June 4, 2014

Using social media shortcuts to increase productivity


14 IFTTT recipes to hack social media marketing

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

John HaydonIf you’re not familiar with it, IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a free utility that automates tedious online tasks.

For example, updating Google spreadsheets with retweets, updating profile pictures across networks, or uploading Instagram pictures to DropBox.

Basically, it’s a digital personal assistant who takes care of repetitive tasks, based on simple if/then rules. The automated tasks you create with IFTTT are called recipes.

Here are 14 IFTTT recipes for nonprofit marketers:

Continue reading

January 6, 2014

10 nonprofit productivity tools & apps to try in 2014


Stay lean & work smarter in the new year

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Caroline AvakianMost of the nonprofit communicators I work with site lack of time and productivity as their number one job frustration. It’s true: Nonprofit professionals are often tapped out, working late hours just to keep up. Plus, many of my clients tell me they have no time to stay on top of the latest tools and apps that could help ease their work load.

So in an effort to help you enter 2014 armed with a set of tools to make your work life simpler, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favorite productivity hacks that are free or come at minimal cost.


Voxer: Record your messages for playback later

1Voxer is a free walkie-talkie style phone app that lets you talk to anyone in the world using live text and voice. It also lets you send photos. Voxer really does works just like a walkie-talkie — only better, because it records all your messages for playback later. It’s especially great for international organizations that can use it to communicate with staff abroad in real time. I use this app for quick check-ins with clients working in East Africa and Asia. This is also a great tool for organizations running events throughout the year. Your event team can communicate with each other with this app versus renting pricier walkie-talkie kits for galas, fundraisers, etc.


HipChat: Private chat built for teams

2HipChat is a private chat service built for teams to share ideas and files in group chat rooms. HipChat allows for real-time project management and collaboration and lightens the load on you and your team’s email inbox. It also organizes your chats by project and saves your chats so you can review and pick up where you left off. No need to settle for AIM or to fire up a Google Hangout.


Asana: Free project management

3Move over Basecamp, Asana has entered the project management playing field and created a free tool that does most of what the best project management tools do, plus it integrates nicely with Google Drive. Asana allows you to view all your projects at once with a three column view that includes features like work spaces, projects, tasks, tags, notes, comments and an inbox that organizes and updates information in real time. It’s free for teams of up to 15 users. Continue reading

July 24, 2012

4 tools to make your social media life easier

Image by Sean MacEntee

Facebook scheduling, Twitter Lists, HootSuite & more

Guest post by Carrie Romanazzi Chwierut

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, Facebook users.

Every day there are new online tools being touted as the newest, greatest thing sure to make your social media life easy. To help, I’ve summarized a few that make my social media life easier – and hopefully yours, too!

Facebook scheduling: Pick your time to shine

1If you use Facebook as your primary social media outlet, then you should take advantage of the scheduling feature Facebook recently introduced. It’s very simple to use. Enter your post, then click on the little clock icon. Select the day and time you’d like your text to post and hit schedule. So far, this is one of my favorite tools – I’ve used it quite a bit and have not run into any issues with it working properly.

Tip: The scheduling feature only works on pages, not personal profiles, and does not work with sharing someone else’s post. I hope this is something Facebook will implement in the near future.

Twitter lists: Focus on those who matter

2When you click to view a Twitter list, you’ll see a stream of tweets from only the users included in that group. The nice thing is that you don’t have to be following a Twitter user to add them to your list. This is a great way to cut through the hundreds of tweets in your stream and narrow it down to just those you really want to see. Continue reading

May 22, 2012

Evernote: Productivity tool packs a punch

Evernote uses optical character recognition to find words within images and turn them into searchable text. Wild!

Change the way you document the world with this smart little app

Guest post by Janet Fouts
Social Media Coach

Productivity software? I’ve tried it. It seems to never do what I need it to do, and I spend more time setting it up and loading stuff into it than I do actually using it. Most of the apps I’d tried also had accessibility issues. Sometimes they synced, sometimes they didn’t, and I was constantly maintaining the tool that was supposed to make my life easier.

