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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

5 Free Social Media Tools You Can't Live Without

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 09:26 AM


When it comes to social media tools, it pays to know the difference from the "nice-to-haves" and the essentials. Of course, if you're managing social media for a larger organization or at an agency, you're going to need more robust, enterprise-level tools and software to truly maximize your efforts at a higher level -- tools like Simply Measured, Sprout Social, and SocialBro, to name a few.

But if you're looking for the right tools to save time and effort while managing your personal social media channels or for a smaller business, you can accomplish so much with just a handful of free tools. And although they're free, it doesn't mean they're not powerful. Any professional social media marketer will be using either some or all of the tools on this list.

And once you start using them, you'll probably wonder how to ever managed your social media without them.

The five essentials for your social media toolkit

1. Hootsuite

Want to seamlessly manage all your personal social media profiles across channels, so that you don't need to have each and every dashboard up for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like? Well, that's exactly what Hootsuite enables you to do, and it works like a charm.

What's even better is that you don't need to write a new social media post for each channel, you can simply send the same post -- at the same time -- across all your profiles at once. Hallelujah! As for productivity, you can even batch your posts by creating them all at once, say on Monday morning so you can have all your posts ready for the week. You can then "set it and forget it" by scheduling the posts to publish throughout the week. An amazing time saver!

2. Buffer

Buffer's browser extension will be your new favorite buddy that follows you all around the internet and is ready to help you share any interesting article or blog post you come across with your social networks at the click of a button. Just install the extension into your browser's toolbar, then click the Buffer icon when you find something you want to share. It's that simple.

You can adjust the pre-populated text if you like, add a comment, or hashtags. And you can easily share across channels, as well, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.

3. Feedly

Don't want to fumble around the internet searching for fresh content to share? Miss your Google Reader much? Well, Feedly is a much-improved and fantastic solution for getting all your RSS feeds from your favorite websites, media outlets, and blogs all in one place. As a side benefit, Feedly can also help you cut back on your email subscriptions so your inbox doesn't become overcrowded!

4. Canva

Social media has become increasingly visual -- and using click-worthy images in your posts is not just for Pinterest and Instagram. Even Facebook and Twitter have become more image-reliant, and statistics show that visual content will really help your posts stand out and increase engagement.

But if you're not a fully fledged graphic designer, it can be daunting to keep up with the production of visual content for you social networks. Enter Canva to the rescue! With easy-to-use templates, and a bevy of free backgrounds and professional quality text design options, you'll be amazed at how easy it can be to create eye-catching social content.

5. Hashtagify

With social media, sometimes it's hard to keep up with the trends, but first and foremost you have to clue into the conversation. Hashtagify can help. As you likely know, hashtags are what unite conversation and social media posts in each channel around a certain topic. #SocialMediaTools, for example.

Well, if you don't know the right hashtags to use, or are in need of diving deeper into your niche so you can better hone in on the topics and discussions you care about, then Hashtagify is a great solution. Type a keyword or tag into the platform and Hashtagify will create a beautiful hub chart of popular hashtags related to this topic (just like the image at the start of this post). Then add two to three relevant hashtags to your posts to increase reach, engagement, and click-through, and to also help you stand out in your area of expertise.

We hope you enjoy exploring and benefitting from these essential social media tools -- while saving time, money, and stress in the process!

Topics: social media, productivity, time on social media

Disruptions: Life’s Too Short for So Much E-Mail by Nick Bilton (New York Times, 7/8/12); summary + commentary by Melissa Sweat, Online Community Manager

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 @ 09:17 PM

Haven't heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!


summary commentary emaildistration 8.20.12

Corporate employees send and receive about 105 emails daily. Writer Nick Bilton thinks that’s a big problem as he tries to manage his more than 6,000 monthly emails, using everything from filters to away messages to no avail (see "Disruptions," NYT). He cites a 2012 UC Irvine report stating that those who didn’t check email regularly at work were less stressed and more productive than those who checked more often. Bilton considers other forms of messaging instead, like Google Chat or Twitter, or even not responding at all.


We relate with Bilton about email frustration, but “avoidant inbox disorder” is not the solution. Our methodology at People-OnTheGo is that email is a task you schedule into your day. This enables you to focus your work effort, while saving time for collaboration (email, social media, etc.). We have a unique inbox strategy that helps you prioritize emails, daily and weekly; no more switching tasks to attend to every alert. We also agree with the UC Irvine study:  those who check email less regularly—though we would add “and more strategically”—are less stressed and more productive.


Are you frustrated and overwhelmed by email? Do you try to avoid it? Are newer forms of communication like chat and social media messaging more preferable to you? What are some email solutions that you use in the workplace?

Additional Resources

Topics: summary-plus-commentary, Gmail, Technology, time management tips, getting organized, interruptions, productivity, information overload, time on social media, managing stress, email management

Is “e-mail” on its way out? And is “Social Media” taking over?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Sat, Nov 14, 2009 @ 10:56 AM

This is the first post in what is likely to become a series of reflections on the role of e-mail and Social Media today and the upcoming years.

