You can GIF with this, or you can GIF with that.

That whole alphabet system thing is so 7th century BC.

We all (hopefully) know that animated GIFs are nothing new. Graphics Interchange Format (aka GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987. The developers pronounced it jif, like the peanut butter. But I guess they also pronounced graphics as giraffics. Take it away Chris…

Animated GIFs have particularly blown up on Tumblr as a primary form of media shared. You can get lost in there for days on end.

Until recently, though, sharing GIFs on Twitter and Facebook has been difficult. Twitter finally realeased a feature that allows animated GIFs to be viewed directly within your timeline and Facebook has come around some too (more on that below). When it comes to engagement, especially from a brand, utilizing media in clever ways can be one of your best strategies. GIFs can often be the perfect extra touch for many occasions.

But the real question is: Where do I find that perfect GIF?

Answer: Giphy.

Giphy is a massive database of animated GIFs. Giphy is to GIFs what Google Image is to images. If you’re a community manager, social media marketer, or whatever else you want to call your position of writing tweets for a fun brand, then Giphy should be at the forefront of your toolbox. You can either save a GIF and upload it to Twitter, or you can share the direct link from within the webpage, and Twitter will add the GIF into the timeline. I avoid the latter method because I don’t like the extra link cluttering up my character field.

For Facebook, uploading a GIF directly does not work. It will come out as a still image. However, sharing the link from Giphy does work. It will embed the looping animated GIF for all of your friends to enjoy! One little tip is once the GIF is pulled from the link and embedded, delete the link from your text field to clean things up a bit.

And for all you Chrome users, go get yourself this handy dandy little Giphy extension for finding the perfect GIF on the fly.

Now, GIF on with it.

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Nuzzel: News Feed Curated by Your Friends

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I follow a lot of awesome people on Twitter, many of whom share links to really great articles that I want to read. Many of those links I catch, but still many of them I miss.

I’ve always wished I had a way to simply filter and view all tweets in my timeline that contained links. Well, Nuzzel has helped with that wish. Nuzzel is a news feed app for web and iOS that shows you all of the articles that your friends on Twitter and/or Facebook have shared. Simply sign in with either Twitter or Facebook, and Nuzzle shows you a feed of articles and who shared them. You can even receive custom alerts for breaking news that is shared by many of your friends.

You can organize the timeline by either timeframe of post or number of friends that shared the link, and the timeline of posts can be filtered anywhere from the past 24 hours to the past hour.

Nuzzle instantly made its way onto my front page along with my other  go-to content apps (News360, Digg, and Feedly).

Nuzzle does work with Pocket and Instapaper. It currently does not support Buffer, but its does support email, which is a workaround for adding content to Buffer.

Give a Damn

I think if you were to boil most things down when trying to figure how to be successful, most of it at some point would come down to a common denominator…. giving a damn. Really. Your work. Your marriage. Your parenting. Your friendships. Your finances. Your generosity. Etc.

Freaking give a damn!

I know. I know. That’s oversimplifying a lot of potentially deep stuff. But at the end of the day, I want my wife to know that I seriously give a damn about her and about our marriage. I want my kids to know that I give a damn about them and their emotional, physical, educational, spiritual, and relational development. I want to love my wife and kids like I give more of a damn about them than anything else. I want my boss to know that I seriously give a damn about the work I am doing. I’m not just milking a clock or monotonously shelling out mediocre work; I actually care about honoring my employer and company with the quality of work that I offer. I want my friends to know that I give a damn about them. That I listen to them; that I care about them; that I pray for them. I want my wallet to reflect that I give a damn about the less fortunate in this world. That I am conscious with my spending and the types of products that I am buying.

So yes, I’m oversimplifying, but I guarantee that if you start your day out by asking yourself what exactly you give a damn about, it will impact the way to go about the various areas of your daily routine. What do the different areas of your day reflect? Do they show the world that you absolutely, without a doubt, give a damn, or would it seem that you are just getting through the time. Getting from A to B. Getting from rising out of bed to laying back in it. Offering nothing more than mediocrity.

Wherever you are in life. Whatever it is that you do for a living. Give a damn about it. No matter how mundane or seemingly insignificant it may be, give a damn.

And here’s the hard part: giving a damn requires giving yourself. With your marriage, family, work, friends, etc. it is impossible to truly give a damn about any of it without giving of yourself; laying aside your wants for the needs of others. I think the ironic thing about true lasting success is that it is so dependent upon you seeking the external success of all the surrounding elements of your life and not yourself.

Pick this idea apart and see what you get. Maybe I’m crazy. I even made a cute poem out of it…

Wherever I am…
Let me give a damn!

 

GoodTask: A New and Better Face for Apple’s Reminders

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I’ve been testing out GoodTask (formerly known as This Week) for iOS for about a month now. Simply put, GoodTask is a mask for Apple Reminders; it’s what Reminders should have been. This is great for those who work heavily with Apple products, since Reminders is already built in to many areas of iOS.

