TIME apps

AT&T’s BabyFirst Interactive Service Called ‘Worst Baby App Ever’

To a ringing, upbeat soundtrack overlaid by the seductive phrase “Baby Geniuses,” a cheerful narrator in the promotional video below introduces a new interactive AT&T app for babies that grabs imagery from a tablet and pipes it in real time to a U-Verse-equipped TV.

Instead of tracking just one screen, in other words, the app encourages babies to juggle two.

There’s Mom, smiling and holding her baby, who in turn clutches an iPad and hammers away at coloring-book-style pictures that then appear on the big screen. The babies on the TV screen laugh and clap as cartoonish dogs, raccoons and kittens fill their view. The child watching seems delighted and engaged as Mom co-pilots.

“I would tell other moms to give it a try,” says the ardent mom. “I think you’ll really see that your kids will enjoy it.”

The hook is that AT&T’s app ties into something called BabyFirst, a satellite network launched in 2003 that describes its free-to-all programming as “specifically tailored for babies three years and younger.” Note the circumspect language used in that phrase — there’s no cutoff starting age, and the word “baby” can refer to anything from a young child in the throes of up-and-about toddlerhood, to a swaddled, barely interactive newborn.

If that’s setting off warning bells, it’s probably because you’ve heard somewhere along the line about the American Academy of Pediatrics, which makes it clear, based on the research to date, that children under two years of age should avoid exposure to “television and other entertainment media.” That, says the AAP, is because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”

The latter’s a generalization, to be fair, and one that hinges on nascent, unsettled research, but it references neuroscience’s conceptualization of early brain development wherein the brain is still physically changing for years after birth. How that development plays out, according to researchers, is impacted by the nature of the input the brain receives.

One of those researchers, Susan Linn, a Harvard Medical School instructor who directs the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood advocacy group, has been writing about the effects of media on children for years. She’s probably best known for leading the charge against Baby Einstein, the once Disney-owned company that produced popular videos like “Baby Mozart” and “Baby Shakespeare” back when the videos were being marketed to the parents of very young children as educational.

The CCFC on Wednesday launched a campaign to protest AT&T’s BabyFirst interactive app, demanding that the company end its partnership with BabyFirstTV, referencing infant learning and development researchers who the CCFC says believe adding a second screen to a baby’s learning environment is “a worrisome escalation.”

I had a chance to ask Dr. Linn a few questions by email Tuesday night. Here’s what she told me.

The question of one screen aside, is there a presumption being made, absent research, that two screens must be additively worse than one? Can you clarify what the research tells us about this?

There’s a great deal of research about what babies need for healthy brain development. They need to explore their world with all of their senses, hands-on play, active play, and to be talked to, played with, read to and cuddled by the adults who love them. There’s no evidence that watching television is beneficial for babies, and some evidence that, for infants and toddlers, it’s linked to delayed language development, sleep disturbance, obesity, and poor school performance when they’re older.

We also know that the experiences babies have and don’t have profoundly affect brain development and can create biologically compelled habits. There is evidence that early screen time is habit forming—the more children under three watch, the harder time they have turning screens off when they’re older and the more time they spend with screens.

There’s also evidence that multi-tasking results in doing whatever the tasks are less well. While the phenomenon of multi-tasking babies is too new to have been researched, given the plasticity of their brains, the impact of infant experiences on brain development, and what we already know about the problems associated with multi-tasking, it’s fair to assume that it’s not a good idea for babies.

The AAP’s recommendation aside, is there a way for a child under two to use an interactive screen that research indicates might be appropriate? Research in this area (and sufficient amounts of longitudinal data and controls) is still in its infancy, isn’t it?

Touchscreens are so new that we don’t have information about their impact on babies. Given what we do know about how babies learn and what they need for healthy development, and given growing concerns about the habit-forming nature of new technologies, it seems prudent to postpone screen time for infants and toddlers until they’re older. There’s no evidence that introducing babies to touchscreens will make them any better at using new technologies later in life.

Does any of the research indicate that use of a (supervised) interactive screen is fundamentally different, say, from reading a picture book, playing with a musical toy or drawing on paper?

There’s research showing that reading to babies is important for literacy and that talking to babies is important for language development. There is also research showing that the bells and whistles associated with ebooks interfere with the kind of parent/child discussions that are important for literacy and that babies can’t learn language from a machine. The difference between drawing on paper or playing with a non-electronic musical toy has to do with the sensory experience, the manipulative skills necessary, and the amount of effort needed to produce a particular result. There’s no research about this yet, but, again, given what we know about how babies learn and the importance of varied, multi-sensory experiences, there is reason to proceed with caution.

When we say “screen time,” do we mean all screen time, or just certain kinds of screen time? Do we know that reading the tablet version of a picture book (which after all is a 3D, physical object in its own right) is any more harmful (or helpful) than engaging with the paper version?

I expect that, except for the physical act of turning pages, there’s not much difference between just reading a book on a tablet and reading a physical book. The problem is that ebooks are often not just reproductions of picture books—they include a lot of distractions that interfere with comprehension of the story and with the kind of conversation between adults and children that’s important for literacy.

