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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

Person listening to a can

Benefits of Social Media Scheduling and Social Listening

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Managing social media, whether it be for yourself, another brand or client, requires constant activity and responsiveness. The most efficient way I think people can stay at the top of their social game is to utilize social media scheduling and social listening. Some individuals might see the negative in automating some of the process, but I want to share with you a few reasons why it’s efficient and can actually provide you the time you need to be more actively engaged with your followers.

Scheduling

There are a number of social media management tools that can be used for scheduling communications. Ask anyone and you’ll likely get several different suggestions. We’ve found great success with HootSuite and Sprout Social, it just depends on your particular needs and what might work best for you. HootSuite worked well for our own social scheduling, but as we’ve continued to grow and oversee social media for more of our clients, Sprout Social has been helpful to manage multiple accounts in one platform.

Why schedule? Since your audience is likely not online 24/7, you can select various times throughout the day to publish your content to test what time of day you get the most traction. Depending on the platform, you can also select messages to be published at the most optimal time for engagement.

When it comes to the content shared on social media, we believe in a balance of curated and original content. But curating the right content can also take time. Instead of having to hunt down news items to share, set up an account with an aggregator like Feedly or Scoop.It. You can also use notification services like Google Alerts, Talkwalker or Mention to receives alerts when a brand or topic is mentioned or a news item is published. By curating that content and scheduling, you can spend active time responding to mentions or comments, as well as reviewing other content that could be suitable to retweet or share.

Social Listening

Here’s where efficiency with your time leads to activity. Social listening can provide extreme benefits. To start social listening establish keywords and streams to track for conversations relevant to your brand. By doing this it helps identify opportunities for you to engage with both followers and non-followers. Here are a few additional areas you can gain insight from listening:

Trending Topics: Understand what topics are trending in relation to your brand. This could help you identify gaps in the marketplace for a particular product offering or service, or could help you establish positioning for a particular marketing campaign.

Content Ideas: If you see a trending topic, leverage for creating timely content. Maybe you notice over a period of time a lot of followers asking questions about a certain subject. Put yourself in an authority position by creating a how-to guide, e-book, quick tips, or anything else that might ease the consumer’s pain points around the matter.

Identifying Influencers: Pay attention to individuals that are often talking about topics that relate to your brand. These are ideal people to encourage to follow your brand to have them help spread the word. You can start by following them, sharing their content, and then progress into more genuine conversations. When the time feels right you can consider offering a product sample for review, or invite them to participate in a consumer panel to gather deeper insights. Some brands even scout out online influencers to serve as brand ambassadors or bloggers.

Recognize Advocates: Pay attention to brand advocates. They have powerful insight and can sometimes prevent you from making brand blunders. While they may love your brand, they’re often the first to speak up when they’re not happy. You may recall when Maker’s Mark announced they were going to reduce the amount of alcohol content in their product. Customers took to social media to address their displeasure and ultimately the brand (wisely) reversed their decision.

Geographic Targeting: It’s a big, big world of social media and while you have the capability to communicate with audiences all over the world, sometimes your marketing efforts require a more targeted approach. You can narrow your listening focus to help deliver locally relevant content, and could be ideal if you’re launching in a new market.

Responding to Customer Service Issues: I mentioned in previous post on customer service that not all issues are brought directly to you. By listening to online to consumer complaints you can identify opportunities where its advised to mitigate the situation. Turning a negative into a positive situation can be one of the best things you can do for your brand. But don’t just put on a social front, make sure you follow through with appropriate action. Don’t be a Lululemon transparent pants-gate (sorry Lulu).

Competitor Monitoring: Not only is it a good idea to listen to what consumers are saying about you, but it’s also advised to watch out (or listen) for the competition. You can identify customer disconnects and use them as brand advantages. It’s also good to see how you stack up, and what you can learn (and then do it better).

Again, the key point with social media scheduling is not just creating content, publishing, and walking away. Instead it’s about actively listening and finding opportunities to engage with people. It doesn’t mean less involvement, just a more organized and strategic approach, and when done right, can lead to great dividends in the end.

Are you scheduling your social media content and actively listening to online conversations? We’d love to hear how it works for you. Share your experience in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Melvin Gaal (Mindsharing.eu)

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