Useful Tools to Save you Time


As a social media professional, I am always seeking ways to make more efficient use of my time.  I belong to a couple of forums and groups that often discuss free tools or low-cost options.  I would like to share a compiled list here with you:

  • Hootsuite – one of my faves – up to 5 social media accounts for free, up to 20 for $5.99 per month
  • If This Then That – will help you do just that with about 11 social platforms – ex. if [Twitter mention] then [thank them] – will work with Facebook pages.
  • Buffer – share your posts at a later time on any Twitter account or Facebook personal pages
  • Dreamstime – free photos for use in your materials – they also have photos for purchase.
  • DIIGO – similar to Dropbox for websites you want to save for later – lets you bookmark in a cloud favorites by keyword.  You can even highlight things, place sticky notes on pages and share it with connections.
  • FanTools – the free side lets you set up one Twitter and one Facebook page, upgrades available for planning, coupons and deals.
  • YouSendIt – sending large files through email is no longer a problem, use YouSendIt.  You upload, the receiver downloads.  You must stay under a size limit for it to remain free.
  • Morgue File – more free photos. Has a connection with Dreamstime.
  • CutePDF – makes pdf files for any of your printable documents for programs that don’t already convert them.
  • – screen sharing
  • Skype – video calling and screen sharing, have a group video conversation for a monthly fee.
  • IWOWWE – video email and conferencing.
  • MailChimp – e-newsletter system free up to 2000 emails
  • FreshBooks – on-line accounting, up to 3 clients for free, up to 25 clients $19.95 mos.
  • BeFunky – photo effects editor
  • Zoho – CRM on-line tool.
  • Gimp – photo editing software – you download it.  You don’t need Photoshop with this one.
  • Inkscape – modify vector art similar to Illustrator.
  • ClipArt – open clip art library
  • AVG – anti virus
  • Adobe Browser Lab for website testing
  • WeTransfer – for sending files
  • PrimoPDF is also free PDF converter
  • Hamster – another Free video converter
  • MyPictr – Avatar creator – for profile pictures on social networks – not sure if its up to date but you can manually change the px size
  • DaFont – Free Fonts
  • OpenOffice – The Free and Open Productivity Suite
  • LastPass – Online Password storage.
  • Malwarebytes – Don’t run windows without it – not free
  • Nitro PDF Reader – recently added thanks to SME club thread
  • Toggl – Time tracking, great when you are billing by project
  • Avast! – Anti-virus, some free, but all the bells and whistles cost
  • Audacity – Sound recording and editing
  • TeamViewer – Screen sharing and more.
  • Jing – screen capture. pro version for a small upgrade is no longer available.  Will have to switch to Snag-it or Camtasia.
  • FileZilla – FTP management
  • CCleaner – keep your hard drive clean and optimized
  • Synergy – use one mouse and keyboard to connect multiple computers (from Zoho)
  • Any Video Converter – convert any video, aptly named
  • Dropbox – store and share files online
  • Google Docs, Calendar, mail, keyword tools, alerts, analytics, insights for search – access docs that you share, share with others, check your calendar, multiple email accounts from you desktop, phone, or laptop, find what keywords you need to use, set up alerts for anything you want to track from the web and blogs, add analytics to your website and track traffic to your site, .
  • Evernote -remember everything, anywhere
  • Readitlater – don’t have time to read that article now, save it to readitlater.
  • SimpleNote – similar to Evernote, jot yourself a note anytime, anywhere
  • KeePass – another password compiler
  • Free Conference Call – teleconferencing line available 24/7. Each call accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.
  • SuveyMonkey – free survey tool
  • Evite – free party planning tool
  • Producteev – task management app, helping to organize office days. It’s cross-platform, desktop and mobile.
  • AnyMeeting – web conference meetings
  • – link shortener and tracking
  • – add files to this on-line application and link it to your LinkedIn profile
  • Scribd – post your pdf files and documents to share on your social networks if you don’t want to post them on your website.
  • – create your own infographic
  • Get Listed – enter your business name and zip code.  The tool finds the location sites on which you are or aren’t listed.
  • Timeline Image Tool – helps you build custom tab images without needing design software.

What have I missed?  What do you like best?  What wouldn’t you use?


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Sharing LinkedIn Company Updates

Share Company Updates to get to more views from your posts.

First of all, to share company updates, you need a company profile on LInkedIn to make this work. To have a company profile you need to create one with an email address that ends in your company domain name – Gmail and the other general email servers won’t work.LinkedIn company status update

Go to your Company Profile to create the company updates you want to share. It could be a link to a blog post on your website,  a job posting on your website or an article from another source. Whatever the item, try to share an update that has an image in it because people tend to click on items with images when the posts shows up in their news feed.

