My Top Ten: Mike McGrail, digital marketing consultant

MY Top Ten invites media practitioners to identify their top ten websites, apps, software tools and gadgets, etc, and here it is the turn of digital marketing and communications consultant, Mike McGrail.

Mike has just launched his consultancy, Velocity Digital, and offers social media, digital and content marketing services. Mike is also the founder of The Social Penguin blog.

He goes ‘app-tastic’…

Evernote – App and website – Evernote is my ‘right-hand man’ when it comes to apps. It allows you to take notes, record voice notes, clip articles from the web to be stored and used at a later date and a lot more. It is all stored ‘in the cloud’, which means it can be accessed from pretty much any device, including laptops and desktops. The web clipping function is very neat: you can add extensions to your browser (in my case, Chrome) and any time you read something online that you think may be useful in the future, you can clip the full article, tag it and add notes to aid searching in the future. I’ve built a massive resource within my Evernote account.

Reeder – App, iPhone/iPad/Mac – I use reader to keep on top of the blogs that I subscribe to via RSS feed. It easily hooks up to your Google Reader account and allows you to read your regular blogs, etc within a clean and easy-to-use interface and then share those across your social networks, if you so desire. Recently completely redeveloped, and it just gets stronger and stronger. In my line of work, you need to be bang up-to-date with the latest news and trends and Reeder, combined with Google Reader, allows me to do that from wherever I am.

Pocket – App, multiple mobile devices and browser extensions – Another one that is massively helpful when I’m on the move. Pocket allows you to save anything you are reading, to be viewed later by clicking one button. Simple but essential. Pocket produces a clean interface that holds all of your articles and can be viewed via mobile device or on your computer. Helps to ensure that I don’t miss a thing.

Dropbox – App, multiple devices and browser access – Put simply, Dropbox is a ‘free cloud storage solution’. You can save anything you want to Dropbox and access it from anywhere. It is of course super-secure and you can choose to grant access to particular files to your team members, etc. Dropbox has been around for a number of years and is highly trusted in the industry.

Tweetbot – App, iPhone/iPad/iPod – This is the best Twitter mobile Twitter app out there. I’ve tried the vast majority and Tweetbot trumps them all. It looks beautiful, uses clever touch gestures for navigation and never, ever breaks. It costs £2.00 but you won’t regret spending that paltry sum.

Flipboard – App, iPad/iPhone/Android – If I didn’t have an iPad, I would buy one just to use Flipboard. This app creates a beautiful magazine from all of your favourite online sources and works so well with today’s touch-screen technology. I have a mixture of work related reads, lifestyle and news content on there and I see it as a little treat when I can take the time to sit and flick through it. It contains content across all topics and allows you to easily build up a wonderful collection of reading material. If it was a woman, I’d marry it. Twice.

53 Paper – App, iPad only – This is a drawing app that allows you to fairly easily create good-looking illustrations and even diagrams. I use it from time to time to add my personal touch to the imagery over on my The Social Penguin blog. I am no artist but it can be a nice alternative to photography. I recommend using it with a stylus; you’ll have much more control over your creations.

Mindmeister – App, website and mobile – I’m a big fan of using mind-maps to chart out ideas and even full strategies. The visual aspect makes things easy to follow and clients love them too. Mindmeister allows you to build mind-maps online and from your phone or tablet and is very easy to use once you get the basic controls nailed down. You can collaborate with teammates on maps, meaning no idea goes AWOL. A nice touch is the ability to export the maps to a number of files, including PDFs.

Path – App, iPhone/Android – Path is a social network that only allows you to have 150 friends. The overall aim of Path is to build networks between people who are genuinely close. I can see it replacing Facebook for me personally, but that will only happen when my friends and family get up to speed with it. It is one of the most beautiful looking apps I have seen, that coupled with simple functionality makes it a winner.

Analytics Pro – App, iPhone/iPad – I need to be able to keep an eye on the traffic on clients’ websites at all times. Analytics Pro hooks straight in to your Google Analytics account and gives you just enough data to crunch, without making things clumsy. At £3.99, it may seem a little steep at first; however, I’ve yet to see a better alternative.