Does the research indicate the problem is with screen time, or with screens used in lieu of parental interaction? Might we eventually see scenarios in which screens become complementary to healthy parental engagement (assuming parents never use the screens as mere distraction tools)?

Given what we know about how babies learn, it’s hard to see how screen time of any kind could be more beneficial than hands-on play, active play, and exploring the world with all of their senses—even with parental involvement.

TIME How-To

The Big List of The 61 Best Social Media Tools

Social Media Monitoring Tools List
A smartphone displays the Metropolitan Police's Twitter feed during a 2011 protest against government guts in London. Companies are increasingly turning to monitoring social media to improve their businesses. Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

How managing social media can jumpstart your enterprise

buffer-app-logo

This post is in partnership with Buffer. The article below was originally published on Buffer.

Banana Republic and Susan’s Neighborhood Shirt Shop could be using the same social networks—Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.—but their marketing plans and their marketing tools are likely quite different. Enterprise solutions are great for the big guys, but the rest of us are in the market for something more our size.

Small businesses are eager to find valuable tools that take a lot of the time and trouble out of social media marketing and that do so without costing an arm and a leg. I think we’d all want tools like that, right?

Well, I went searching for just this kind of simple, easy, cost-effective tool, and I came up with 61 that made the cut. I tried out more than 100 in total, and I’m sure I missed a few along the way (please tell me in the comments or on Twitter which ones deserve a look).

Hopefully you find one or two here that you can use in your small scale marketing that can get you big results.

Social Media Tools for Small Business

Dashboards / Management Tools
SocialBroTweetDeckTweetcasterTwitter ToolsFollowerwonkSocial RankManageFlitterMust Be PresentTweriod

Tweepi

Tweet4Me

Commun.it

Twtrland

NeedTagger

TweeterSpy

Twitter Feed

TweetReach

Twazzup

Topsy

Facebook Tools

LikeAlyzer

Fanpage Karma

Wolfram Alpha Facebook Report

Facebook Custom Audiences

Social Media Analytics Tools

Rival IQ

Buzz Sumo

Klout

SharedCount

Google URL Builder

Visual Content Tools

Infogr.am

Piktochart

Visually

Canva

Compfight

BeFunky

LICEcap

Social Media Monitoring ToolsMentionNutshell MailSocialMentionKeyholeSocial Media Content ToolsNews.meFeedlyPocket

Paper.li

Swayy

Pie

Bottlenose

WordPress Plugins

Digg Digg

Flare

Ivy

Pin It Button for Images

Miscellaneous Tools

Fivehundredplus

Rapportive

Bitly

Rev

Pinterest Board Cover Creator

Jelly

Google+ Page Audit

Powtoon

Cardmunch

IFTTT

Zapier

 

 

Buffer

Before we get in too deep, I wanted to plug a social media tool I’m quite partial to (for obvious reasons). I use Buffer every single day to build a queue of the content I curate and send it out on a regular schedule to my various timelines. It’s simple and easy, and the intuitive analytics on each post make it a breeze to see which posts performed best.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.19.40 PM

Okay, now on with the lists…

 

 

 

Dashboards / Management Tools

 

 

SocialBro

 

A complete Twitter management tool (that also comes complete with Buffer integration), SocialBro can tell you everything you want to know about your Twitter account—community information, analytics on all your posts, and much, much more. There is a 15-day free trial to test out all the features.

 

SocialBro

 

Put this tool to use: The community insights are fascinating, and there’s some real value to be gained from the tweet analytics (pictured above), which show you which posts got the most engagement and when.

 

Tweetdeck

 

Now owned by Twitter, Tweetdeck is one of the most popular tools for complete Twitter management. Tweetdeck lets you track, organize, and engage with your followers through a customizable dashboard where you can quickly see at-a-glance the activity from different lists, followers, hashtags, and more.

 

Tweetdeck

 

Put this tool to use: What do you find yourself checking when you go to Twitter? Whatever it is, you can add it to your Tweetdeck dashboard and see everything in one view with nary an extra click. Could be a huge time saver.

 

Tweetcaster

 

Tweetcaster is a Twitter management tool for iOS and Android devices, and it provides the basics of what you’d expect from a Twitter dashboard plus a few fun extras: enhanced search and lists, hiding unwanted tweets, and photo effects for your pics.

 

Tweetcaster

 

Put this tool to use: Keep the app on the first screen of your phone and tablet so you can easily dip in and out of your Twitter streams when time allows.

 

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Twitter Tools

 

 

 

Followerwonk

 

Followerwonk is one of our favorite ways to analyze and optimize our Twitter accounts at Buffer. With Followerwonk, you can do all sorts of amazingly helpful things like analyze your Twitter followers, compare different users, and search through bios—all for free. There are even more features—like tracking and sorting your followers—that you can access with a 30-day trial.

 

Followerwonk screenshot 2

 

Put this tool to use: One of our favorite uses of Followerwonk is to take the time-of-day charts and sync to a Buffer account. You can also take a close-up look at various stats from those you follow to see which accounts you could maybe prune (because of factors like inactivity).