After you have posted the update, go back to your menu bar:LinkedIn Share

  1. Hover over Interests
  2. Select Companies
  3. Scroll to find your recent update
  4. Click Share in the update
  5. A new window will pop up
  6. Begin typing to share your update

From there another window will open that you can share your update to your personal profile, LinkedIn share to groupsto groups to which you belong and to individuals. To find the groups that you belong to, just start typing the alphabet. Each time you type a new letter, the groups that begin with that letter will show up. For example if you have a number of groups in one letter, you will see a list of the group names. Pick one, it will be added to the recipient list. To add another just type the same letter again until you have added all of the groups from that letter of the alphabet.

To watch the whole process about sharing company updates on LinkedIn, take a look at this  How-To video.

One way to make this work to your company’s advantage is to ask all employees to share the company status update to their personal network. This is especially useful if there is a new product launch, you need to fill an open position, or you have some great press to share!

Build a Social Media Policy

Do you need to build a social media policy for your business?

Recently, I prepared a presentation for an organization on creating a social media policy. What I found was that most of the relevant information was from 2009-2011. That is how long it has been since social media policies have been important to have for your business.

So let’s take a look at the key components and a few resources to help you create a social media policy for your company.

Why do you need a policy?social media policy

A social media policy outlines what is or isn’t allowed for your employees. You have other policies and procedures that provide corporate guidelines. The social media policy provides the guidelines for how your employees will communicate with the world. A policy will set boundaries and provide a baseline for now. It can be changed as issues emerge.

Because your social media will portray your company culture and your brand, you want to ensure that whatever is presented on social media platforms is going to represent your company and carry your message out to the customers AND competitors in your industry. You also want to ensure that social media will fulfill your company objectives about how you will secure leads and generate sales.

How to develop your social media policy

  1. Decide who will help you create it – will you create by committee? Will HR create it? Will IT or Operations create it? Ultimately, whatever you create should be approved by your corporate attorney to ensure that you are not violating any rules.
  2. Select the aspects that need to be represented in your policy – what channels, who can have access, and possibly perform a SWOT analysis of your company’s use of social media.
  3. Be specific about the Can’s, Can’ts and Should’s. If they are not allowed to talk about new products until a specific department releases the news, spell it out.
  4. Consider the following points:
    1. Who can use social media in company on behalf of the company
    2. When can they use social media – on company time or on personal time.
    3. Who approves what is posted on social media – specific departments, the IT department, HR department, the CIO, the marketing department
    4. How will the employee represent themselves – is the employee “on” 24/7, when they are representing the company does their “handle” include a portion of your company name, like @deetime2mrkt. It is always best to maintain a professional representation of yourself on any social or on-line communication outlet.The Internet Remembers
    5. What ethical standards will be followed by the employee – are they already in place for the company? If so, the social media policy should remain consistent with your ethics policy.
    6. Who/how will you manage brand consistency – will you provide training? will each department ensure compliance? Is someone monitoring on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
    7. Will you use disclaimers? If an employee is required, if someone posts a comment that is not congruent with the company stance, you may not be held liable for those comments.

Consider these items for inclusion in your policy, as long as you define what they mean:

  • Resist the urge to lash out in public. Take it off-line.
  • Respect proprietary information.
  • Know internal policies before posting.
  • Be timely, but pause and re-read before replying.
  • Use common sense.
  • Play nice

Can you fire someone for complaining about the job on social media?

The answer depends upon what they are doing. This USAToday article explains some of the rulings from the National Labor Relations Board. Here are a few of the highlights from the article.

  • It is illegal for an employee to be fired for a post about working conditions, whether it’s pay, hours, assignments, difficult supervisors, dress code, or any other issue. 
  • Posts that damage a company, disparage its products or services or reveal trade secrets or financial information are actionable. But if they include criticism of related working conditions, they might not be.
  • Posts cannot encourage others to be insubordinate i.e. work slow downs.
  • Griping or insults by one person with no connection to working conditions are NOT protected. You cannot “dis” your boss’ appearance or speech.

The Answer

  • Create a social media policy, including examples, spelling out what employees can and cannot post.
  • Review your policy with an HR specialist or attorney to ensure it is not violating any laws.
  • If you are not sure whether a post is actionable, check before you act!

Would you like to review some examples of policies before you write yours? Here is a link that has about 240 company policies that you can read.

Would you like a great starting point? This tool provides a social media policy creating wizard

As always, if I can be of assistance to you in your social media needs, please contact me!

