Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Google's Picasa for simple, fast & complete slideshow embeds

I was really just trying to come up with one more way to fit the word 'Google' into a blog post headline before the month ended ... kidding, of course. I would so like to post about some non-Google thing, and I will. But not today.

The first snowstorm of the season hit Michigan last night. It wasn't exactly a whopper of a storm, but it was enough snow to get everyone to pull out their cameras and take shots of their snow-covered lawns and backyards.

We started crowdsourcing this morning on Twitter and Facebook, asking for people to send us their snow pics. People responded — not a massive response — but several folks Tweeted pics of their dogs, yards, wildlife, etc. As community engagement editor, I feel like part of the whole 'engagement' task is to not just get people to interact with you, but to make use of those interactions.

I had five photos to start. Not enough to make a fancy slideshow in iMovie, and I really wanted to be able to include captions. There was some program that we used to use for slideshows, but something about an FTP server and passwords has always been a roadblock in actually using it.

So I turned to Picasa, which is Google's version of Flickr. I've used it for years now and knew it offers links to albums and automated slideshows, so I figured it had to offer an embed code for slideshows too.

It does.

Here's the how-to:
1) Sign in to your Google account, go to "more" and then "even more." Select Picasa when you see it.
2) Upload your photos
3) Make sure you're selected on the album and you should see "Link to this album" on the right hand side
4) Select "Embed Slideshow" — it's an option that only shows up after clicking "Link to this album" 

What I love
It pulls in all the captions you added for the photos. I have Photoshop and run everything through it first, adding captions and stuff. I was so pleased to see that pop up.
I used the extra large size for our website. It came out so nicely!

Here it is, this is the large size  

Don't forget
Let people know you appreciated their interaction and made use of their contributions. I thanked each person who contributed and Tweeted a link to the final story file.

I almost forgot the best part! 
About an hour after embedding slideshow, I had a sixth picture come in. I added it to the Picasa album and crossed my fingers, hoping it would just automatically update the slideshow on our website.
It did. How cool is that? I shared the little success with some of my colleagues.
"You know how awesome that will be when we're covering something on the fly, to have it update like that?" said Charlie Crumm, our political reporter.
So true.

Check out the story file: Send us your wintry photos

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