 

Social Rank

 

This Twitter tool identifies your top 10 followers in three specific areas: Best Followers, Most Engaged, and Most Valuable. Your engaged followers are those who interact with you most often (replies, retweets, and favorites), your most valuable followers are the influential accounts, and your best followers are a combination of the two. Social Rank will run the numbers for free and show you the results today then follow-up each month with an email report.

 

Social Rank screenshot

 

Put this tool to use: Social Rank can help you hone your Twitter focus so that you are aware of the followers who might deserve extra attention. You can even place these MVPs onto a specific Twitter list.

 

ManageFlitter

 

For quite awhile, I read the name of this tool as Manager “Filter,” which actually isn’t too far off from what ManageFlitter does. The Twitter tool helps you filter who you follow: Easily unfollow those who don’t follow you back, those who’ve never changed their profile photo, and those who are inactive.

 

ManageFlitter

 

Put this tool to use: You can batch select these groups of inactive or non-following users in order to give yourself a better following count (and closer to a golden ratio).

 

Must Be Present

 

Built by the team at Sprout Social, Must Be Present searches your Twitter account to find how quickly you respond to mentions. Their engagement reports place you in a percentile based on other accounts so you can see how you stack up to the speed of others.

 

Must Be Present

 

Put this tool to use: Set goals for response time on Twitter, and use Must Be Present to track them. Aim for a certain percentile or a particular average response time.

 

Tweriod

 

Find out when you’ll receive the most exposure for your tweets by letting Tweriod analyze your account. The Tweriod reports break it down into daily and hourly windows when you can expect the highest engagement with what you share.

 

Tweriod

 

Put this tool to use: If you use social media scheduling apps for your automation, it goes without saying that sharing at optimal times would be best. Use your Tweriod insights to check your scheduling, or plan your social media drivebys around this time.

 

Tweepi

 

Tweepi has a number of useful Twitter features, many of which fall into a couple categories: Managing your followers, and supercharging who you’re following. For management, you can unfollow in batches those who don’t follow you back, and you can bulk follow another account’s complete list of followers or who they’re following.

 

Tweepi

 

Put this tool to use: Tweepi’s detailed info on your followers can give you ideas on who to follow or unfollow. Try the cleanup section to bulk edit your connections on Twitter.

 

Tweet4me

 

To schedule tweets from any app, simply ask Tweet4me to do it for you. Once you’re signed up with Tweet4me, you can send them a direct message that contains a certain prefix, containing information on when and what to post.

 

img1

 

Put this tool to use: If you find yourself double-booked and needing to post to Twitter in 30 minutes, Tweet4Me could be your saving grace.

 

Commun.it

 

Commun.it can help you organize, grow, and manage your followers, and it can do so across multiple accounts and profiles. At-a-glance, you can see different parts of your community management, like latest tweets from your stream and which new followers might appreciate a welcome.

 

Commun.it

 

Put this tool to use: Keep on top of who you should be following by listening to Commun.it’s advice on the most influential accounts around your brand.

 

Twtrland

 

Twtrland gives you a snapshot of your Twitter profile and can even track Facebook and Instagram for you as well. Two of Twtrland’s most helpful tools are a live count of how many followers are currently online and advanced search functionality tha tincludes keywords, locations, and companies.

 

Twtrland

 

Put this tool to use: Local companies can perform a location search to see which area accounts are most popular and potentially worth following.

 

NeedTagger

 

A super-powered Twitter search tool, NeedTagger runs language filters and keyword searches to determine which Twitter users might need your product or service. Sounds too good to be true, right? The tool shows you real-time search results and sends a daily email digest of new finds.

 

Needtaggr

 

Put this tool to use: Build a Twitter list of potential customers so you can learn and understand their needs and how they communicate.

 

Tweeter Spy

 

The Twitter click tracking at Tweeter Spy can tell you which tweets result in the most traffic back to your site. To install, you’ll need to insert a line of code at your website, then you can manage your Twitter click stats right through Tweeterspy.

 

Tweeter Spy

 

Put this tool to use: Tweeter Spy has a neat feature that allows you to “Say Thanks” (with a tweet) to Twitter profiles who refer big traffic to your site.

 

Twitter Feed

 

For those looking to feed an RSS of a blog straight to your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn profile, Twitter Feed has you covered. Simply enter your feed, connect your social accounts, and send your posts away, complete with tracking tools for follow-up.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 12.47.42 PM

 

Put this tool to use: If you have feeds for separate categories on your blog, you can set up Twitter Feed to blast only particular content—new product announcements or featured content.

 

TweetReach

 

This Twitter tool shows you the reach and exposure of the tweets you send, collecting data on who retweets you and the influence of each.

 

TwitterReach

 

Put this tool to use: Identify which of your tweets has spread the farthest (and why), then try to repeat the formula with future tweets.

 

Twazzup

 

Twazzup offers real-time monitoring and analytics for Twitter on any name, keyword, or hashtag you choose. The Twazzup results page delivers interesting insights like who the top influencers are for your keyword and which top links are associated with your search.

 

Twazzup

 

Put this tool to use: You can track your first and last name here to see what’s being mentioned about you outside of direct @-replies. You might be particularly interested to peek at the links and influencers associated with your name.

 

Topsy

 

Topsy is as a powerful search engine for Twitter content. Want to know how a certain term is being used on Twitter? You can search links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers.

