might also have heard that there are dozens of blogs and news sites out there dedicated to this. Well, for them there is a Twingly Channel, and in fact it is one of our most subscribed Channels. 136 connected sources make sure that you always know what the likes of Linsday Lohan, Lady Gaga and Kanye West are up to there days! http://www.twingly.com/entertainment

Music Industry
The entertainment and music biz is not only about glamour, parties and fashion. The Music industry is changing rapidly, trying to manage the shift to digital music, and dealing with new challenges and chances. This Channel with 30 sources included gives you an overview about the state of the discussion, both from the artists and the technology perspective. http://www.twingly.com/musicindustry

Cloud Computing
Computing is moving into the Server Cloud, removing the need for users to run Software locally on their machines. Cloud Computing is one of the hottest trends in IT right now and defines the direction of the web. This Channel is the one and only destination IT professionals and private users interested in Cloud Computing need. http://www.twingly.com/cloudcomputing

Robots
In a far future, we maybe will shake hands with robots when going to work or walking into a store. So it can be a good decision to start informing yourself a bit about our future colleagues and neighbours made by steel and electronic components. And yes, there is a Twingly Channel for that, importing feeds from 6 robot “fan sites ” and content from the blogosphere based on robot-related keywords. Go and check it out! http://www.twingly.com/robots

SEO
Everybody who runs a website or blog wants to get a good search engine ranking. Some users and webmasters put a lot of effort in finding the best ways to do search engine optimization (SEO). This Twingly Channel aggregates the knowledge and best practices from 30 SEO-related news sites and blogs. If you are interested in this topic, you might want to subscribe to the Channel. http://www.twingly.com/seo

Here are more Channels that you can check out. And maybe you already realize that a Channel regarding your special area of interest or expertise is missing? Go and start your own Channel and let others join and collaborate.

/Martin Weigert

RSS won’t die, but news readers are evolving and becoming more social

For years, there has been talk about the death of RSS. While RSS has been the most common way for bloggers and information workers to gather and collect information from lots of sources, it has never really caught the attention of the mainstream users. There might be many reasons for that, but the rather “unsexy” name of the format, the relatively complicated way of subscribing to a RSS feed (for less experienced users) and the little efforts from publishers to market RSS (with the exception of blogs) definitely contributed to the slow adoption of RSS outside of the web geek sphere (imagine if subscribing to a RSS feed would have been as easy as “liking” something with Facebook…).

In recent times, the number of people claiming RSS will die has increased due to the emergence of the realtime web, mainly pushed by Twitter, which increasingly is becoming a news distribution service (also thanks to innovative, Twitter based news readers like Flipboard or Pulse). Even though RSS has become realtime capable thanks to protocols such as PubSubHubbub or RSS Cloud, it is still (incorrectly) being perceived as a slower way of accessing news and information than Twitter.

The recently announced end of web-based RSS reader Bloglines is grist for the mill of those who see RSS dying. Even though Bloglines has fallen into oblivion already years ago, it was still one of the two big browser-based full-fledged RSS readers out there. Now with Bloglines disappearing, only Google Reader is left, leaving not many alternatives to those that are trying to not become too depended on Google services (which can happen easily when using Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Reader).

Well, for all those people, we might have the solution: Twingly Channels, our social and collaborative news tool which one can use to import both RSS feeds and articles from blogs based around specific keywords.

But wait, didn’t I just describe how some think RSS seems to be dying? Well, I did, but in fact, it isn’t. Even though it is pretty clear that RSS won’t become a big mainstream phenomenon due to the reasons mentioned above, the number of RSS subscribers to many of the big tech blogs is still increasing, and ironically, many of the articles being shared on Twitter come from RSS feeds – either from users who find them in their RSS reader, or via Twitter accounts that belong to big news sites, which usually are fed with the site’s RSS feed.

So while it is possible that some former RSS hardcore users are giving up on the format and solely rely on Twitter and social news aggregators such as Techmeme in the future, there are no indications of a broader trend of people totally abandoning RSS.

Nevertheless, conventional web-based RSS readers (such as Bloglines or Google Reader) but even Desktop RSS clients have their drawbacks: They usually don’t allow for collaboration, they focus only on RSS and they are not really sharable. Having that in mind, let’s get back to Twingly Channels!

Twingly Channels is made for several people contributing together to one social news stream, where they monitor, “like” and comment on news items imported from both RSS feeds but also via keywords. To each item, the number of linking posts and retweets is shown. And of course you can share the Channel with other Twingly users!

