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5 Essential Social Media Tools to Boost Your Profile

Expelliarmus! shouts Harry Potter and the dark wizard loses his wand. Heroes of the fantasy world are incomplete without their tools: Thor’s Hammer, Captain America’s Shield, Iron Man’s suit, and let’s not forget the most tool dependent superhero of them all, Batman.

You don’t need to save the world from the apocalyptic intentions of villains, but you do need tools to save yourself — from the avalanche of strict deadlines, and monotonous tasks. We aren’t talking about hammers, axes, or shovels, we’re talking about the modern war for attention that takes place on social media.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of social media tools that will help you survive. The criteria for the list? The tool has to be versatile enough to be used by both a freelancer just starting out in social, and also by an experienced digital media agency team. It also needs to be simple enough to use for a non-technical person. Finally there are brownie points for being fully functional on a smartphone.


1. Buffer Publish

TLDR: A social media publishing application with enough power to suit almost everyone’e needs. Comes with a free plan.

The Achilles heel for modern social media platforms remains their media guidelines. Instagram leans towards square dimensions for photos, while Facebook uses the cover layout for photos, and Twitter…well, that’s another story.

The predicament continues with posting times. While you may want your post to stay relevant throughout the day, in reality, it will be lost in the sea of opinions in just a few moments. Your Instagram posts may stay pertinent for longer, but you won’t be able to hang on to that for long either. How does one battle through these intricacies and still come up on top? You add a social media management application to your arsenal.

The ability to tailor media and descriptions for the same post but for different platforms is awesome

We’ve tested several social media publishing apps, and while many have introduced some radical features, the nod still goes to a veteran application: Buffer Publish.

Buffer allows you to simultaneously post on up to five social media platforms, while also allowing you to schedule posts using a queue. The Unsplash tab on the media hub offers a plethora of royalty free images with just a few clicks. The ability to tailor media and descriptions for the same post but for different platforms is awesome. In addition to previewing your posts, it even warns you of the platform limitations, if you were about to cross any.

Perhaps the most important feature of Buffer isn’t often highlighted: it doesn’t make you use the web version, almost everything you need is right there on the mobile app (iOS and Android).

The free plan, which allows for one user to manage three social media accounts with up to ten scheduled posts is good enough to get started; however, for higher brand ambitions and integrity, you must go pro! Paid plans start as low as $12/month for individuals and $99/month for businesses. All paid plans come with trial periods.

Buffer does have its setbacks, if you are a small digital marketing team that heavily relies on team communication then paying a hefty sum of $99/month isn’t ideal, in that case, you might try SproutSocial or Hootsuite, which are built for teams by default.



2. Animoto

TLDR: A web video creation/editing application that won’t replace a serious video editor such as Premiere Pro, but will do enough that you question whether you need a serious tool in the first place.

Would you rather watch a video of Lebron James slam-dunking a basket or scroll through ten images of him in the process? Unless he’s the reason your team keeps losing — in which case you won’t watch anything at all — you would choose the former. That’s the thing about video, it’s just more engaging than other media.

So, if video is the undisputed king of all media types, why don’t we often see it posted on social media? Well, videos take a lot of work to create, edit, and publish; not to mention the tedious learning curve of video editing software.

Hold your horses though, Animoto is trying to lessen the blow here, by simplifying video creation, one tedious task at a time. It all starts with templates, choose a template that matches your requirements and you’ve already set the foundation for your video. All that then remains, are personalizations, you can customize text, color, border, shadows, animations, transitions and much more, there is hardly an attribute that you can’t change.

Need more flavor? Choose from a myriad of royalty free music tracks tailored for tutorials, demos, slideshows, teasers and everything else you might need.

While pitch perfect video creation, or editing on a smartphone app is miles away from ideal, the Animoto app, available on Android and iOS tries its best, so much so, that you rarely feel the need to use the web version.

Having said all of this, comparing the precision on Animoto to an application such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro is like comparing apples with oranges.

Animoto doesn’t offer any free plans, you will have to shell out at least $9/month for the basic plan, which includes everything that an individual may need. If you need more, you can go for the professional plan which will set you back by $64/month and they’ve also provided a business plan, which will cost you $94/month. If you don’t want to spend much but still want something more premium (and if you don’t mind a learning curve) Adobe offers the Premiere Pro for $33.99/month.

Animoto is a tool for everyone looking to bypass video editing software, with enough ability to yield good quality videos that’ll make you stand out from the crowd.



3. Canva

TLDR: An ‘all-in-one’ photo creation/editing application that will have an impact on your current social media reception.

If video is the undisputed king of media types, then image is the crown prince!

However, the prince of media types suffers the same fate as the king, images are harder to create than text and the editing part is better left of to a professional, not to mention the cost of expensive photo editing software.