 

Topsy analytics

 

Put this tool to use: See how often your blog is being linked to on Twitter. Type in “site:yourdomain.com,” and you can see how many tweets have included inks back to your website (see above for an example of the Buffer blog).

 

***

 

Facebook Tools

 


LikeAlyzer

 

What should you be doing with your Facebook page? LikeAlyzer will flat-out tell you. The Facebook analysis tool comes up with stats and insights into your page and starts off every report with a list of recommendations.

 

LikeAlyzer

 

Put this tool to use: Keep track of where you stand compared to other pages by following the comparison of your page to average page rank, industry-specific page rank, and the rank of similar brands.

 

Fanpage Karma

 

Fanpage Karma shows all sorts of valuable info related to your Facebook page like growth, engagement, service and response time, and of course Karma (a weighted engagement value).

 

FanKarma

 

Put this tool to use: FanKarma also does insight into Twitter and YouTube, the latter of which might be particularly valuable if you’re building up a video marketing strategy.

 

Wolfram Alpha Facebook Report

 

The knowledge engine of Wolfram Alpha has a neat tool to analyze your Facebook profile. Their Facebook report (a free feature with any Wolfram account) is incredibly detailed—everything from the content you share to the relationship status pie charts of your friends.

 

Wolfram Alpha

 

Put this tool to use: See at-a-glance how your profile updates are being received. If you use your personal Facebook for marketing your business, you can optimize the type of content you share to your profile.

 

Facebook Custom Audiences

 

If you’re advertising on Facebook, you can use a handy, built-in tool to cater to a specific audience of your choosing by telling Facebook whom to target. Upload an Excel file or link directly to your MailChimp lists. Facebook will create a custom audience based on which of your contacts is on Facebook. This feature can be added by clicking on the Audiences link inside Facebook’s Ads Manager.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 7.44.51 PM

 

Put this tool to use: Create custom campaigns that target a list of leads or customers. You can get extra specific with these ads since the demographic already has a familiarity with your brand. (Facebook recommends that audience sizes be at least 1,000 people so that your ad dollar is well spent.)

 

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Social Media Analytics Tools

 

 

 

Rival IQ

 

Ever wonder what your competition is up to? Rival IQ tracks a list of brands of your choosing and monitors their activity on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even SEO. Your free 14-day trial gives you full access to competitor tracking and the dashboards for each of the different networks and search factors.

 

Rival IQ screenshot

 

Put this tool to use: Rival IQ can show you insight into your competition but also insight into your industry as a whole. For instance, learn from the Day of the Week chart to see when content from your industry is most likely to go viral.

 

Buzz Sumo

 

Curious what the most popular content is on any given topic or any particular website? Buzz Sumo has this covered with a search tool that tracks content and ranks according to shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 2.14.13 PM

 

Put this tool to use: With Buzz Sumo, you can use the insights to steer the content you create and share on social media, learning how to craft headlines and what types of content each network is most interested in.

 

Klout

 

Klout figures to be one of the more well-known tools on this list. It collects information on a person’s various social profiles to come up with a popularity score of 1 to 100 and then lets you follow your score over time as it ebbs and flows (ideally flowing upward).

 

Klout

 

Put this tool to use: The site has added quite a bit of functionality beyond Klout score. You can now track topics, view content suggestions, and post straight to your connected social profiles.

 

SharedCount

 

There will be times when you’ll need/want to know how popular your content is (like in a weekly metrics report, perhaps). SharedCount shows you quickly, at a glance, how far and wide a piece of content spread.

 

SharedCount screenshot

 

Put this tool to use: Click over to SharedCount’s multi-URL dashboard to see a table of multiple URLs for a week’s worth of content.

 

Google URL Builder

 

If you’re dabbling in advanced campaign tracking, you’ve likely read up on UTM tracking codes in links. A UTM code is basically extra characters at the end of a link that help flesh out your analytics reports, showing you where your traffic came from and what campaigns it’s all associated with. Google has a free tool to create these UTMs for you.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 2.54.18 PM

 

Put this tool to use: Add a UTM tracking to all links that are associated with a single marketing push. That way you can better measure the impact and ROI from your particular event.

 

***

 

Visual Content Tools

 

 

Infogr.am

 

Infogr.am helps you build sparkling infographics by entering information right into the Infogram spreadsheets that are built right in to the editor. Standard features are there, too, like design templates and a full design editor.

 

Infogram

 

Put this tool to use: Visualize a monthly report for your business, and share this on social media. You’ll get the boost of visual content plus transparency.

 

Piktochart

 

Piktochart is a free-to-try infographic creator with a full editor and themes to turn your data into a work of art.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 2.38.09 PM

 

Put this tool to use: The next time you have some overly complicated (or lengthy) numbers to share, try putting them into a visual design.

 

Visually

 

If you’d like an extra hand creating visual content like infographics and charts, you can hit theVisually marketplace and find professionals to do the work for you, at up to 1/5 the cost you’d incur going through an agency. Visually specializes in infographics, videos, interactives, and presentations.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 7.42.15 PM

 

Put this tool to use: While the pricing is discounted, it’s still an investment (infographics start at $1,000, for instance.) Save your Visually needs for a rainy day, then make a big splash with a feature announcement video or a presentation for investors.