After 15 years of internet, is e-mail hanging on by a weak thread?

email managementE-mail is overused and even abused, and users' mailboxes are congested--worse than traffic in the busiest metropolitan areas of the world. People are tired of scrolling up and down the inbox and many stopped looking at, and not to mention responding to, e-mail messages except for the urgent messages from their bosses or customers. Reaching people via e-mail (unless you are their boss or customer) has become quite challenging. It is "extreme" e-mail fatigue that we are suffering from. So many things fall through the cracks and so many inefficiencies are invading the work place and our personal lives. Does this sound like "chaos"? Well it is!

Is Social Media taking over?

time on social mediaWhile Web 2.0 tools (such as blogs, wikis, and Microsoft SharePoint) are emerging as the better alternatives for collaboration and information sharing, in this post, I am interested in focusing on the Social Media platforms and reflecting on their relationship to e-mail today and in the future.

Social media is the new kid on the blog (relatively new compared to good old e-mail).  People are still excited about the Social Media platforms. Even though these platforms are quite busy, they tend to be less intrusive than e-mail, and they give users the ability to scan the feed casually and jump in and respond only when they desire to do so. The expectations are less while the reach is much broader. And these platforms provide messaging functionality (similar to e-mail and Instant Messaging) which seem to get more attention and better response time than the traditional e-mail. 

And now the questions about the future of e-mail and social media

  • Where do you see the future of e-mail versus Social Media? 
  • Will it get to our work life as well (having more structured enterprise Social Media platforms that would include collaboration and social media all in one within the firewall)? 
  • Will the traditional "public" e-mail approach eventually go away?
    What do you think of this hypothetical chart showing how the time spent on e-mail (and therefore the role of e-mail) will diminish over the next few years while the time spent on Social Media will increase. E-mail me YOUR  version of this chart (training@people-onthego.com):

Graph: Hypothetical hours spent per week on E-mail versus Social Media!


Topics: social media, time on social media, email management

How to avoid being overwhelmed and consumed by social media?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Nov 03, 2009 @ 10:24 AM

social mediaIn the past, it used to be e-mail and meetings that consumed everyone's time, and now it is e-mail, meetings, and social media, and not necessarily in this order. For years, in our workshops, we talked about the e-mail overload, and taught ways to overcome the e-mail overload, and now we are broadening the scope to include social media.

So how do you reduce the social media overload?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Be Strategic: Don't just be there, but be there with a clear purpose.
  • Follow the relevant people: Those that add value and not just chatter. 
  • Stay on brand: One of Jason Alba's advice that I keep re-iterating. 
  • Reuse: Create high value content and reuse it in all platforms, you know they now all link to each other, so you can more easily leverage your content in multiple platforms. 
  • Time yourself: Don't just be there indefinitely, make it 5, 15, or 40 minutes (again with a clear purpose) 
  • Don't treat it like a homework (especially twitter): You don't have to keep up with what happened when you were gone. What happened before is mostly old news by now. 
  • Remember that the time you spend on it needs to be proportional to the number of people you have in your network (otherwise, it is better investing time to growing your network).

Say "yes" to social media, "but" keep it well under control following the time management tips described above!

Topics: twitter, time management tips, time on social media, email management

When we don’t know what to do, e-mail comes to the rescue! A curse is disguise!

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Oct 27, 2009 @ 06:35 AM

If we are unsure what to do, or hesitant to take on the next important and challenging task, consciously or subconsciously, what do we end up slipping into?

email management

Into our e-mail inbox!

E-mail is "great" (or not so great) that way! It gives us this immediate satisfaction of getting something done and feeling good.  Does it sound like an addition? It is. And like any addition, the feeling good doesn't last too long, and we seek more of it to bring back that feeling, but what happens is that we get increasingly and chronically "e-mail fatigued."

So what can we do about it?

  • How about becoming more purposeful and more intentional, and instead of resorting to e-mail (or Twitter-which is e-mail on steroid one might say), resorting to a few minutes of stopping and strategic thinking to really identify something meaningful to do. 
  • How about we take on the challenging task first instead of e-mail first. Let e-mail be the reward (if it can be called a reward) instead of being the pre-requisite. When we take on the challenging task first, we learn and develop. We also prompt the issues and bring ourselves to face the issues. As a result we feel more accomplished and we contribute more significantly to our team and organization! 
  • How about we disconnect for a bit (from e-mail, and even the web if applicable) and just focus on moving forward this important and strategic program or initiative. Adam. S. Christensen (our guest speaker, at the Gen X in Action webinar recently--recording available) said "I get the best work done when I am disconnected". Try it out and see for yourself!

Whatever it is for you (E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever else)  what are you going to do about it? Put it on the side for a bit, maybe even "disconnect", and get engaged into something more purposeful!

Topics: twitter, time management tips, time on social media, email management