Until now. In a blog post I came upon, marketing ace Steve Rubel made a casual remark about a product called Evernote. This, my friends, is a very cool app.

In a nutshell, Evernote lets you add information to a database that is accessible through the Web, a desktop app, and your iPhone, Blackberry or smartphone. Items are tag-able and fully searchable so you can add pretty much anything, run a search, and quickly find it again wherever you are.

Let Evernote serve as your memory

Now when I say you can upload things, try to visualize this. You’re at a networking event and you suck at remembering names. With Evernote you can take a picture of a person with your phone, tag them with their name and they’re saved for future reference in your database. Even more interesting, include their name badge in the snapshot, even a handwritten name tag, and Evernote will recognize the handwriting and enter it as searchable text! Whoa!

Evernote can even turn a handwritten name tag into searchable text

Evernote can find text within images, recognize it and make the text searchable. The image at top is a snapshot I took of the bag given out at N2Y4 Mobile Challenge. The highlighted yellow text is the result of a search for the words “Mobile Challenge” in my Evernote database. I hadn’t even tagged it yet. I also found my notes from Raj Singh’s lecture, the images of the slides he put up, the website homepage with session info, and a reminder to connect with one of the people I met at that talk. Continue reading

August 23, 2011

4 tools to help build your social community

Image by orangebrompton on Flickr

Strike right balance between scheduled updates & direct interaction

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, community managers, educators, NGOs, Web publishers, bloggers.

Shonali BurkeWhen trying to build an online community, I’ve found that one of the most important things to do is to participate consistently in your preferred channels. And not just participate as in talk a lot, but share interesting pieces of information so that your community knows you’re not just in this for you, you’re in this for them as well.

Inevitably, then, the time question comes up: “How can I always be online? Is there a way for me to cut down the amount of time I spend in social media?”

Yes and no. Yes, there are various tools you can use to cross-post your updates, for example, or to automate your updates. (See Socialbrite’s handy roundup of 10 social media dashboard tools.) But the “no” part of this answer is that if you’re going to try and cross-post every single update, or automate your posting schedule completely, I think you’ll flop.

How to maximize your social media time

Assuming you agree with that “yes and no” answer, here are four tools I’ve been finding very useful recently. They might help you, too.

Networked Blogs

NetworkedBlogs: Syndicate your blog to Facebook

1I tried NetworkedBlogs — one of many auto-posting services that syndicate your blog to Facebook — early on and then, for some reason, stopped. But recently, Ken Mueller wrote about nearly tripling his blog traffic by using, among others, NetworkedBlogs, and that made me decide to try it again.

Since coming back to NetworkedBlogs, I noticed that you can also syndicate to Twitter (though I’m not using that option).

How I’ve been using it: I had set up both my blogs to syndicate to my Facebook Page (that’s where Waxing UnLyrical goes) and my personal profile (that’s where my food blog goes). In addition, Waxing UnLyrical goes through to a secret Facebook group that I’ve set up for all the regular guest bloggers. I’m also testing this for a client blog — syndicating to the Page as well as a supporting Group.

Hiccup: Since I’m also testing Livefyre’s new SocialSync feature, I ran into problems with comments that I got on my Facebook posts not being pulled into the comment stream on Waxing UnLyrical (that’s what SocialSync does, it pulls in comments from Facebook and Twitter). Jenna Langer at Livefyre told me this was because when syndicating via NetworkedBlogs, NetworkedBlogs’ URL masks the actual blog URL and loads the site in an iFrame. (Sorry for that geek interruption.) Because Livefyre can’t see that that’s part of the conversation, those specific comments don’t show up in my Waxing Unlyrical comment stream.

But if you’re not using Livefyre as your comment system, you should be fine, and it’s worth a try because it does make the posts show up nicely in Facebook.


Triberr: Get your Twitter updates shared

2Much has been written about Triberrwhether automated tweets being shared by a “tribe” are a good thing, whether it can be gamed, and so on. When Gini Dietrich invited me into my first tribe, I had absolutely no hesitation in accepting.