 

Canva

 

There is a lot to love about Canva. The graphic design app has an incredibly intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and the tooltips and templates make it ideal for beginner designers. Everything is free unless you choose to use something from Canva’s library of stock photos.

 

Canva

 

Put this tool to use: One of Canva’s default templates is a Pinterest graphic, which comes premade with optimal size for a pin (735 pixels wide by 1102 pixels tall).

 

Compfight

 

A tool we use regularly here on the Buffer blog, Compfight is our source for creative commons images to accompany our content. For your social media posts, images like these can be great additions to a visual content strategy (just be sure to give credit where credit’s due—each compfight picture comes with attribution).

 

Compfight

 

Put this tool to use: Build a small library of free-to-use photos for upcoming social sharing. Sometimes you may come across a good image that just doesn’t quite fit your needs. Save it for later in your Dropbox or on a private WordPress page.

 

BeFunky

 

A good graphics program can be a boon to your social media marketing. BeFunky is one of the best—and easiest—ones around, with a complete suite of image editing tools like cropping, scaling, filters, text, and more.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 12.33.15 PM

 

Put this tool to use: I’m sure you’ve seen inspirational quotes placed beautifully onto inspirational photos. Visual content like this is ideal for social networks, and you can pull this off easily with BeFunky.

 

LICEcap

 

Who doesn’t love GIFs? If your social media presence is strong on a place like Tumblr or Google+, then having GIF-making capabilities can come in handy. LICEcap is a downloadable program that creates GIFs from what you see on your screen.

 

licecap_rules

 

Put this tool to use: Create a GIF of your product or service in action so you can share with fans and potential customers.

 

***

 

Social Media Monitoring Tools

 

 

Mention

 

A good problem to have is when it becomes difficult to keep track of all the different places you are mentioned on social media. Mention prides itself on “going beyond Google Alerts” to track absolutely anywhere that your name or your company could be mentioned online.

 

Mention screenshot

 

Put this tool to use: You might be surprised to find out how often people tweet and share your name online without an @-mention (I know I was). When you subscribe to Mention’s daily email, you get all these wayward HTs right in your inbox, and the web dashboard even flags certain mentions as high priority.

 

NutshellMail

 

Digests can be a neat way to track your social media metrics, and NutshellMail collects your activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (and even places like Yelp and Foursquare) to provide an email overview of your accounts. You set how often and when you want to receive the recap emails.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 1.50.31 PM

 

Put this tool to use: If you have a weekly metrics plan, you can have NutshellMail send you a message once a week with an overview of your accounts. You can then extract the data and insights here straight into your weekly report.

 

SocialMention

 

As a tracking tool, SocialMention has some neat bonus insights beyond their in-depth keyword tracking. SocialMention tracks areas like sentiment, passion, reach, and strength to not just tell you what’s being said about your search but how those reactions feel.

 

SocialMention

 

Put this tool to use: While you track your brand or yourself, you can also see how your sentiment changes over time. Are your mentions positive or negative? And how will this change from month to month and week to week?

 

Keyhole

 

The tracking tool keeps track of your hashtag campaign or keyword on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with a full dashboard of analytics, demographics, and influencers.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 8.04.37 PM

 

Put this tool to use: Start a hashtag around an upcoming event, and keep track of the popularity of the tag before, during, and after.

 

***

 

Social Media Content Tools

 

 

 

News.me

 

The daily email from News.me contains the top five stories shared by your networks on Twitter and Facebook. (The email is branded with Digg as the two partnered up.)

 

news.me

 

Put this tool to use: The News.me email arrives every morning, so you can add the email to your social media workflows. Check what your networks are most interested in, then respond right away.

 

Feedly

 

Feedly is one of the best RSS services out there because it does all the basics of RSS well (feed organization, display, etc.) and innovates with some really helpful new features. Plus, it works and looks great on any device you have.

 

Feedly

 

Put this tool to use: You can follow any number of relevant blogs and sites in your industry, and if you’re pressed for time, you can scan Feedly’s share counts next to each story or turn on the Featured posts section to quickly pick out the content that is most valuable and shared. (See screenshot above for an example.)

 

Pocket

 

With Pocket, you can grab the content on your social networks that looks good to you and read it later in a stripped down, easy-on-the-eyes view.

 

Get Pocket

 

Put this tool to use: Combined with IFTTT or Zapier (see below), you can send favorite stories straight from Pocket to Twitter.

 

Paper.li

 

Paper.li lets you create a daily newspaper of your favorite tweets and stories and share this paper with your followers.

 

Paper.li

 

Put this tool to use: Create an industry-specific daily or weekly newspaper, and take advantage of the extra opportunity to connect with and recognize some of your influencers.

 

Swayy

 

Looking for new content to share? (Aren’t we all?) Swayy can be a helpful tool for finding stories based on your interests, as determined by the stuff you’ve shared before. Connect your Twitter or Facebook account for free, and Swayy will check your audience for the type of content they might like best and make suggestions based on its findings.

