digital toolsBy Jess Ostroff

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you… 12 digital tools, 11 most read blog posts, 10 top communicators, nine great PR blogs, eight up and comers, seven must-listen podcasts, six communicator gifts, five communications trends, four free webinars, three strategy games, two Crazies’ secrets, and the PR win of 2014.

Trying to make predictions about what’s going to happen in the future stresses me out.

I hate being wrong, so I’m not going to pretend like I know what’s going to happen in your life next year.

What I do know is that I get the “tools” question a lot, both from friends and clients. It’s probably because I receive a lot of strange requests from clients and need to find ways to problem-solve without any direction.

(Gini gives great directions. I don’t need to be a detective when it comes to her!)

I do love the detective part of my job though, so I make the time to play around with many different applications to find the ones that work best for the tasks at hand.

So these are not predictions. Rather, they are educated guesses about the way the world is turning. And I can tell you with certainty that if you start using any of these tools, your life will be better. I mean it!

Stay Connected

The sheer number of social networks and communication channels we have available to us has actually made it harder to connect with the people we care about, not easier.

Try these tools to stay on top of the goings-on in your network and keep yourself top of mind with the connections you care most about.


You don’t need to be a Salesforce user to enjoy the benefits of Refresh. This application can be used to find robust social media information about the contacts in your CRM, or you can use the free version like I do to get timely updates about the people that you’re meeting with.

By connecting your calendar and social networks to the app, you’ll receive alerts before your meetings with insights about the person you’re meeting with.

The alert will tell you about your contacts’ professional updates as well as their personal status messages, shared images, and even suggest some more creepy information (like wishing a happy birthday to their significant other).

You’ll be reminded of your recent email exchanges and you can add your own personal notes to the application about your contacts in case you need to remember later.

Refresh is only available as an iPhone app at this time. Get it here.


Nimble takes the concept of “CRM” and makes it more accessible to smaller businesses and individuals. With an affordable monthly plan (it’s only $15 per month) and a user-friendly interface, Nimble is a communications and connection engine for social people.

You can easily see what the latest happenings are within your network and let the tool know who is most important to you. You’re able tell Nimble how often you want to stay in touch with your contacts and get reminders when it’s time to check in with them.

Also, you can see important engagement opportunities with people in your networks so that you’re always being proactive about congratulating your connections on their new job or baby announcement, keeping you (and potentially your business) at the top of their minds.

Ongoing engagement deepens relationships, and close relationships are valuable for both personal and professional gains.

Nimble has a mobile app that lets you stay in touch on the go, and a free trial for the first two weeks.

Get Work Done

Who doesn’t love a great boost in productivity? These tools were designed to make you more efficient in your daily life.


Have you ever received a file that you weren’t able to open? Maybe your client uses a PC and you use a Mac and those older versions of Excel don’t play nice with your machine. Sound familiar?

Worry no more!

CloudConvert makes it unnecessary to have any kind of software on your computer (which is especially helpful if you’re anything like me and never have enough storage space on your laptop).

Easily convert any type of file into a format that you can read and manipulate. Once the file is done converting, you can have it emailed or saved to your file sharing tool of your choice (Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive). That way, your converted files are safely stored in the cloud for future access from any device.

CloudConvert is free for most people, and only costs money if you’re using more than 500 minutes of conversion time.


Sococo might be my favorite tool of 2014.

I learned about it when I saw Ann Handley using it at the Social Brand Forum to talk to the MarketingProfs team. She showed me how to “pop in” to someone’s “office” and I was sold.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about a virtual office application that lets you see a “floorplan” of “offices” where your team can work.

Screenshot 2014-12-18 11.14.17

This tool has completely changed our lives at Don’t Panic Management.

Now that we have the ability to be in constant communication via instant messaging and voice messaging on the go, we’re able to be much more efficient in our virtual environment.

Instead of waiting for an email reply or picking up a phone, you can just click on someone’s office to have a quick chat with them. It’s just like walking over to your boss’s cube to ask a question, but in application form instead.

Virtual reality FTW!

Sococo also lets you do video calls, share your screens, and share files through their integration with Dropbox and Google Drive. You can get together in an office or conference room and call out to someone’s phone, which makes meetings with multiple people a breeze.

Sococo has Android and iPhone apps so you can be available from the road. It offers a free trial and then its pricing is based on number of users.


Sorry, email marketers. Some of your have overstayed your welcome.

PaperKarma is an application that unsubscribes you from emails you no longer want to receive.