We are aware that Twingly Channels doesn’t replace classic RSS Readers. But that’s not our intention either. In Fact, Twingly Channels is taking the concept of RSS to the next level, making it more social, and combining it with a keyword centric way of importing content. In the end, RSS will definitely stay for good (especially because of the realtime boost the format got thanks to PubSubHubBub and RSS Cloud), but conventional, unsocial RSS readers might disappear.

So if you have been using Bloglines and are looking for a new tool to manage your news and information, or if you are using another RSS client but are in the need of something more social, or if you don’t even use RSS but would like to try a social reader which simply brings you all the blog content regarding specific keywords, you should try Twingly Channels.

We wrote this guide to help you getting started. It’s easy, so give it a whirl! And if you want us to import your complete list of subscribed RSS feeds from Bloglines, Google Reader or any other RSS client, send us an email with the OPML-file (containing your subscriptions – you get this file by using the export function in your RSS reader) and the URL of your Twingly Channel (e.g. www.twingly.com/channelname) to support@twingly.com and we’ll take care of it!

/Martin Weigert

The Foreign Office UK tests Channels

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK – what or who is that  you might think, surely some boring Government stuff. Government stuff, yes. Boring? Far from it.

FCO’s core function in (very) short is according to themselves to “promote and protect Britain’s interests abroad” . Now, that sounds like a modern version of the old colonial times, but in fact it isn’t. The FCO’s activities and offices in over 170 countries worldwide help Britain keeping a good relationship with other countries, including their 14 overseas territories like i.e. Bermuda or Pitcairn Islands. British people living abroad can get help and postgraduate students or researchers from countries across the world are granted scholarships by the FCO, which supports a positive development especially in poor countries.

Over the past year, FCO has thrown itself with enthusiasm into Social Media, realising that this is a great way of reaching out to people all over the world, not politicians, but rather normal people like you and me. In their blogs, their representatives around the world pick up a lot of current issues and discussions they encounter and which do not necessarily reach the daily news stream. A gem and great additional news source for everyone interested in global politics.

As part of their social media mix, a Twitter account was launched, and @foreignoffice is now the most mentioned and retweeted UK government department. FCO uses Twitter mainly for giving helpful information to their followers worldwide, this also includes promoting  their blog articles about current issues. Over 17000 followers confirm that this has not been entirely useless…

In order to make it easier for people to follow their blogs and to see which are the most talked about topics, they now started testing Twingly Channels. Via their blog-RSS-feed all blog posts will be fed into the FCO-Channel. While you find all articles in chronological order under “Incoming Stories”, “Top Stories” shows only the ones most retweeted, linked by  other blogs and commented on or simply “liked” in the Channel itself. So readers get an instant overview of “what is hot” among all the FCO-topics.

Like Jimmy Leach says in his blog post, this is not such a big thing really, especially since lots of Channel-features are still to be developed during autumn. But it will be very interesting to see how Channels can help FCO getting more readers engaged in discussions, either on their blogs or in their channel.

FCO also runs its own YouTube- and Flickr-Channels, and there are also Facebook Pages in several languages, take a look at the whole range. Jimmy is by the way the guy that pulled off FCO’s successful social media strategy and you can reach him on Twitter or on his blog. He loves dialogue and appreciates feedback.

If you are interested in global politics and want to know more about matters that are not big in daily news, then get subscribed to the FCO-Channel and feel free to comment and “like” articles there or directly on their blogs. Definitely let FCO and us know what you think. Commenting or tweeting are the best ways to reach us, or in our case, we collect your ideas and answer your questions here.

What do you think?

//Anja Rauch

How much does the Social Web care about Traditional Media Online?

That could be a question worth investigating, we thought. Not that we are the first ones to do so, but we decided to dig into that by using our new kid on the block, Channels.

As you know, Channels are now in open beta and free to play with. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then put this onto your list of fun tasks for your lunch breaks to come.

Anyway, we also had a play with it. We set up a news channel for each of a selected country, mainly based on the RSS of the biggest national newspapers. Then we took a look at which articles ended up in “top stories” of each Channel.

Which article or item gets listed as “top story” in a Channel depends on
– how many blog entries link to them
– how many mentions in microblogs like Twitter
– how old they are (publishing date)
– how many “likes” they get from Channel users
– how many comments they get from Channel users

Since Channels is quite new, there are clearly not many “likes” or comments from users yet. Which is nice for this little analysis right now. We will however launch more features quite soon, which will make Channels quite a powerful tool, and a very flexible one to use, too. So bear with us, please.

