Apps

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Apps We Can’t Live Without

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Nowadays there’s an app for just about everything you do… from checking the weather to tracking your fitness to managing budgets to connecting with friends. While being connected all the time can have its downsides, there are some apps that as a team we depend on daily. Whether it be a break from business or to keep us organized, here are the apps we can’t live without.

Nathaniel

I try out a lot of apps. Mainly because I’m a ux design geek. I marvel at the way some apps are designed and how they move. So I try out a lot of apps, but not every app makes the cut. I regularly purge; feeling some sort of digital claustrophobia staring at my iPhone screen.DesignTools_App

There’s one app that always survives cut day and that’s Design Tools. I may not use it every day or every week but I need it to be there. Design Tools is a no frills, quick reference app for everything from standard web banner sizes and iPhone screen dimensions to business card and even billboard sizes. The Design Tools app also features a handy colour converter for RGB, HSL and Hex as well as a 5 part unit converter for dpi, pixels, inches and more.

Unlike many of the other apps on my phone, Design Tools gives you exactly what you need and nothing that you don’t. Get in, get info, get out and get back to work.

Sonya

I’m a list maker, so much so, that I often make lists of the lists I need to make. Over the years I have teetered between whatever new to do list app was popular, and plain ol’ pen and paper. After a few weeks of never quite using the apps as much as I had intended, I would meander back over to a notebook and sharpie.  just always seemed to abandon digital for physical, until I found workflowy.

It is super simple, but with functions that are very useful and intuitive.  It is a rolling outline, with plenty of room for tasks and subtasks. I have it installed as a chrome extension, allowing me to add tasks through my desktop that then sync with the app on my iPhone. I’ve been using it to take notes in meetings, my grocery lists, to organize web resources, and to catalog my small but mighty record collection.  If I start feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I just open it up. Looking back at what I have finished up, and being able to organize exactly what I need to get done helps me focus, and clears my head. It’s been an excellent tool at organizing, but also making me more productive, and helping me manage my time better.

Colin

I enjoy going new places & trying new things, and there are many apps that help me do just that. But when it comes to spending money, I like to know I’m putting it to good use. Wisely is the app I look to for this purpose. Even with so many resources full of consumer and expert reviews, I always find myself wondering how genuine or opinionated they may be. Wisely shows you where people are spending their money, how often people came back to that business as repeat customers, and how much the average transaction at that location is. All of this information is anonymous of course, and they pride themselves on the security of their users.

While reviews are good for opinions, Wisely has the data to back it up. Not only that, but it helps you budget yourself, which is something that is very handy for someone like me. Set a budget and watch your spending habits over time to learn how to, well… spend wisely. See where your wallet is taking the biggest hit, and find ways you can spend more efficiently. I also like how easy it is to set up: sign in to your bank account through the app, authorize the app via a code sent by your bank via text or email, and decide what cards you want to include in your “wallet.” As popularity of this app grows in your area, the more information they can provide to help you choose where to spend your money next.

Gretchen

My favorite app? I’ll be honest, the last thing I want to do when I get of my computer is anything related to business. I’m drawn to social or pseudo social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. I even had a short-lived addiction to Draw Something. With that said I still keep an eye on the business end of things just to keep my mind at peace.

Sprout Social is the app that lets me do just that. We have several accounts we manage for clients and our own social media accounts. I can see messages scheduled, sent, incoming, and switch between client accounts seamlessly. I can check-in on the social stream when I want to, and know that I’m covered when I’m away.

Shannon

Being someone who is mildly obsessed with all things social media, I would have to say there are plenty of apps that I can’t live without. However, the one that helps me out the most is the one that keeps me the most organized: Hootsuite. The thing is, I have a relationship with Sprout Social, but I have a marriage with Hootsuite. I love that as soon as I open the app I can manage our company twitter and various platforms. I also dig that I can keep an eye out on all the trending hashtags and keywords that we set up.

 

 

Photo Credit: Frau Hölle

Social Media Habits

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They say a habit is a routine or behavior repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously. But as we know, not all habits are good. Recently the team at Shout Out got into a discussion of social media habits in particular and realized we all had some that we wanted to build and some that we wanted to break. Here’s a look at some of our individual goals around our social media:

Luke Pierce

Admittedly I am usually better at looking at a business’ social media, formulating a plan, and executing that plan on a rigid schedule than I am at operating my own social media. My habits up until now have been more reactionary than anything else. I often find myself only checking Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook when I am prompted. As an example, yesterday I didn’t check Twitter at all, but I found myself sending 15+ connection requests on LinkedIn because someone accepted a request I sent last week. Too many times a week I find myself being interrupted with a social media distraction of this nature. I think it is causing me to spin my wheels socially, so to speak. I want to change that.

