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Is this app a one-stop shop for task management?

Is this app a one-stop shop for task management?

I've been a long time advocate for Any.Do's suite of productivity tools. When Fast Company talked about "the last calendar app you'll ever have to install" a few weeks ago, I was intrigued. I love Any.Do for keeping track of my to-do lists and the accompanying Cal app is incredibly well-designed. But I had to give this new wonder app Timeful a try. So for the last week I have used Timeful exclusively as my task management resource.

What is Timeful?

Here's a quick visual introduction:

Timeful Product Introduction from Timeful on Vimeo.

Timeful is really the first true "smart calendar" I've run across in app form. Over the last week, it has attempted to learn my daily tasks, habits and when I schedule time during the day to do those things. Where Any.Do separates meeting time from tasks, Timeful combines the two into one stream. While you can separate the two things (meetings and tasks) on the app, I feel like it really encourages you to intentionally schedule time to work on or do certain tasks.

Color-coding FTW

Doing things in my email or file folders like color-coding events, emails from clients etc isn't something that comes naturally to me. It's also a habit that if I have had to force in the past. Timeful does a great job of prompting you to categorize (by color) your to-do lists as work, fun, personal or even a custom event or task. That way, as you scroll through your calendar, you quickly see how proportional your work time is versus personal and fun time.

Timeful goes beyond getting stuff done to even improving life habits. There are a few daily or "several times a week" types of habits that I'm trying to be more diligent about like exercising, walking Theo every morning, journaling, or even maintaining this blog. The app asks you a few introductory questions about the habit, how many times a week you want to do it and even helps you track your streak of doing those things, provided you manually check off that you did that thing in the app.

timeful

Create intentional time to get stuff done

Having the ability to schedule time in for different tasks within my calendar has been a huge asset for me personally. Anyone with legitimate ADD like me can relate. Every morning when I walk into my office (at least for the last week or so) I'll spend my first five minutes of the day going through my meeting schedule and blocking off time to work during the in-between hours. That way, instead of getting back to my desk thinking "what should I work on next?" I already have a plan of action. Additionally, it allows me to schedule in break times and force myself to transition to another task. It's really helped me maintain focus throughout the work day instead of arbitrarily moving from task to task. I even schedule in a couple of spots in the day to work on email follow-up.

Efficient Calendar Syncing

The one thing I do love about this app is the fact that it syncs up with every calendar that I had on my phone. It allows you to have some events in the foreground and then to have some calendar events as a "sideline" event - something you want to see but not take up as much real estate on your screen. In comparison to Any.Do's Cal, it syncs with Outlook considerably better. If an event cancels on my desktop Outlook system, my Timeful app will make the adjustment nearly as quickly (Any.Do doesn't sync well at all). That seamless sync between my desktop and mobile device has been wonderful.

Moving forward

I am planning on continuing my use of Timeful for the next few weeks at least. I'm still new to the app and haven't completely mastered all of the features, nor have I covered all of the customization options here. I also plan on doing a side-by-side comparison of Any.Do and Timeful sometime in the next few weeks once I really get embedded with the app.

In the interim, this video provides a great hands-on demo of how someone would use the app day-to-day.

Timeful Product Walkthrough from Timeful on Vimeo.

 

What about you all? Have you used Timeful yet? What's your calendar + to-do list process?

You can download Timeful on iOS only here. 

 

 

Get Paid When Strangers "Pick Your Brain" with 12ish

12ish "Can I pick your brain?" 

It's something you may have heard before. I totally welcome it. I have friends, people just getting into the workforce and other interesting contacts that I love having productive conversations with. Paying it forward with what I know is something I love to do. Networking, when done right, is awesome. It's something more of us should do, since we're all in this together.

Then there are times when you hear it from a total stranger. A lot of times the "pick your brain" question is regarding very specific marketing advice. When your livelihood is based on knowledge sharing, this gets sticky, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you are getting taken advantage of. There eventually comes a time (if you're a consultant) when you should start charging for your time, especially if it appears there won't be a knowledge exchange. But how do you do it?

That's the problem 12ish is looking to solve.

