Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Social Media and Your Mobile App, Pt 1 - Feeding Content into Your Buzz

The Buzz area of the InstantEncore control panel provides dynamic content for your mobile app - in the What's New section of the home page as well as its own separate Buzz tab.  Many artists and arts organizations publish fresh content online through social media platforms and social networks.  So how can you bring this fresh content into your app's Buzz area?

The Buzz area automatically brings your content into the mobile suite by synchronizing with your content's RSS and Atom feeds.  The best way to automatically pull your social media and social networking content into your mobile app is to identify the RSS feed for your account and add it to the Buzz area.

Finding your content's RSS or Atom feed 

  • Blog or Podcast - Most blog and podcast platforms provide you with an RSS address so that your followers can subscribe to your content.  If you are not sure what your feed address is for your blog or podcast, conduct a search within the platform's FAQs or in its forum area.
  • Facebook - UPDATE: As of June 2015, Facebook no longer provides RSS or XML feeds for sharing content with web services. Click here for information on how to add Facebook content to your app.
  • Twitter - UPDATE: As of June 2013, Twitter no longer provides RSS or XML feeds for sharing content with web services.  Click here for information on how to add Twitter content to your app.
  • MySpace - MySpace provides you with the ability to grab the RSS feed for your MySpace blog.
    • On your profile page, click on "View All Blog Entries." 
    • In the top right-hand area of the next page, there are a few text links, one of them says "rss". 
    • Click on that link and the RSS feed address for your MySpace blog will appear in the web address bar.
  • Google+ - Here is the workaround for Google+.
    • Find your Google+ ID number by going to your Google+ profile page.  The number is located in the URL address between 0/ and /posts.  For example:
    • Copy your ID number
    • Add it to the end of this sequence:
  • Tumblr - Tumblr definitely has the easiest RSS feeds to find.  Use
  • Flickr - This one is pretty easy, too.  
    • Go to your Flickr photostream page and scroll to the bottom.
    • Where it says "Subscribe to YOUR photostream," click on the link next to it labeled "Latest"
    • The RSS feed address for your photostream will appear in the web address bar.
  • Pinterest - For Pinterest, the RSS feed will depend on whether you want the feed for your account or for a particular pinboard.
    • The RSS feed for your account will be
    • The RSS feed for a particular pinboard will be

Adding a feed to your Buzz

  1. Once you have located the feed for content, go the Buzz area of the control panel.
  2. Select Feeds in the submenu.
  3. Enter the RSS or Atom feed address in the empty text field.
  4. Select if the feed falls into the Blog, Podcast, or News category.
  5. Click on Add Feed.
  6. Once you have added your feed, be sure to click on Edit Image and upload a 75px X 75px graphic to  associate with the feed.  (We recommend PNG or GIF image files.)  Whenever content from the feed appears in your Buzz tab or on your Home tab, this graphic will appear in the list as a visual indicator of the source.
And you're done!  Now, you have dynamic content automatically feeding into the Buzz tab and the What's New area of the Home tab of your mobile app from your social media account.

Something to Consider 

Take a moment to think about your social media behavior.  If you frequently repost items from one social media source to another, then you may not want to add both feeds to your Buzz.  This would create redundant content entries.

So, if you automatically pull your Twitter posts into your Facebook wall posts, then perhaps you just want to select one of those social media accounts to feed into the Buzz area.

In our next post, we will look at two other ways of bringing your social media content into your mobile app.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Keep Your App Subscribers Engaged with Push Notifications

Adding new content to your app on a regular basis is a great way to keep your mobile audience engaged over time, but people have busy lives and may not always remember to check your app for updated events, videos, music, etc.  How can you keep your fans apprised of new additions to your mobile app?

Push It

Push notifications are short text messages sent directly to your Apple and Android subscribers on their mobile devices.  When downloads your app from either the Apple or Android marketplaces and launches the app on their mobile device, they are asked if they would like to receive these notifications from you.  By tapping "OK," subscribers have actively indicated that they would like to hear from you - so you should keep them updated and engaged!

Mobile devices are highly personal.  They are always with us and always turned on.  Therefore, it is important that you respect your fans' invitation to contact them by adhering to 2 golden rules:
  1. Keep it relevant.  While it may seem obvious, make sure that all of your push messages are relevant to your audience's primary interest - your work.  They want to know if you have new content in your app.  Are you streaming new music?  Did you add a series of video interviews with artists?  Do you have a special promotion for mobile users who purchase tickets for this weekend's performance?  Did you just announce next year's season?
  2. Keep it fresh.  Use your push notifications to alert your mobile audience to new content, events, promotions, etc.  Do NOT use push notifications to highlight content or events that have been in the app for awhile.  For example, continually sending messages reminding your fans to buy tickets for this event or that event is not a smart use of push notifications.  Now, if you have a special promotion for your app subscribers related to a particular event, then of course you should let them know.

Pushing Strategically

Here are a few things to consider as you develop your strategy for using push notifications:
  • You have 100 characters of text for your message
  • App subscribers will receive your message whether or not they are using your app at the time your message is sent
  • You may choose to have a sound associated with your push notification, so that there is an audio cue in addition to the visual alert
  • When a user taps on your push message, they are taken to your app's Home tab.  
  • TIP:  Use your Home tab's welcome message to highlight and connect to the content or event mentioned in your push notification.

How do you send push notifications?

  1. Login at 
  2. Open the Mobile submenu
  3. Select Push Notifications

  4. Enter up to 100 characters of text in the space provided
  5. Check the box if you would like a sound cue to accompany your message
  6. Click on the Push Message button to send your notification
Your apps subscribers have taken the initiative to download your app and give you permission to send messages to them.  Keep them informed, and keep them engaged.