Tracky Blog

Recap: Team Collaboration Using Tracky

  • By jennifer
  • |
  • Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Without properly communicated objectives and tasks, the best projects and teams won't live up to their potential. That's why we're inspired by the UNLV Desert Sol Team, who takes communication and collaboration seriously. Atter all, these UNLV students are competing in an international competition initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy to build the best all-around energy-saving home. This is a really ambitious project with dozens of decathletes, faculty and advisors. It's a truly collaborative plan with far-reaching, positive implications. So how do they organize the hundreds of tasks and a team of over 75 people? Tracky.

Jinger Zeng, Project Engineer, wrote about their project management journey on their blog citing appreciation for Tracky's drag and drop interface. The ease-of-use combined with a familiar social interface leverages the young team's strengths to tackle this intensive project.

Desert Sol house
Desert Sol solar home concept rendering

Besides project management, the Desert Sol team also uses Tracky instead of paper for RFIs (Request for Information), saving loads of time (and trees) by involving appropriate team members for specific needs on an as-needed basis.

Desert Sol team collaboration
Screenshot of a Desert Sol project track from their blog

Cheers to the Desert Sol team! We're rooting for you to win but regardless, you are definitely part of the 1% of doers and an inspiration to collaborative teams and projects of any type!

Head on over to the Desert Sol blog to learn more about the competition and their team collaboration strategies.

Vote for your favorite #CommHacks workhack

  • By jennifer
  • |
  • Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thanks to all who submitted their workhacks to #CommHacks! Our first-ever hackathon for communications pros is over but that means that the voting is ready to begin.

We were impressed by the lengths that some professionals go to in order to improve their efficiency and reduce the number of repetitive daily tasks. That's the kind of 1% doer effort we look for! We were inspired by our entrant's custom programs, IFTTT recipes and productivity methods. We hope that you will be too. Maybe you'll glean an idea or two on how to improve your own workflow, no matter what industry you work in.

So, we've selected our favorites from an array of different techniques, from the very simple to the complex. We're giving away an iPad Mini to the grand prize winner plus other great prizes to four additional winners, courtesy of sponsors Postagram, Sarah's Faves and Pitch Engine

It's time for you to vote for your favorite! And the semi-finalists are...

    1. PR score: This workhack is a free tool custom-built to analyze six areas of online PR in 60 seconds and calculate a cursory report about a client's PR.
    2. Monitor multiple Facebook pages at once (75+ in this case!) with a custom program in Google Drive. In 3 clicks, it taps Facebook's API, then updates a spreadsheet with "like" counts.
    3. When #Facebook profile picture changes, update #Twitter profile picture.
    4. Tomatoes Chrome extension for the Pomodoro technique. Install it, set it and go! You'll gain 25 minutes of uninterrupted PR work if you use it right.
    5. Automatically save Facebook photos where you are tagged in to your Dropbox folder (local computer).
    6. Keyboard shortcut: change case command for non-mouse hand.
    7. Customer interviews: set up a standard list of questions at the ready for customers who express their love for your brand. Post right away to your blog. 
    8. Productivity technique: Do what gets left undone with time quilting - short blocks of time dedicated to write more, learn a new skill or work on a passion project.
    9. Upload Instagram images to Twitter as though it's any other picture on your phone. Set it to tweet all company photos, or only those with a certain hashtag.
    10. Social posting: pre-date posts directly on the platforms for free (Facebook, TweetDeck, Google+) and then let your team review and edit before they auto-post.
    11. Keyword monitoring: a custom RSS feed with daily email that lets you keep track of all new Google search results for your brand.


    What's your favorite workhack?
    Cast your vote here!


    Voting open through Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
    Winners will be announced on May 30, 2013.

    #SciChat Recap: What the Data Says About Social Visual Content Today

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Saturday, May 18, 2013

    I love a good image in a social post, don't you? In fact, photography is one of my favorite art forms and in today's internet culture, I love a good meme. So if a picture is worth a thousand words, then should marketers write less and spend more time on expressing our message visually? That's what data scientists like Dan Zarrella of HubSpot are telling us.

    picture is worth 1000 words
    Photo by: Let Ideas Compete, on Flickr

    Today, during the weekly HubSpot #SciChat, social media scientist Dan Zarrella hosted a webinar with Tracky Chief Evangelist Sarah Evans. The webinar revealed HubSpot's exclusive data on visual content and proposed ideas on how marketers could better utilize it to engage their audiences. After the webinar, social media expert Brittany Leaning led a Twitter chat.

