Are you one of those people who constantly rearrange the apps on the home screen of your iPhone? I am. For me, it’s an epic battle of how good an app is, a daily struggle in the app premier league to stay on my home screen and not be relegated to the second or third screen, or worse, deleted. During one of these app rearranging sessions, I revisited my March 2014 blog 20 must-have apps for communications professionals. It struck me that 16 months can be a long time in the history of apps and I should revisit this list.
Here is my 2015 list of 20 essential apps for communications and social media pros based on what I use the most to do my job, network with others, learn, keep up with trends and keep connected. For this blog, I’ve broadened the definition of apps from my last blog about apps to include not only apps on devices, but also the ever increasing number of apps on the desktop.
I love Buffer: it’s the social media sharing app I use for my personal accounts and for commsgodigital. It’s free to set up a profile, connect accounts and plan a posting schedule.
The iPhone app is handy and the Buffer Google Chrome extension makes it easy to add links and images to share on a range of social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest). One of the best features of Buffer is that is has good analytics and supports branded domains for custom short links using bit.ly.
I love it so much I have just upgraded to the Awesome plan for $10 a month to try it out the paid for features.
Shareasimage is a great visual content tool to quickly and easily overlay text on images for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You can use hundreds of free images already in the app or upload your own such as the one below I took of Melbourne in April. Every commsgodigital blog for the last 9 months has featured a shareasimage, take a look at our home page to see a few.
We also have shareasimage at work where we’ve used it to great effect for disaster management comms: two of our posts using text overlaid on images during ex TC Marcia reached an audience seven times our page liker base.
Buffer has a similar app to shareasimage called Pablo which is free, but the range of images is quite limited (although you can upload your own).
Plenty of people have told me how crazy I am not to include Canva in this list. So many people love Canva but I am yet to get the bug!
3) Haiku Deck
Haiku Deck is my choice for presentations: it is incredibly easy to use and features fantastic free images to make your presentation stand out. With Haiku Deck there is no more “death by powerpoint” as each slide features an eye-catching just a few words. Due to the fact that some presentations are large, I only ever edit or create my Haiku Decks on the desktop, never on mobile.
I’ve been quite blown away by the reaction to my Haiku Decks, my four presentations below have had over 19,000 views between them:
- Building an online community in Redland City
- Social media in emergencies: how we communicated during the Straddie bushfires
- Setting up social media: 10 things your organisation needs to consider
- 36 skills for digital comms pros in government
If you want to write in a bold, clear manner, Hemingway app is your new best friend.
Copy and paste your latest social media post, press release or blog into the app and it will give you a readability summary for your writing. Brilliant!
IF is awesome! The app formerly known as IFTTT (If that then this) allows you to create recipes (or use ones created by others) to connect apps and products.
Dozens of apps and products are available to connect including: social networks, iPhone and Android apps, cloud storage services, email… and even the International Space Station!
Using IF is how we easily kept track of tips for our two crowdsourced blogs earlier this year. Look out for a new blog on the power of IF coming soon!
Trello is a great app for organising yourself or managing a project. I have tried notebooks, whiteboards, all sorts of systems, but I love Trello the most because I can access my “to do” lists from any computer or device.
The way I use Trello is pretty simple: I create a board for each project or each month. I then set up lists in that board, typically “To do”, “Doing” and “Done”. I create cards for each task I need to do under the “To do” list and then move them along the columns as I progress. Using Trello is like an online Kanban.
You can share boards with team members, add images, add labels and all sorts of other cool stuff. My Trello (top) doesn’t look quite as sexy as the example from the Trello media kit (bottom), but I’m getting there.
7) iPhone Camera app
Once upon a time I recommended using a camera replacement app such as the excellent Camera+, but the iPhone camera app keeps getting better and better.
Three of the iPhone camera app’s amazing features in camera mode are its stunning panorama images (below is a pano I took of North Gorge on North Stradbroke Island), photo bursts, and face detection. In video mode it now features slo-mo and time lapse modes which are fun to play with and very powerful.
