Here lies a collection of tools, plugins and widgets that’ll make running, managing and updating your website and social media content that little bit easier.
Notes & pre-requisites: I’m using Google Chrome on a Windows laptop (the stroppy creative types in the office will only use something with a fruity logo on the lid, while, like any true hardcore developer, James H swears by Linux) so some of the tools listed may look or appear a little different on other platforms. Your mileage may vary, etc.
In cases where a program or app isn’t available on Mac, I’ll try to suggest an alternative.
Handy for Facebook but brilliant for Twitter. Buffer not only lets you schedule posts to the big 3 Social Media sites, but it automatically pushes out tweets during the times it thinks more of your followers will see it.
A genuinely brilliant little tool and one we use every day.
Free – for up to 10 buffered Tweets a day, with paid plans available for heavier users.
Facebook Scheduled Posts
WordPress users will – should, anyway – already know about the in-built scheduling system to allow you to pre-write a load of blog posts or news items, and drip-feed when they’re posted in future. This is a godsend for anyone who manages their blog in those rare and sacred ‘quiet times of the day’. Write 2/3 posts while you’re feeling inspired and set them to publish over the next few days.
Facebook now allows you to do the same thing with your Page. Got a sale day coming up? Pre-write the details and publish them on your Facebook page in the days (or weeks) running up to the event. Same goes for things like holidays, planned closed days etc. A quick ‘reminder, we’re shut today (Friday the 13th for superstitious reasons’) post on your wall that morning doesn’t mean you have to roll out of bed that morning to write it.
Switching between your personal and work Twitter accounts is a doddle on most Androids and iPhones; it’s built into the app. However on your main computer it’s a faff – literally requiring you to log out & back in again every time you want to update a status on the correct account.
Twitcher (‘Twitter Account Switcher’, geddit?) is a Google Chrome extension that adds a quick link to change accounts with a single click within Twitter.
Ideal for anybody managing multiple Twitter accounts from the same computer (e.g. personal and work).
Another Chrome extension, Awesome Screenshot lets you screen-grab what’s currently visible on your screen, an entire web page (i.e. it’ll auto scroll down to the bottom of the page you’re viewing and capture the lot) or even a delayed capture – letting you show what’s happening after clicking a button.
Alt-PrintScreen on steroids. I often wish more people had this installed, particularly during a support call when trying desperately to decipher what the person on the other end of the screen is seeing.
You can add notes or scribbles to the captured image, before either saving it locally on your PC or uploading it to a temporary image dumping site online, letting you send a link to the person you’d like to view it.
A huge time-saver, also great for putting together step-by-step user guides.
Klout for Chrome
Klout is a useful yardstick for sussing out who’s worth following on Twitter (and other social media).
The concept is dead simple, the higher a person’s Klout score (ranging from 1-100), the more influential they’re deemed to be, and as such – the more valuable a ReTweet or mention from them will be for your own efforts.
Install the plugin and grant it access and when you next login to Twitter you’ll see everybody’s individual Klout scores now appear next to their username.
(Since you asked, at the time of checking, @Creatomatic currently has a fairly modest score of 40/100, we really should do more with Twitter than post photos of our kids, pets and what’s currently occupying the cake stand).
Google Keyword Planner
Formerly known as Google’s Keyword Tool, this is a powerful way of sussing out what people are actually searching for; taking out the guess work of what write about, what to include on your product pages or even just gather ideas for your next blog post. Being on the front page of Google for a phrase that nobody is searching for is about as pointless as being on the 100th page for something popular.
The biggest and most common mistake we see with content is when site owners guess at what people looking for their products or services search for. There’s really no need, all the data is available here for free.
Google would, of course, prefer if you used this to run a series of paid AdWords campaigns but there’s nothing to stop you using the data for your organic efforts.
The web’s most powerful and comprehensive free analytics tool.
There’s a bit of an initial learning curve, but stick with it – if you’re serious about selling or advertising online, you need to get a grip of the basics at least. Here are a few quick examples of why you need to be spending time getting your head around this phenomenally powerful tool:
- How did people find your site? If you’re paying for an advert, link or someone to manage your SEO for you – this will help decide whether to keep spending money on these potential traffic sources.
- What did people search for before finding you? How many customers do you speak to that use the same terminology as you do every day? Not many – the same applies online. Google made this a lot more difficult than it used to be, but there’s still a lot of value in KNOWING what people think you do.
- Where are you getting traffic from? A typical, healthy website should be getting a mix of traffic from search engines, referral links, tweets, email and people coming direct. If the bulk of your traffic comes from say, a link on a busy website – what would happen if that link were to be taken down
- Which pages aren’t working? A handy metric is Bounce Rate; put simply – how many people came to your site, saw it and immediately left? Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik explains it really well in this short video.
NB: it’s OK, everyone goes to the map view at first and coos over how many visits they got from countries they’ve never heard of.