Take a screenshot of the email in PaperKarma, and they’ll handle the rest.

No more, “Why do you wish to unsubscribe?” or, “Would you prefer this other email instead?” questions that make you feel guilty about your decisions.

Let PaperKarma handle that for you.


With the constant hacking that seems to be happening every other day, now is the time to tighten the security on your passwords.

LastPass allows you to only remember one master password and generate strong passwords for applications or websites that require you to log in. While it’s great for personal use, LastPass is even more amazing for teams.

Don’t worry about sharing your private passwords via email or a shared document. Simply save them all in LastPass and choose which ones you want to share with which people in your organization.

Set permissions that dictate whether the user can actually see the password or just have it filled in anonymously. It’s a secure and efficient system that everyone can get behind, especially if you have people on your team that are still using “password123” or sticky notes to remember their logins!


Someone told the world that content marketing really works, and now everyone is creating it!

There is so much content out there that it’s become almost impossible to keep up. Use Pocket to save articles for later when you have some spare time (har har) to read them.

Pocket works as a browser extension and also as a mobile app. I often like to put things in my Pocket from my browser and then read them on my iPhone on the subway when I’m commuting. I’ll also catch up on them over the weekend from the couch on my iPad.

Your articles and their status (read or unread) are saved across devices, which makes it super handy for busy communications professionals.

Pocket is free – get it now and thank me later!


Who doesn’t need help keeping their to-do list straight?

I personally still love the comfort of a hand-written to-do list, but the truth is that I’m worthless without it. So, if I’m anywhere without my notebook, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.

I started using Wunderlist as a supplement so that if my notebook went missing, I could still function (sad, I know).

Wunderlist is a free, easy-to-use app

Market Yourself

Spin Sucks is a marketing communications blog after all, so what would this amazing list be without some nifty marketing tools?


CoSchedule comes in as a close second to Sococo as my favorite tool of 2014.

None of the other editorial calendar tools come close to the usability and affordability of CoSchedule. Not only can you plan our your blog editorial calendar months in advance and collaborate with other authors and editors, but you can also schedule social media posts to go out at the same time your blog goes out (and beyond), analyze your headlines, and much, much more.

New features are being added all the time. And their resources for editors and content marketers are unmatched.

The best part? It’s only $10 per month per blog, and you get a discount if you sign up for a yearly plan.

A year of CoSchedule is probably less than Gini spends on shoes every month!


People want to be able to skim articles for snackable bites of information. That’s why we format Spin Sucks with subheads, bolding, italics, lists, and more–for easier readability.

People also want to be able to share great information easily to their Twitter networks.

Using ClickToTweet links, you can provide your audience with the quote, data point, or insight they need to look smart to their network while linking back to your article in a matter of clicks.

Generate “Basic Links” anonymously or sign in to the tool to measure and track the performance of your links.


Visual marketing is on the rise, and 1500 word blog posts are on the fall, so it’s time to get creative about how you display your content.

Uberflip solves the problem of mundane content presentation by offering “hubs” that can include multiple different forms of content, like blog posts, Slideshare presentations, tweets, and more.

Once you’ve created your hub, you can use it as a resource to share with audiences. You can also embellish individual pieces of content within your hub by creating a flipbook-like interactive experience. Add videos, ClicktoTweet options, embedded links, and more.

It’s sort of like creating a PDF on steroids that your audience actually enjoys interacting with. It’s definitely a tool worth setting aside a couple of hours for.


Wordswag is like Canva, but for your mobile device. It lets you use your own camera roll to create images with a text overlay for social sharing and other content marketing activities.

I could talk all day about the benefits of using visual marketing tools. In fact, I did that one day here on Spin Sucks! Read about my top free visual marketing tools here.

A Word of Advice on Digital Tools

Technology is taking over the universe. We all know it. But don’t forget that just because these tools and apps exist, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Sometimes, the best way to get anything done is to do it the analog way.

P.S. If you’ve been reading our 12 days of Christmas series and want to follow the people we’ve mentioned, here’s a handy-dandy Twitter list for you.

It includes 58 people or organizations who got nods in our 12 days of Christmas lists (including the honorable mention Crazies whose super powers were mentioned by Laura).

Jess Ostroff

Jess Ostroff is the founder and director of calm of Don't Panic Management, a virtual assistant agency. She loves finding efficient ways to get work done, bringing good people together, and enjoying live music.

View all posts by Jess Ostroff