I think Triberr is a great way to share posts – and get your posts shared – by a select group of people you trust. While there is a setting in Triberr that allows you to go in and check what’s due to be posted to Twitter via your account, I rarely check it.

Why? Because I’ve seen consistently good content being produced by fellow tribe members, and I trust them. So trust is key.

How I use it: I keep my Triberr settings on “auto” mode. This helps me because I don’t have to worry about going to Tribe members’ blogs (or to my Reader) to find the posts and tweet them out (though I still try to do that so that I can comment as often as possible). Continue reading

July 25, 2011

6 great productivity tools for social media pros

Plaxo lets you make and send your own greeting cards.

Plaxo, Boomerang for Gmail, Tungle.me, Toggl & more

Target audience: Marketers, strategists, nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, companies, brands, start-ups, bloggers, Web publishers, individuals. Updated on July 25, 2011.

Shonali BurkeToday we have so many more tools at our disposal that we’re spoiled for choice. Here are six productivity tools I really like that help ease my daily workload.

If you haven’t tried them yet, have a go. Or try one of the other Web 2.0 productivity tools that Socialbrite has marvelously chronicled.


Plaxo: A ‘universal’ address book

1Until recently, Plaxo was somewhat lacking as a social network, no matter how much it tried to Face-Twit-book-terify itself. Its strength, to me, lies in its original offering, which they’ve now refocused on: the “universal” address book that allows you to keep your contacts current even if you switch jobs, email services and so on. Now they’re offering a direct sync with Google Contacts if you’re a premium user (read, give them money, currently just under US $60 a year).

I am a premium user, which means I can keep my contacts current in both places, which will be useful should I ever stop using Google Contacts. Google Contacts also syncs with my BlackBerry, which means I really do have my contacts at my fingertips. These are great time savers – remember when you had to export your contacts as a .CSV file, import them, snore … ?

The other thing I really like about Plaxo’s offerings are its ecards. I use them all the time to schedule and send mostly birthday greetings to my friends, family and business contacts, which is another way of networking with a twist. This was one of the reasons I signed up for Plaxo’s premium service some years ago. I figured the resulting selection of additional ecards (you’re limited in your selection if you use the free service) would more than offset what I would otherwise pay to actually buy a card, mail it to someone, etc.

I also now use Plaxo to make and send our own greeting cards, which has cut down significantly on holiday postage. Yes, I send a lot of cards. It’s disappointing that Plaxo doesn’t know when I’ve already scheduled ecards and keeps emailing me reminders about various birthdays, etc., coming up. But that aside, the ecards are cool.

boomerang for gmail

Boomerang for Gmail: Schedule your emails!

2This is something I’ve just started using and I really like it. Essentially, Boomerang for Gmail lets you draft and schedule emails to be sent at a particular time. This is an excellent way of ripping through your work when you’re on a roll, yet not scaring people into thinking you’re a sleepless work demon when they receive emails from you at 2:43 am. You can also decide when you want to respond to email by telling Boomerang when you want to “receive” it, i.e. read something that’s already come into your in-box. I’m not quite sure how useful this is because if I’ve already read it, chances are I’ve already decided whether or not I’m going to reply to it, whether it’s spam or whether I label/star it, etc. But I’ll go with the flow.

Boomerang for Gmail recently became available for download without an invitation code. Once you download and install Boomerang, you’ll see it in the top-right corner of your Gmail screen. I tested it almost immediately and after a couple of missteps – I had a pop-up blocker that I needed to disable – it worked perfectly. Note: if you look at your draft after you have saved and scheduled it, it won’t work. At least for me.

Their customer service is also pretty good. When it wasn’t working for me, I emailed them and got a reply almost immediately from their CEO. Nice!

Tungle.me: Collaborative scheduling

3I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Tungle. When people use it instead of email to schedule meetings, it really saves time. I’ve been including it in my e-signature for a while now, and have incorporated it into my website as well as my Waxing Unlyrical blog. Check it out and I’m pretty sure you’ll become a fan. Continue reading