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.

Nuzzel: News Feed Curated by Your Friends

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).

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

screen1 screen3 screen9

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.
Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 7.19.53 PM
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).
photo
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?

3 Apps to Help You Read More and Share More

If you are looking to spend more time this year reading about things that you love or discovering new interests and sharing more with your social networks, here are three great apps to help you do so. Each of these apps have become part of my daily routine of sifting through articles, finding ones of interest or educational value, and then sharing many of those with my followers.

Feedly

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 1.09.23 PM

When Google announced that it was pulling the plug on Google Reader, a certain level of panic ensued. I was using Reeder for iOS and Mac at the time, and was quickly looking for another option, even though Reeder had plans to ride out the transition (they now integrate with Feedly).

Feedly quickly jumped in to the rescue, providing a replacement for Google Reader. The apps were already pretty slick and only got better and better with new updates. Now I can’t remember how I ever operated without Feedly before all of this. From form to function, they have really put together one stellar experience for efficiently plowing through hundreds of blogs or thousands of headlines.

Feedly integrates with Buffer and enables you to easily add new links and updates to your Buffer. This comes in handy when browsing through a ton of interesting articles and allows you to space out sharing those articles on Twitter or elsewhere, instead of bombarding your followers with a flood of links in a short period of time.

Feedly is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up, or if you already use Feedly, click here to add this blog to your reading list.

Pocket

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 1.31.59 PM

Previously known as Read It Later, Pocket serves as a place for you to save and tag any interesting website, article, video and more for you to revisit at a later time.

I use Pocket closely with Feedly. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs and in no way have time to read every article posted. Instead, I simply scan through article titles and if I come across one that looks like something I want to read but not right that second, I use the “Add to Pocket” feature. The article is then saved and I continue scrolling.

At some point later, I go to Pocket and browse through my articles. Pocket provides a great reading experience as it strips away all of the website’s clutter and provides you with just the content. If there is something I want to share, I just add it to my Buffer, an option that is built in to each of Pocket’s apps.

Pocket is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up.

Buffer

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 1.37.18 PM

I have loved using Buffer for some time now. Buffer started as a simple way to load up tweets or updates and it would take care of spacing those out throughout the day. You simply set a particular posting schedule for each social network or use the default schedule and just start adding posts. Buffer has since added the option for users to schedule particular posts for a specific date and time, instead of just adding them to your regular schedule.

I use Buffer most when reading articles in either Feedly or Pocket. When I find one I want to share, I add it to Buffer and select which networks I want it to send to. Buffer can currently sync to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, App.net, and Google+ Pages. I’m really looking forward to the day when I can use it to post to my personal Google+ page.

So if you are wanting to start sharing more to your social networks and need an easy way to schedule them out throughout the day, Buffer is the best option.

Buffer is FREE for personal use on all available platforms, and they also feature upgraded plans that allow for more Buffer space, more networks, and collaboration with other social media managers. Click here to sign up.


Do you currently use Feedly, Pocket, or Buffer? If so, how do you use them? What do you love about them?

Omnifocus 2 – Beautifully Functional

One of my biggest obstacles to really being able to use Omnifocus regularly was the app’s design and interface. Omnifocus has always been a pretty robust GTD app, and until now the complexity of the app never felt totally fluid and intuitive for me to fit into my workflow. It also felt very dated aesthetically.

Omnifocus 2 changes all of that. It’s beautifully designed and still has the full feature set that it did before, but the user experience has been crafted in such a way as to make the app feel clean, simple, and somewhat minimalistic.

I can’t wait to see what the Mac app will look like next year.

One of the things I love most about iOS7 is the app redesigns. I’m also looking forward to what Cultured Code does with Things.