12ish is a new service that allows you to bill your time in 12 minute increments. To sign up, you connect your PayPal account to your user profile and set up topics that you are willing to share your expertise in. Then, you simply set a billing rate for a 12 minute conversation. It took no time to set up. People can then look at a calendar (that you share) and book time with you to "pick your brain" at the rate that you've defined.

I had my first 12ish call yesterday with their CEO and it runs incredibly smooth. A third party automated operator calls both of our phones at the defined appointment time. We had our conversation and were even given a 30 second heads up before the call ended. After the call was over, I received a notification from 12ish that the money ($10 minus 12ish's fee) was being transferred to my PayPal account.  It was incredibly easy and you didn't have those sticky things like invoices or tracking down payment. The person calling you has to have a 12ish account (with a PayPal account connected) so the payment system happens automatically.

Who Could Use This?

While there are people on the site selling time/expertise to talk about anything from car repair, religion or even just being a listening ear for a venting session, I see a huge application leaning towards freelancers. Not only is it a potential revenue source for sharing information that you may have worked hard to learn, it keeps conversation right down to business. You go into the call knowing that the time is limited and the person calling you will want to get the most out of the time booked.

Now if I had a wish list to give 12ish, here are a few things that I think would be great to see come from the service:

Freshbooks Integration

Or integration with any invoicing service. Freshbooks just happens to be the invoice tracking service I use for side projects outside of DeMoss work. It'd be great to be able to track revenue/expenses from 12ish directly into Freshbooks for tax and record keeping purposes. If there was a way to sync up client contacts with contacts on 12ish, that'd be awesome too.

Make PayPal the only barrier to entry

As of now, the only people who can call you on 12ish are people that are registered on 12ish. What if someone wants to book time with you on the fly but doesn't want to sign up for a new service? If there is a way to have someone only have to connect via PayPal and a phone number to book time, that'd be great.

LinkedIn Integration

What if there was a thought leader on LinkedIn that you wanted to peg for advice? How about recruiters struggling to get prospects to return their calls? I think a great asset (though maybe a pipe dream at the moment) would be to have a 12ish call button embedded directly on your LinkedIn profile for people to try and book time with you that way.

Philanthropic Campaign

[Free idea] I think a fantastic campaign would be to tap established business thought leaders or celebrities to use a day like #GivingTuesday to charge for their time but with all of the money they earn talking to people going to a charity. How much would you pay to talk to a Richard Branson or Seth Godin for 12 minutes?

OR 

Instead of having money going to a PayPal account, a user could have the money go toward a "giving account" to donate their time (monetarily) to a nonprofit charity of their choice. It be a cool social good angle for the company IMO.

I don't think this should replace helping folks out, offering advice/counsel or a way to monetize networking at any given opportunity. I'll still have morning coffee with folks and I'll probably be a grateful recipient of coffees/happy hours from other folks I'm looking to learn more from. That said, I do see value in this from a pure consulting POV.

How about you all? Ever use 12ish? Do you see it sticking?

And, if you're looking to chat....

 

How the Yahoo Digest App Could Drive Revenue

Yahoo keeps doing some cool things and this is no exception. Last year when they purchased Summly for $30 million from a teenager, I wondered what they would do with it. They obviously had a plan because they have just launched Yahoo Digest for iOS.

yahoo-news-digest

Initially, I set out to write a review of the app on here. Then I realized there are way more adequate reviews out there (like this one here from The Verge). After further thought and remembering how they spent $30 million on the technology to build this Digest app, I made the bold assumption that the app would eventually be monetized.

But how?

I can think of two ways, neither of which require charging money in the app store.

Adding One Story to a List

Every new push of news has a list of 7-10 news stories of the day to catch up on. What if Yahoo took a native ad-like approach and sold an 11th story? Granted, to work it would need to fit the same short format that real news stories do. They also couldn't be advertorials but be messages from brands about something value-adding to the app user. But, done right, this could be an innovative ad space for brands to play in.

Think of what they could do? What if Coca Cola had a #happiness campaign and produced a short summary to a longer post on ways to be happier? Then, in the subsections they could have tweets from people about #happiness, curated photos from hashtags (or from Coke) and even a campaign video for people to learn more. It would be on brand but a potential value-add.

