As the year draws to a close I sat down and reflected on a number of my “Favourite” Social Media Marketing Tools for 2014.
These are the tools, books and resources that have transformed my business in 2014 and I hope they will help to shape your marketing and business in 2015.
I included “Productivity Tools” in the heading because many of the things that made a difference in my business this year were not just Social Media Marketing Tools.
These were the books, apps, programs, tools, people and podcasts that have had a massive impact on my productivity and overall business strategy.
And they are not just one-hit-wonders. I will continue to use and integrate all of these tools into my social media and content strategy in 2015.
Because let’s face it, if I don’t, then the old procrastination-queen will come out …and she’s all kinds of awesome at avoiding the task at hand when not kept on track by these 26 little helpers!
Here they are … and the reasons why you should check them out for 2015 too:
Productivity & Scheduling Tools
Momentum is a free Google Chrome plug-in, and it’s like a personal dashboard that keeps me on task for the major goal I am working on for the day and up to 3 smaller “to do” tasks.
Momentum is just like a “new tab” dashboard. It keeps me from getting lost in new tabs. Literally.
How? By popping up on every new tab I open, with a reminder of my focus for the day, key tasks, the weather (cause a girl’s gotta know when to venture out), time, and a motivational quote.
Not only that, it helps me to reduce distraction and keep inspired – it’s a giant canvas of beauty on my desktop. Each day brings a new, awesome image from Momentum’s library that greets me like this:
I can set the daily focus task each morning and also change out my small list of to-do items. Every time I find myself opening a new “tab” on my desktop I am immediately reminded of what I should be working on – in a visually calming way!
I have been focusing on a smaller “to do” list for the past year, with just 3 items per day to complete (usually one bigger one and 2 smaller ones). This app has been like a team member gently prodding me to keep on tasks.
Let’s face it. It’s flippin’ hard to keep focused and be organised when managing social media – whether it’s your own business or someone else’s. This tool keeps me on track and will keep you on track too!
I had a positive reunion with Post Planner about a year ago. I had used Post Planner very early on and loved it for posting to Facebook. I honestly can’t remember why I stopped using it but I am pretty certain it had nothing to do with the app. Maybe I followed the bright shiny lights to another tool and just forgot to come back.
But boy oh boy, when founder Joshua Parkinson showed me the new souped-up version of Post Planner – my eyes were bulging with excitement.
Here is what I love about Post Planner:
- It allows you to post natively within a dashboard that resembles Facebook – so it’s easy!
- You can set up “hit lists” or Folders of pages you love to follow and share from. Don’t panic now, these are good hit lists to be on and do not involve anyone being in the trunk of a car. With Post Planner you can add all the pages that you love into folders – because you know they provide quality posts on a consistent basis. Find out more about Hit LIsts here.
- You can pre-determine queue times for posts to go out, so you can schedule your posts weeks ahead.
- Post Planner has an uber-cool viral image tool that allows you to check the popularity of visual content on other Facebook Pages and share it. It makes sense that content that performs well on one page, should perform well on your page when you share it, right?
Check out Post Planner and sign up for a free trial here. And shhhh there are big things coming, so now is a great time to get familiar with this app.
And no, you can’t squeeze the truth out of me. I am really good at keeping secrets (and also really good at teasing ;o)
I have recently started using Tailwind for my Pinterest marketing (to avoid “dumping” my pins as I was not getting to pin as regularly as I would like).
It took me all of 5 minutes to love this tool.
Tailwind is a Pinterest marketing, analytics and management platform. Here are a few reasons why I love Tailwind:
- Tailwind provides suggested times to post at, right out of the box. I love that it can suggest when my followers are the most active and set up those posting times straight up. Otherwise it’s just another thing to set up for me. This way, I can come back later and modify or add times as necessary.
- Editing Pinned Images is Easy – just add your correct URL link, description etc – just like on Pinterest
- I can create images using Canva from within Tailwind!
- The Tailwind Publisher for Google Chrome allows me to pin any image from any website and the Tailwind button conveniently shows up on image-rollover.
- You can even schedule your Repins!