    A few of my key takeaways from Dan's data insights were:

    • Images significantly improve enagagement on social posts (via Sarah Evans).
    • Photos perform better than video, garnering 25% vs. 10% of likes.
    • Pinterest is largely an aspirational platform and therefore houses more buying activity.
    • Pinterest: larger images perform better. In fact, images that are 1,000 pixels or more get more repins. The max width should be 600 pixels. (Aim for vertical scrolling, not horizontal). 
    • Pinterest: repins rates are highest for descriptions between 100 - 200 characters. (Think: tweet length).
    • Instagram: including hashtags in descriptions get more likes. Reciprocity tags (e.g. #followforfollow) instigate the most likes. (But don't be spammy about this. Aim for quality follows, not quantity).
    • Instagram: the most repinnable words include food, e.g. recipe, chicken, minutes, bake, cake, etc. Takeaway - non-food businesses should sprinkle some creative in posts here and there. My tongue-in-cheek contribution using 11 of the top repinnable word: Bake up a #scichat chicken dinner in 30 minutes with a one step no mix cake recipe with chocolate ingredients included! ;-)

    For a recap of the #SciChat on Twitter, visit my Storify here. Questions by Brittany Leaning produced some interesting experiential comments by attendees.

    What about you? Do you love sharing images more than words?

    Thanks, Mom! Recognizing our moms who are true super-doers

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Friday, May 10, 2013

    Moms must be the original superdoers. Their ability to multitask in caring for others, managing the home and working is a wonder to many. So in honor of Mothers around the world and to celebrate Mother's Day, we asked several members of our team to fill in the blanks in this sentence:

    "I sometimes wonder how my mom is able to get it all done. I'll never understand how she was able to ____________ and _____________ and still find time to rest."

    • ...expertly manage a five-person household, be funny and fun, organize church activities and social events and work part-time. (From Jennifer)
    • ...to raise a terror of a child and keep her sanity. Thankfully, being retired meant she could frequent the school to bail me out of the principal's office. :) (From David L, tongue-in-cheek)
    • ...take care of all the kids in the neighborhood and babysit what seemed like 20 kids and raise her own four children with lots of love. (From David G.)
    • ...be brave enough to raise five kids and do so by herself (From Andy)
    • ...run an art business, a craft business and still run a tight ship at home raising our four kids - including twins! (From Andy)
    • ...work so hard and find time to go to the park with me...I love you, Mommy! (From 21-month-old Kashton, with his doting daddy Trey as his interpreter). 

    Sarah and Kashton at the park

    Sarah & Kashton at the park

    Happy Mother's Day, Moms!

    Four Tips For A Stress-Free International Trip

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Guest post by: Lauren Hamilton

    You’ve waited so long for this vacation. Put in extra hours, saved your pennies, sweated double time in the gym for that skin-baring swimsuit, or poured over guidebooks to research the local must-see spots.  

    1. Don’t take everything. One week prior to your trip, pack your bag. Then take half of what you gathered and put it back in your closet. Do it! Yes, even that extra sweater that looks so good. Now, do it a second time. I promise you, you wont need all that stuff. Travel is about experiencing what’s around you, not what’s on you. Select a few tops and bottoms that can be paired with each other on different days, and whatever appropriate layers you need, a pair of comfortable shoes (not just sort-of-comfortable), and a scarf or hat. You’re set. And now you don’t need to worry about those pesky overweight baggage charges or having to lug around a cumbersome bag.

    2. Prep your important documents. Passports get lost, bags get stolen, alarms get slept through, and foreign ATM machines sometimes refuse to work with your card. Having copies of critical information, phone numbers for your bank’s international help line, spare cash and traveler’s cheques, and a list of important login and password information in the hands of a trusted emergency contact back home can mean the difference between a ruined vacation and a disaster averted. Research the visa requirements for your destination country, and plan ahead by applying early if necessary. Bring an envelope of passport-size photos with you—ten is a good number for heavily regulated countries.

    Do your homework: in some countries, to get a permit for government-regulated trails or tours you must supply copies of your visa and passport, so having multiple photocopies of these are useful to speed up the process in-country. Travel forums such as The Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree are a fantastic resource to get first-hand information from travelers who are in the country now, or who have been recently and may have the most up-to-date suggestions for certain areas that you want to visit. Always get a second or third opinion, especially when it comes to safety and cost.

    3. Embrace solo time. This applies if you’re traveling with your partner or friends, and if you’re traveling alone already. Coordinating a trip with one or more companions can be both fun and challenging. You might not always want to be doing the same thing at the same time, and that’s OK. Take some time out each day, if you need it, to go for a walk by yourself—on the beach, down the alleys of the city where you’re staying, into the markets—determine a time and place to rendezvous later, and then go on your way. The freedom to walk in any direction you choose, while observing quietly and thinking anything or nothing at all can be a valuable practice in refreshing yourself to get the most out of your day with your travel mate. If you’re already journeying alone, you might feel daunted by the solitude. But remember how inundated we are daily by communication from all angles—some of it quite unnecessary. Revel in the gift of self-exploration and meditation in a new setting, which can help to free you from routine thoughts and set the wheels in motion.

