Happy New Year! Now Update Your Facebook Privacy Settings.

Those quizzes you played over the holidays aren’t just there for giggles.

‘Tis the end of a decade and what a journey it’s been, right? Ten years and so many things have changed: Internet Explorer isn’t the top browser, free wifi is just about everywhere (not just at Starbucks), and Mark Zuckerberg is known more for his congressional hearings than for being TIME’s Person of the Year.

Other things change, too, and they matter – especially today, when we all value our data and private information just about as much as our valuables and family members. Guess what? The social apps we all use on the daily value our data even more than we do, and they’re always waiting with open arms to catch you (and your information) unawares.

So, as we get rolling into a brand new year and a new decade, let’s check your private parts, shall we? (Private parts of your social media apps, that is.)

Facebook Privacy Settings

Fortunately it’s fairly easy to make crucial review and updates to your settings in Facebook. For a quick video walkthrough, watch our YouTube video below… otherwise you can follow the screenshots through this article.

  • Go to Facebook.com and click on the question mark at the top right. This should reveal a slew of options: click on Privacy Checkup.
Screenshot of the privacy settings menu from Facebook's top nav bar.
Hidden within the question mark are some important features that relate to how safe you are online and on Facebook.
  • Work your way through the four (4) modules to thoroughly update your settings. You may be surprised at what you find (I was!), so it’s important to take the five minutes necessary to clean things up.
Screenshot of the four privacy setting modules in Facebook
Facebook will guide you through short reviews of visibility, security, searchability, and data sharing.
  • Once you’ve worked through all four modules, you aren’t done! Click on the Settings link at the bottom of the dialog box to get into more crucial options. Start with the Privacy tab in Facebook Settings (see below).
Screenshot of Privacy Settings within the Facebook website.
Under the Facebook hood are even more settings that you’ll want to review and update. They relate to Stories, tagging, and even face recognition!

It’ll only take you a few minutes to glance at each setting, from Privacy all the way through Face Recognition (gasp – what?), but it’s truly worth your time. Better to be rigorous for less than 10 minutes than to spend months fixing the loss of your private data!

Have a quarter.

We recommend that you check these settings about once every quarter (three months). Why? Because Facebook will change settings for you and/or you may accept changes that you forget about.

For instance, every time you change the visibility setting on your Facebook posts, that settings stays that way for the next post unless you change it back. By setting one post to Public, every post after that could be Public also… unless you change it back to Friends or something else.

Also, consider this: every so often Facebook will automatically update your feed settings so that any video you pause on will automatically play sound. (Annoying, right? Also embarrassing if you happen to be in a quiet environment.) If it makes changes for you on the feed, you can safely assume it could make changes to your settings without you realizing it.

Better to be safe than waaaaaay sorry.

What are your tips and tricks for protecting your Facebook privacy and data?

How to Use Facebook’s Messenger Kids

Do you talk to kids? Whether you’re a parent of a kid, or you just know kids in your life and want to stay connected, there’s a relatively new way to use our dear friend technology to chat with them.

Commence with the wringing of parental hands.

Click here to jump down to a resource link for how parents can protect kids online.

Big Bang theory breathing into bag
Being a parent is hard.

A Parental Preamble (or just skip to the how-to part)

As a mom, and especially one who uses technology on an almost minute-by-minute basis for work and play, I want my kids to appreciate its power as well as its pitfalls. My kids don’t have their own smartphones yet, but they do have their own laptops. They have their own email addresses, which I monitor closely. We allow them to watch YouTube videos, but we often will play them during common family times so we can ensure the content isn’t too mature for their increasingly aware minds.

My intent as a parent is to balance my support of the kids’ use of technology with a healthy dose of trembling awe. So it was with no small amount of hesitation that I finally ushered us into the realm of Messenger Kids by Facebook.

This post will be rife with my own tones of paranoia and hesitation, which I intentionally left in. The gravity of handing over a new part of the internet to our kids is not (in my humble yet strong opinion) meant to be taken lightly.

