Where would we be without those nifty little keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V? Shortcuts are only small things, but added up, save a whole lot of time. Browser extensions are the same thing – just little additions to give your browser new features which can help you work more efficiently.
For those working in digital media who are using Google Chrome, there is a whole a world of plugins and extensions which can be added to help make your job a little bit easier.
So… what is a browser extension?
For those who might not have heard of browser extensions, they are a plug-in that can be added to your browser which allows your web browser to do something it couldn’t do by default. For example, it could be like Hootlet, which, when clicked, allows you to pre-schedule a tweet about the article you are reading. Or, it could allow acces for a feature of something always-on, like Grammarly, which highlights incorrect grammar in anything you write.
My URL bar, loaded with plugins looks a little something like this:
So which browser extensions do you need? Here are my favourite Google Chrome plugins which anyone working in digital or social media will find helpful to get their work done faster.
If Hootsuite is your social media scheduling tool of choice, adding the Hootlet browser extension is essential. If your business does a lot of content curation in terms of articles, Hootlet is brilliant because in one click it allows you to schedule a post about the article you’re reading if you happen across a handy article while you’re browsing the web. Get it here.
I also a huge fan of scheduling tool Meet Edgar, which also has a browser extension, too. So whatever your scheduling tool, check to see if they have a browser extension or bookmarklet and get in on the action!
Taking a screenshot on a computer really should be a straightforward process. But for many computers, it’s an unnecessarily complicated process. While I’m forever a fan of the app Skitch for quick snap-and-drag in screensots, every now and again you need to screenshot and entire page in one go – and Awesome Screenshot is your BFF for this.
Whether it’s designing a website, taking a screenshot of reporting or evidence of a social media conversation for your work, this plugin is useful for a boatload of reasons and is one of the first things I install on a new computer.
While I’m of the opinion that there is most certainly a thing as too many hashtags, it can be useful to know which hashtags are best to use when you’re writing a tweet. RiteTag is a nifty little plugin that has loads of features, from converting your tweets to auto-include popular hashtags, or help suggest common hashtags you might want to include about a topic by recommending hashtags based on popularity.
It’s a useful tool – but use it with caution. Just because a robot is recommending you use a hashtag, doesn’t mean you want to dilute your message or send your post to irrelevant audiences by throwing in every hashtag it suggests. Like the wonders of human-computer chess, the computer can recommend something, but it’s up to humans to judge whether it’s the right move.
You really can’t call yourself a Pinterester unless you have the Pinterest browser extension. Once pressed, this whiz-bang little tool scans the page for all the images on there and you select the ones you want to Pin to your Pinterest board. Vision boarding? Captured. Fashion for summer? Sorted. Your next DIY project? Nailed it.
I’ve written in the past about the importance of blocking out your time so you can focus on deep work. This, of course, means working smarter with things like your email so you aren’t a slave to it. I was pretty tempted to write a whole blog on these Gmail extensions, but I’ll restrain myself (for now!). Some of these are Chrome Browser extensions, and some are just handy tools, but for the sake of usefulness, I’ve popped these all in the same place.
Batched Inbox – this Gmail add-on puts pause on your email and delivers it in batches, such as every hour, or twice a day (whatever you set!), giving you more time to focus on the projects you need to focus on without being distracted by emails! Here’s where to get it.
Boomerang – For those who want to send an email a little later on, Boomerang is a great tool for sending an email message the next day or a few days later. If an invoice is due at the end of the week, but you want to get it out of the way when you have time this week, write the email, but schedule it to send on Friday. Easy!
It also can ‘boomerang’ emails to appear in your inbox again at a later time when you want to address it. That means you always have Inbox Zero! ;)
Canned Responses – This is something which is a Google Labs feature, which turns your email into a simplified version of Zendesk. You can set up email templates and apply them in one click when the relevant email comes in, then customise the details for that customer. If you’ve got a customer support email address, it makes it much faster to respond to the same types of emails – saving you hours. Here’s how to set it up.
Add to Trello – For those who use tools like Trello or ToDoIst, there are gmail plugins which allow to you easily tag any emails and turn them into a Trello or ToDoIst item right from your Gmail inbox.
Grammarly – I’m a huge fan of Grammarly. Spellcheck checks for typos – but Grammarly checks for incorrect Grammar. If you’ve got some words in the wrong order, or repeated a word, spellcheck might not catch it. But Grammarly will.
The other language-based plugin I want to give a shout-out to is Just Not Sorry – a plugin to help highlight when the language you are using is not assertive. This a great tool to prevent you unconciously undermining your message or expertise!
Undo Email – Okay, this isn’t a plugin, but I love this feature and I’m amazed it’s not activated by default in Gmail. Once you’ve finished and email and it’s ‘sending’, you’ve got 10 seconds of quiet time and that’s inevitably the moment you spot that embarrassing typo which you can’t cancel. Undo Email is a tickbox in your Gmail settings which gives you 30 seconds to undo any email you’ve sent. Lifesaver!
One of the most powerful things we can do in digital media is know how long it takes to do a task. If we know this, we can plan our week more effectively, know when to turn down additional projects or to request additional staff.
Often the tasks associated with social and digital media are untracked and management don’t always know the hours we really put into managing an online community. Due to this, social media management can be undervalued, if recognised at all. Toggl is a browser extension which helps you track your time. Now, if you need to prove you’ve need more staff or a holiday to HR, you’ve got the evidence.
What kind of hipster blog would this be if I didn’t mention Momentum?
If you’re working in a coffee shop in Surry Hills and you don’t have Momentum, you need to reassess your life choices. Momentum is an extension which, each day, gives you a new stunning landscape, the time and an inspiring quote. You can also add your goals for the day, too. Either way, it adds a little sunshine to the day and just for a moment takes you away from the rat race and gives you a little more – I’m going to say it – momentum.
Do you know any plugins I need to add to the list?
Wanting to get started using a social media content calendar? This template has all the things you need to get started: an Excel document where you can mark off your schedule, content, images, approvals and more. Download it now.
About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.