To change my habits I am going to set a personal plan with some personal goals. I am going to incorporate social media into my morning routine setting aside time specifically for the purpose of interacting and furthering my social media presence. To illustrate further, here is my rough plan: 30 minutes will be set aside after my morning emails (using one of my favorite apps 30/30 to time myself). I will divvy the time up between the three social networks I focus on, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Each network will have specific daily tasks to perform, but all will have the simple goals of growing my network and engaging in meaningful interaction. Like exercising, sleeping, hygiene, and many other things, I know I will achieve my goals much easier if I start to form better habits.

Gretchen Ardizzone

I’m admittedly a news junkie. I feed off of the constant flow of information and can’t wait to be the first to discover a great article or post. Today though showing appreciation for the content you read has been easily whittled down to a retweet, like, or share.

Understanding how important audience input is to gauge what will resonate, we recently asked our social network for feedback on what people wanted to read in our upcoming newsletter. I quickly grasped that I can’t expect others to share their opinion if I don’t take the time to share myself though. Which leads to a suggestion from our very own Luke, and a goal for myself, who encouraged us all to leave a comment on the content we share with followers. If it’s good enough to share, I should have an opinion on what makes it great, and make a statement.

Colin Smith

When it comes to my social media use, I have been trying to make sure I post relevant content. Sometimes it can seem like you are yelling into an empty room hoping for a response. I’m trying to do a better job at limiting my posts to content that is engaging and interesting. Another thing I’m trying to be better at is limiting how much I post to each social media platform. Oversharing can deter followers and annoy the remainder. In a time of over-stimulation, I think it is important to be aware of what you contribute to each social media community.

Shannon Blair

I’d love to grow an audience on social media that has some backbone to it – this is honestly one of the many resolutions on my list for 2014. Currently, I still have a large following of college friends who are still posting on Thirsty Thursdays, and this is something I’m trying to change. This year I’d like to have more of an audience and continue to follow more people in the small business and digital marketing community. You have to start somewhere right? Why not social media. 2014 is my year to reach out individually as a young business professional and develop my social media into one that shows the knowledge I possess, which may be more things about Harry Potter than actual marketing…but hey, it’s more educational than retweeting Perez Hilton (which I’m also guilty of… I’m a work in progress people, I promise).

 

 

Photo Credit: (davide)

Social Media Platforms of 2014

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New forms of social media are popping up all the time, but the question is which ones are going to be the next big thing in 2014? I’ve heard about a few platforms through word of mouth and I’ve read about some online as well. However, I wanted to do thorough research of my own, so I downloaded the apps or played around on their sites to really test these guys and see what all the hype was about. Here is a list of the top social media platforms of 2014 to look out for, and if they are a thumbs up or a thumbs down:

Jelly – Thumbs Up

Jelly has already been brought up in our internal meetings more than a few times due to its rising popularity. The question is, will it take off? Available on the iOS and Android, the Jelly app is very new, but the creator Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is certainly not new to the world of social media.

The concept of Jelly is genius, yet simple enough to understand. Let’s say I’m walking around Columbus and I come across a statue or piece of art that interests me and I want to know more about it, I can snap a photo and ask my network of friends to get a response. According to the website, “using Jelly is kind of like using a conventional search engine in that you ask it stuff and it returns answers.” Here are the 3 key features of Jelly:

  • Friends follow friends. – Jelly is designed to search using the groups in your existing social networks so you can ask your friends.
  • Paying It “Forward” – Jelly works so you can not only ask questions or answer your friends’ questions, but it provides the capability to can be shared outside of the app accessing friends of friends as well.
  • Point, Shoot, Ask! – Being able to ask questions with images deepen their context. Snap a photo and ask away!

We Heart It – Thumbs Up

If Instagram and Tumblr had a love child, We Heart It would be its cute little baby girl. It’s built with a younger generation in mind but since the younger generation is taking over the Internet, the world, and everything else, we can expect this to take off as well. Similar to Tumblr and Instagram it’s a collection of who you are expressed through photos. I enjoy coffee, wine, and shoes so my page is a collaboration of those things in a pretty little package. My only complaint is this social media platform could do with more variety of photos, but with a growing user-base, this issue should fix itself sooner rather than later.

Shots Of Me – Thumbs Down

If you really enjoy taking photo after photo of yourself this app has your name on it. If you aren’t into that kind of thing, stop here. However, I will say if you want a good laugh check it out. Shots of Me is a Justin Bieber backed mobile app, helping you take selfies and only selfies. Without a real purpose, this app doesn’t particularly interest me, so unless Matthew McConaughey joins I won’t be getting back on this app anytime soon. One positive? It might be the key to getting all those selfies off of Facebook and Instagram. Can I get a hallelujah?