OK, here we go.

Go to Messenger Kids to create the account(s).

Facebook has (maybe too) conveniently put Messenger Kids in the Explore section on the left sidebar. You can also go to the Messenger Kids dashboard to get started: www.facebook.com/messenger_kids/dashboard/.

Once there, you’ll be asked to create an account for a child by entering their first and last name. Facebook, likely realizing this is a big step for parents who rightly realize the power of their data access and reach is causing anxiety, tells you up front that this action will not create a Facebook profile for the child.

Next is a screen which reassures you of the control you, as the account creator*, will have over the child’s contacts and content. It also tells you what information Facebook will store from use of this app.

*Notice I didn’t use the word “parent” here. There is no part along this process where the account creator is asked to verify if they are a parent, caregiver, or guardian of the child being added to Messenger Kids. There is only a message at the bottom of the image provided where Facebook indicates this should be a parent or guardian completing this process.

The final screen is a prompt for you to download the Messenger Kids app onto a mobile device. The kid being added must use Messenger Kids from a mobile device, which includes a Kindle reader.

Since my kids don’t have smartphones yet, the Kindle reader is their sole option to use Messenger Kids.

Your final step is to add approved contacts to your child’s Messenger Kids account. You will be able to add Family Members, Other Kids, Your Friends, and you can also invite others to use Messenger to connect with your kid(s). Once you add a contact, that person will receive a Facebook message that your kid is now available for chat.

Getting the Kids Started

Now that the kid’s account has been set up by a parent or guardian (hopefully), the app must be set up on the child’s device(s).

You can download the Messenger Kids app for iOS (Apple), Android, or Kindle (Amazon).

Once the app is installed on the mobile device or reader, you (the account creator) have one final step: you must authorize the use of the app by logging in using your Facebook username and password. This lets Facebook know the child hasn’t tried to set up an account without your permission.

Now you’re ready to hand the device to your kid! They’ll be prompted to take a photo of themselves for their profile image. (My child opted for one of her stuffed animals, which in light of the concerns I wallow in was just fine with me.)

Their home screen is a dashboard of contact tiles, each showing if the person is online and available for messages or even video chats. There are also prompts along the top for taking a picture or starting a group chat.

How Do You Message Kids Who Are On Messenger Kids?

(This was the part I couldn’t figure out until we got the kids full set up on their devices, so make sure you finish those steps first.)

If you’re an adult who has either created or been added to the child’s Messenger Kids account as an approved contact, you will be able to use standalone Messenger (the app or the web version) or Facebook chat to message the kid. You will only be able to do this if the account creator has added you as an approved contact; you will not be able to search for the child’s account to start messaging them. (Whew.)

Your chat with anyone using Messenger Kids appears alongside all of your other Messenger chats, so the interaction is fairly seamless.

You will not need to download the Messenger Kids app to chat with the child who has been set up on the service. That app is solely for the child to use to chat with their approved contacts on Messenger.

How to Manage Messenger Kids for Your Kids

If you created accounts for your children, you will always be able to go to the Dashboard to manage their contacts or delete their account if necessary.

Additionally, Messenger Kids will alert you via Messenger every time someone sends a message to your child’s account. This works the same as any other Messenger chat where you can manage your notifications. As a parent who sees each email my children receive, I like this level of oversight.

Other Messenger Kids Features

  • GIFs and frames for photos
  • Ability for your child or the account creator to report a chat
  • Ability for your child to block anyone they don’t want to chat with

More about the app, its capabilities, and any data information around it can be found on the Messenger Kids website: https://messengerkids.com


Also check out The Ultimate Parent Guide for Protecting Your Child on the Internet


Will you set up your child on Messenger Kids… or have you already? Let me know what you think about it!

Oh, the Humanity of Facebook’s New Algorithm!

TL;DR

The new Facebook algorithm will focus on people-to-people, not business-to-people. Like, a LOT of focus.


