Free tools for sharing things online that don’t require you to have your own website
Quite often we’re faced with the challenge of wanting to share something I’ve worked on with the outside world whether selectively or to make it available to a broader audience. Although many of our offices and HQ Divisions have a public webpage or a portion of the main site that they manage, updating the webpage requires specialist training and use of pre-defined templates and formats and pages for sharing information. Also the public website might not be the most appropriate place to share something quickly that has a more limited audience and while not confidential isn’t part of our main communication message.
There are actually quite a large number of free or low-cost tools that exist which allow you post information for sharing on the internet. I’ve outlined a few below that I find particularly useful. In each case, all you need to do is sign up for an account and start sharing. They also include a social networking component that makes it easy to find other people or organizations with similar interests and who are also sharing materials, and for people to leave comments:
- Slideshare: Offers users the ability to upload and share publicly or privately presentations in PowerPoint, Word, PDF and other formats.
- Scribd: allows you to upload and share original documents and text files (these can be in Word, PDF or other formats). This is good for sharing publications if you don’t have easy access to upload them on a website – but you shouldn’t share other people’s/organization’s publications unless you have permission to do so.
- Flickr: allows you to upload and share photos. (There are a large number of other similar services such as Picasa and Fotki and others such as Shutterfly and Snapfish which are linked to photo printing services but Flickr is the most popular).
- Delicious: allows you to uploa d, categorize and share your favourite links. In addition to sharing links with others, this is also a great way to keep track of articles you find of interest for your own later use which you can access from any computer.
- YouTube: The world’s largest video sharing site probably needs no introduction.
- Vimeo: an alternative to YouTube. This is less popular, but has a nicer interface and a more “serious” audience for higher production value films (no cats playing keyboards here), and this can be a good place to host video to include on a blog or website that doesn’t have this capability inbuilt.
- Ustream: if you have a video camera, this allows you to stream live video from an event over the internet, and also keep recordings of past streams for people to view later. GMA have used this for their “Conversations with Thought Leaders” series among others.
- Google: of course Google have a whole host of applications that duplicate the above (Google Sites, Google Docs, Picasa, even YouTube is owned by Google) which is good if you like to be able to user a single account/login for all these different services although they don’t have the strongest product in every category.
One final consideration is whether people should create an account in your own name or one for their office. We don’t as yet have social media guidelines which would help with this – but in my opinion if you want to reach a network of professional peers (whether existing or potential) a personal account might be a good way to go, while an office account is likely to reach a wider audience, but at the same time be more suited to communication and advocacy around organizational priorities, our “official message” if you like. In either case you would need to ensure that you have permission to share whatever materials it is you share, and in the case of an office account that you have agreement from the head of office.