As a professional virtual assistant, I’m all about boosting productivity and improving efficiency. But when it comes to managing day-to-day tasks, communicating effectively and keeping my finger on the digital pulse, few devices afford me more productivity gains and efficiency hikes than my trusty iPhone.
But don’t think I’m about to start singing the praises of my iPhone – I’m not. While it’s been great, this post is all about the benefits of smartphones in general and in particular, how pivotal they can be when we’re ‘on the go’.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you’ll already know some of my top productivity tools. And while the following list focuses solely on the apps I use on my iPhone, there are a couple which crossover to my iMac too.
Okay, so first up, quite predictably, is email. Being able to receive, read and reply to my business emails right from my smartphone is absolutely fundamental. It means that I can immediately check if a message requires an urgent response and send one accordingly.
If I don’t have time to type something verbose on my phone or the email requires a more in-depth reply later, then I can send a brief message in the meantime simply acknowledging receipt. This keeps my clients informed and their minds at ease.
Everything I have to do on a daily basis is recorded in Asana. And the fact that there is an associated mobile app boosts my efficiency no end.
Asana enables me to keep track of every task and stay up-to-date with progress from my team members. The mobile version allows me to create new tasks as they come to mind and update existing ones with further info if needed.
Facebook Pages Manager
While the regular Facebook app for smartphones is great for personal profiles, the Facebook Pages Manager is indispensable for anyone who administers a business page – like mine!
Not only can you see notifications as they happen, but you can also garner valuable insights from the analytical data that’s available. Moreover, you can administer several pages all from one app. It really is a versatile solution for keeping abreast of your public pages while on the move.
Buffer is the epitome of productivity and efficiency and the fact that I can access it from my smartphone, makes it even better. Literally, from the palm of my hand, I have a complete overview of all my social networks.
I can schedule updates to be posted as I think of them and also check how my previous posts have performed with the built in analytics. It even boasts Buffer’s URL shortening capability, so I can paste web links and they automatically get reduced as they’re posted.
I use both Dropbox and Google Drive. They’re intrinsically the same and mean that I have access to all my crucial files and documents no matter where I am.
While I don’t tend to create new documents and type for hours on my iPhone, having access to my crucial files means I can send them to clients and check them ad hoc if required. The fact that everything syncs up automatically with the cloud in the background, means that I never have to worry about manually copying my data.
I live in France and have clients all over the world, so keeping track of foreign exchange rates is something that’s pretty fundamental to my business. The XE Currency app allows me to see right from my phone the current market rates. It automatically refreshes and also features a calculator for converting currencies quickly.
Furthermore, you can setup numerous different foreign currencies and see the exchange rate quickly and efficiently across them all.
Much like I use the Facebook Pages Manager for my business page, I use Twitter to keep track of my tweets. While Buffer has a lot of great features, there are times when the official app still gets the nod.
It has a familiar interface, works flawlessly and offers the full range of Twitter features that I need. That’s why it still retains a place on my phone, even when there are other applications that purport to do the same.
So that’s seven smartphone applications that I utilise while I’m ‘on the go’. It could have been a longer list, but these were the ones I felt I used most often while not in front of my computer.
Are there any smartphone apps that you couldn’t live without? I’d love to hear your comments below.
December’s here and that means you should be focussing on one thing: your social media strategy for 2015, of course! Okay, so there’s the small matter of Christmas to get out of the way first, but that shouldn’t stop you from thinking about where your social media marketing efforts are going to be focussed next year.
But with so many social media platforms available, how can you be sure which one is right for your business?
Facebook is the largest, Twitter is the timeliest and Google+ (whether you believe it or not) is thought to have an impact on search rankings. Then there’s Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr to consider. And you should really consider them; especially, for example, as Tumblr has just been revealed as the fastest-growing social platform at present.
So with all that in mind, and to prevent you wasting your time on platforms that perhaps aren’t the right fit for your business, we’ve broken them down to help you decide which ones you’ll leverage.
It may no longer be the fastest-growing social network but it’s still the biggest (by quite a margin). Therefore, Facebook should definitely still be a part of your marketing mix in 2015.
Facebook is great for engaging with your audience and building a community presence, but you need to ensure that you offer real value in your posts. A mistake that some businesses make is to use Facebook as a one-way advertising platform – something that will see your page ‘unliked’ in a heartbeat.