Welcome back from the rock under whence you came! If you’ve checked your Facebook feed, or really any news related to business, economy, or marketing, there’s a massive buzz around the recent announcement by Mark Zuckerberg that the Facebook algorithm is changing. Nothing new, right?

Wrong. This change falls into the “once more with feeling” genre. Emphasis on the feeling.

What’s about to happen?

Things are about to get way more personal on Facebook. The new formula for your Facebook feed will put you in touch with posts from other personal profiles (your friends, friends of friends, people’s posts you tend to find interesting, etc.).

Additionally, it’s about (yeah, I’m going to use that word) engagement. But not just throwing out a quick reaction so your friend can see that you saw their post even though you made zero time to linger. Facebook wants conversations to happen. You see a post, it spawns a reaction out of you, and you actually type words in a comment on that post to share your more-than-a-GIF-or-emoji response.

Great! So all I need to do is use the word “comment” or “tag” in your post text, right?

Nope. Facebook announced at the end of 2017 that they will absolutely penalize engagement-bait text used to make people do things to your post. This whole “LIKE if you agree, LAUGH if you disagree” tactic is out the window, friends.

Oh, and your Facebook Page posts? As a result of this change, they’re going to get far less play in the timeline. (Page admins should be used to this by now.)

can we panic now?

Should I, in fact, panic?

Noooooo. But you should take this for what it is: a robust scoop of change resting in a bowl of solid intention and topped with a dollop of upheaval.

Here’s what you can do (and probably should have been doing already):

  • Craft YOU-centric posts. I cannot tell you how crushingly tired we all are of posts which lead off with “we” or “I,” especially when they occur on business or organization posts. WHY do you assume everyone else finds your stuff as interesting as you do? Instead, your post should take you out of your own brain and thrust you into the experience of your reader, because that’s what they are interested in the most. If you can grab them in a moment of how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking, your post can make them linger and engage.
  • No more assembly-line posts. You know what you want to share right down to the hyperlink and one or two key calls-to-action (CTAs). But no longer can you just queue those up in a scheduler; going forward you need to flex more empathy and writing muscles to make the link timely and fairly crucial to the reader.
  • Cultivate power users. If your Page or profile has at least a handful of fans who routinely do more than react to your posts, it’s high time you put a ring on it: build a group of advocates. Acknowledge their importance to your content by connecting with them, assembling them into a VIP gathering, and making this relationship meaningful… because these users will get you through this change.
  • Get trained or get a resource. If you don’t know how to do these things effectively, you should either make the time to learn how or take the money to invest in a professional. I’ve got a short-and-sweet list of pros I can refer you to for digital work.

Where did this come from?

Zuck had a rough year.

There was that time when Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, appeared before Congress for grueling testimony about how much responsibility they own for political sway by foreign entities over their users.

There was the ruling by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that political ads on Facebook must show who paid for them that came in the wake of reports that Russian-based advertisers wielded their wiles through the Facebook feed to impact U.S. politics.

Then there was the report that scrolling through their Facebook feed (and social media in general) makes people feel generally crappy afterwards.

All of the billions of dollars or other currency in the world apparently hasn’t been enough salve for these wounds, and Zuck’s response is a more major shift than we’ve seen in the every-other-day changes Facebook routinely rolls out.

Where will this take us?

This is my favorite part. One reason I love social media is its role in shaping humanity and how we communicate (good, bad, or ugly).

I also love watching how the unique platforms change and thereby alter humanity’s course by slow degrees. This latest from Facebook is interesting to me on a few fronts:  Zuck’s willingness to take a fairly massive gamble for this change; the political ramifications at a point in our history when a mistake could lead to nuclear war; watching how we humans (mis)handle the communication tools held in our hands throughout the day.

As far as this specific Facebook adjustment, look for more on how we as personal and professional communicators might shift our approaches on an app we use to the point of addiction.

What do you think will need to change as a result of Facebook’s new algorithm?

4 Must-Have User Experiences for Conferences

It’s conference season… again!