 

Swayy screenshot

 

Put this tool to use: Sharing interesting content on social media is a great way to build your authority and expertise on a topic. Customize Swayy’s suggested topic matches so that you get only the most accurate suggestions.

 

Pie

 

Team collaboration on social media can be a very helpful asset when it comes to keeping a queue filled. Pie is designed to make this process as simple as possible as you can collect the neat stories you find online and chat about them with your social media team or your team in general. There is even a Pie browser extension that makes it possible to add stories straight from the browser.

 

Pie screenshot

 

Put this tool to use: Collect the cool stories you find online, and use feedback from your coworkers to decide what gets shared to your social accounts. You can make it as simple as a two-Like minimum for getting the go-ahead to post.

 

Bottlenose – Sonar Solo

 

The free version of Bottlenose’s enterprise tool helps you see which topics and keywords affect your brand in real-time. Here’s q peek at how the tool highlights trending content based on your interests.

 

Bottlenose

 

Put this tool to use: If your brand is big into LinkedIn, this may be a helpful tool for discovering popular content from the network.

 

***

 

WordPress Plugins

 

 

 

Digg Digg

 

Built by the team here at Buffer, the Digg Digg plugin adds a floating share bar to all of your posts so your readers can easily share to Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, and almost 20 more sites.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 1.46.13 PM

 

Put this tool to use: If a floating bar isn’t your style or doesn’t fit with your blog layout, customize the Digg Digg bar to appear fixed at the top or bottom of every post.

 

Flare

 

Built by the team at Digital Telepathy, Flare is a social share plugin for WordPress sites and part of an overall website-boosting suite of products delivered through the Filament plugin. Filament allows you to drag and drop your social share buttons wherever you’d like on your site.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 1.53.03 PM

 

Put this tool to use: Find the place that makes the most sense for your share buttons—sidebar, header, footer, etc.—and fix it up easily.

 

Ivy

 

Another part of Digital Telepathy’s Filament plugin is Ivy, a simple tool that allows your website visitors to highlight any passage of text and share directly to Twitter, Facebook, or email.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 1.55.16 PM

 

Put this tool to use: Ideally your visitors will be the ones putting this tool to use, but you can help them along with a little prodding to “highlight to share.”

 

“Pin It” Button for Images

 

Add a “Pin It” button to all the images on your blog with this free WordPress plugin. Each time a visitor hovers over an image, they’ll see a stylized “Pin It” button appear on the image and can share directly to Pinterest.

 

screenshot-1

 

Put this tool to use: If you are hoping to attract more Pinterest shares to your blog, the Pinterest button for images could be a real boon. It’s great for blogs with lots of highly visual content.

 

***

 

Miscellaneous Tools

 

 

 

FiveHundredPlus

 

This tool for LinkedIn connections works as a digital tickle file. You can place your contacts into different columns for weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual reminders to get in touch with your contacts.

 

500+

 

Put this tool to use: Place your key influencers into a monthly column so that you can be reminded to stay in regular contact.

 

Rapportive

 

With Rapportive, you can get a heap of information on each of your email contacts, including the social accounts they’re connected with and where they’re employed. Currently Rapportive works only with Gmail.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 2.17.31 PM

 

 

 

Put this tool to use: When you make a connection with a new person over email, Rapportive can show you how to followup for connections on their various social networks.

 

Bitly

 

Shortening a URL on Twitter can be a must as you try to squeeze inside the 140-character limit.Bitly is one of the original link shorteners (and integrated with Buffer, too). If you use Bitly on its own, you’ll get a full history of the link’s performance as well as an overview of all the links you’ve ever shared.

 

Bitly

 

Put this tool to use: You can use bitly outside of Twitter, too. Consider cleaning up some long or ugly URLs when you’re posting to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ or even when you’re writing an ebook or email.

 

Rev

 

Rev is a complete transcription and translation service that can help convert your audio or your English into the format and language you need.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 2.58.40 PM

 

Put this tool to use: If you conduct interviews of your customers, you can use Rev to convert the audio to text for easier assimilation into marketing personas or social media profiles.

 

ShareRoot Board Cover Creator

 

ShareRoot has a handful of tools that are specific for boosting Pinterest engagement, promotion, and measuring. Some tools are inactive or under development, but one that is live now is a Pinterest Board Cover Creator that lets you create images to use as the cover for your different pin boards.

 

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Put this tool to use: Build some really awesome Pinterest covers to make your overall page stand out to new visitors.

 

Jelly

 

An app for iOS and Android, Jelly is billed as a social search engine—you ask questions with photos, maps, and friends and get the answers from people who know best. For instance, show folks your location and get recommendations from locals on where to eat.

 

Jelly

 

Put this tool to use: Brands can connect on Jelly and then be able to view which of their followers on other social networks are active on Jelly. This gives brands an extra opportunity to connect and add value where their customers spend their time.

 

SteadyDemand’s Google+ Page Audit

 

For an overview of the health of your Google+ page, you can use SteadyDemand’s tool to investigate what’s working and what’s not. The tool couldn’t be simpler: Just input the URL of your company’s Google+ page (ours was https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bufferapp/posts) and then see the report on all your page activity.