- There are loads of stats, reports and tips included – too many to go into here, but detailed information helps you to quickly understand what is working and what is not. I suggest you check out Tailwind here if you are serious about getting more results with Pinterest.
Slack, Slack, Slack. Where do I begin?
I can’t take the credit for telling you about Slack (though you can send me a virtual hug anyway). I heard about it via Michael Hyatt and he in turn heard about it via Pat Flynn and he in turn heard about it from the team at Fizzle.co.
I am merely passing on the awesomeness…
I experimented with Slack this year as my business started to grow. I was finding myself juggling more and more email – even with a small fledgling team of VAs and contractors.
Slack removed team/contractor conversations out of the email I was slowly drowning in.
What is Slack? It’s a tool that brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
But it’s so much more – watch this cute video to find out just how much more and I guarantee you will be curious enough to try it!
Slack has a number of things going for it:
- It’s highly searchable – you can find old messages easily just like in email.
- It’s well designed and super easy (and fun) to use!
- You can set up “channels” of conversation around common interests or projects
- You can swap files, images, documents within Slack and it integrates with many other tools like Asana, Dropbox and Google Docs (even SoundCloud).
- All that plus the power of instant messaging and … yes… Emojis!
Don’t be Slack – check it it out. Read Michael’s article about how he cut his email back by 83%.
PS it’s also a great replacement from longwinded Skype chats. I would suggest you try Slack – you don’t have to have a big team. It would work for you even if you are having conversations with contractors. Enjoy!
It’s been a long time coming and the search for a fabulous GMail Calendar is finally here. It’s called Sunrise.
The Sunrise App is just better. It is beautiful to use (the best designed calendar I have seen). It syncs with all the main devices, Evernote, Google Calendar and has some cool features like colour coded icons.
Do yourself a favour – check it out here.
Edgar makes sure your social media updates don’t go to waste. I literally save hours every week. Right now, I am just using him (sorry for the pronoun, he has that effect on you) for Twitter.
Edgar also posts to Facebook Groups, Pages, LinkedIn Groups and Profiles.
Previously I was using a chunky spreadsheet to keep track of my content posted to Twitter – now with Edgar does all this for me (and saves my content in a cool library) – to get started you just have to:
- Create categories for your posts across the platform you want to use.
- Design your posting schedule for each particular platform. Allocating a category for each of the time slots. You can go back and edit your schedule at any time.
- Add your social updates (text, photos or links) to your library – These can be tweets, posts or images. Assign each update to a category. Each category can have its own library to pull content from.
Edgar takes care of the posting. “He” (there’s that pronoun again!) reposts updates using an intuitive system where he pulls updates not yet posted from the category and rotates so that your followers are not seeing the same posts all the time.
It’s perfect for sites like Twitter were you want to rotate your content. For sites like Facebook where you might like a particular piece of content posted a a particular time, use the “use once” feature.
The beauty is that Edgar still keeps the content in the “use once” library and you can refer to it later! Edgar’s library can also grow and you can add to it indefinitely.
I love to use the Google Chrome tool to add content from any website, especially blog posts from influencers and other social media marketers I know and work with – as well as my own original content.
I only need to spend 30mins-1 hour per week to add blog posts, tips and content, and occasionally at other times as I find them. Edgar is $50 per month and there are no free or reduced-function versions other than an invitation for a free trial.
I suspect that the time saved and ease of use (the interface is beautiful) will be a big drawcard for most people!
Want to know the best bit? All the time I save on writing, finding, curating and reshuffling posts by using Edgar…. I can use on what’s important: engaging on Twitter (and for engaging on Twitter I use Agorapulse’s Twitter Tool – it is awesome for keeping up with all my notifications and shares and helps me to identify important people that I need to follow up so that I don’t miss important tweets.
I had to mention Ian and Razor Social. His weekly newsletter and blog posts keep me up to date on what is happening with tools for my business.
Many of the tools I have listed here, I discovered through Ian. He is my go-to-guy for tools and tech, but he also makes it super simple.
Not only that, for a slighty-but-not-overly techy person like me, he helps me to understand how these tools get results – from engagement to conversions.
Ian knows his stuff and he knows how to break it down!
If it’s easier to do with a tool, Ian will tell you – be sure to follow him!