Seems like just yesterday you were unpacking from the last one, and yet it’s probably already time to line up flights, lodging, and logistics for the next big event. Conferences are a huge part of any business professional’s aspirations, agenda, and budget. So much goes into pulling off a successful multi-day event, so these are just a few ways your conference will leave attendees planning for next year before your final keynote this time around.

Use a Conference Hashtag

In virtually every social media platform, a hashtag is an anchor for conversation, topics, and resources. By searching for a specific hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or even Google, you can immediately enter a thread of comments by any user of the hashtag and engage in a very targeted conversation.

Your conference hashtag is free to create; all you need is creativity and brevity. Your hashtag should immediately identify your conference and be short enough to quickly tap into a tweet. For instance, if your conference is about CRMs, your hashtag could be #CRMcon17 (topic + shorthand for “conference” + the conference year). Also, although you just saw me use letter case in the hashtag, it won’t matter what case a user goes with when they add your hashtag to their post. That’s another beautiful aspect of hashtags: they really are the perfect user-friendly magnet for any topic.

Really Social Blog | SXSW (image)
Anything that goes on at SXSW is connected by the #SXSW hashtag.

If you’re interested in creating one of those branded emoji hashtags we see on Twitter, that’s a different story and price tag. You’ll need a minimum $1M commitment to get Twitter to help you create your own emoji hashtag.

Share Wifi Options

There’s a reason just about every business where customers may linger posts their wifi password or shares it on receipts. As we traverse each day with our mobile devices, wifi access can make or break our productivity. Naturally, we digital consumers tend to gravitate to spaces where wifi is easily accessible.

Your conference will be a home-away-from-home for at least a day or two for all of your attendees, presenters, and vendors. They bring extra chargers and batteries because they know that they’ll be a digital nomad during your event. Some may bring their own hotspots to ensure their connectivity, but your standard conference attendee will be on the lookout for easy wifi access so they can stay connected with your event while staying productive at the job where they aren’t physically in attendance.

Unfortunately for event organizers, hotels and convention centers see the value of holding widespread wifi close to the chest and only releasing it when they are paid a large fee (sometimes in the five figures for just a few days). And it makes sense, to a degree: providing free wifi at a Starbucks or in a hotel room (where you may have one to 30 people trying to hop on) is a far cry from giving free wifi to over 200 people across several thousand square feet of space.

For your conference, you’ll want to make wifi access one of the first things you address as you negotiate with venues for your event. Once you’ve locked in the contract and have attendees booking their lodging, it’s too late and you could be stuck either paying a larger fee or – worse – having zero wifi access for your event.

Conference attendees, if you’re balking at the ticket price for your favorite conference where you know they provide wifi access so you can stay productive and connected, slow your roll a bit. Good things what to know cost money, and wifi is just one of the many costs involved with putting on a massive event. Click here

Create a Community Group

Women attending Collision 2017 are already connecting & learning about each other.

You’ve got a stellar line-up planned with multiple tracks of content for your conference attendees. But attending sessions, watching panels, and quickening pulses over your rockstar keynote speaker are only one small part of your conference experience.

Networking opportunities at conferences are the ultimate takeaway for attendees. Whether you welcome rookie visitors who wear their wonderstruck-yet-wallflower expression through lunch on the first day or conference veterans who know exactly when and where to get in line for the morning coffee cart, each person hopes to meet or maintain a connection which lasts beyond the unpacking of their suitcase back at home.

Therefore, give your attendees ample networking opportunities before they even get through TSA security by setting up a social media group where they can congregate online. If your group is set up before registration even opens, you can add the link to your confirmation emails so they can immediately take action and build their excitement for the purchase they just made.

Set up a consistent posting schedule for your group and, if you’re short-staffed, enlist a few trusted participants to be group moderators who can keep the energy going and the conversation focused. Your mods can share breaking updates, tips for getting the most out of the conference, insider perspectives, and helpful resources where needed.

And let your attendees shine! Let them make introductions, share why they’re attending, find lodging and event buddies, plan to Uber/Lyft to parties… you get the picture. Your conference will be chock full of excited vibes, and your attendees will be part of a community which carries far beyond your event.

