The Top 5 Social Media Tools I Can’t Live Without (And Why)

While there are many social media tools I like and use fairly regularly, these are the top 5 tools I couldn’t live without. Day in and day out, these are the ones I stake my reputation on.

This deck also explains why I like each tool, how I use it, and even some little wish list items on how each could be made better.

These aren’t listed in any particular order. Each of them serves a different purpose, which is why there are only five that I consider “mission critical.”


  • Topic research (hashtags, keywords, major influencers, popularity).
  • Velocity & volume research.
  • It’s the only free service that gives you full access to all public tweets.
  • Topsy identifies key influencers around any given topic / keyword.
  • Usage volume trends for past 30 days on any given topic / keyword.


• 100% for listening / monitoring of hashtags, keywords, list of users.
• Updates in real-time.
• Customizable columns for different channels / profiles / sources.
• Ability to mute specific keywords, hashtags, or users.
• Seamless experience between desktop and mobile.
• Conversation view for replies; media view for images / videos.


• Finding relevant people to engage with around any given topic.
• Building drip campaigns to start conversations and build relationships.
• Increasing my Twitter following with people of similar-interests.
• Driving impressions and click-throughs on shared content.
• It factors in more than just number of followers or Klout score when finding influencers and relevant people.
• I’m able to keep track of more people (scale) in a more meaningful way.

Microsoft Excel / Google Sheets

• Planning and scheduling social content.
• Aligning social with broader Marketing, Sales, Customer Service goals.
• Analyzing data, calculating growth / change, organization.
• Infinite customizability and scale.
• Extensive formulas, conditions, sorts, filters, and rules make managing large chunks of data manageable in one place.
• Easy to circulate to team, company, and external vendors / partners.
• Download my free ‘SocialContent Calendar’ template for Excel and Sheets here:


• Content Planning – quickly and easily see what I’ve scheduled for the week.
• Scheduling RTs – add nativeTwitter retweets to our existing schedule.
• Simple, clean interface, despite packing extensive features and flexibility.
• Chrome Extension lets me share native retweets.
• Great mobile app (iOS / Android) that doesn’t cut corners on full experience.
• Free tier: Schedule up to 10 posts at a time across all networks.
• Awesome tier: Unlimited posts; unlimited accounts.
• Ability to connect account for click data / analytics.
• Freedom to change scheduled post times for each day of the week.


Follow me on Twitter: @mbchp
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How Social Sellers Can Manage Relationships at Scale

I was reading this post from Bob Woods on nurturing and building relationships with first-level connections on LinkedIn. One thing Bob touched on — making a custom list of prospects — resonated with me, because I do the exact same thing on Twitter with B2B contacts.

The challenge a lot of us face isn’t our social skills, our product or industry knowledge, or our ability to close a sale. Considered in a vacuum, you could be a seasoned pro at each stage of the sales process. Rather, the challenge is scaling. If you’re a sales development rep with a set number of calls to make, you know the struggle.

Here’s the process I’ve used for managing relationships at scale.

1. Identify – I use Insightpool to help me find the exact people I want to connect with. This helps me look within my existing Twitter following and outside my current following.

2. Create a List – I maintain 4 different private Twitter lists. They each help me quickly know the level of relationship I have with any members of that particular list. Each one builds upon the one before it. In order, they are: Continue reading How Social Sellers Can Manage Relationships at Scale

The Definitive Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences and Retargeting

What follows is a bold statement, but it’s one that I’ll stand by (at least for the foreseeable future) and [attempt to] justify through this post:

Facebook’s Ads platform has quickly become the best and most versatile in the world. 

The company has three key things going for it that no other network or platform can boast about, before we even get into their actual ads platform:

  1. It’s a service; a platform in and of itself. While there are a few exceptions, at its core, it stands on its own. To some people in the world, Facebook IS the Internet.
  2. Facebook has more than 1.3 billion active monthly users around the world; nearly 20% of the entire world population. Whoever your audience is, you can reach them on Facebook.
  3. Through Interest Graph, Facebook has a deep understanding of the people you’re connected to, the things and places you like, and the brands you interact with. Humans are predictable, and Facebook is the king at this.

This post is aimed at the advanced digital marketer; so I’ll be making assumptions with the idea that you’re beyond (or ready to go beyond) just setting up a basic ad or boosting a post. If you’re a novice, I’ve included screenshots so you can track along, but would recommend proceeding with caution. Continue reading The Definitive Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences and Retargeting

Prolific Content Marketing Means More Noise on Social

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. The broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.

One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC can publish whatever content they can create. The Internet also allows information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher. Opportunities are remarkable, and many companies are laying plans to create content for the Internet.”

