Useful Tools to Save you Time

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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.
  • Join.me – 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
  • Bit.ly – link shortener and tracking
  • Box.net – 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.
  • Visual.ly – 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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How useful is Instagram?

Are you using Instagram for your business?instagram-green

For the longest time, I was not an Instagram lover for business. I felt that it was more for foodies and clothing lines. Another challenge I felt was that it was difficult to manage more than one account at a time on a device. Then I read this article that described several apps available to iOS and Android, as well as, one for desktop use that will help users manage more than one account on their smartphone.

What spurred my initial search for answers to using it more effectively was this article about brands being slow to adopt Instagram. The article shares that Instagram engagement rates dwarf those of Twitter. But, only 12% of brands include Instagram if they are using 3 social channels to market. The percentage goes up as more channels are are added to the marketing mix.

Here are my thoughts as to why business has not fully embraced Instagram:

  1. Community managers may not be given authority to post on Instagram as the brand.
  2. Some may not see the value in posting to Instagram for a business.
  3. There is a challenge to manage multiple accounts from one mobile device.  AND It is easier to manage an Instagram account from a phone.
  4. Because much of Instagram is based on images, many brands that deal with a B2B clientele have a difficult time reaching their target audience.

Because the platform is now a Facebook property, there is a spot when posting that you can set a location. With this opportunity, your clients, customers or visitors can opt to “check-in” by Facebook or Instagram!

We all need to know which platforms are best suited to our business. With the rise of Instagram, should you be investigating it’s potential benefits for your business? If you need some help making that decision, call.

Can you be a better networker?

As a networker, can you make improvements?

I read a great deal of articles geared to job seekers. This one by Careerealism talks Networkingabout 4 Steps To Take For Effective Networking.

These days so many people are finding jobs or getting business because of someone that they know. When I teach LinkedIn, my adage is – It’s not about who you know, but who they know. How can you take advantage of this?

To be a better networker, the article I mentioned suggests you should come off as approachable, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, get help from people you know, and keep building your network.  These are great tips for someone who is outgoing and can easily carry on a conversation with someone. The one point I would like to expound upon is the get help from people you know.

If you belong to a chamber of commerce or another networking group, you can always ask one of the ambassadors to make an introduction. If you are going to an event for the very first time, maybe you could take along a wing-person. Once you get to know a few people in a group, it won’t be as intimidating.

But what can you do if you don’t like networking? Check out this article about being a introvert with networking. These tips help you set goals for your networking.

How can you be a better networker? Like Nike says, “Just do it!”

 

Branding Your Email

Do you think that your email address counts in branding your business?Pick a domain name

I hope you said YES!

So often I see business people who have an email address that reads xbusiness@comcast.net or johnsrepairservice@gmail.com. While I always set up a companyname@gmail.com address for my clients, it is for a totally different purpose than to run their business email with that email address.

I apologize to have hurt your feelings if you are one of those people reading this that have that sort of email address. But get with the program. There are three reasons why you don’t have an email address with your company as your domain name:

  1. You just got started and haven’t built your website yet.
  2. You are too busy to do it yourself – then it is time to hire someone to do it for you.
  3. You are trying to save a few bucks by not paying for the upgrade to the company that is hosting your URL.

Here is my question to you – how much business have you lost because someone thinks you are a “valid” business because you don’t have a company email address.

If your domain name was taken when you tried to create your company website and email, you may not have to worry about that any longer. Look at the image in this post and you can see how many options there are for you now. How you brand your business must include what you use for an email extension.

Read my tech friends opinion on this situation. When you are ready to either set-up your website or work on branding your business across the board, give me a call. We can work things out!

Using LinkedIn as a CRM

Do you use a CRM for your business?

If you use a CRM – Customer Relationship Management tool for your business and contacts, that is great! Hopefully you are making use of the automated items that you can set-up to keep in front of your potential and exiting clients.

If not, you might want to investigate the CRM functionality that is happening in LinkedIn. Go to your Connections item on your LinkedIn Menu bar.

LI connections menuIf you hover you will see other options, but just click on the word connections. It should take you to a screen that looks like this:

LI connections page

  1. You can send a birthday message, congratulate someone on a work anniversary or a new position, and …
  2. Review the reminders that you set for yourself.
  3. Sort people by recent conversation, last name, first name, or new connections.
  4. Filter your connections by company, location, industry, and my favorite by Tag.
  5. You can tag people from this page.

What I like a bit better, is to go to the person’s profile page and get into the nitty gritty of what a CRM is really all about.

LI relationship

  1. With this feature, look for the Star underneath the persons picture or the word Relationship. Once you click on it, you can do the following:
  2. Note whatever you want to note about the person.
  3. Add a reminder – 1 day, 1 week, or recurring and more. The reminder function puts reminder into your CRM portion of your connections page. (See below)
  4. Add in how you met and include the people that introduced you.
  5. My favorite – Tag your connections. Those tags appear next to the contact information. You can tag a person with any tag you like.

With all of these features, you are the only person that will see any of this information. That is the beauty of this feature.

Now if you don’t know why it is important to use these tools, let address a marketing tactic. When I teach, I tell the class room an old marketing tip – the more someone sees your name, the more likely they are to remember it.  When you see the following items, take action!

LinkedIn CRM

Take a few minutes to wish people Happy Birthday, Congratulations, or review the reminder that you received from your CRM function!

 

One of the 70 percent

Are you one of the 70 percent of Technicians who started their own business?70 percent

Last week I wrote an article about the type of person who typically start their won business. It indicated that 70 percent of people who start their own business are a technician who may have gotten fed up with their old job or got laid off and decided they could start their own business. I happen to be one of those kind of people.

Here is a story that illustrates my point of working “on” your business not just in your business.

Today I met a potential client. He happens to be one of those 70 percent who is the technician. Over time, he has grown his business but still likes to tinker with doing the work. He met with me today because he wants to take his business to the next level. If he does that he needs to make sure that the social marketing that he is doing is going to be in place and functioning properly. He was working “on” his business.

Another example:

A business friend owns her own business. She is one of the 70 percent also. She hired someone to do her sales, but the person didn’t know the business as well as the owner does. Here is the next step – does the owner take herself out of the technician role to become the manager, as well as, the entrepreneur to be able to grow her business? The answer is YES! You can hire someone to do certain things to make your life easier, and eventually, you will be able to hire a salesperson that understands your business, but you need to be able to see the whole forest, not just the two or three trees that you are working on right now.