Canva is trying to provide high-quality customized images to people who would prefer to avoid the learning curve and hefty license fees. Canva offers you templates that cater to Display pictures, cover photos, brochures and even book covers.

We are talking social media here, so lets stick to it, whether it be designing a cover photo for your Facebook/Twitter page or be it a fancy Instagram post, you can do it all with Canva. Selecting a template sets the foundation for the image, then you can design however you wish and your designs will come out very professional.

I found that when the servers are undergoing maintenance I can’t work at all

Even when I do know how to work my way around a photo editing app, sometimes using an app like Canva is just easier, when I am not worried about contrast, photo filters, and all that jazz, it’s just much quicker to use a template from Canva.

Canva does offer a basic free plan, which is good enough for a newbie but if you want to unlock the real potential of this app, then you must go pro. The paid plans offer better typefaces, stock images, larger cloud storage and much more. The paid plans start from $12.95/month, which you can try for free on a 30-day basis.

While Canva is great most of the time, it is an online app. I found that when the servers are undergoing maintenance I can’t work at all, literally! The application tells you to come back later, which can be frustrating when you want things done quickly.

Canva is a blessing of an application for all sorts of people who don’t want mega accuracy with their edits and who don’t want to bother themselves with overlay definitions and Photoshop’s learning curve. If you can live with the glitches of a web application, then for sure, you must try out Canva.



4. BuzzSumo

TLDR: A tool that unfolds enough clues to solve the content puzzle without ruining it for all creative purposes.

It doesn’t matter if you have a social media manager app like Buffer publish, custom art from Canva, the most eye-catching videos made with Animoto, in the end knowing the content that interests your audience is the key differentiator for your social media success. It’s like being a baker and knowing exactly what kind of muffin the neighbourhood likes.

It’s like being a baker and knowing exactly what kind of muffin the neighbourhood likes

BuzzSumo is one such app which lets you know exactly what kind of content is trending around the world. While we do have free apps such as Google Trends, BuzzSumo takes it to another level. While many of us make the same mistake of labelling apps such as BuzzSumo as a mere ‘Keyword Search’ tool, there’s so much more to it than we may think.

You can filter trending topics based on date, location, trends, effectiveness and much more. Having problems coming up with topics? BuzzSumo suggests/recommends content topics for you, all done with a sophisticated tab. BuzzSumo even lets you keep a tab on content posted on pre-defined tags/topics, so you always know what your competition is up to.

BuzzSumo isn’t cheap though, plans start at $99/month and can go up to $499/month. A newbie social media content creator can benefit from knowing what is trending, however, paying $99/month is a bit too steep, especially when you have a free tool such as Google Trends available. BuzzSumo is for the level two tier for content creators who want that edge over their competition, and if you fall in this category, it is well worth the price tag.



5. Buffer Reply

TLDR: A tool that will streamline all your audience has to say, so that you can connect more with less.

While your content quality may invite audiences, there are other factors that keep them there. One of them is how your audience connects with you, and this connection is what builds a loyal fan base. While you may automate analytics and uploads, the communication part is done by hand and that is where the problem lies.

From the team that brought us Buffer Publish comes Buffer Reply, the younger sibling that does enough to make a name for itself.

Buffer Reply collects the comments/replies/mentions on all of your social media accounts and presents them in an ‘all in one’ inbox. It also features an auto responder which can add a professional touch to a business account/profile.

All this comes at a price though — there are no free plans — the paid plans start at $50/month. The subscription fees are worthwhile for those who have a considerable following on most of the social media platforms, for individuals who are just started, it may not be worth investing that much money.



Featured image via Unsplash.

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With a fix for the ‘temporary profile’ bug still elusive, Win10 1903 and 1909 customers should check Pause Updates

By now you’ve probably heard about the disappearing-profile bug in this month’s Win10 1903 and 1909 cumulative update. The buggy patch went out on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Reports started rolling in shortly afterward about desktops that were wiped clean, wallpaper replaced, even files that disappeared. I wrote about it on Thursday morning:

Many people are in a tizzy — their desktop icons are gone, they can’t log onto their usual Admin account, and their files most definitely aren’t where they left them.

Since then we’ve seen many hundreds of complaints and dozens of articles about the mayhem. Ends up that the hapless victims had their Windows profiles swapped out, replaced by a temporary profile. The buggy patch moved their cheese and hid it where all but the most advanced Windows boffin would never find it.

Early on, Patch Lady Susan Bradley nailed the cause of the problem:

Loss of profile has historically been a race condition between the boot process and something holding files open. I personally have seen antivirus most often do this but it could be other things like antiransomware protection, group policy settings. Microsoft DOES test their patches, they really do. What they can’t do is test for the myriad of unknown ways that we set up our computers.