Use the Progress Circle as a Reward Mechanism

At the bottom of the story list is a circle showing the progress you've made in catching up on the news. After completing the whole reading, the app sends you to a "Did you know?" section to read more news. What if after you read all of the news, you had a brand offering a mobile coupon for their product as a reward for catching up on all of the current events? Being an iOS app, I could see the coupon even living inside of the Passbook on your phone. For example, Starbucks could offer a free small drink or the New York Times could offer a free one-day pass to all of their content. To really work, the reward would have to fit the action but could still be a sponsored space to be used by Yahoo.

I don't see Yahoo charging for the app anytime soon in the name of revenue. Very few publications make money from subscription revenue and I believe Yahoo will find more creative ways to monetize than charging money for app use.

For now, I'm love the app and appreciate that it's ad free. But it's fun to speculate the inevitable.

Download the app for iOS here. 

What Tools Do I Use At Our Agency?

What Tools Do I Use At Our Agency?

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Not long ago, I mentioned the tools I have in my digital tool belt. Most of those were directly related to my personal productivity and organization. Now that I'm helping lead digital at DeMoss, what tools do we use as an agency to help our clients out with digital work? Here are three tools that I recommend.

Brandwatch is Social Listening for Agencies

Even if it's just something as simple as looking up terms in a Twitter search, social listening is a crucial element at both shaping key messages for a brand in addition to potentially getting ahead of a crisis. It's also a way to measure overall brand lift after a campaign has taken place.

When I first started at DeMoss we started using Radian 6. While it's a powerful tool, it is very expensive and doesn't translate well for an agency business model. If you have multiple clients, you have to set up (and pay for) every single profile. The dashboard wasn't clean and the tool felt cumbersome to use.

Enter Brandwatch. While it is slightly more expensive per month at the base rate, it's like it was built with agencies in mind. It's easy to set up several client dashboards simultaneously - and the dashboards are beautiful. The user experience is way more intuitive and I've noticed that I get far less spammy or duplicate mentions from Brandwatch's queries than I did from Radian 6. It's far easier (and quicker) to find the information you are looking for.

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Brandwatch also translates well for team work. You can have unlimited seats and set permissions based on who is looking at your brand or campaign dashboards. This works great for real-time client reporting. As an example, you could set up your clients to have "view only" access and provide them a link to be able to view what is being said about their brand at any given time. Depending on your client and relationship with them, this may or may not be a good idea.

GroupHigh Streamlines Blogger Outreach

Blogger outreach is a laborious process. Short of outsourcing your efforts to a blog network, finding the right bloggers and determining their influence is a very time consuming task. Identifying, contacting, tracking and quantifying your influencer campaign takes a lot of hours - and eats away at your client's budget. GroupHigh makes this process significantly more efficient - helping your client's costs and making your work better.

The best way to describe GroupHigh is to refer to it as a CRM tool for influencers. It has a search functionality to narrow down bloggers by following and topic. The search is still manual and not that clean but way easier than using a Google search. You can then create lists for each campaign, track outreach stages and bcc all of your emails to keep an archive of all of your historical correspondence with influencers.

identify-social-media-influencers-group-high

GroupHigh also includes a great monitoring and tracking capabilities. After you have reached out to everyone, you can monitor your list to see if your bloggers have posted about you. You can then drop those links into a tracker and create an aggregate view of the potential earned impressions your influencer campaign has garnered.

In short, GroupHigh makes influencer outreach easier.

Sprout Social Provides Cost-Effective Community Management

We do very little community management for clients. It's an area of service I honestly try to avoid when possible for client services. However, when we do community management, I tap Sprout Social. While it's not as robust as something like a Shoutlet, it gets the job done on scheduling posts, assigning responses to team members and creating one streamlined inbox for significantly less money. Sprout Social also provides very clean reporting should a client want a print out of performance quickly without wanting context or analysis behind the numbers (it happens).

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We use a lot of other tools at DeMoss and do a variety of work. However, those are the three our digital team is in day in and day out for client-specific work.

Work at an agency? What do you use?