Bill Gates said it first, nearly 20 years ago, way back in January 1996. In fact, his paper titled ‘Content is King’ isn’t even on Microsoft’s website anymore, so you’ll need to use the Wayback Machine to view it.

Ever since, it’s been drilled into us by way of business classes, marketing seminars, public speakers, and content about content itself, that when created well, tells a compelling story and adds value to the viewer’s life. We should hire teams of people. They should create endless pieces of content. We should publish it everywhere. Feel free to stop me if I’m wrong, here.

Well-crafted content and the strategies behind it has repeatedly shown it can drive measurable sales in both B2B and B2C segments. Now, every brand with a pulse on the web is cranking out blog posts, white papers, eBooks, email newsletters, and infographics, just as Gates foresaw nearly two decades ago. That’s all well and good, but what’s the net effect of all this new content being created? Continue reading Prolific Content Marketing Means More Noise on Social

KAKE Plays Chicken to Cox — And Loses

This morning, Cox cable subscribers may have noticed that KAKE News went off the air. Many are angry at Cox for the missing content, but I submit that KAKE, via their parent company Gray Television, played chicken and lost.

Consider this: Your favorite baseball / football / basketball player on your favorite team decides he needs more money. He gives the team an ultimatum: increase my salary or I’m not playing. Who would you view as the irrational party in this situation?

The player, right?

That’s exactly what’s happening here. KAKE feels it needs something in the area of 400% more money from Cox to air their content. While KAKE’s general manager denies this figure, he admits he really doesn’t know what the actual figure is.

But how about this: KAKE, an ABC affiliate, is a channel that comes included on Cox’s most basic cable package. In other words, it’s a high-value channel because it carries some of the most popular TV shows as well as local news. It’s TV programming you legitimately want to watch, and Gray TV knows it.

It gets better. Or worse, I suppose, depending on how you look at it. Continue reading KAKE Plays Chicken to Cox — And Loses

I’m Hanging up the Backpack and Joining a Startup

2014 has been one hell of a year. 

I’ve backpacked 3 continents, 8 countries, 25+ U.S. states, and moved out of Kansas for the first time in my life. I’ve spent the entire year working freelance for four different companies, sometimes from home, but often from the road. Coffee shops, truck stops, public libraries, bars and restaurants, co-working spaces, airports, bus terminals, a ferry in Vietnam, a hostel in Cambodia, a backpacker lodge in New Zealand, a beach in Puerto Rico – these places have all been my “office” at some point this year.

And I’ve loved it. I’ve found a lot of much-needed clarity in life. I’ve completely rewritten my list of priorities. It’s true what they say – none of us are getting any younger, and time waits for no one. 

Now I’m ready for the next challenge, and I’m going all-in.

I’m thrilled to say that in January, I’m starting a new role at Insightpool, a startup based here in Atlanta, as their social media manager.

I’ve had plenty to keep me busy this year, so when this opportunity came up, I was intrigued and jumped right on it. I’ve met a few people there before now, and their company culture is contagious. Spend just a few minutes talking with any of them and it’s impossible not to be excited about where the company is headed. This is the first job I remember ever being this excited about. 

I’m heading back to Kansas for the holidays and then returning to Atlanta to dive right in. There’s much to be done. 

27 Last Minute Techie Gifts Under $40 Bucks


Smartphone Accessories –

iPad / Tablet Accessories – 

Tech for Around the House –

Computers – 

Personal / Portable Audio –

Don’t Buy into Sprint’s BS About Your Bill


Sprint’s latest promotion, which begins tomorrow, offers current Verizon and AT&T customers a deal worth 50% off their current monthly phone bill. It seems straight forward enough, right? I wanted to take a closer look, and I’ll warn your now: this post is a long one, so hear me out.

Here’s how it works:

  • Bring in your latest Verizon or AT&T bill to a Sprint Store or upload it to Bring all the phones and devices currently on your account. You’ll be trading them in.
  • In exchange for trading in your current devices, Sprint will pay “up to $350″ towards the termination fee or the device installment payments you currently have left with Verizon or AT&T. That bonus comes by way of a Visa gift card after you’ve gotten your final bill from Big Red or Ma Bell. Not turning in your current phone will cost you $200 bucks on your new Sprint bill.
  • As for new devices — you can choose any device Sprint currently offers (but can’t bring your own) and pay for it up front, at full retail price, or go with Sprint’s “Easy Pay” installment plan, which tacks on $15 – $40 per device you buy, each month.
  • You can keep your current number(s), and the process of porting them over from Verizon or AT&T is actually what cancels your current service with that carrier. Do NOT cancel your service with Verizon or AT&T before you switch to Sprint, or your number won’t be retrievable.

Sprint provides a few compelling examples of the savings this promotion provides.