Here are other resources and links to social media policies that I used as research for this article:

Accepting LinkedIn Invitations

Invitations from people you don’t know can be frustrating!

Frustrating because you may not know how to categorize the person for your method of communication system. Personally I like to tag all of my connections.

When teaching LinkedIn workshops, I make the participants promise to never send a generic invitation again. Usually I hear an “Oops!” from one of the people, because they had just sent the generic invitation. Well, they haven’t broken their promise, because it starts from that moment.

So many people fall into the trap of sending out invitations to the people in their email address book because LinkedIn suggests it and they think it is a good idea to increase their connections. Instead I suggest that they send them one at a time and make sure to personalize them.

Since so many of the millions of LinkedIn users have not taken a class with meLI reply don't accept, they don’t know the benefit and importance of personalizing the invitations so I get scads of generic invitations. I like to “Reply don’t accept yet“. LinkedIn has recently changed the way their messages work and the option has moved. I thought I would share how the changes now look.


  1. You need to hover over the small message icon on the pending invitations.
  2. In the upper right corner of the box that pops up is an arrow that indicates you can reply to the invitation. Right now it is a bit finicky, but if you can actually get it to click, you can send a message to the person to help you figure out how you will tag the person for future reference.

If the person replies to me, I will 99.9% of the time connect with them. This is just one way to help me keep my LinkedIn connections a bit more organized.

LinkedIn Changes Message Center

Message Center in LinkedIn made some big changes!

As I was teaching class on Monday for some job seekers at the Illinois workNet Center in Arlington Heights for Harper College, one of the students said he couldn’t find the option I was showing on the screen. I took a look over his shoulder and sure enough LinkedIn has done some updates to the message center.

Here are the highlights – LinkedIn message changes

  1. Messages appear by person – the whole string of the conversation is in one spot, instead of numerous messages for one back and forth conversation.
  2. All invitations are in the invitation tab. What this has done is taken away the ability to “reply don’t accept yet”. This feature was very useful for me and if there isn’t an alternative offered, it will be a great loss especially when people do not personalize their invitations.
  3. You can start a new conversation with someone with the pencil and pad icon.
  4. The other thing they don’t point out is if you send a group message, it shows the image at the top of the message string of who was included and then who responds, very similarly to the way a text message stream looks.

What do you like or dislike about the changes?

Ask for recommendations

Recommendations will help you get to All-Star status!all star status on LinkedIn

If you have ever attended one of my LinkedIn classes you have heard me speak about the advantages of placing your personal branding keywords in your profile to help you show up more prominently in searches done without using your name. One of the lesser known areas that can really benefit that search algorithm is your recommendations. LinkedIn wants you to have three recommendations from your connections. Many times, people will write a recommendation for you, but they are based on what they want or choose to say.

Let’s see how you might make these recommendations work to your “keyword” advantage. Afterrecommendation1 you determine what your keywords are and you have placed them in your profile in the right places, the additional area you want to include is the recommendation. Follow these steps:

  1. Select a keyword upon which you want to focus.
  2. Select a person that knows you well enough to write a recommendation about your expertise in that keyword area.
  3. Find the recommendations section on your profile.recommendation2
    1. Hover over Profile in the menu bar,
    2. Select Edit Profile,
    3. Scroll down to the Recommendations section,
    4. Hover over the section to recommendation3reveal the “Ask to be recommended” button.
    5. Click it.
  4. Follow the steps in the Recommendation sequence.
    1. Pick a position
    2. Pick a person
    3. Select relationship
    4. Select person’s position
    5. Write your message
  5. The message should never be the generic message generated by LinkedIn. Whenever possible always try to personalize any of those messages. For the purpose of your recommendation, you are even going to offer them some suggested language. Why make the person have to add more work to their busy day when there is really nothing in it for them to write you a recommendation. Here is my suggestion – Use the keyword that you want to highlight in the recommendation. Write 2-3 sentences about how you demonstrate that keyword. If you need help tooting your own horn, work with a someone who knows your work. It is very difficult to sell yourself. Think about what you would write if you were writing your own performance review.
  6. Repeat this process to request a review from different individuals to cover each of your most prominent keywords.

In most cases, the person will use your words in the recommendation. In one situation when I was working one-on-one with a client, we used this technique and the person from whom we requested the recommendation went above and beyond what we had used in the request and wrote a couple of paragraphs.

I would also recommend that as you add a new skill, or as your recommendations “age” you may want to request recommendations to keep the keyword fresh on the top of your list of recommendations. A good rule of thumb is obtain a new one every four to six months. Remember, if you pay it forward, it will come back to you!