 

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Put this tool to use: Google+ insights are much harder to come by than those on Facebook and Twitter, so tools like this can help show you if all your G+ marketing has been worth it or not.

 

Powtoon

 

Are videos part of your social media marketing plan? If you’re anxious to jump into video content, Powtoon can be a free way to test and see if it might work for you. With Powtoon, you can create and edit video clips and upload straight to YouTube.

 

Powtoon

 

Put this tool to use: Put together a product demo for what you sell, and share this on social media to give people a visual demonstration of what your business is about.

 

CardMunch

 

This free iOS app has you take a picture of a business card and then stores the information into your contacts and finds the person on LinkedIn. Great for expos and conferences.

 

Cardmunch

 

Put this tool to use: Scan the business cards of new contacts you meet and quickly see on LinkedIn which connections you have in common.

 

IFTTT

 

Social is just a small part of what IFTTT can do. The Internet automation app can do everything from text you tomorrow’s weather to automatically update your Twitter with your Instagram photos. IFTTT connects with more than 90 channels, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

 

IFTTT

 

Put this tool to use: You can sync IFTTT with your Buffer account to schedule things like Buffering each Twitter post that you favorite.

 

Zapier

 

Zapier is a bigger version of IFTTT—more channels to connect but not quite free. You do get to create five free recipes before upgrading, so you can try out Zapier with tools like MailChimp and Disqus and 250 more.

 

Zapier

 

Put this tool to use: You can sync your email campaigns with your social accounts, sending links to your campaigns as tweets, posts, or Buffers to all your favorite social places.

Are there any social media tools here that you might try? Any of your favorites that weren’t included? I’d love to build the list out even more, and your input would be excellent! Share your favorites in the comments.

Image credit: HVargas

Kevan is a content crafter at Buffer, the super simple social media management tool. His social media and productivity tips have appeared in Fast Company and Lifehacker, and he’s always on the lookout for a good headline pun. Connect with him on Twitter.

Read more from Buffer:

29 Free Marketing Tools to Improve Your Marketing Starting Today

17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share

dfdf

 

TIME World Cup

Here’s Why Beats by Dre Headphones Are Banned From the World Cup

Sure, you may have seen soccer stars like Brazil’s Neymar and England’s Daniel Sturridge rocking Beats Electronics’ big, flashy headphones in the company’s popular soccer ad, but don’t expect to see those cans anywhere near the actual pitch during the World Cup matches. Beats headphones are banned from all official World Cup events during the games because Sony, which has its own line of premium headphones, is an official licensing deal with FIFA, Reuters reports.

That niggling detail hasn’t stopped the sport’s greatest athletes from rocking Beats during their leisure time. Neymar was wearing a pair when he stepped off the team bus at the Castelao stadium, and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez wore them at practice one day, according to Reuters.

Savvy marketers have long been able to usurp official sponsors at the World Cup. That viral Beats ad, dubbed “The Game Before the Game,” never mentions the World Cup by name. And sportswear giant Nike has had a sprawling soccer marketing campaign all year, even though Adidas is the offiical sponsor of FIFA and the World Cup. In an age where marketing effectiveness is often measured by authenticity—what ad a consumer voluntarily chooses to share on Facebook, or which headphones an athlete wears when the cameras are off—sponsorships are starting to mean a whole lot less than they did in the past.

TIME e3 2014

The New Alien Is Exactly What Horror Should Be Like

Calling all Horror Junkies: Your new fix is not on the silver-screen, but rather under the thumb of a joystick.

Fans of the original Alien might be jaded by news of alien game tie-ins: since 1982 there have been over 30 Alien video games on everything from the Commodore 64 to the current generation of gaming consoles. SEGA’s last adaptation, Alien: Colonial Marines, was released just a year ago to poor reviews. The game was filled with bugs, and failed to capture the terror of the original film.

Despite all of that, SEGA’s next release, Alien: Isolation, is of a different breed then its predecessors. Rather than relying on the worn genre of the first-person shooter, this Alien is pure survival-horror. Set 15 years after the first movie you take control of the protagonist Amanda Ripley, who uses her wits to survive to against just one Xenomorph.

The most visceral horror, whether it be a motion picture or interactive entertainment, is subtle and uses different techniques to put the player at unease. Based on SEGA’s E3 demos, the game’s developers seem to understand this.

“Sometimes a huge part of horror is actually not being able to see to see the thing that is hunting you,” lead designer, Gary Napper, said.

With any luck, we’ll finally have an Alien game worth playing when Alien: Isolation releases on October 7th. Though, fans of the franchise have all the right to continue staying skeptical. For more of the inside scoop on the game from Lead Designer Gary Napper, check out the video above.

TIME apps

This App Lets You Tell Your Friends ‘Yo’

And nothing else

In case you need another messaging platform in your life, there’s now a new app that lets you tell your friends “Yo.” That’s all it does.

The new app, appropriately titled “Yo,” doesn’t require you to sign up via Facebook. It doesn’t try to hoard your data to later serve you ads (yet). It doesn’t offer voice calling or disappearing images or the ability to send people smells. It literally just allows you to send the word “Yo” to other people. The main screen is a list of a user’s friends. Press a name and the friend gets a “Yo.” The app bills itself as a “single-tap zero character communications tool.” The simplicity introduces a “wide-open scope for personal interpretation,” according to the Financial Times.