Based on the audience and purpose of your event, you can set up groups in any number of platforms (though I recommend focusing on just one): Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Slack.

Provide a Paper & Digital Schedule

You’ve got a website home for your conference (if you don’t, let’s chat, because that’s on the 101 level). It’s a fabulous conduit of information, which you can rapidly update and publish, and used effectively can be key to the user experience of your attendees.

(animated gif) reaction to Amazon AWS outage | Really Social Blog
Pretty much how everyone felt on Feb. 28, 2017. #AWSoutage

However, digital is not infallible. Remember when Amazon S3 imploded and half of the internet went down? Suddenly we all found out which of our favorite sites and host servers were on S3 and which weren’t, because for several hours we were halted in our tracks from accessing anything.

You may have the most gorgeous conference agenda imaginable, mobile-ready and responsive on your website, just waiting for a user to click through and be guided to their next session. But when factors like web hosting, battery life, and lack of wifi figure in, your fantastic online schedule may be rendered moot.

Thus it behooves you to have printed agendas at the ready. If that makes you heave a big sigh of resignation, I get it. Printing anything with an uber-short shelf life in this day and age seems incredibly fruitless. However, when it comes down to your sessions being half-full (or less) because the Starbucks across the street was more tantalizing than trying to navigate to your agenda, having some printed schedules posted and available for pick-up makes a ton of sense.

Note: In both print and digital formats, make sure your schedule—simple or complex—is very easy to decipher and find time slots. Particularly for your attendees who are flying solo, they may have to carefully select which session gives them the most value. Being able to compare topics side-by-side for a time slot is a great benefit you can offer through the schedule layout.


What did I miss?

Post your favorite conference user experiences below so we can all watch, learn, and enjoy our conference season!

Also, check out what we can do for you at your next conference appearance.

Con like a boss in 2017!

How to Use Instagram Analytics & Stories

Instagram isn’t just for foodies vying to get just the right angle on their plate while you wait with a hovering fork. While your friend ‘grams their way to fame, you can be checking your followers and sharing a story of frustration. Start today once you watch our latest episode of Laugh & Learn.

Instagram for Business:

Analytics and Stories

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to connect your Instagram Account to your Facebook Page (using Facebook Settings);
  • How to see and decipher your Instagram Analytics; and
  • How to view, engage with, and create Instagram Stories for your brand.

How are you using Instagram for Business? Let us know in the comments below… you may inspire someone in their own marketing strategy!

How to Use Your LinkedIn Profile (Video)

This video walks through a LinkedIn Profile, from top to bottom, to show you where you can make it better and how you can improve your credibility.

Click to watch and gain insights into how your profile can work harder for you. Even Rachel has to make some tweaks to her profile as you watch the video!

Get a free worksheet!

To take the improvements even further, you can download a free LinkedIn worksheet which gives you guidance on how to optimize your LinkedIn presence and build your strategy.

3 Ways to Make Your YouTube Channel Better

As the most popular video sharing and viewing platform, YouTube is also a dynamic search engine. In 2015, YouTube was ranked as the 2nd largest search tool with more than 300 hours of video content being uploaded every minute.

Since the onset of livestreaming or social video, YouTube has maintained its status as a player by adding features to the platform: 360 video, live broadcasts, and soon livestreaming video from the mobile app.

With these new developments in mind, now is the ideal time to start using these three ways to make your YouTube channel all that it can be.

Add Your Brand to Videos.

YouTube includes a feature to automatically add your branded watermark to each video you upload to the channel.

  • Create a transparent PNG file of your logo, preferably one that fits into a square shape.
  • Select Branding in the YouTube Creator Studio to Add a Watermark (image)Go to your YouTube channel dashboard and click on the Channel pulldown menu.
  • Select the Branding option and click on the Add a Watermark button.
  • Select the transparent PNG file of your logo, then click Save.
  • Adjust your settings to display your watermark at the end of videos, throughout entire videos, or to appear at a certain time in each video.