A Verizon customer with four smartphones sharing 15 GB of data on the More Everything plan (which includes unlimited calling and texting) will pay $260 each month. With the promotion, that same customer could get the same rate plan and features for $130 each month.

Here’s Where it Gets Interesting

What’s NOT included in that figure is actually what may cost you the most: the unspoken costs and fees.

If, for example, that Verizon customer got four new Galaxy S5-es from Sprint, that $130 bill becomes $239 each month with $27 per month, per device tacked on top.

Want insurance on your devices? Add on another $36 bucks ($9 per line x 4 lines). Now that “$130 bill” is $275 a month, and then you have to add on taxes.

It’s safe to say you’ll spend $300 a month — $170 more than the face value of what you’re told in the store. Since we’re trying to compare apples to apples here, that final number is the number you should compare against your current Verizon or AT&T monthly bill.

Should You Switch to Sprint?

The answer to the question – Should you switch to Sprint? – lies in the answers to two other questions:

a.) Do you fully own the devices you already use or are you paying for them each month?

If you already have late-model devices — say, anything made within the last 12 months — and they’re paid for, whether by signing a contract and paying the subsidized price or by paying the full retail price – you will lose the value you’ve already paid for those by switching.

If you have late-model devices that aren’t fully paid for (Verizon EDGE and AT&T Next customers), switching to Sprint may or may not cost you anything extra. Say, two months ago, you purchased a new Galaxy Note 4 on Verizon, and you’re paying it off with the EIP or Edge program, you may still owe more on it than the $350 Visa gift card Sprint will give you for switching. In that case, you’ll be stuck with the difference out of pocket to pay off the phone.

If your devices are older and you’re ready to upgrade anyway, the switch is a no brainer (as long as you can answer positively to the second question below). This is especially true if you’re already out of contract and free to leave Verizon or AT&T.

b.) How important is coverage, speed, and reliability to your usage?

If you travel outside major metropolitan areas often, Sprint has hit or miss coverage out in the sticks. Often, even when they do, it’s their legacy 3G network, which is abysmally slow. We’re talking about dial-up speeds. It’s painful. Check Sprint’s nationwide coverage maps, here: Sprint Coverage Checker.

If you live in some fairly well-populated small towns or large cities and don’t travel much, Sprint’s 4G LTE network will likely satisfy all your needs. They currently have LTE in 540 cities across the country, and that number is continually growing.

Fact: Sprint’s 4G LTE download and upload speeds are the slowest in America. Real-world speeds, as tested and reported by CNET, average 3.36 Mbps on the download side, and 3.02 Mbps on the upload side. Compare that to Verizon’s LTE network, where I consistently see download speeds of 58 Mbps, far eclipsing even my home broadband from Comcast. AT&T was found to provide average LTE download speeds of 40.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 19.36 Mbps. Depending on how and how much you use your devices, this may make a difference in your decision to switch to Sprint or to remain with Verizon or AT&T.

Read the Fine Print About Data Throttling

sprint data throttling

Sprint can throttle your data at any time, for any reason, if you switch.

Many of us rely on our smartphones for everything BUT the part that makes and receives calls. In other words, we rely on data. If you take advantage of this promotion and make the switch to Sprint, you should know that YOUR data usage will be prioritized LAST on the totem pole of Sprint customers. In other words, everyone who pays full price comes first.

Read the fine print at the bottom of the offer:

“Other plans may receive prioritized bandwidth availability. To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied, or reduced on the network.”

The concerning part of this isn’t that Sprint reserves the right to throttle heavy usage data hogs. It’s that they’re specifically reserving the right to throttle everyone who takes advantage of this offer. Now, not only are you using what Consumer Reports rates as America’s slowest 4G LTE network, but if the other people in your area are full price-paying customers, your data will be even slower, still.


While Sprint’s offer to cut your bill in half sounds appealing, there’s a lot to consider before you take the bait. If you’re still reading at this point, you should have all the information (or at least links to all the information) you need to help in that decision.

I don’t have any agenda here — I couldn’t care less which carrier you use — but I do have an interest in making sure you have all the facts before you jump on the latest marketing ploy for your money.

This post originally appeared on

Black Friday Deals in Tech / Gadgets / Photography

I’ve been putting together this list of the best Black Friday deals and discounts – many of them from Amazon so you can use Prime free shipping – on tech and electronics related gear. I’ve separated them out into 10 categories to make browsing a little easier. 

Everything here is on sale or discounted at least through Cyber Monday. A few of the deals are only good for Cyber Monday, in fact. Everything else is available NOW.