The app, programmed in eight hours, has attracted 50,000 users who have sent about four million Yo’s since it launched, FT reports. Investors have kicked in $1 million in venture funding. An app that doesn’t do anything besides let you send the word “Yo” to other people may be the most promising startup since that messenger that was made exclusively for people eating at Applebee’s.

Yo is available for both iOS and Android for free.

TIME AI

Elon Musk: Don’t Bother Running to Mars Because the Robots Will Get Us There, Too

Elon Musk & SpaceX
Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), speaks before the unveiling of the Manned Dragon V2 Space Taxi in Hawthorne, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The head of Tesla Motors and SpaceX is concerned about artificial intelligence turning into Skynet.

Elon Musk is best known for his work on electric cars and rocket ships, but he’s also invested in a couple of artificial intelligence startups. It’s not for the money, he says, but because “I like to just keep an eye on what’s going on with artificial intelligence.”

Speaking to Kelly Evans and Julia Boorstin on CNBC Tuesday, Musk discussed why he’s an investor in Vicarious, and why he invested in DeepMind (before it was acquired by Google), both AI companies.

Musk said there is “potentially a dangerous outcome” for the technology, and that “there have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator.”

Unfortunately, Musk was short on ideas for how we might stop intelligent computers from turning against us. Here’s the best–or, most terrifying–part of the exchange:

JB: But what should A.I. be used for? What’s its best value?

MUSK: I don’t know. But there are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad. Yeah.

KE: Or escape to Mars if there’s no other option.

MUSK: The A.I. will chase us there pretty quickly.

TIME Apple

Apple Slammed Amazon in the Most Covert Way Ever

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook addresses the crowd during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco
Stephen Lam—Reuters

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

If U.S. District Judge Denise Cote needed a reminder that she backed the bully in the 2013 e-book antitrust ruling that made her infamous on the Internet, Apple and Hachette on Tuesday engineered a doozy.

On Monday, Judge Cote received from Apple and 30 states attorneys general the terms of the deal they’ve cut – presumably a dollar amount in millions — to settle the separate civil case that rode like a room full of expensive suits on Cote’s decision. Apple has promised to take its appeal to the Supreme Court, if necessary. (See The big ‘if’ in Apple’s e-book settlement.)

A few hours after the deal was made public, a reporter with good connections with Apple PR posted a screen shot of Hachette titles being discounted on Apple’s iTunes bookstore. “Apple is happy,” Peter Kafka wrote on Re/Code, in a widely retweeted headline, “to sell you the Hachette books Amazon won’t stock.”

For the rest of the story, go to Fortune.com.

 

TIME

Re-Live the French Revolution: Assassin’s Creed – Unity the Inside Scoop

Try not to lose your head, Assassin's Creed Unity puts players in the midst of revolutionary France.

Assassins’s Creed is the Da Vinci Code for video games; steeped in mystery, lush with the tales of secret societies, and fueled by a search for mysterious artifacts. On October 28th, 2014, the world of Assassin’s Creed is coming out with another piece to the puzzle of its long and tangled alternate universe: Assassin’s Creed – Unity. Set during the French Revolution in the late 1700’s you take control of the character Arno Dorian, following his journey from a child to becoming another instrument of war in a centuries long battle between the Templars and the Assassins.

This latest entry in the franchise was designed completely from the ground up for the current generation of consoles, unlike the last iteration Assassin’s Creed – Black Flag, which was a multi-generational title. That means that this game won’t be limited by the horsepower of 9-year-old consoles – It’s truly ‘Next-gen.’ For more of the inside scoop, watch the video above.

TIME Apple

Apple’s New iMac Is $200 Cheaper

Apple

The new all-in-one trims a few specs to hit $1,099 price tag

Apple just released a cheaper version of its iMac all-in-one computer, with a $1,099 price tag.

That’s $200 less than the previous baseline iMac, but it makes a couple of sacrifices to get there. The Intel Core i5 processor is a 1.4 GHz dual-core chip, compared to the 2.7 GHz quad-core chip in the $1,299 iMac, and it uses Intel HD 5000 graphics instead of Intel’s beefier Iris Pro integrated graphics. Storage space is also cut in half, from 1 TB to 500 GB.

A computer with those specs won’t be a gaming or graphic design powerhouse, but it should be good enough for everyday computing. If you’re keen on Apple’s software, build quality and design, but want to spend as little as possible, at least there’s an option for you now.

TIME emoji

This Is What All Those New Emoji Actually Look Like

The Unicode Consortium

The news this week that hundreds of new emoji were on their way caused a stir online. Now, the Unicode Consortium has published a document that shows what they new icons will look like. The list (available here) shows 240 new “Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs” being added to version 7.0 of the Unicode Standard, which overall adds 2,834 new characters to the current standard. Some highlights include: spooky hacker, joystick, fax machine, stunner shades and, natch, the “live long and prosper” hand sign. For 15 more emoji we need right now, check out this list.

[The Verge]

The Unicode Consortium
The Unicode Consortium

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