Business Cards 2.0: Contxts

A coworker passed this along this week, and I was really impressed by how this free service looks. Disclaimer: I have NOT tried this service out.

Contxts is a free, text messaging business card service. The service allows you to text people you meet a virtual, text message business card. By doing this ou are automatically added to their online contact list AND if they have a pre-existing profile through Contxts, you’ll be connected on their social networking site.

Why do this? Who cares when everyone has business cards anyway? I can think of a few reasons – it’s relatively easy, you only need a cell phone and text messaging capabilities, it’s more permanent than a business card, etc. The site also offers a few reasons:

We all know the scenario, you meet someone (man, woman, clown) at a gathering of professionals (conference, party, Bar Mitzvah) and all goes well. You reach for your left shirt pocket which is where you keep your business cards. Oh no! You’re all out…

Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Ok so maybe that scenario didn’t pique your interest, let’s try another. You just got back from your gathering of professionals and you want to connect with all of the people that you met. So you pull out your stack of cards and you go through your social network of choice searching for each one by one. Why?

It seems easy to use, so I’m surprised I haven’t heard of it before. Simply register your phone number and username with Contxts, then customize the information you’ll want shared via text message. A la Twitter, you have 140 characters to fit your basic information, and you can add your other social network contacts for visitors to Contxts’s web site who want more info. When you meet someone you want to share your contact info with, simply have them text your username to 50500, or you can your friend’s number to Contxts from your registered phone. In return, your new acquaintance will receive all your info that you’ve set up with Contxts, and you don’t have to worry about carrying around business cards or killing trees.

Have you tried this out? Has anyone heard of this service? I’m surprised I hadn’t heard anything about it before this week — it looks great!

UPDATE: Just found this old article about the service on Lifehacker. Check it out here. Looks like the service hasn’t changed since then.

San Francisco Uses Twitter to Support 311 Services

I read on Mashable today that effective immediately, the city of San Francisco will be using Twitter to support all of the city’s 311 services.

San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newscom announced this new use of Twitter via a press conference, viewable on YouTube. All SF residents need to do is follow and tweet at the new sf311 account. Using Twitter, residents can submit their 311 requests/questions (i.e. non-emergency SF incidents such as flooded streets, potholes, etc.) and in return, those monitoring the account will provide the required answers and support. The account will be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, guaranteeing access to all 311 services, all the time.

According to, the idea to enable 311 support through Twitter came from a meeting with Mayor Newscom and Twitter’s Evan Williams and Biz Stone. The mayor supposedly received a tweet about a pothole during the meeting, leading him to talk with his Department of Technology to see how else Twitter could be used to communicate with the SF residents. Interesting note – this isn’t the Mayor’s first look at Twitter – I read in TechCrunch that he also announced his bid for governor of California via Twitter.

Twitter is based on one-on-one, instantaneous communication, and to me, this seems like a perfect use for this social media application. It will be interesting to see how it works and how else Newscom decides to use Twitter to communicate with his constituency. Also, will other cities follow suit? I’d love if Cleveland did something similar, and with all of our technological expertise and brilliant minds, I don’t see why we can’t!

Meet me halfway!

Are you constantly trying to meet up with friends but tired of taking turns of whose place you’re going to? I live on the West side of Cleveland, and it’s always a drag getting the East-siders to come over, so we’re constantly taking turns which side of town we’re meeting in for dinner, drinks, etc.

Well, here’s a great solution – how about meeting halfway? What’s the problem you say? Where exactly is halfway?

I found two great sites that help you find out the halfway point AND provide points of interest, such as coffee houses, restaurants, hotels, and more.  These sites are:

I’m finding these sites especially helpful when I want to meet up with my family for the weekend who live in Upstate New York. How the heck am I supposed to know where to meet with them, especially when Upstate NY can seem like a vast drive through nothingness?  I found MeetWays to be particularly useful for this purpose, as it chose a spot right along 90, thus easy access for both me and my family. A Place Between Us chose a place that may have been directly between us, but was more in the middle of no where and quite a drive from any major highways.

Pass these along – they’re great! Do you know of any other sites like them?

Social Media Monitoring

As a PR professional, I’m constantly looking at ways to monitor social media for my clients. I haven’t been able to justify paying for a social media monitoring service (just as Newswatch, BurrellesLuce and Cision do traditional media monitoring) when there are so many ways I know how to do this myself. There are many different ways I monitor social media, for free, including:

  • Google Alerts : You can set up News Alerts and also Comprehensive Alerts that include Blog postings.
  • Technorati: This is currently the largest blog search engine. You can use Technorati to search for your brand’s mention. You can also register your blog with Technorati to track blogs that link to yours.
  • Icerocket: When technorati and google blog search just isn’t doing it for me, I’ve found Icerocket a great search engine for blog content.
  • Twitter Search: (formally Summize) allows you to search all of the twitterverse for your brand or other key words. I was also using TweetBeep for emailed Twitter alerts (similar to Google Alerts) but have had problems with these coming on a regular basis, and I think the site is down for now.
  • Friendfeed: Friendfeed is an aggregator of users’ social media tools. For example, my friendfeed compiles my g-mail status, delicious account, twitter account, YouTube account, flickr and more. In addition to using Friendfeed as a social tool, you can use its search function to monitor what others are saying.
  • Social Mention: This is a search engine that searches multiple social media tools, from microblogging to blogs, to comments. It’s a type of “one stop shopping” for quick social media monitoring.
  • Netvibes or iGoogle: I organize all of my searches in Netvibes by setiting up RSS feeds for all key words that I’m monitoring. I create a new tab for each client and have an RSS feed of the Google alerts, relevant blogs, Twitter searches, social mention searches etc.

For me, right now, these free services work. Most of the time, I only have a few clients that require constant media monitoring, and the conversations are generally few and benevolent. If I wanted to monitor all the social media mentions for a particular client, you can see this would be an exhausting process, with many different steps to take. Multiply that times 10 or so clients, and the process becomes too time consuming.

Even if you’re only working with one brand, if you’re working with a big name brand or a client that has recently been all over the news, a pay-for-monitoring service may be more reasonable.

I don’t personally have a paid for service at this time, but found this old Mashable post that provides a great summary and review of what they consider the 10 best tools for social media monitoring.

As the post starts out:

“Reputation management is essential to both individuals and companies. The more popular your brand is, the more critical it will be to keep tabs on it and the more time it will consume out of your day. If you work at a startup and no one has heard of your brand, or if you’re an individual who has just started blogging, these tools are still useful to you.”

I’m not personally endorsing any of these, but I generally trust Mashable and will definitely keep this post in mind the next time I’m in the market for a social media monitoring service.

I almost have’s on the tip of my tongue..

How many times have you struggled to fill in the correct word, knowing that the answer is just on the tip of your tongue? If you’re like me, this happens plenty of times. Most of the time I even know what the word starts with and means, but you can’t seem to get it.

Well thanks to Chirag Mehta, Tip of My Tongue does the hard work for you! Simply type in what the word starts with, or contains, or ends with, or synonyms of the word and a listing of possible words appears! Seriously, this thing is cool. I can’t wait until I need to use it next!