Despite its simplicity, people still love Twitter. There’s something alluring, almost exciting, about expressing yourself in 140-characters or less.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter affords the best results when it’s utilised for two-way communications. If you want people to retweet your updates, comment on them and actively follow you then you need to engage them and reciprocate.
Twitter works best when you post timely updates that contain topic-based news and/or up to the minute insights.
Can you afford not to use a social network that’s associated with the world’s largest search engine? After all, if the other social networks have the ability to impact search engine rankings then Google+ must surely be the king.
Furthermore, the fact that Google also own Youtube means that integration between the two is absolutely seamless. So if your business lends itself nicely to video-based content, Google+ could be the social network you’ve been looking for.
LinkedIn is probably the most business-focussed of all the social networks we’ll talk about and the fact that your contacts are referred to as ‘connections’ shows the importance it places on professional networking.
Perhaps best suited for B2B, LinkedIn provides a great platform on which you can discuss and share industry insights. Don’t, however, expect to see amusing cat videos though as LinkedIn is all about peer networking and industry insights.
Defining your message for your LinkedIn audience will be the key to your success and brazen self-promotion won’t go down as well as posts that provide real value.
The Best of the Rest
Tumblr, as we’ve already mentioned, is growing fast and tends to attract a much younger audience than most other social networks. Bear this in mind if you’re thinking of using it and ensure your posts appeal to the demographics that you’re targeting.
Pinterest and Instagram are almost completely visual networks and so if your business expresses itself effectively through images, these two could be for you. Pinterest is also very popular among women, so if they’re your target market, you could be missing a trick by not having a Pinterest presence. Instagram, on the other hand, tends to appeal more to urbanites who like to share their daily experiences through photos.
The key to social media marketing is achieving the perfect campaign mix. That means the perfect mix of networks, posts and audiences. Adapt your style according to the platform and the people you’re trying to reach.
Also, remember that the best results will be realised from genuine two-way interactions. Therefore, if you’re looking to capitalise, be prepared to engage with your audience and provide them with genuinely valuable updates.
Sometimes it only takes a few updates per day to keep your name/brand/company in the minds of your followers/fans. You only need put aside a little time each day, or even every other day to keep the interaction going with your potential clients/customers. I promise you it will be worth it!
Here are some suggestions about what sort of updates you could post on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn:
- Quotes related to your field of work – you can easily Google these and keep a list of them handy to copy and paste into an update
- Questions – people love to answer questions
- Interesting articles aimed at your customers – e.g. authors could aim their articles at readers in their genre
- Tips – a useful way of giving out some free advice as little tit bits, making people want more advice from you
- Photo’s and/or videos – these will get people interacting with you – they don’t need to be overly related to your field but it will help if they are
- Links – Links to blogs, video’s, articles, and interesting websites – make sure you have checked out the links yourself first to make sure they are suitable before you post them on your profiles for others
Things you need to remember about social media:
- The aim of using social media is to interact with people, get them talking
- Thank people for sharing – when someone has shared something of yours, thank them; it goes a long way in developing trust and gaining new clients/customers.
- If you ignore messages and comments it could potentially put people off bothering again, aim to respond within 48 hours.
- If you have a blog, share it on all the social networks where you have an account
- Post it in groups and forums you are part of
- Stumble it using StumbleUpon, a lot of traffic comes from this site!
- Look for blogs and websites where you can be a guest poster, either articles or just short blog posts
- Offer to write guest posts for free and you’ll get interest from people immediately
- Depending on your line of work, could you create short instructional videos?
- Upload them to YouTube and try to update your channel regularly
- Share these on your other networks when you post a new one
I put these suggestions together for my own clients because many of them didn’t know how to get started on social media. These are just the basics, there is plenty more strategies you could try.
Why not check out some of my other social media posts!
I always knew in the back of my mind that some people/businesses paid for Facebook likes and Twitter followers, and possibly for other social networks too. But it’s only really been on my radar recently when I started using the website Fiverr for a client, and also looking closer at the freelancer site PeoplePerHour which I have used quite a bit recently for various freelancer needs.
You only have to look at the data
While looking at a Facebook page yesterday, of someone I actually know, I noticed a huge increase in likes, and also the ‘people talking about’ was massive. Only the week before the likes had been reasonably low.
Here are some stats and a screenshot of what anyone can see on any Facebook page:
- Between the 31/07 – 06/08 this page had 750 likes
- At this moment 11/08 it has 8,592 likes and the people talking about it is 8,340!!!
