Social Media 111: Customizing Your iGoogle Page

In Social Media 102 we introduced you to RSS, which is a powerful way for you to keep tabs on what’s new in dozens (if not 100 or more) of Web sites and blogs that provide RSS feeds. Instead of having to go to the sites, you can use Newsgator or NetNewswire or Google Reader, and have the updates sent to you.

iGoogle is an alternative that enables you to embed what Google calls “gadgets” featuring the latest content from your favorite sites, all on a single page. It lets you, in effect, create a simple, free blog monitoring dashboard.

I recently heard that Yahoo! said as many as half of all MyYahoo! users never customize it from the default settings. I expect that may also be true of iGoogle. That’s why I made this video screencast, to show just how easy it is to customize iGoogle, to have the latest posts from the key blogs you’re monitoring available to you with a single click.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B7u49Ky_oo]

Homework Assignment:

  1. Sign into your gmail account (or get one if you haven’t yet)
  2. Go to iGoogle.
  3. Click the “Add Stuff” link (on the right side), and then the “Add feed or gadget” link in the left column.
  4. When the box pops up, paste in a URL from any blog post. If you like, for example, you could use this one: http://social-media-university-global.org/2008/10/27/smug-reading-list-102708/ then hit the “Add” button.
  5. When you get the confirmation that the feed has been added, click the “Back to iGoogle Home” link, and you will see that the gadget containing this RSS feed has been placed in the upper left corner of your page.
  6. Repeat the steps for each blog you want added to your monitoring dashboard.

Please note that while iGoogle lets you just enter the URL from a single blog post, and figures out the related RSS feed you want to monitor, you also can paste in the URL from an RSS feed in step 4. So, for example, I did a Blogpulse search for posts mentioning “Mayo Clinic” and got this URL:

http://blogpulse.com/rss?query=%22Mayo+Clinic%22&sort=date&operator=

Which I pasted into a gadget and now it sits on the front page of my iGoogle.

Please note also that you can edit the number of feeds that go into your gadget, increasing to up to 9:

This will be most helpful for those feeds (like Blogpulse or Technorati searches on keywords) for which you expect more frequent updates.

Alltop has several pre-configured pages like this, as described in this post. But you can’t tailor those. You can configure iGoogle to exactly meet your needs, though, and as our SMUG motto says:

It’s Not That Hard!