(Techy note: A race condition is a timing issue that arises when two or more independent programs stomp on each other. They’re very difficult to diagnose.)

Initial reports pointed the finger at a specific antivirus package as being the one that tangled with the KB 4532693 installer, but then we discovered that not all folks running that AV software were getting bit. Then we had a series of reports about local accounts (users who aren’t signed on with a Microsoft Account) getting the special treatment. Nope, that wasn’t the problem.

Microsoft hasn’t officially acknowledged the bug, as best as I can tell, aside from two posts on the Answers forum. On Feb. 12, Lawrence Abrams at BleepingComputer said that a Microsoft rep told him, “We are aware of the issue and are investigating the situation.” On Feb. 17, almost a week after the bug first appeared, Mayank Parmar at Windows Latest said:

In a conversation with Microsoft’s support team, multiple employees told us that Microsoft is aware of the issue and are actively investigating the situation. “Microsoft is aware of this known issue and our engineers are working diligently to find a solution for it,” a staff stated.

There have been multiple reports of users losing data because of the KB 4532693 patch. I haven’t seen that happen as yet, personally, so remain skeptical. Far more likely is that the data got stuffed into a .BAK or .000 or .003 folder inside the C:Users folder — the place Windows sticks profiles. If a Windows customer runs a Cleaner program while trying to fix the lost profile bug, the backup may well be gone.

Most distressing: Susan Bradley reports on a response to a Microsoft support case, in which a Microsoft technician specifically mentioned Windows Defender as a possible source of conflict:

I discussed the case with my tech lead and confirmed this to be a bug — 25270101 … find the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection and Microsoft Defender Antivirus services, right-click each of them, select Properties, and change Startup Type to Disabled, selecting OK after each change. Restart your device in normal mode and attempt to sign in with your original profile.

It isn’t at all clear if Defender might be part of the two-to-tango race condition. 

And, of course, neither the Knowledge Base article nor the official Windows Release Status page says a word. Nine days later and the buggy patch is still being shoveled out the Windows Automatic Update chute.

Not all is doom and gloom.

If you’re using Pause Updates in Win10 1903 or 1909 to block Microsoft’s patches, and your “Resume updates” date is far enough out — today or later — you didn’t get either this buggy patch or the monstrous KB 4524244 UEFI “patch,” which was pulled last week. But if you’re relying on Pause Updates, now would be a very good time to make sure it’s set out to the end of the month or later. Heaven only knows when (if!) Microsoft is going to re-release KB 4532693 and fix the disappearing profile problem.

For most of you, pausing updates until March 9 seems like a very good idea. (If you’re running SQL Server, though, you need to get the February patches installed. Sorry.)

To adjust your Pause Updates setting, first make sure you’re running either Win10 version 1903 or 1909 (type winver down in the Search box and press Enter). If you are, click Start > Settings > Update & Security. You should see something like the screenshot.

defer to 03 09 2020 Woody Leonhard/IDG

If your “Updates will resume on” date is before March 9, click the “Pause updates for 7 more days” link. (March 9 is a lucky number because the next Patch Tuesday is on March 10. Presumably Microsoft will fix this mess prior to that date. Presumably.)

In the past, I haven’t recommended that you extend the “Resume updates” date by pressing the “Pause updates for 7 more days” link because Microsoft has long warned that you can only extend updates after you’ve installed the currently available updates: 

After the pause limit is reached, you’ll need to install the latest updates before you can pause updates again.

I’m delighted — and surprised — to tell you that, at least in my tests, that limitation no longer applies. It appears to me as if you can go back in and pause updates for seven more days at a clip, even if you already have Pause updates set.

That’s remarkably good news.

Questions? Observations? Vituperations? We’re all ears on AskWoody.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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7 Essential LinkedIn Profile Tips to Guarantee Success


Professionals turn to LinkedIn to make connections and search for new opportunities. Knowing how to make your profile stand out is the key to getting noticed. So, if you’re struggling to get noticed, these LinkedIn profile tips should help you attract recruiters.

1. Make Your Headline Specific

With millions of people on LinkedIn, you need to stand out from the crowd. So the first of our LinkedIn profile tips concerns headlines. When you show up in a search, a recruiter will immediately see your headline underneath your name. It’s the sole deciding factor in whether someone will click on you.

If you’re a writer, you won’t want your headline to say: “Freelance Writer.” That’s way too vague. Instead, go with a more detailed headline that clearly states what you do. Use a descriptive headline like “SEO Marketing Copywriter with experience increasing web traffic” would make a recruiter more likely to click on your profile.

2. Get LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations are a great way to show that you’re a reliable worker. If you don’t know what recommendations are, they’re a positive remark that a coworker, boss, or client writes about you. It gets displayed on your profile for other companies and potential clients to see.

