If you’re anything like me, you’re living your story every day all over the internet. You’re pinning, you’re facebooking, you’re finding great links, you’re taking pictures. And when you blog about what you love or just what you do, why not take advantage of all the work you’ve already done finding quality content to tell your story?
Luckily there are some great tools out there to keep your blogs full of visual punch so you can tell a story to your readers that keeps them interested and engaged. I’ve been using a bunch of them and I thought I’d share them with you.
When you just want to use one or two things from here or there, you have a lot to choose from.
Spend a lot of time on Twitter? Tell the story on your blog, too, by embedding a tweet.
I use the WP plugin Blackbird Pie, but WP lets you just paste the tweet link in. (I use the plugin as it tends to be more reliable than Twitter.) Twitter makes it quite easy these days, as once you’ve isolated your tweet (just click on the timestamp in the upper right corner) it now has a handy dandy “Embed this Tweet” button that can give you the HTML, shortcode or just the link itself.
There is one rather big problem with this approach. About 50% of the time, I don’t see my tweet but just see some lovely text saying “There was a problem connecting to Twitter.” Maybe you’re seeing it now! There are some other tools you can use that help you avoid this problem. We’ll get to them later…
It’s also pretty easy to embed pins from Pinterest. This can be a great way to add pictures to your blog. I used embedded pins for my recent Macy’s post. It made it super easy to find a great item, pin it, and then have it saved in a pinterest board. To embed a pin, just click the pin, and then use the “embed” button on the right to get the html. Remember, when you get html code, you have to use the html builder section to paste it or it won’t work.
Pics: Instagram, Facebook and Screenshots
When it comes to Instagram, I’m using a plugin (Instapress) so I can add my instagram pics to my blog more easily. Instagram can be kind of a pain to work with since you can’t just access a feed of all your pictures online. I hear they’re working on this, and hopefully it’ll be easier soon. For now even Instapress requires a link to embed your pic and getting that link is a bit of a hassle. (If anyone has an easy shortcut for this, I’d love to hear it.
Facebook is really hard to embed. In fact, I don’t have any idea how. Which is why sometimes it’s easier to use a whole different technique to tell your story with social media. Instead of taking the time to add one thing here, use this plugin, add that link there, you can consolidate with some great new storytelling services.
One way to get around any issue you have with online stuff is to use a snapshot from your computer. I have an Aviary plugin on my Chrome browser so I can snap, crop and paste anything on my screen.
Britely is one great option if you have a really visual story to tell.
Here is a Brite I made about how to use Britely. (Meta, right?)
It’s a flip-book, so it doesn’t take up a ton of space on your blog. Just hit the little arrows at the bottom to go forward and back. Looks pretty snazzy, right?
There are a few things to keep in mind with Britely.
- There are lots of potential issues for mis-use of pictures and violation of copyright. This is a problem with Pinterest, too. No one’s quite sure how to go about it yet, so be cautious.
- It doesn’t play well with Flickr, which can be frustrating since that’s where I search for post-friendly photos that allow you to post with attribution. I’ve also had trouble getting things like FB albums to load when I go back and edit a brite.
- A place to paste in a photo link is sorely needed, so you can use a photo without having to download and then upload it.
- This is a very visual medium, so it doesn’t allow much text. If you’ve got something short and simple, Britely is a great place for you to go. If you’ve got more to say, consider something else.
- Britely embeds nicely with the Britely plugin for WordPress. It’s visible on your page, and people viewing it on your page will show up as a view on the Britely main page.
- Oh, and Britely is giving away $1000 a week for great brites. (I was a finalist last week for my Whole Foods Flagship tour.)
Britely is quite new, so I know they’re working on getting the bugs out and making it even better. But it’s a very user-friendly interface.
If you need more words to tell your story, I recommend Storify.
I’ve used this a bunch of times. It’s perhaps the easiest way to embed Twitter and FB stuff. It’s how I do My Week in Tweets columns. I use it a ton as I tend to be rather on the wordy side. It also allows me a lot of variety when I want to use all kinds of social media. Pictures, tweets, videos, links, etc.
This is the Storify interface. Your blank story is on the left, and all your tools are on the right. As you can see, you can access Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Youtube and just plain old links. There isn’t a Pinterest menu, but you can always just put the link to your pin in and that works just fine.
Pulled up in my interface in this pic is my “storypad,” which is kind of like a clipboard. You can add a little Bookmarklet to your toolbar in your browser to add items. Or if you use Chrome, like me, there’s an Extension. I LOVE the extension. Here’s a look at how it works for me in FB.
See at the very bottom? Right next to your usual “Like Comment Share” there’s an extra “Storify” button. When I click that, it adds it to my storypad. The storypad is useful because there are some hiccups with Storify, too. You can search Flickr, but can’t isolate your search to images that are re-post-able. And you can’t get into your user pics in Instagram, just a search function. Still, if you have the link you’re all set.
Storify’s interface is drag-and-drop, which is very useful. You can add text above, below or in between your other stuff. And Storify also has a WP plugin so you can easily add a Story to a post.
Just keep in mind, Storify has a format for everything you add to your story, so it isn’t going to be as slick and lovely as a Brite. Here you can see a pic I added from a website and a link I added to Boston Parent Bloggers. I didn’t really have a way to make these look prettier.
There’s also no text options I’ve found, so you won’t be able to make prettier fonts.
Still, I think Storify is my favorite way to aggregate all my online stuff into one simple place where it’s easy to read and easy for people to access links.
Did you miss my live-tweeting from Library Movie Day? Let me fill you in with a Storify story…
75 preschoolers, 10 adults. You do the math.
This certainly doesn’t cover everything. I didn’t even touch on video, like YouTube or Vimeo. But it’s a good start. You live your life all over the internet, why not bring it all into your blog?
Any other plugins you love? What tools help you tell your story?