Facebook. Pownce. Digg. StumbleUpon. There seem to be new social networking and social bookmarking sites popping up all the time, so it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Don’t you think that it would be valuable to your blog readers if they could keep track of all your activity in one convenient location?
John received a review request from the people at BlogCatalog, because they would like to draw your attention toward their new social network widget. This widget aggregates and displays a blogger’s activity from over 20 social networks!
Enter the BlogCatalog Community
As I’m sure you already know, BlogCatalog isn’t exactly new to the blogosphere. They have developed a few other widgets in the past that you may have seen around the ‘net, including ones for recent visitors (similar to MyBlogLog) and neighborhood members. Up until now, however, BlogCatalog has only really been open to other BlogCatalog members.
With the introduction of the Newsfeed Widget, you are now able to aggregate the information from the countless online communities where you may hold an account. The combined feed of all your activity — on Sphinn, Reddit, SmugMug, etc. — are then displayed in a convenient widget. This widget is easily implemented into your sidebar, just like the Recent Readers widget you may already have.
At this time, BlogCatalog is supporting 29 online communities, all of which can be aggregated into your news feed. These include everything from BUMPzee to iLike, MySpace to YouTube. They’ve even included MyBlogLog. I find this inclusion a little curious, because isn’t MyBlogLog a direct competitor to BlogCatalog? It’s like Google advertising for Yahoo!
As time goes on, I’d imagine that the developers will add even more social networks. This can prove to be an incredibly popular and powerful tool in this day and age of interconnectivity.
Creating Your Own Widget
After logging into your BlogCatalog account, you can create a Newsfeed Widget one of two main ways. If you scroll down to the bottom of your profile page, you’ll notice a section called News Feed. Guess what that is for! Click on the “Create a Widget” link near the top right of this box to proceed.
Alternatively, there is also a link in the sidebar to create a widget. This method is a little less direct, because you’ll have to then select which type of widget you would like to create. Either way, you end up working with the same creation tool.
There are five fields that you can edit or adjust. From here, you can alter the heading, set the width, choose the number of items to be displayed at one time, and select the color of the border. The actual contents in the center stay the same.
The rounded edges and font choice are similar to what you’d find with other BlogCatalog widgets. It would have been nice to choose your own border color based on a hexidecimal code, but the choice of nine colors is reasonably adequate too.
Update and Aggregate
In order for the Newsfeed Widget to be useful at all, you’ll need to add the information about each of your social networking accounts into your BlogCatalog account. After clicking on “Edit Profile” under “My Account”, swing over to the tab that reads “Communities.” From here, simply click on any of the icons and input the corresponding information.
Most of these — Digg, StumbleUpon, YouTube, etc. — only require you to provide a user name. There is no confirmation process, because BlogCatalog doesn’t have internal access to any of those accounts. For Facebook, you’ll need to pull the feed for your status updates. Don’t worry; BlogCatalog gives you instructions on how to do that.
Grab the News Feed
The BlogCatalog Newsfeed widget looks to be a very cool tool, because it aggregates your activity from a wide range of social communities. Many bloggers are always looking for ways to integrate certain services, like Twitter, into their blogs and this widget does the trick. Remember to only show what you’re willing to make public, because nothing is private on the Internet!