I was pretty shocked at this. I am sure other Facebook pages have a similar looking picture, but this is someone I know so I was even more surprised. The question for me now is, do I mention this to them? They had told me that their Facebook page had been doing really well, and they didn’t know why they were getting so many likes. It’s quite deceptive I think.
So how do you get these new likes? I have no idea… I don’t know how you can get new likes added to your page just like that, I can go and buy one of these gigs on Fiverr, or hourlies on PeoplePerHour but I have no clue how it all works.
Organic is best
I am a firm believer that increasing your likes and followers on social networks should be done organically. Yes it takes time, it’s not something that happens overnight. I have been running my Facebook page since August 2011, so 2 years exactly… and I only have 493 likes as of today! It’s not a lot at all comparing it to other pages I see on Facebook, but my fans interact with me, I don’t feel there is anything else I can do to increase them at a faster pace.
The same goes for my Twitter account, I started that at the same time as my Facebook page, admittedly I already had some followers from when I used it as a personal Twitter account, but that was just a couple of hundred. I now only have 3,178 followers. Again, it’s not a lot but it’s enough for me.
What are the rules?
Facebook clearly states that you cannot buy likes for your page.
I’ve seen some suggestions that if you don’t buy over 1000 likes at a time, Facebook won’t pick up on this. For the page I mentioned above, I don’t know whether that’s going to be around for much longer, an increase in that many likes is surely going to tip Facebook off.
It just leaves me to say, think carefully about doing this. Ask yourself some questions, will buying likes (which are likely to be fake profiles) improve my business? Is it worth risking Facebook removing my page? Will this deception cause more harm to my business than good?
I’m now going to see what other pages I can find which have paid for likes… it will be interesting to see whether this is a growing trend.
What are your thoughts on this?
What you post on your social media networks like Facebook and Twitter is not legally yours. At anytime these huge social media networks could close down and take everything with them, your photo’s, your interactions with your friends, messages etc…
Last year I came across SocialSafe and was really happy to be able to start backing up my social media networks. I started out small and just added my Facebook and Twitter profiles, but recently I have added my Google+, Pinterest, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn and my blog RSS feeds to SocialSafe. Each morning when I switch on my Mac it pops up and starts syncing with all the content I posted since the previous back-up.
From the SocialSafe website:
What does SocialSafe do?
SocialSafe provides an incredibly simple way to back up and archive your Facebook timeline, Facebook Pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and Viadeo profiles. Everything is stored locally on the user’s PC or Mac for super quick access via SocialSafe’s powerful search and browse functions.
Here are some of the features available when using SocialSafe:
Your Private Backup – All back-ups are saved on your computer and are 100% private, so not shared with anyone else. You can view them at any time.
Travel back in time – There is a great calendar which means you can easily check out previous dates on your networks.
Find anything in an instant – You can search all your social media networks in one place, and it’s super fast.
View all your yesterdays – The journal style shows you all your activity over your networks.
Export everything – You can export and view individual elements of your networks easily.
Always growing – By using SocialSafe you’ll never lose posts from way back when, you’ll have them backed-up forever.
I certainly don’t utilise SocialSafe enough, I want to spend some time searching and checking out all the features – but I know that all the content is there waiting for me when I have the time.
Here is a snapshot of my journal entry for today, it shows who has followed and unfollowed me on Twitter, it shows totals of mentions, tweets and similar info for LinkedIn.
I don’t think I could ask for any other information, everything I need is here. In fact there are a couple of things I wasn’t even aware of when I started writing this review, and it’s made me think about using this on a daily basis, especially to look at my unfollows on Twitter.
SocialSafe can be downloaded on a 60 day free trial and I definitely suggest you do this and check it out for yourself. Even when you start paying, the rates are so reasonable I’d be surprised if you stop using it once you’ve seen all these benefits.
I particularly like the Photo’s section, it shows me all the photo’s on my various networks and all of these are backed-up for offline viewing and you can export them. In the Calendar section, you can hover over the days and it gives you a quick overview of all your posts on various networks.
These are all the social networks you can use with SocialSafe.
Now, why not pop over to SocialSafe and download your 60 day free trial, even if you don’t continue using it afterwards you can export your back-ups to your computer and keep them. Be sure to follow SocialSafe on Facebook too, they are great at updating you and their customer service is great!