To get a LinkedIn recommendation, you have to request it. It’s best to request recommendations from your current boss, or from a previous manager who you got along well with.

When sending a recommendation request, provide context for the request. Let your manager know that you want to keep your profile updated, and you’d like them to leave feedback on a recent accomplishment or project. Make it your goal to have at least three recommendations on your LinkedIn profile.

3. Join Groups Related to Your Field

One of the best ways to connect with other professionals in your field is through LinkedIn Groups. Joining a Group gives you access to experts and even potential clients.

To search for a Group, head to the LinkedIn search bar. Enter the term you’d like to use to find a Group, and the site will redirect you to the search results page. You’ll want to filter these results by Groups only, so head to the dropdown menu that says More and then click Groups.

LinkedIn Groups Search Results

Once you join, you can get advice from other experts, find new connections, and establish your expertise in your field. In addition to joining Groups, you should also follow these popular companies on LinkedIn to stay updated on some of the biggest influencers.

4. Tell a Story

Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t look bland. Simply listing your experience and a brief description isn’t enough. LinkedIn leaves lots of room for other details about yourself, and you should definitely take advantage of that.

First, take a look at your profile summary. Use your summary to let your personality and character shine through. Include your biggest achievement, and don’t hesitate to add some creativity.

You should also fill in your list of accomplishments, skills, and try to get some endorsements. Make sure to continually add to these sections as you learn new skills or accomplish big feats. You could also use LinkedIn Skill Assessments

How to Use LinkedIn Skill Assessments to Stand Out

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to showcase your abilities.

Have any volunteer experience or know another language? Add those in too. The goal is to make your profile as thorough as possible. That way, a recruiter can really get to know you and your story.

5. Add Publications, Videos, and Pictures

On LinkedIn, you aren’t limited to expressing yourself via text. You can add presentations, videos, and pictures to your profile as well. Visual media attracts recruiters to your profile and makes it more memorable. Opt to include an introduction video or a quick clip of your latest presentation.

LinkedIn Publications List Example

You can also choose to link to articles, academic journals, or blog posts that you’ve written. Not only does this help increase the views on those articles, but it also helps prove your proficiency. If you don’t have any articles to link to, you can always write and share a helpful article on LinkedIn itself.

6. Use the Right Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that recruiters use to search for potential employees. To find the right keywords for your profile, pretend you’re a recruiter that’s searching for someone in your field. What words would you use to find someone that does what you do?

LinkedIn's keywords your searchers used view

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer who specializes in creating product labels. For this example, you’ll want to include “graphic designer” and “product labeling specialist” as your keywords. You can find even more relevant keywords by searching for a position you would qualify for, and adding some of the words that these posts incorporate.

Sprinkling keywords throughout your headline, projects, publications, summary, and positions can help boost your placement in search results. Just remember not to include too many keywords in your LinkedIn profile. An excessive number of keywords is obvious to recruiters and sounds very unnatural.

After you start adding keywords, you should slowly start getting more views on your profile. You can see who has viewed your LinkedIn profile to find out if the right people are clicking on you.

7. Stay Active on LinkedIn

By liking, sharing, and commenting on posts, you’ll get your name out there even more. Other LinkedIn users will see that you commented on their post, which can spark a new conversation and a connection.

LinkedIn Post Activity

You can also improve your visibility by frequently making posts. These posts obviously have to remain related to your profession—posts about promotions, recent publications, and sharing relevant articles are most appropriate.

LinkedIn Profile Tips to Help You Get Noticed

LinkedIn is more than just a social media site—it’s a method of recruitment. By following the above steps, you’ll see an increased number of potential clients and recruiters flocking to your LinkedIn profile. It’s a great way to start your networking journey.

Do you want to take your LinkedIn use to the next level? Here are some reasons why LinkedIn Premium is worth paying for

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How to Stop LinkedIn From Telling Someone You Viewed Their Profile

LinkedIn showing someone viewed your profile

LinkedIn often tells people when you view their profiles and shows them your name. That person may even get an email or alert saying you viewed their profile. Here’s how to browse privately without LinkedIn sharing this information.

It may seem silly to prefer anonymity on a social network, but other social networks don’t work this way. Facebook and Twitter don’t send someone a notification whenever you view their profile.

To find this option, head to the LinkedIn website, click your profile icon on the top bar, and select “Settings & Privacy.”

Opening LinkedIn settings

Click “How others see your profile and network information” under Privacy. Click “Profile viewing options.”

LinkedIn profile viewing privacy options

Select how you want to appear. You can select “Anonymous LinkedIn Member” for pure private browsing or select your private profile characteristics, which may appear as just “Someone on LinkedIn” or something more specific.

People will still see that someone viewed their profile after you view their profile—but they’ll see only that an anonymous person viewed it.

Option to stop LinkedIn from sharing your name with someone when you view their profile

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