My Top Ten: Louise Wightman, director, Digital Business Solutions

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 Louise Wightman, director of Digital Business Solutions, in Glasgow. She also runs coaching/training business, Approach The Coach. Louise works primarily with SMEs; “any business focused on growth and positive change”.

1. Sprout Social – software tool to measure social media reach – This social media management tool is absolutely critical in my job. I can plan marketing posts weeks, if not months, in advance. First thing in the morning I log into the (sprout social) accounts to see what brand or product is being marketed at which time, possibly alter times and add in anything relevant i.e. industry news. At the end of each month, I run reports to show the online reach and measure against the previous month’s activity. This tool is essential for anyone wanting to measure their online reach and to see if they are getting a return from their team effort.

2. Tweetadder – software tool to tidy up Twitter accounts – This twitter tool is good when you are managing multiple accounts. I think it’s important to focus your time and energy on twitter accounts that are active, so every week I clear accounts out – this means inactive or people who have unfollowed client accounts go! I appreciate Twitter is a numbers game, but it needs to be kept fresh and focusing time and effort on engagement.

3. Twitter – website/social media tool – I didn’t buy into Twitter until about 2009 but now I love it. Twitter is one of the main tools for my two websites. I find you can get to know someone on a different level via Twitter, it’s not as formal as LinkedIn. The #FF still seems strong; I admit I haven’t done it for a while, but Twitter is probably one of the main tools to start building that online community.

4. LinkedIn – website/business networking tool – This has to be the greatest invention online for the business community. LinkedIn has amazing potential for someone who is willing to put in the effort. Yes, it takes time to build up a very good professional profile, but it is worth it. The references/endorsements alone can be worth their weight in gold when a potential prospect checks out your profile. The groups are another excellent way of building connections and seeking advice and asking for leads. Definitely a tool I train almost every client in using correctly, to their full advantage.

5. YouTube Channel – website – Every company should have a YouTube Channel that they can customise and use to promote their business. YouTube has a marketing tool also, a little time consuming, but if you have lots of videos then good to invest the time in. The YouTube Channel has worked for almost every client, the trick is to keep content fresh and keep up the activity. Otherwise, people start to lose interest.

6. SnagIt Techsmith Snagit v 11 – image capturing tool – I have relied on this tool for years, it is excellent if you don’t have the time to learn all the intricacies of Photoshop. You can alter images, make JPEGs and create complete magazine adverts using Snagit. I think I started on version 8 and still rave about this tool. The Snagit is just one of the products that Techsmith offer, definitely a company worth checking out.

7. Photoshop – graphics editor software – I did betray my beloved Snagit for Photoshop recently, you need to have patience to learn all the tools (I am still learning) but it is a very good piece of software. Have to admit that for the tricky jobs – eg cutting around a models with their hair blowing in the wind – I send it to a member of my team to do for me!

8. Skype – software for internet-based calls and video conferences – I wouldn’t be without Skype, I use it to communicate with my team and for quick updates. It saves running up mobile phone bills as Skype is free of charge. I think, as a business tool, it is efficient, regardless if you use the video chat option. Personally, I prefer the chat option, I wouldn’t like someone to see me at 6am.

9. LastPass – software for passwords – Great free tool for someone who, like me, has to keep a lot of confidential passwords for clients and customers. When you sign up, the software scans your PC and downloads all the information. This means you don’t have to manually key them all in. Result!

10. Dropbox – software for secure document and file storage ‘in the cloud’ – A favourite tool for most companies. This is ideal when I am building websites and wish to transfer a lot of information and photos. It is easy on the eye and you get an alert if you are nearly at your limit regarding space. The bonus is you can also get additional space if you refer friends to them, and they sign up for an account.