I wanted to include Books in this post as even though they are not “tools” in the tech or traditional sense, they are “ways of enacting change” in my business, which is something a “tool” does.
Each of these books has resonated greatly with me and has directly resulted in me making change in my daily activities that has impacted my business.
I want to share them with you.
I am leading with this book, as it absolutely flipped a switch in me this year.
I can’t do this book justice but let’s just say that if you are struggling with managing your time and “fitting it all in”, Thrive will help you to separate the essential from the non-essential and to look at the world, your family, your business in a new light.
Or at the very least it will reinforce what is important to you.
And if you love the Huffington Post you will get the back-story on why this smart, savvy lady completely flipped the way she was working and how she approaches her company today. It’s life changing and business changing stuff.
And she will make sure you get more sleep, just sayin’.
Before you post another social media update….Before you download another tool…Before you launch onto another social media platform…. order this book. And read it.
Kim Garst is one of the Top Forbes-Listed Social Media Influencers in the World for a reason. She knows what works and why.
Surprising as it may seem to most people, this is not just a book about Twitter (which Kim rocks at, with over 300k followers).
This is not just a book about Facebook (Kim defies the odds on a daily basis and gets 500-1000% engagement when most pages struggle to get 2-6%).
It is a book about how to let the real you shine through in your business, so you can tap into the shift in HOW people are buying. As Kim says, we buy from people we know, like and trust, but how we make our purchases is changing.
In Kim’s words: This is NOT a “how to” book on social media. It is something much more powerful. It is a guided journey to discovering the most unstoppable force in nature, something which you already have but just don’t know how to harness and unleash…YOU!
Grab it. Read it. Apply it to your business.
I had read the amazing book ReWork which started me on a journey to rethink the way I do business, especially as I was growing a small team. This book, The One Thing has extended (yet simplified) the concept of going back to basics. This book truly does give the “Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results”.
If you are a multi-tasker doing lots of “work” but getting nothing of substance done, then…You. Need. To. Read. This. Book.
It’s my holiday reading and I am only 3/4 of the way through it but I have learned so much from this book, and have already started to implement changes ready for next year.
Read “The One Thing” if you want to cut out the clutter, achieve more results in less time, build momentum towards goals, overcome overwhelm, have more energy and stay on track!
When Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick join forces to write about Social Media you really should read, listen and take notes. This is an essential guide for knowing how to cut through all the noise and be on the right platforms in the right way.
As Peg and Guy say, this is “the essential guide to get the most bang for your time, effort and money”. I was one of the Beta readers for this book and I can tell you that it was awesome then and the final version is just as awesome.
It’s jam-packed full of practical tips, case studies, insights and tricks for getting more results out of your time online. It’s a no fluff, “do this” book you will keep by your side in the future.
Melanie Dodaro has always been my go-to-gal for LinkedIn advice.
She is one of the world’s leading experts on LinkedIn and put simply, if she writes a book on LinkedIn, we all should be reading it.
That is all.
Ok maybe one more thing – Melonie’s blog is also a great source for content, not only about LinkedIn but all things “social selling” and she knows her social media and marketing. She is the real deal. Follow her.
Visual Social Media Apps
It wouldn’t be a post on my site without my favourite visual content apps and tools. They keep my blog and social media marketing ticking away… and keep me productive!
If you have been following this blog for a while you would know that I love Canva. It’s the best DIY graphic design platform on the web.
Basically it puts the functionality of sites like photoshop into the hands of people like us who are not trained designers (and shhh designers use it too).
Here are a few “elements” of Canva you should check out:
- Use the Canva templates on the website – you can create designs for anything when you have a template to help you. From Facebook to Google+ to Instagram and Pinterest or PDFs, Posters, Powerpoint slides and more. Start out with the templates and then get more “custom” with your designs from there.
- Get friendly with Design School. This is more than just a bunch of tutorial videos. More than a blog – it’s a blog and a complete “hands on” design school combined in one. Check out Design School here. Each design tutorial is designed to take you personally through the process of learning a new skill. It’s not about watching boring videos while someone else does the work. It’s about YOU doing the design activity right within Canva. It’s the best way to learn and each tutorial only takes a few minutes.