    4. Mentally prepare yourself for the unexpected.

    This might sound like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed travelers completely lose their composure when unforeseeable and unpreventable delays throw a wrench in their plans. In other cases, the comforts of home simply aren’t available and an inability to adjust to a different way of life causes a bad mood that simply isn’t necessary. Remember that experiencing something new and unfamiliar is part of the reason for traveling in the first place—otherwise you could just be comfortable somewhere closer to home!

    It can be hard to stay calm and positive when something goes wrong, especially during a vacation that is only a certain (usually short) length of time, might have cost a lot of money, and that was built up so much in your head. Being in a foreign location can add extra stress when cultural and linguistic differences make communication a challenge. But if you can adopt a sense of humor about these challenges, you’ll avoid adding another ten pounds to that pile of bricks on your shoulders—you know, the one you were trying to shed with this vacation?

    The bottom line is that a trip abroad will be a learning experience whether you want it to be or not. By doing the legwork to prepare for the unforeseen, and choosing to keep an open mind, you can ensure that the lessons learned will be positive and enriching, rather than part of a trip you wish you’d never taken.

    Lauren Hamilton is a professional blogger who enjoys providing consumers with travel advice. She writes for SouthAmerica.travel, a leading South America Travel company specializing in 4* & 5* Peru Tours.

    6 GIFs that will inspire creativity today

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Monday, May 6, 2013

    Humor makes you work better. I don’t need science to tell me, you know I’m right. But, did you know a bit of humor can inspire creativity?

    Enjoy our expertly curated GIFs that will make you snort, chuckle and otherwise turn that frown upside down. (Then, get back to work.)

    GIF 1:


    GIF 2:


    GIF 3:


    GIF 4:


    GIF 5:


    GIF 6:

    First-ever virtual hackathon for communications professionals #CommHacks launches

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Friday, May 3, 2013

    I’m partnering with my team at Tracky to host the first-ever hackathon for those who work in the communications industry. We are looking for the best #workhacks you, or your team, created that either simplify or improve frequently used tasks by communications professionals.

    group hackathon
    Photo credit: TechCrunch

    Hackathons are typically associated with computer developers or those with a deep knowledge of software who gather together to collaborate on usable software. The Communications Hackathon (#CommHacks) plays off of this, but encourages virtual collaboration to improve the communications industry (and, of course, there are prizes for top honors).

    #CommHacks is live now, Thursday, May 2, 2013 and runs through Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10pm PDT and will take place via Tracky (@Tracky). Five winners will be selected and the recipient of our favorite #workhack will get a new iPad Mini, 250 Postagram credits, top feature in our Communications #WorkHacks e-book and other honors.

    Here is a sample appropriate entry:

    Streamline the ability to monitor and respond to comments of news articles you (or a client) are mentioned in via your smartphone.

    Then, you would provide the process/instructions on how you “hacked” this together.

    There are two ways you can join in #CommHacks:

    • Use Tracky to create an improved #workhack or work flow that improves a current communications task;
    • Use a combination of other communications resources or APIs to improve a current communications task. (NOTE: If you use another product’s API, please ensure they have an Open Source License.)

    You can submit #workhacks for one, or more, of these “Areas of Need:”

    1. News
    2. Community relations
    3. Government relations
    4. Media relations
    5. Content marketing
    6. Editorial calendars
    7. Monitoring
    8. SEO
    9. Social networks
    10. Overall communications (e.g. internal, email)
    11. Wild card

    <SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY(IES) HERE:
    https://tracky.com/commhacks.

    1% of doers

    Can you explain your business to a middle schooler?

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Friday, May 3, 2013

    You’ve probably heard your fair share of elevator pitches. Heck, I’ve given my fair share of them.

    Have you ever experienced this?

    The person pitching finishes and you’re left feeling more confused than when they began. Whether it was too many buzzwords or they didn’t tailor the pitch, you still don’t understand what they’re selling.

    Now, imagine it’s your business...your pitch they just heard. It’s a situation you don’t want to be in, yet all too often, many of us find ourselves in. That’s why I have a new challenge for business owners: think about how to explain your business to a middle school audience. If they can understand it, chances are your potential customers (or investors) will, too.