Cameras and Photography

GoPro Hero 3+ Silver – Holiday Bundle 
Regularly $349; On Sale for $249.99

Nikon COOLPIX 16MP Camera w/ WiFi & 12x Zoom
Regularly $219.95; On Sale for $139

6 Lens Smartphone Photo Kit w/ Tripod
Regularly $199; On Sale for $69

Digipower Extreme Monopod for Smartphonees & GoPro
Regularly $69.99; On Sale for $45.99

$200 Off These 9 Canon DSLR Cameras
Ranging from $499 to $1,349

Personal Audio

DKnight Magicbox Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Regularly $100; On Sale for $29.99

Beats by Dre – Pill Portable Speaker
Regularly $200; On Sale for $179

Turtle Beach Ear Force X42 Wireless Gaming Headset
Regularly $159; On Sale for $97

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Speaker Dock
Regularly $600; On Sale for $399

Beats by Dre – Studio 2.0 Headphones
Regularly $300; On Sale for $254

Smartphones – Android

Samsung Galaxy S5 (All Carriers)
Regularly $199; On Sale for $1

LG G3 (All Carriers)
Regularly $199; On Sale for $0.01 to $29.99

HTC One M8 32 GB (All Carriers)
Regularly $199; On Sale for $0.01

Motorola Moto X 2nd Gen (Unlocked) – Monday Dec. 1 Only
Regularly $500; Will be On Sale for $359.99

Amazon Fire Phone (Unlocked, No Contract)
Regularly $449; On Sale for $199

Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers

LG G Watch Powered by Android Wear
Regularly $229; On Sale for $149.99

Garmin Vivofit Fitness Tracker (6 colors)
Regularly $130; On Sale for $79.99

Pebble Smartwatch for iPhone & Android
Regularly $149.99; On Sale for $99.99

Jawbone UP 24 Fitness Band
Regularly $130; On Sale for $99

Hard Drives and Memory Cards

Samsung 840 EVO 1 TB (2.5-inch) SATA III Internal SSD
Regularly $500; On Sale for $359.99

Seagate USB 3.0 2 TB Portable External Hard Drive
Regularly $159.99; On Sale for $79.99

Seagate USB 3.0 5 TB Desktop Hard Drive
Regularly $259.99; On Sale for $139.99

PNY Turbo 128 GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Regularly $69.99; On Sale for $34.99

Kingston DataTraveler 64 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Regularly $75; On Sale for $28.95

Samsung 64 GB Class 10 Micro SD Card
Regularly $59.99; On Sale for $24.99

PNY Turbo 64 GB Class 10 Micro SDXC Card (90MB/sec)
Regularly $49.99; On Sale for $29.99

Home Theater

VIZIO 54-inch Sound Bar, Subwoofer, and Remote
Regularly $500; On Sale for $349.99

Roku 3 Streaming Media Player
Regularly $99.99; On Sale for $84.99

LG 50-inch 1080p 120Hz LED TV
Regularly $800; On Sale for $499

Aurum Pro Series 15-Foot HDMI Cable
Regularly $40; On Sale for $9.99

Samsung Curved 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV
Regularly $2,200; On Sale for $1,297.99

Gadgets and Gizmos

Google Chromecast
Regularly $35; On Sale for $23.99

Panther Air Drone Quadcopter with HD Camera
Regularly $250; On Sale for $110

ZAGGsparq 1220 mah Portable Battery Charger
Regularly $39.99; On Sale for $19.98 (Cyber Monday only)

BACtrack VIo Breathalyzer for Smartphones
Regularly $50; On Sale for $42.99

DJI Phantom FC40 Aerial Drone with HD Camera & GoPro Mount
Regularly $650; On Sale for $499

Garmin nuvi 52LM Portable Vehicle GPS w/ Lifetime Maps
Regularly $150; On Sale for $89.99

Jackery Giant+ Premium Portable Battery Charger (12,000 mah)
Regularly $129.95; On Sale for $39.95

invisibleSHIELD Screen Protectors from ZAGG
Buy One Get one Free on Black Friday

NIX 8-inch HD Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor
Regularly $90; On Sale for $69.99

10-foot MFi Certified USB Lightning Cable for iPhone / iPad
Regularly $40; On Sale for $18.99

Limefuel 20,000mAh Portable Battery Charger for Phones & Tablets
Regularly $85; On Sale for $34.99

Best iPhone 6 Cases

Spigen Neo Hybrid Case for iPhone 6 (12 colors)
Regularly $34.99; On Sale for $20 

Best Samsung Galaxy S5 Cases

Spigen Neo Hybrid Case for Galaxy S5 (6 colors)
Regularly $29.99; On Sale for $19

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Cases

Spigen Neo Hybrid Case for Galaxy Note 4 (5 colors)
Regularly $34.99; On Sale for $19