Tag Archives: hangouts

5 Useful Project Management Tools

By Don

As a project manager, you’re always looking for efficiencies.   Writing projects need coordination and writers need efficient systems and means of communicating to successfully complete client initiatives.  This year, at TEDx Fort Wayne, twenty-five planning volunteers utilized several, online project management tools to deliver a successful, annual event.

Time was a premium. The teams were diverse and included multiple departments, partners, vendors, and influencers.  Our careers, families, and outside responsibilities pulled us in various directions.  Finding time to plan a conference, in the midst of minimal time availability and differing schedules was challenging.

We found five useful tools that made project management easier and helped to make the conference a success.


Podio describes itself as “online work platform with a new take on how everyday work gets done.”  I call it the “Swiss army knife” of project management and collaboration – even if the service was founded in Copenhagen.

In practice, it lets geographically dispersed teams communicate and add tasks, projects, and files to the workspace.  Using Podio made feedback easy.  Team members built upon each other’s ideas without scattered email threads.

Podio’s apps are magical.  Build business processes with its app builder or choose one of thousands that other users have contributed to the free app store.  We modified an app to download speaker information, from the website’s contact forms, right into the Podio workspace.  The team was able to review individual profiles, view submitted videos, and then rank and leave comments for the rest of the team. This online process, nicknamed “speaker idol,” greatly increased collaboration over the in-person process used the prior year.


This simple file sharing and synchronizing service was a huge help in project management.  Each team had their own, shared folder for plans, agreements, creative materials, etc.  In the end, pick one cloud-based service that fits your team’s needs and move on.  Time is too valuable to nit-pick forever on features.  Drop Box fit our needs.

 Google+ Hangouts

Hangouts is free, simple, and offers quick video conferencing for up to nine people. It was a savior when someone couldn’t attend a status meeting.  Hangouts were also perfect for fast, brainstorming in-between scheduled meetings.

 Whiteboard and CamScanner

What’s a whiteboard doing in a list of online useful project management tools? It’s still one of the most valuable ways to brainstorm.  The problem with volunteer projects is the team doesn’t have easy access to revisit the finished board .  Enter CamScanner, a smartphone app that makes your phone a scanner that generates image enhanced PDFs that can be uploaded to Dropbox and other sharing services.  Then, everyone can have the whiteboard to reference after the meeting.

 Social Media

Listening to and engaging our target audience through social media was key during the project.  It gave us ideas for subjects, speakers and marketing tactics.  The team was able to get greater diversity of thought, which helped us to make better decisions during the project management process.

The common theme between these five free or inexpensive tools are their abilities to streamline project management by making communication and information sharing easier across distances and time. Projects move faster because collaboration doesn’t have to wait for physical meetings.



Filed under Project Management, Social Media, Time Management

Improve Brand Social Engagement with these IRCE 2012 Finds

By My Web Writers

My most insightful nugget from the 2012 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago is that by next year, your obligatory presence on Facebook won’t move the meter when search engines rank your brand’s social engagement.  While there may be grumbling in the trenches about taxed resources and social media ghost towns, search companies continue to woo top 500 brands and beyond to further engage customers through various social media platforms.  It’s an interesting juncture.  While we hear and understand the drowning in posts like Are Social Media Sites Becoming Too Numerous and Too Complex or What’s the Future of Google Plus, the reality is that staying engaged continues to lead to financial reward.  How can your brand become more involved with customers?  Explore these ideas with your Marketing VP:

Find 500 Friends

I had the pleasure of meeting Justin Yoshimura, the 23 year-old founder of 500 Friends.  Actually, I spotted Ben Kirshner, the CEO of Elite SEM, after his talk and asked him about social engagement in the next year.  He walked me across the hall to the booth where 500 Friends was exhibiting.  There I met the up and coming, third time business owner, Mr. Yoshimura.  His concept is simple; develop a loyalty program that engages your customers and keeps them returning- even during your off-season.

Play Games

Encourage customers to linger on your site.  Attract them with gaming options via your brand’s social media accounts.  Fanplayr is an upstart company that engages gamers who visit your site.  Choose the game you want to offer.  It rewards customers with coupons and loyalty incentives, while providing your company with analytics.

Engage with Product Videos

With few competitors in their space, Expo Communications, Inc gives brands access to real-people product recommendations via video.

“EXPO members earn points, redeemable for great gear, by voicing their honest opinions about products and sharing consumer experiences in video with the rest of the world.”

People like to hear what real people have to say.  This company’s been around awhile and knows their niche.

Call those customers to action.  Check out Viewbix, which adds content and apps over videos. Viewbix boasts that “more than 20% of the viewers who watch a Viewbix video click on the call to action or engage with at least one of the apps inside the player.”

Hang Out with Google

At a Google cocktail party, we brainstormed a few Google Hang-Out ideas with attending reps.  Alter these ideas to fit your brand’s unique needs and you’ll begin to harness the power of Hangouts.

  • Host a weekly chat or monthly “state of the union” with your loyal customers via hangouts.
  • Create a hangouts contest for best uses of your products.
  • Offer incentives for friends who invite new customers to the hangouts.  Give away coupons or prizes.
  • Offer a negative feedback session and address customer complaints with a seasoned customer service specialist leading the conversation.
  • Use hangouts to discuss new product or service concepts.
  • Tweet, Facebook, and blog about your hangout conversations.
  • Host sessions at different times- evenings and weekends, as well as mornings or afternoons during weekdays.

There are so many ways to engage customers.  Remember to connect your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, My Space, You Tube, and other social media accounts to the efforts.  Keep your content marketing creative, interesting, and worth your customer’s time and they will engage your brand beyond the thumbs up’s.


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Filed under Algorithms, Business Strategy, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media