- Get the App Baby! Canva is now on iPad. It’s not just a thrown-together version of the full program – this is one of the few apps I have seen that actually is designed from the ground up for ipad. It is “at one” with your fingers. Swipe your way to cool design with Canva on iPad.
I have been a long time fan of Picmonkey – on any given day I will have Picmonkey and Canva tabs open – both achieve different things for me. Picmonkey is an image editing program with cool filters, overlays and all sorts of functions to make your image and photos look awesome.
But it also works pretty well for creating original visual content. I love Picmonkey for:
- the ability to import fonts from my computer so I can work with my brand fonts.
- their cool themes for seasons and events like Christmas, Halloween, Winter, Celebrations
- their color picking tool for matching colours from the web
Just be careful when designing, as Picmonkey does not store your images so make sure you are happy with the finished product before closing your browser!
There is a free version, but the Royale Version is pretty reasonable at about $5 per month.
In 2014 while presenting my session at Social Media Marketing World I shared my new favourite tool.
The Twitter Feed went nuts (ok well it wasn’t like Ellen had just taken a selfie at the Academy Awards …but there was instant visual action going on!).
For the next day there were dozens of images shared on the Twitter hashtag for the event – all created with WordSwag. It’s just so darn easy to use! It’s got Swaaaaaaaaaaaager.
And now I love it even WordSwag is a typography design generator – which means that it takes your words and makes them beautiful – quotes, tips, text overlays on photos. This tool is the one that I would most cry over if I lost it.
And even more exciting is their new 2.0 update. I wrote about it here. Make sure you download the update and enjoy creating awesome visual content on the fly with WordSwag.
PS For those that LOVE making visual content but own an Android, please don’t be upset with me. I am a mac girl… but I do care. You can also try one of my other favourite tools, Over. It’s on iOS and Android.
This little app is the reworked version of Over’s “Overgram”. You can grab it here.
For images on the fly without too much fluff, Quick is a great tool for adding text to photos… FAST!
Quick is free, with an option to pay to unlock the watermark, upgrade to premium fonts or upgrade to Over. I think all of the above are worth it.
Love love love love love Videohance. I can’t do it justice so you need to watch this video:
And is it any coincidence that this awesome in-the-hand-real-time video editing app is made by the same people as WordSwag?
I think not people. I think not.
Check it out. Download it. Love it. Create some cool videos and be sure to come back and share them with me!
Podcast Shows that kept me up at night
This was the year I fell in love with Podcasts. I can’t get enough of them and listen to them for my beach walks or when driving.
If can wrestle the Frozen Soundtrack away from my daughter. BTW, is it a sign I listen to too many podcasts, if Miss 5 knows who Michael Stelzner and Amy Porterfield are by their voice alone?
I digress. Instead of listing all my favourite podcasts (as there are many), I want to list my favourite episodes.
These are the episodes that made a difference for me in the past year and enacted change in my business:
Amy Porterfield often refers to the concept of finding someone who does something well and learning from them – to model from the best.
So, apart from LOVING her podcast, when Amy says she is doing an episode on what she learned from 2014 and what she intends to do better, I listen.
And so should you.
Here is Amy’s 2013 wrap-up episode.
And here is her 2014 episode.
Both are worth listening to (and after that, just go and subscribe to her entire podcast).
This episode was a game changer for me. I didn’t have 9000 unread emails like Pat Flynn did, but I had a few hundred and they were growing daily and overwhelming me.
I needed a system and I found that system in this podcast episode.
Pat goes through the process he took with his Executive Assistant to turn his email management around.
This episide of the Smart Passive Income Podcast is well worth listening to (as is the entire podcast!).
I know of number of people, like me, who have changed their way of operating after listening to this podcast – and started working with Virtual Assistants to get some help.
I try to catch most of the episodes of this podcast. Social Media Examiner (and the Social Media Marketing Podcast) by Michael Stelzner are two of the best, current sources of social media advice there is.