Now, these are our “candidates”:
UK Germany France Netherlands Spain Portugal Poland Sweden Norway and Italy.

What we wanted to see, was how blogs and tweets respond to news articles, thus pushing news into “top stories” and that way making them the headlines of the day in the social media sphere.

Comparing all these, there are quite some striking scenarios to look at. The strongest Channels in terms of linking blogs and tweets are without a doubt UK and Sweden. Taking a closer look at both, one notices that all top stories on the Swedish Channel usually have far more blog posts referring to them than tweets! In Norway it looks largely the same – almost all top stories get discussed more on blogs than on Twitter.

In the UK and Germany, news, it seems are increasingly more discussed on Twitter rather than on blogs. The majority of top stories in these Channels get partly a massive amount of tweets, but only a few blog posts refer to them.

That raises the question – is there a stronger blogging culture in Scandinavia? Here at the moment represented by Norway and Sweden? Do 14 million people (almost 5 million in Norway, about 9 million in Sweden) have more bloggers or better saying more active bloggers that link to news sites than a nation with over 60 million people like the UK? Or is it the “Twingly Effect” on our home grounds Sweden and Norway, as we sometimes secretly call it? In both countries almost all major newspapers show blog posts that link to them, most of them using  our Blogstream solution, or, like Aftonbladet, their own solution.

It could also be simply a difference in culture. It is much easier and faster to share opinions via tweets in fast paced countries like i. e. UK and Germany, rather than typing up a blog post. From my own experience I know that life here in Sweden is much calmer, means one has the peace of mind to write up some more complex thoughts that need more than 140 characters. If you ask me, I think it is a good mixture of both.

What about the rest?

The Dutch and Spanish are tweeting and blogging quite a bit, too, articles being more quoted in tweets than blogged about. Same scenario with the Portuguese and French, just with a slightly lower intensity. In Italy and Poland we see  few to no links, regardless whether they come from tweets or from blog posts. This scenario corresponds pretty much to what we know from friends in these two countries. Italy being more of a TV-country due to known reasons (watch i.e. Videocracy if you haven’t done so yet), and in Poland it seems the development simply isn’t that far yet. However, the Polish social media development will be really interesting to follow over the next year or two.

According to Channels, these newspapers are the celebrities in terms of who gets quoted most on blogs and on Twitter:

UK: The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph
Germany: Der Spiegel and Focus
France:
Well mixed scenario with Le Monde Le Figaro Le Point and 20minutes leading
Spain: Another good mix with El Mundo and El País leading
Portugal:
Publíco (a customer of ours for Blogstream, we’d like to point out proudly)
Netherlands:
De Telegraaf (another news site with Blogstream) and NRC Handelsblad
Norway: Verdens Gang (uses Blogstream)
Sweden: Dagens Nyheter Expressen (both with Blogstream) and Aftonbladet (running their own solution resembling Blogstream) lead.

It could be interesting to see if the described scenarios would shift in any direction, if some newspapers online would start using a trackback solution, start showing and promoting  links from blogs linking to them. Could there be another increase of links from blogs for sites like Guardian or Spiegel? Or could other, even smaller newspapers become equally popular?

Would you like to share any thoughts or experiences on this? Go ahead. Especially when you think, we may have missed something important, be it a source in one of the Channels or anything else. On that note, Times.co.uk we could unfortunately not take into account because of their pay-wall.

//Anja Rauch

Great Channels #1


Photo (CC): ptrktn

It’s friday and I thought it would be a perfect time to blog about some great Channels.

One of our users, James, blogged today about five Channels he have created that might be interesting to subscribe to for web geeks like myself. They’re all really good: Intranet, Eye tracking, Google Analytics, QR Codes and of course his own Channel Beantin. He also recommend the SEO Channel created by Simon Sundén.

Other great tech Channels I’ve found are .Net, iPad, Drupal and I also created one myself about the hyped iPad app Flipboard.

Since Twingly is a Swedish company there are a lot of Swedish Channels made by our lovely users from Sweden. Jonas have created a great Channel for Swedish gamers, jgranath is the creator of a Channel for Swede’s in France, and our own developer Hugo is the admin of a popular Channel about economy. Other Swedish Channels I recommend are film, prylar, fotobloggar and PR of Sweden.

The last Channel I recommend in this blog post is Charity 2.0, a Channel created by our friend Anders Sporring with the topic how to use social media to make the world to a better place.

Happy weekend!

/Anton