Although I prefer Adobe Photoshop Lightroom on the desktop, Snapseed is a fantastic free app for editing images on devices. It features some very sophisticated tools to get the most out of your smartphone images.
9) Eyefi camera app
While the iPhone camera is brilliant, sometimes as a comms person you need to take photos on a DSLR. How can you get photos from your memory card straight to your device for social media? By using a wifi enabled memory card of course! Find out how to do this in my blog Shoot, tweet, live! Posting ace photos on social media instantly.
10) Facebook Pages
If your organisation runs a Facebook page, make sure you have the Facebook pages app on your device. You can easily switch between the pages your organisation runs and notifications alert you to any new posts on your posts or timeline. It’s also very handy being able to see how many people have viewed each post on your phone while at meetings or away from the office as well as being able to manage promoted posts anywhere. Read about my 24 tips for managing government Facebook pages.
11) Ted app
Need inspiration? You’ll find plenty of it in the well designed Ted app. There are hundreds of fascinating talks about all sorts of topics to inspire and spark thought and creativity within you.
12) Facebook Messenger
I communicate more and more these days with Facebook Messenger. It’s a great way to chat with team mates, and it’s even the way my Dad is most likely to get in contact with me!
There is certainly something about chatting with work mates through a medium other than email which is liberating and fun. I love this post from Paul Taylor which describes how his team use WhatsApp for work chats. Slack is also something on our radar to use, but the ubiquitous Messenger is top dog for now.
Live streaming video has been around for years, but Periscope and Meerkat have brought new life to the format by combining them with a built-in social networks. It’s fascinating to see how individuals and organisations are using Periscope: get onboard and start playing and learning!
Check out my blog Up Periscope! Thoughts on a new streaming video app and Andrew Coulson’s blog 5 ways to use Periscope/Meerkat for community engagement
For disaster management live streams we are still using Bambuser at work as it plays nicely with Facebook and WordPress.
You never know when the unexpected will happen, so make sure you have copies of important work documents and contacts lists in a cloud storage account that you can access from anywhere on any device. Documents you could save to the cloud include communications plans, press release templates, standard messaging for social media, media contacts, staff contacts and operating procedures.
This is especially important for disasters and emergencies and is tip my blog 52 tips for social media disaster management #comms #smem. Dropbox is my preferred cloud storage site and has a great app, but also consider Google Drive.
It amazes me how many communications professionals in Australia aren’t on Twitter. Forget about following celebrities, Twitter is fantastic for discovering new resources, networking and chatting to like-minded people.
Twitter is also incredibly valuable for finding out information during emergencies and disasters, keeping up-to-date with breaking news, networking with journalists and following government agency news streams.
The Twitter app on iPhone is very rare among apps in that it allows you to seamlessly move between different accounts – perfect if you tweet from a work account and personal account.
Build your professional network, LinkedIn Pulse articles, and establishing thought leadership: three great ways that communications people can benefit from LinkedIn. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Goodbits is a fantastic tool that gives you the power to collect content and create your own email newsletters. It works beautifully with email campaign software such as MailChimp and is what I use to create the commsgodigital fortnightly newsletter (sign up below!). Curating newsletters is becoming more and more popular, why not curate one just for your team?
Goodbits has a handy Chrome extension, making it a breeze to add cool stuff to your next newsletter. Goodbits was free but now costs around $19 a month.
Running the commsgodigital email newsletter list has taught me a lot about managing email campaigns. I love the MailChimp iPhone app – you can check on your lists, view reports and see the latest sign ups straight from your device.
I have to fess up: I fell out of love with Instagram in 2012. Although I don’t use it much personally anymore, I do find it fascinating to see how brands, government agencies and tourism bodies use it.
A good content discovery app is gold, and Flipboard is the most beautifully designed app I’ve seen. Connect your social accounts, follow feeds and then flip away!
What additions would you make to this list? Tell us below in the comments section!