Add Other Links to Your Channel.

Your YouTube channel will overlay up to five additional links along the bottom right of your YouTube cover photo. Your channel visitors can find you on other social platforms or your website.

  • Go to your YouTube channel (make sure you are logged into your browser using the Google account with administration access for your channel).
  • Hover your mouse along the top right to click on the edit icon. Edit Links in your YouTube Channel (image)
  • Select Edit LInks.
  • In the Custom Links area, enter the Link Title and URL for alternate profiles you have online. You can enter as many links as you wish, but YouTube will only overlay up to five links on your channel’s cover photo. Types of links you can enter are:
    • Social media links;
    • Your website;
    • Your blog;
  • Click Done to preview how your links will look. YouTube will use the URLs you provided for each link to generate an icon for that type of link (e.g. a Facebook icon for your Facebook link, your website’s favicon for your website link, etc.).
  • YouTube will put the links in the order you entered them in the link fields. If you don’t like the order, go back into Edit Links to shift around the titles and their corresponding URLs.

Add Call-to-Action Cards to Your Videos.

As engaging as your videos may be, you can increase the interactivity factor by adding Cards to YouTube videos.

Add Cards to your YouTube channel videos (Image)
A Card in your YouTube video will appear at a set point in the video (which you select) as a brief label your user can click to view and follow.

  • Go to your Video Manager to see a list of your uploaded videos.
  • Click the Edit button on any video which needs Cards added to it.
  • Click on the Cards tab along the top.
  • Your video will appear, as well as a timeline and the Add a Card button. Click on the button to select the type of card you wish to add:
    • Video or Playlist – select another video or playlist to allow viewers to click directly through to the new destination.
    • Channel – select another YouTube channel which might be of interest to your viewers.
    • Donation – select any approved non-profit listed by YouTube to allow viewers to make a donation directly.
    • Poll – create a quick and simple poll with options a viewer can choose.
    • Link – if you have associated your YouTube channel with a website, you can create a click-through link to that website or any of its web pages.
  • Once you create a Card, you can move it to any location on the video’s timeline where you want it to appear to your viewers.

To see how your Cards are performing, go to your YouTube channel’s Analytics and select Cards.

Want a video tutorial on each of these optimizations? Watch our YouTube playlist on the Really Social channel.

5 Tools to Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

I love technology. I replay in my head the scene from Napoleon Dynamite where his brother serenades his new bride.

“Work Smarter” is not always easy.

When I started my business, I knew technology would help me achieve the efficiency dream of working smarter, not harder. I knew there were tools, some of which I had not yet discovered, which would enable me to be productive and network my systems together.

However, finding and choosing the tools which are right for a business is easier said than done, am I right? In an effort to save you from trials by fire, I humbly submit the following tools would have made my life as a business owner easier.

Google Drive (logo)
Google Drive

Google Drive

Let’s start with an easy one! As a heavy user of Gmail, the Chrome web browser and its wealth of extensions, Google Photos, and Google reviews, choosing to go with Google Drive over other cloud storage services was a no-brainer.

Don’t get me wrong: I also use Dropbox and OneDrive (the latter comes with my Microsoft Office package, so why not?). Both are primarily for clients who already utilize those platforms; however, my internal team relies on Google Drive as our home base for homebase productivity tools and storage.

Really Social | social media content calendar template (screenshot)
Create a variety of useful files in Google Drive.

Each client has a dedicated Google folder, each with unique sharing permissions to staff who are authorized to work with that client. My mobile device’s images, videos, and screenshots are automatically uploaded to my Google Drive for easy use in other apps or content. I’m ridiculously proud of my Google Sheets social media content calendar template, which my team uses to generate each new month of content for our clients. We then download CSV files of the content to upload into our scheduling platforms. Even more beautiful is the accessibility to these files from any of our remote devices in case we need to work on the fly. If you’re looking for a great guide to upload your files into Google Drive, Cloudwards has all the screenshots and helpful hints you can handle. 

