Usually when someone pulls out their phone to snap a picture at a restaurant, it’s to document a particularly delicious or showstopping meal. Now, people are using photos to tell North Carolina State University assistant professor Benjamin Chapman about food safety issues. Chapman asked readers of his Barfblog to send photos to Instagram and Twitter showing what they perceive to be food safety problems at restaurants, grocery stores and other public facilities.

His said his goals are to raise awareness and generate public discussion about what people know about food safety, and then later to use the data in a research project. And if the spotlight puts some pressure on the food industry, Chapman said that’s fine too.

Since he began collecting photos back in September, Chapman has received about 150 submissions, many of which can be seen at the Citizen Food Safety website.

From apples falling on the ground and dirty lipstick marks on a glass, to hand washing signs, thermometer use and some pictures of what might qualify for the world’s dirtiest bathroom, Chapman said the submissions show people really do pay attention to food safety hazards. (read more…)

Pinterest is getting a ton of buzz as the hottest new social network. For those who haven’t dived into the site yet, think of Pinterest as an online cork board where people post pictures, articles and videos that inspire them, things they want to try, things to read, places they want to go, etc. Pinterest is one of those sites you have to try for yourself to realize how easy it is to get sucked in by all of the visual ideas put in front of you.

Besides being an excellent place to find Mother’s Day gift and recipe ideas, Pinterest is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for businesses. According to a recent study by Shareaholic, Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than Twitter. Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest. (read more…)

Ever since the bygone days of the Wild West, folks have always wanted to check out the newcomer in town and hear all the latest gossip before they got better acquainted. These days Pinterest, the fastest drawing social media network in history, has everyone eyeing it with curiosity and just a little trepidation. They wonder if it will settle down — or become another in a long line of drifters who pass through town. Before you take the trouble to get acquainted with this newcomer, allow me to share some insider tips about how to make the most of your Pinterest experience.

I’ll also caution you to keep your eyes and ears open because social networks have a habit of changing things up just as you get comfortable around them. You’ve always got to keep your wits about you.

Are you ready?

The good

  • Pinterest is informal, which makes it a great place to unwind and take in the sights.
  • (read more…)

This post is by Jim Belosic, CEO and co-founder of ShortStack, a Facebook platform-based application helping businesses build customized tabs for Facebook Pages that maximize their social media presence and potential.

At ShortStack, we’re excited about the changes to Facebook Timeline for business Pages. Facebook is putting a lot of power in the hands of Page admins with new features such as the Reach Generator and an increased application width of 810 pixels. But what’s got a lot of admins concerned is the fact that it’s no longer possible to create a “Default Landing Tab.”

In Facebook’s old layout, Default Landing Tabs served as a Page’s introduction to the visitor. They were a great way to generate likes and promote contests and sweepstakes. With the switch to Facebook Timeline, tabs have a new name — applications. All your old custom tabs — your applications — are still there; arranged just under the header image, aligned to the right. (read more…)

Social networks have always had an uneasy relationship with customization. The earliest social networks gave you few customization options, if any. Then Myspace taught us all that unlimited profile customization can be a scary, animated-GIF-filled nightmare. Facebook gives you the options it wants you to have. And Twitter’s first-party user experience has been thoroughly surpassed by third-party clients in a dizzying array of flavors.

So what about Google+? The newest entry to the social network major leagues is taking a page from Twitter’s handbook, letting third-party application developers do all of the heavy lifting. But instead of letting these new feature coalesce into full-blown clients that render the first-party experience obsolete, these improvements are being channeled into extensions for Google’s Chrome browser.

The result (ideally) is a robust, evolving feature set that’s easy to customize, doesn’t overwhelm the user and doesn’t make the core experience completely irrelevant.

The downside to this approach is that Google hasn’t done a great job of letting users know they can improve their experience with plug-ins — and it hasn’t made it easy to identify the most useful tools on the market. (read more…)