I was honoured to be featured on the podcast in 2014 with Mike Stelzner, and I wanted to share with you a couple more of recent episodes that you will get great content, tips and strategy from:
- Instagram Growth: How to Build a Community on Instagram – Sue B Zimmerman is the best Instagram Strategist I know. This is an awesome podcast episode and Sue BRINGS IT with some really savvy ideas for how to build community and ultimately make sales from Instagram.
- Visual Content – How to Create Shareable Images that People Love – I mentioned Kim Garst’s book above and how much engagement she gets on Facebook. This interview with Kim reveals one of the big reasons why her Facebook page engagement is so high – her visual content.
- Advanced Blogging – How to go Big with Your Blog – I have learned a lot about Blogging from Darren Rowse (founder of Digital Photography School and Problogger). so it was great to hear him share his insights on this episode – check it it out!
I love Michael’s Blog and Podcast. I have followed him for a number of years now (fun fact: he was the first person who made sense to me on Twitter!).
This episode in particular grabbed me – in fact any of Michael’s episodes or blog posts on morning routine are great to listen to. I am not a morning person but when I do make the effort to get up early, it’s great! I can get some exercise in, start the day out well and ultimately get more done.
If you are struggling with getting more out of your day, then listen to this podcast episode:
Real Life Events
There is something to be said for attending real life “events” – I consider them a “tool” for my business as they allow me to network and create great connections with other social media marketers as well as to learn from the actual event.
In 2014 I did a lot of speaking and I was fortunate to be a speaker at 3 of the top social media/marketing events around the world – Social Media Marketing World, Problogger Event and Social Media Tourism Symposium.
I highly suggest you check these out, or attend a local event or an event in your country next year:
It was a huge honour to speak at Social Media Marketing World in 2014 and I can’t wait to speak again in 2015.
If you are going to make one big journey (within the States or from overseas) to a major Social Media Event, then this is the one to book in your calendar.
Over 100 Social Media Marketers are presenting and many of the top brands in the world present and attend.
Even if I was not speaking I would be making the long haul flight to get there from Australia.
Grab your ticket now – they are increasing in price and you won’t want to miss networking with 2,500 other marketers on board an aircraft carrier.
It’s cool. Very cool.
This conference holds a special place in my heart. I was a speaker at the first Australian Event in Wollongong in 2013 and then again in the Barossa Valley in 2014.
Events are held annually in Australia, the United States and Europe and the team at Destination Think! put on one of the most innovative, valuable, content rich seminars I have been to.
The speakers include some of the top tourism organisations in the world, and smaller operators with amazing marketing stories to tell.
What I love about this conference is that it is not too big, there is loads of networking time, great parties and many surprises. The SoMeT team even held an opening keynote on a plane last year.
Be prepared to be surprised and have your expectations exceeded.
Every social media marketer, working in tourism or not, will walk away raving about this conference. Keep an eye on ticket releases and announcements here.
Darren Rowse and his team put on a stellar event for the past 5 years, and 2015 will be no different.
But be quick.
These tickets sell out quicker than a Pink Concert. I’m not kidding. Last year sold out in about 2 hours.
I loved speaking in 2014 and I am looking forward to attending again and soaking up all the great content and speakers in 2015!
To find out more about getting the most out of your next event check out this post.
Real Life Tools
This is my Monipod “istablizer” selfie stick. It’s great for stabilizing and holding your iphone as a camera or a video camera when out and about. It’s like having your own personal camera person!
I looooooove this desk. Last year I was doing so much sitting it was starting to feel really uncomfortable so I decided to switch to standing.
This desk is unique because you can flip from sitting to standing in an instant – all with an easy movement to raise it easily to a standing height position.
It’s not heavy to operate and sits on my desk like a normal worksplace.
Until I decide to stand up. Then it looks like this.
You can even dance while working…if that’s how you roll!
That’s my year and all the awesome tools, resources, books, podcasts and people in it.
I hope you find some golden nuggets in here to take with you into the next year.
Over to you:
What are your top 3 Social Media marketing and Productivity Tools from the last year?
How have they helped you? Please leave a comment below and don’t forget to tell me WHY you love them!
This post contains some affiliate links, and as such I may be given a commission for referring you to a particular company or product. Please read my Disclosure page for more information. Please know that I only recommend products, tools, websites, and programs that I personally use and love myself.