If you weren’t already aware, Google Drive also has tools to create complex forms and surveys and slide presentations. I even dictated this blog post into a Google Doc using Voice Typing. Any tool that gives me an “Aha!” moment regularly receives my ringing endorsement.

Todoist (logo)
Todoist

Todoist

For task lists, I veered between using Outlook Tasks and Google Tasks. I’ve never been a huge fan of using Outlook on my mobile device, so trying to manage and oversee my tasks from Outlook became a hassle—not a trait you want to have for your daily tasks. I already use Google Calendar, so I tried to use appointment and task creators to manage my to-do list. Alas, that didn’t work well for me since I use my Google Calendar to provide meeting availability to clients and viewing each task remotely was difficult.

Really Social | Todoist task list screenshot
Create detailed & scheduled tasks in Todoist.

Enter Todoist. Using their free subscription, I am able to add tasks which repeat themselves at specific times and on specific days, are assigned to a specific client or project, and can have notes and reminders assigned to them (premium version). The mobile app is a thing of beauty: I have a quick-add version to allow me to tap in a new task, as well as the full-fledged app which gives me management of the entire task list. The Business plan also allows additional team members to be added for task assignments.

Slack (logo)
Slack

Slack

Really Social | Slack mobile app screenshot
Slack’s mobile app is clean & easy to navigate.

If you’re like me you, you hate reply-all email chains with the fire of one thousand suns. It’s nearly impossible today to have a productive and timely

email conversation when the respondents keep missing each other because they’re tapping out replies. Plus, who really reads their email faithfully anymore? Some of us are so inundated with new inbox alerts, we simply turn them off or tune them out.

My familiarity and heavy use of messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, are what drew me to start using Slack. The continuous stream of conversation makes it easy to follow, look back for context, mention individuals for a specific comment, add relevant files which are then saved in the sidebar, refer to other channels as needed, and even incorporate fun emojis as appropriate. Using Slack, I’ve created separate channels for each client and then given specific team members access to those channels so they are aware of new items or issues related to their client. I also use Slack to touch base daily with my team, which is made easier by the mobile app. (Don’t you love how mobile apps help the whole work smarter principle?)

Trello (logo
Trello

Trello

Ah, project management. This particular quest led me to try so many tools through so many trials and countless reminders that my “15 days” were up. I worked with project management tools before, but I really wanted one that wouldn’t break my budget, would be easy to use and understand, and would be accessible to external parties (namely my clients who might want to see how things are going).

Really Social | Trello project management screenshot
Each Trello board consists of Cards with custom content.

After over six months of trials and dissatisfaction, I did what I should have done when my friend Erin Cell first recommended it: I tried out Trello, and I’ve never looked back.

Trello’s free use is so powerful and versatile that I’ve never cared about the premium level for increased features. Since it’s web-based, any user can access it once they are added by email. While others may set things up differently, I created a template Trello board containing standardized cards and lists which are consistent for each of my clients. I can create checklists, upload attachments from my computer or a cloud-based storage platform (like Google Drive), mention a specific user to alert them to a specific comment or issue, and shift around items and cards with drag-and-drop ease. (For a truly paranormal drilldown into Trello and how it works, check out this great review and walkthrough from The Freelance Effect.)

Oh, and remember Slack? Anytime I add or edit a client’s Trello board, an alert Is listed in that client’s Slack channel so any relevant team members have a heads-up. Want to know how I set that up?

IFTTT (logo)
IFTTT

IFTTT

I am a terrible cook (no, really), but the recipes I whip up in IFTTT are to be envied by Martha Stewart.

Really Social | IFTTT recipe example (screenshot)
IFTTT lets you build recipes: if this happens, then that happens.

IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. It’s a free website which connects your online profiles and platforms together through recipes (simple formulas) for a specific result. For instance, I connected my Trello account and my Slack account to my IFTTT profile. Once they were connected, I was able to create the following recipe for each client: if something is updated on my client’s Trello board, my client’s Slack channel will list the update.

