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4 Social Networking Apps You Need to Know About
By Dan Larsen
When there is no wind and you’re sitting around on your laptop it’s the same old story. You’re reading the forums, checking the wind forecasts, and catching up on e-mail.
If you’re like me, you’re mobile, have an iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry, and you’re always on the move.
Here are a few useful social networking apps that you can use both at the beach and at home to stay connected while sharing the stoke with your friends.
Not being on Facebook is like not having an email address. Facebook is pushing 500 million users and it’s easy to access from your mobile device too. For businesses, having a page on Facebook is now as important as having a website, maybe even more important. Find your favorite kiting brands on Facebook and “Like” them. You’ll also find many pro kiters have pages you can like as well to follow their travels.
Your local shop should be on there too, if not, go have a talk with them. Share your photos and tag your friends at your local spot. Join some kitesurfing groups and you might even make some new friends. Organizing and posting events is also popular on Facebook. Even if you can’t attend an event, you can post on that event’s wall and chat with other kiters, see pictures from the event, and follow along. I saw so much of the Triple-S on Facebook that I felt like I was there. Make sure you pay attention to your privacy settings. You may want to change some of the defaults to “Friends Only” if you don’t want the world to see what you are up to.
If you are already on Facebook then why would you also need to do Twitter? It’s not exactly the same thing as your Facebook status, but you can link the two so that each of your Tweets also updates your status. Think of Twitter as an ongoing discussion amongst people at a party. You can join in at any time and leave at any time. It’s OK to step away; you’re not expected to read everyone’s Tweets that you follow. The beauty in Twitter lies in the simplicity and brevity of the 140 character messages that post in real time. When I get to the beach and find ideal conditions I can post a Tweet and tell my friends where I’m at and how windy it is. Similarly I follow lots of kiters on Twitter and hear lots about conditions at Hood River, Crissy Field, Third Ave., Sherman Island, and Maui. And since they’re there, I know I can chat with them if I have a question. Even cooler is when they post a picture from the beach using Twitpic or Tweetphoto. Twitter is an easy way to send one text message out and have all your friends get it, which is great when you’re with a large group of people on a road trip and trying to coordinate. Event organizers take note: this is an easy way to broadcast to attendees!
Barely a year and a half since launch, there are now around two million people using Foursquare to share their location. This geo-location-based “game” is based upon checking in to where you’re at and sharing that fact with your friends. You get points for checking in and can earn badges for certain accomplishments or frequent check-ins to the same locations. Each time you check in you can also post it to Twitter and/or Facebook to share with your friends there. The person who checks into a location the most within 60 days gains the title of “Mayor” of that spot. Many businesses, especially bars, restaurants, and coffee shops are offering discounts and free drinks to their Mayors. Starbucks is on board and offers a discount if you’re the Mayor of any of their stores. Want to know where your friends are kiting today? Check to see which beach they’ve checked in at. At the beach yourself? Check in and cross-post the conditions to Twitter and Facebook, as we all want to know if it’s blowing. After your session, check in at the place you’re refueling and tell your friends to show up. It’s a great way to keep in tune with where everyone is without having to read through all their Tweets.
Another social location sharing application, Gowalla has a few features that distinguish it from Foursquare. A bonus is their CEO Josh Williams (@jw on Twitter) kites. Gowalla’s designers rule and their passport metaphor means you can collect cool looking stamps from all over the world as you chase the wind. There are trips that you can complete to earn special pins if you check in to each location listed. You can upload photos at each spot while you’re checked in and there are virtual items that you can pick up and take with you and leave somewhere else, similar to geo-caching. Gowalla was at the MaiTai Kite Camp on Maui this year and now I follow along with the adventures of the friends I made there through Gowalla. The pictures really add something to sharing your location with your friends.
Kiting is a social activity. I’ve met so many wonderful people through kitesurfing and by friending, following, and checking in I’m staying connected with them. I’ve formed valuable friendships that will endure. Try some of these out and get your friends on too. Share what you’re doing, where you’re kiting, and what you find interesting. I may not care what you’re eating for lunch, but I might join you for a session if it’s windy!
Social Apps at the MaiTai Kite Camp
By May Yam
Designing a website for the annual MaiTai Kite Camp is no easy task. Pro Kiter Susi Mai and Bill Tai of Charles River Ventures have been hosting the event for several years now. The concept of the camp focuses on bringing together entrepreneurs from all over the world to mingle and talk about their ideas while adding in some high adrenaline kiting to help gel the bond. Gregory Annable and I needed to design a website based around ease of navigation and maintenance with a consideration for how to leverage existing platforms and social apps. We had a core set of must-have apps that were minimally required to keep the networking flowing.
Google groups was the mainstay networking tool to keep people abreast on location changes due to unpredictable wind conditions and logistical matters like dinners and parties. We also set up Textmarks notifications which allow moderators to broadcast notifications to mobile devices. Most of the attendees would not be connecting through traditional PCs or laptops once on the island, so a mobile agenda was created which was a lightweight version of the website that could be easily read on mobile devices using Google Docs and bit.ly.
When users registered for the event on the website (www.maitaisports.com) we probed them for a “personal fun fact.” During the opening dinner, we used stickybits.com to tag the fun fact to people in a social “break the ice” game. Gowalla was used to host a treasure hunt for virtual goods which allowed the participants to explore parts of Maui and bond with each other. Facebook was used to advertise the event and generate interest. TrakDat is a fun tool that allows you to track your kiting session and share with others. This year social apps were a big focus and we had discussions with the Zynga core team as well as George Bailey, Chief Information Officer of SONY on the socialization of digital entertainment.
Social apps were key to augment the website with features that we did not have to build from scratch and to allow for easy networking among participants without having to increase the scope of the existing website. Since so many people are familiar with social apps and tools, it was also a great way to ensure that the event would gain traction through technology which is challenging in a fast paced, ever changing, wind dependent event.