“Roving Rev” Bruce Nicole recently asked my advice on using social media for a sponsored walk he was planning. After one meeting, hearing about the cause, the amount he needed to raise, and the enormous faith he had in the project, I was hooked. I remembered the 350 mile walk to Walsingham that Father Simon did, and the technology he used to keep in contact with people, which spurred me on.
Bruce is going to be walking 390 miles in 1 month, from Camberley in Surrey, to Holy Island in Northumberland. My challenge, is to equip him technically with the skills and knowledge needed to push social media on his Android HTC Desire HD to the limits. A key requirement is to automate as much as possible, so that the information he sends out, is pushed to the right places, in the right way, without a whole support team picking up the pieces and posting them manually. RSS feeds play an important role.
We don’t have much time before he starts the walk on 10 June, so wanted a way to rapidly create a website, without too much effort, since we all have day jobs. Google blogger was the agreed choice. Not as fancy as wordpress, but very simple to set up.
Next, we wanted some way to automatically track his progress, and display it on a map. Enter Google latitude. "Google Lattitude" will track location, and "Google Public Location Badge" will allow this to be displayed on a website. This enables us to track in real time, exactly where he is on the walk.
He is going to be active on Twitter, Facebook, and uploading photos, video blogs and audio blogs on the move. Then in the evenings, he will be writing a blog post reflecting on each day, the people he has connected with, and the experiences he has had.
Having reviewed a series of apps, we decided on the following:-
Seesmic for twitter and facebook. This allows more than 5 social network profiles (unlike Hootsuite which has a limit of 5 for the free version) and has shortcuts for hashtags, lists, facebook and more. He needs 5 because he has other accounts he uses outside of the project. Bit.ly can also be configured as the URL shortener, taking advantage of the reporting it provides.
audioBoo for audio blogging. We considered SoundCloud, but that has complex limitations on how much data can be uploaded, and downloaded in a time period. audioBoo is a wonderful company in London. The only limit they impose on a free account is a 3 minute duration on each post. However, being generous, they agreed to support the project, and provided us with a premier account, which increases the limit to 30 minutes. More than enough for a roving reverend.
Flickr has a native app which allows descriptions to be uploaded with a photo, along with tags. This will be really useful for the support team, enabling us to identify why he took the photo, and re-use it in any press releases or other material we choose. Well, we couldn’t automate everything! Likewise, we chose the app from YouTube for the video blog.
If he does get a spare moment whilst resting, and would like to knock off a mini blog post, then he’s got Blogger onboard the Desire to do so. To help with text entry (which isn’t great on any phone without a keyboard), he is using a replacement keyboard from FlexT9, which has excellent voice recognition.
Power is a major factor, since he’ll be using his phone extensively during the walk. We tried a higher capacity replacement battery. The standard battery is a Li-Ion 1230 mAh, but I sourced a 2430 mAh replacement. Unfortunately on test, it performed worse than the standard battery. He will be relying on two TeckNet® Dual-Port iEP380 5000mAh 1.5Amp Output Universal USB Battery Packs.
Technically, this is an ambitious project, to run a whole campaign from a single android phone. We’re looking forward to putting it to the test. If you would like to find out how things are progressing, keep an eye on the website http://stmikesopen4all.org.uk or keep a look out for him if he passes through your town or city.