This is simply the tip of the iceberg where IFTTT is concerned. I also have a recipe which recognizes when I check in via Foursquare using a specific hashtag; it then adds a new task to my Todoist list for that check-in. I also have recipes to add any new blog post to my Pinterest board for blogs and any new YouTube video upload to my board for videos. You can scroll through the available recipe and account options here; I bet you’ll find at least a handful of ones you can use today.

While this list does not provide all of the tools I use on a daily basis, here’s hoping at least one of these can help you work smarter instead of harder.  

I’d love to hear about the tools which help you work smarter. Please share them below!

#ReallySocialTip: Use Location in Social Media

Use location-capable social media profiles.

Even if you don’t plan to use a social media platform, you can still create a profile or handle on that tool—especially if you have a business location!

Customers who visit your physical location can “check-in” or “tag” your location on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Foursquare. This capability cues their friends and followers to check out your profile, and thus introduce potential new customers to your business.

Need help with how you can be tagged or “checked-into” on social media? Give us a shot.

Use Snapchat in Surprising Ways (For All Ages)

Roll your eyes now, believe me later.You’re not too late or too old to use Snapchat.

Wait. Before you click away to another site – any other site – that isn’t talking about Snapchat, ponder for a moment how you can use Snapchat. For real. Because you can use Snapchat effectively.

Use Snapchat for visual messages.

First of all, let’s look where we’ve come as far as sending messages to others. Long ago are the days of the Pony Express when handwritten letters would take weeks to reach a loved one or friend. Phone communications have advanced from rotary dial phones to today’s one-touch or voice dialing to a favorite contact. And, finally, sending a video message or talking to someone on a live video has become the norm.

Vastly better than written or typed words which barely carry tone, and greatly improved over voice calls which leave out body language, video messages are really the best way today to effectively and truly communicate. That’s really how you can use Snapchat: create a video message for a friend to really get what you’re trying to say.

Snapchat is a communication app. It is a social media app in that it allows you to create media and share it socially.

However, Snapchat is different from other social media tools (Twitter, Facebook) because it focuses on real connection – quite possibly, the most real connection we’ve seen for a while from social media.

Use Snapchat for making new friends and connecting with older ones.

Here’s where so many of you might be missing the forest for the yellow, ghost-shaped trees – and that’s OK. It’s not like you aren’t always being told “you have to get on the XYZ app! Right now!”

Snapchat isn’t solely about adding the friend who sits behind you in Trigonometry (though that certainly is what it’s about for students). You’ve got a ton of friends just waiting at your snappy fingertips:

  • That couple you met at the cruise dinner table;
  • A fellow musician from Europe who likes the same albums as you;
  • Your daughter who is raising your very first grandchild;
  • An insightful business coach who always has a great nugget of daily wisdom;
  • Your elderly aunt who is homebound due to physical restrictions;
  • That company or brand where you’ve always wanted to work;
  • A former flame with whom you lost touch years ago;
  • A new romantic interest who shares your humor and life experiences…

You get the idea. I should emphasize that Snapchat is not just for teens and millennials – not any more. See the next point if you still don’t buy it…

Use Snapchat to let people know they’re important to you.

One problem with today’s technology and all of these apps is loss of attention. You can’t go out to eat anymore without seeing friends, lovers, and even waitstaff glued to their devices instead of looking directly into eyeballs around them.

This is where Snapchat shines as a communication tool. You have to pay attention, and you can’t wait too long to do it. The reason is this: each Snap (image or video) has the lifespan of 24 hours. That’s it. Whether you have a private Snap (message) from a friend or you want to watch a full day’s Story by another friend, if you don’t get to it within 24 hours of its creation, you miss out.

 

Let’s wrap this up in a nice yellow, Snapchatty bow: for all the reasons other platforms and apps may have brought the onset of “social media fatigue,” Snapchat is one of the most truly social apps we can use for real, relational communication. In fact, it just might bring us full circle to when reaching out really meant something.