Sportlobster – Thumbs Up

You can always tell when a good game is on when you get on social media and dudes and bros from across the country are debating about bad calls. Sportlobster is giving users the ability to follow scores live, predict results, create content, and interact with other fans. You can follow your sport(s) of choice and jump right into the conversation within minutes of creating an account. When you join the app you can go through and select preferences about the sport(s) categories you are most interested in reading about. This weekend I chose to follow Tiger Woods and when I did so I learned that Sportslobster has a pretty awesome menu of your notifications, predictions, blogs, and news. If you go to your preferences such as Woods, you can check out his events, blogs, news, posts and who the fans are. Sportslobster provides awesome access to athlete specific info. This weekend I chose to follow Tiger Woods and discovered tons of relevant content about his events, fans, news and more.

The one negative about this app is its pretty European-based so there is more Cricket and Rugby than Nascar and College Basketball. They do have American football and professional basketball, so again, with a larger user base, we might see more universal content soon.

Whisper – Thumbs Down

Whisper is a social media platform that is anonymous for people who want to share and connect with other socials. Even CSBC got in on the action on this one posting an article begging the question if Whisper is the next big social media play. There are already 3 billion page views per month. Since this platform is solely based on animosity it really makes me wonder if it will stay strong. This sounds great, but my issue lies in the fact that the focus of being on social media is being social. If I’m on Instagram I’m on there to share my photos with my friends and family. Similarly, when I log onto Twitter during this award season, I’m on there to read what Perez Hilton is saying about Jennifer Lawerence’s dress on the red carpet. My point is, the main focus is that I know who these people are and that’s my point on being on social media.

So, I did my research. I got an account and looked around a bit. The reality is that from the position of a young professional, this app is not for me. When I was 14-15, maybe it would’ve worked. This app gives teens the ability to “whisper” on an anonymous social media platform and connect with other kids who feel the same way. While I may not be a fan, that doesn’t mean it won’t be huge this year because it has a target audience, and with 3 billion page views per month, the makers of this platform are reaching their goal.

Impossible – Thumbs Up

I am completely diggin’ Impossible. I get where they are coming from and I think the world could use a few more social media platforms like this, especially comparing to other social sites. Thank goodness for a little restoration in my faith of humanity.

Impossible is a new website and app that encourages people to do things for others for free. People can post wishes of things that they want or need help with and offer what they can give, which can be things or skills, even a simple hug. Impossible shows these wishes on their site and people can connect with one another to accomplish these wishes being turned into reality. It’s a great concept and aside from some people asking for gnomes and other odds and ends, I think this project could really take off. If a few large corporations get involved and the word gets out more this could be a really great thing.

That’s what’s on my social radar. Anything new you’ve spotted trending?
Photo Credit: thomasstache

Top 5 Small Business Marketing Tools

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We have a running joke here at Shout Out that EVERY time we have a meeting somebody suggests a new internet tool that I haven’t heard about yet. There are so many tools out there that it will make your head spin. For instance, the following list of marketing tools can hardly even be considered the tip of the iceberg. *Note please scroll through to the end for the Top 5

Marketing Tools

For social media there is:

Hootsuite

SproutSocial

Engagor

RaffleCopter

For Website Analysis there is:

SEM Rush

SiteBeam

SEO Quake

Optimizely

*Click through to see more tools and the top 5.

read more

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How to Work Smart and Hard

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Work Smart and Hard – Imagine what you could accomplish

I always remember the saying, “work smart, not hard.” My granddad used to tell me that despite the hard work he put in – long hours as a steelworker. I wore the “work smart, not hard” mantra like a cape all through school and it worked out pretty well.

Except for in math class. We won’t talk about math class.

As I got older though and began to pay attention to the leaders I respected and how their efforts related to the things I wanted to accomplish I thought back on the “work smart, not hard” philosophy. But instead of trying to figure out new and better ways to implement that strategy I thought, “imagine what could I accomplish if I do both.”

Now, in the midst of growing a young company, working smart and working hard is a must for meeting goals. Technology makes it pretty easy to work smart. Focus, inspiration, self-awareness and self-discipline make it easier to work hard. Here are some thoughts on both. read more

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5 Quick and Savvy Ways to Build Your Business Using Your Pinterest App

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Pinterest should be kept up with as often as your Twitter or Facebook. The more relevant, interesting, and inspiring the pins, the more attention your boards will get. Here are 5 awesome and convenient ways you can help your Pinterest grow using your Pinterest Mobile App:

1. Keep Up with What’s Happening

The best part of having an App is that you are getting the bulk of what’s online on a Smartphone-friendly device at the touch of your fingers. When you are on the go you still have the ability to keep up with what is going on with your Pinterest home feed, as well as keeping up with the Pinterest community. This also allows you to Pinterest before you go to sleep and dream of fantasy closets… oh wait, that’s just me? read more

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