The beautiful thing about GoodTask is that it also pulls in your calendars to show your tasks right on top of your schedule. You can filter task view between list, day, week, or month, which also filters what calendar items you see. I love being able to go back and forth from seeing my day’s tasks and schedule to the upcoming week’s tasks and schedule.

What I love about this app is that there are no workarounds for syncing Reminders to it, as with some other apps. This allows you to take full advantage of all the ways Reminders are built into the iOS experience, such as using Siri to create new tasks, or adding a reminder from an incoming phone call that you can’t take at the moment, and more. All of the same features of Reminders are there too, like location-based reminders, priority levels, various task lists, shared lists, recurring tasks, etc.

I’ve always wanted to take advantage of Apple’s Reminders, but always felt that the viewing functionalities were so limited and task input was very clunky. GoodTask changes all of that. If you’ve been wanting a much better experience for using Reminders, this is it.

The developers are currently working on a Mac app as well. I’ve been testing it with them for the past week and so far it is working great.

This app would work well for those who like Omnifocus in the way it puts tasks and schedules on top of each other, but don’t quite need something that robust or don’t want to pay the price tag for it. It would also be a great option for those who like more streamlined apps like Any.do, but want a little more functionality when it comes to viewing and task input. One feature that sets this apart is ability to share Reminders lists with others. This turns GoodTask into a great task collaboration tool.

GoodTask is currently $4.99 in the App Store

Smarter Social Monitoring with Mention

If you spend time browsing through multiple tweet streams in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, or if you clutter up your email inbox with Google alerts, you may want to look into Mention. I started using this app with Land of a Thousand Hills about a month ago, and I cannot imagine working without it now.
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With Mention, you set up various “Alerts” that can be customized to include a single word, phrase, or set of words. For example, I have a Land of a Thousand Hills alert that pulls in anything on the web that includes “Land of a Thousand Hills,” “@1000HillsCoffee,” “1000HillsCoffee”, or “Thousand Hills Coffee.” Anytime any of these expressions are used, whether in a tweet, Facebook update, Instagram, blog post, or whatever, I see it. And the best part is, I can react from directly within Mention. I can retweet a tweet, reply to a tweet, comment on a Facebook post, etc. Mention even integrates with Buffer so you can add retweets or replies to your Buffer to be scheduled out. If you handle support or customer service as a team, mentions can be shared and responses can be delegated amongst the team.

Really, I do not think that I can recommend this app enough. If your company or personal brand requires you to be able to actively listen or monitor what is being said to you or about you, or even what is being said to or about your competitors, you need to sign up for a free trial of Mention. I am pretty sure you’ll be sold within the first week at how great of a tool this is.

Sunrise: A Beautiful and Fast Calendar App for iOS

I’m a sucker for a beautiful calendar app. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a little difficult to find one that balances form with the right functionality. Enter Sunrise.

I’ve had this app nestled in the “Update Watch” folder of my iPhone and have been following all of the little design and functionality tweaks along the way. I have never cared  much for the native Calendar app, and especially did not like the changes that came with iOS7. There are some great alternatives, and I have tested most of them, but after spending about 5 minutes on Sunrise after their last update, the app went straight to my front page. Sunrise works with Google and iCloud calendars, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, and Producteev (really hoping more project/task management apps are added down the road).
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Some features that I love:

  1. Weather – Sunrise shows you today’s and tomorrow’s morning, afternoon, and evening weather forecasts. Nice to get that information when checking my day’s schedule in the morning.
  2. Foursquare Sync – I like being able to browse back through my calendar and see what I was doing on that one Saturday last month.
  3. Open address directions in Google Maps or Apple Maps. Options, folks.
  4. Assignable icons for different types of events, most of which are automatic. Coffee mug icon for coffee meetings, telephone icon for scheduled calls, etc.
  5. Write on Facebook friends’ wall on their birthday without leaving app. Efficiency.
  6. It’s so dang beautiful, sleek, and fast.

So here’s the thing. Sunrise is FREE. So you have no reason to NOT try it out. Download the app here.

Are you using Sunrise? How do you like it? What made you switch to Sunrise over other apps on the market?

I Joined the Dollar Shave Club

If there’s one thing I love, it’s discovering a way to make something in my life just a little more convenient and simple. Add to that a way to save a little bit of money, and I’m sold!

I recently started a subscription with the Dollar Shave Club, and I love it. If you are looking for a way to save money on blades and never having to run out, this is a great option. You choose which level of subscription you want based on what of blade you want and how frequently you need them, and let them handle the rest from there. The blades are priced right and having them shipped straight to your mailbox is super convenient.

I currently use the Humble Twin blade. I don’t really need anything more than that since the only shaving I do is a weekly trimming beneath my beard. And for that, these blades are perfect. Quality wise, they are your standard twin blade razors, nothing fancy. They seem to last as long as any other name brand twin blade razor that I’ve used.

Because of my limited need for shaving, I only pay $1 plus $2 shipping every two months and I get 5 blades in my mailbox every two months. So for $18 per year, I stay readily stocked with razors and never have to worry about buying new blades or running out. Super easy. I love super easy. I also love their clever video, featured below.

Check them out at http://dollarshaveclub.com.