    Don’t have access to a group of middle schoolers? That’s okay. Here are a few tips to think about how to explain your business to this age group (and beyond):

    1. Cut out the jargon, they don’t have patience for it.
    2. 10 minutes or less. The attention span of an average middle school student is 10 to 12 minutes. After that, you’ve lost them.
    3. Incorporate different learning styles. Because so many kids have access to smartphones, tablets and computers, visual is as important as auditory. 
    4. Keep it simple. Keeping it simple is one of the hardest things to accomplish. This is a great opportunity to include a focus group to see if they understand how you explain your company.
    5. Stop thinking about marketing. They’ll sense any inauthenticity and probably zone out at this point.
    6. Make it experiential, connect. But, be warned, “with immature emotional brains, students misread adult expressions and see meanness or anger when none was intended.”

     
    So, tell us in the comments, how would you explain your business to a middle schooler? We’ll share our favorite responses.

    6 things in your home you wont believe are connected to the internet

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    First, our Internet Public Service Announcement (IPSA):

    Tracky takes privacy seriously. It’s why we created a platform with three tiers of visibility: secret, private and public. While we focus on the concept of open social collaboration, inherent in this is the ability to collaborate in the way that works best for you.

    If privacy is important to you, and you do a lot of work online, then protection of your data is vitally important. You may not realize it, but anything in your home or office that is connected to the internet has an IP address and therefore, may provide  information about you. An Internet Protocol or IP address is like a phone number or address specific to your device. It contains information about location in order to identify that particular device.

    The easiest way to protect your information? Make sure you have a secure, encrypted wireless connection. Since these devices are in your home, work with your internet service provider to ensure this is setup correctly. If you want to completely hide your IP address from potentially prying eyes, look into using a proxy server. You can also install a firewall  that alerts you if there is ever any suspicious activity. (And, don’t forget to use a VPN service if you’re surfing the web via public Wi-Fi.)

    Now, onto the fun stuff, we present you, the The Internet of Home Things:


    [PHOTO CREDIT: HapiLabs]

    Your fork
    The HapiFork, launched during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), claims to help you eat at a slower pace. The company says health benefits to eating slower include decreasing acid reflux, obesity and diabetes.


    [PHOTO CREDIT: LG]

    Your refrigerator
    Well, only if you have something like the LG Smart ThinQ™ refrigerator. The device’s LCD screen tells you what’s inside, food that’s about to expire and ingredients you have to make specific meals. All of the information can be accessed on your smartphone, too.


    [PHOTO CREDIT: Beam]

    Your toothbrush
    Win prizes for brushing your teeth and get your oral health updates to sync with your smartphone. No more worries about mom and dad quizzing you to see if you brushed. Your phone can prove it.


    [PHOTO CREDIT: Lixil]

    Your toilet
    It plays music, monitors water usage and a major power drive cleaner--the ultimate smart toilet. Plus, if you don’t like using your hand to flush the toilet, then you’re in luck. This toilet and app from Japanese firm Lixil, can be flushed from pushing a button on the app. Just make sure to wash your hands and your phone when you’re done.


    [PHOTO CREDIT: NY Daily News]

    Your shoe
    “Don't be surprised when Google's new high-tech Adidas start talking. The 'smart shoes' know up to 250 phrases, can track physical activity and communicate with the wearer's cell phone contacts.”


    [PHOTO CREDIT: SmartWallit]

    Your wallet, backpack, dog and more
    Although the product isn’t a reality yet, it’s only days away from its Kickstarter deadline and already surpassed its goal.  The attachment hooks to whatever you want to keep track of and, when you get more than a few feet away, an alert is sent to your smartphone to avoid you leaving it behind (or someone taking it from you).

    Researching science for your startup? Here's how to avoid getting tricked by bad data

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Tuesday, April 30, 2013

    “10 ways the Internet is killing you,” along with a photo, like the one below, is an attention-getting premise, but unless there’s evaluated data, expert commentary and, otherwise real science to back it up, it’s nothing more than click-bait.


    [PHOTO CREDIT: jurvetson / flickr]



    Whether you’re looking to establish need for your startup or producing editorial content for your blog, scientific data is essential. Nothing backs up your hypothesis than scientific findings. But, beware, not all articles based on science are created equal.

    The Incubator, an independent science blog from The Rockefeller University, recently shared, “5 Steps to Separate Science from Hype, No PhD Required.” Researchers Gabrielle Rabinowitz and Emily Jane Dennis outline ways non-scientists can determine whether or not what they’re reading has merit:

    1. Separate the sales pitch from the science
    2. Find the data
    3. Evaluate the data
    4. Put the story into context
    5. Ask an expert


    To read the article in its entirety, visit The Incubator.

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