Curate, Create, Automate — 5 Great Social Media Apps

Most of us already have the staple social media apps — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc — so this post is not really about those. This post is for anyone who wants to create great content for sharing on those social media platforms. Gone are the days when you had to bookmark everything interesting on the Internet and figure your way around the million and one features in Adobe Photoshop. If you want to curate, create, and automate your social media posts, but don’t know where to start, this post was written just for you!

Below is a handy list of the apps I’ll be sharing in this article. Please feel free to jump around:

Discover & Curate:








Discover & Curate


One of my all-time favorite apps is Pocket. Ever come across a really interesting article but you just have no time to read it? Pocket allows you to save those for later! Not only does it have a web version, there are also Android and iOS apps available. This means that you may save an article on your work computer and read it on your iPad on the commute home.

Pocket: Grid View
Pocket: List View

Recently, Pocket launched its Recommended tab, which is a pretty self-evident feature. It’s a great way to discover articles that you are likely to find interesting. As they wrote in the blog:

“Recommendations takes the absolute best content being saved across Pocket and tailors it to your own saving and reading habits. The result is a feed that’s completely unique and personalized to you, and is filled with the most interesting articles and videos you might have missed otherwise.” (emphasis mine)

The browser extension is one of my favorite Pocket tools. I’m one of those people who used to have 40 tabs open at the same time because there’s just so much to absorb! With the extension, you can save the article later (no copying and pasting of the URL) and tag it too.

Tagging is probably one of the best Pocket features for content curation. Aside from its usual use for classification, you could also hack it (by adding a specific tag, say, ‘blog this’) to sieve out the great stuff you want to share on social media. You can favorite and archive stuff you want to keep too.

Pocket also plays well with other apps and it’s unspeakably easy to send articles from your browser (mobile or desktop) to the app. You could also set up an IFTTT recipe to send articles to your blog drafts or an Evernote note.

Would you love Pocket? Sure! If you have tons of articles to read and are looking for a Read Later solution that has the tagging game down.



There are just too many blogs to follow and it’d be incredibly time-consuming if I had to manually visit them every single day, so pulling RSS feeds is one of my favorite ways to receive great content. RSS feeds basically pull all the great content from all over the internet and shove the into a place just for you. Feedly is one such magical place. It’s a great one-stop check-in for all your RSS feeds, and the interface is strangely soothing. Pulling so much information into one space can be overwhelming, but Feedly’s designers clearly know how to make your life easier in more ways than one.

Feedly: Today View

The setup of your account is probably the toughest part and it takes about 7 minutes. (Not super fast, like 5, if you’re particular like I am, but not really long, like 10.) After adding your favorite feeds and categorising them into their appropriate categories — I have ‘Business’, ‘Comics’, ‘Content & Social Media Marketing’, ‘Education’, ‘Philosophy’ and ‘Tech’ — all the recent unread articles mysteriously appear under the right topics. It’s really easy.

There’s also a Save Later function (if you aren’t saving them to Pocket) and a Shared Collections feature if you want to curate the articles right there in Feedly and share them with your friends.

One of my favorite Feedly features, that is remarkably easy to miss, is the Recently Read section. This contains a history of the articles you came across but perhaps forgot to save. (That happened to me with a Cyanide & Happiness comic strip and I was bummed for about 5 minutes till I discovered this feature.)

Would you love Feedly? I think so! If you want to organize your RSS feeds, or consolidate them in one easy-to-use space on the internet.



Gone are the days when you need to be Photoshop-savvy to produce social media-worthy graphics. Today, with drag-and-drop tools like Pablo and Canva, anyone can create great, shareable images. Best of all: both of these are free!


If you are looking for an incredibly simple tool to create simple images with text, Pablo by Buffer was created for you. (It’s free too!) Images do exceptionally well on social media so it’s really helpful to have an image or two ready for your content when you share it. (Read this Buffer blog post for more!)

Pablo: Example of image I created for a side-project

With Pablo, all you have to do is type or paste the text you want into its editing field and it automatically places it in an image for you.

Pablo interface

Customisation options include: a great selection of web fonts, font styles like bold, italics, etc, stock images that seem appropriate for a huge range of contexts, and the option to blur the background image or switch it to monochrome. You also have the option of customizing your image to different social networks with dimension options for Twitter/Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The Pablo experience is even better if you have the Buffer browser extension installed (more on Buffer later). With this, you can simply highlight text from any page you are reading and send it straight to Pablo. Its super super easy to use.

Pablo: Playing well with the Buffer extension


Would you love Pablo? Definitely, if you are looking for a super easy-to-use, no-frills image creator for text-oriented images!



If you’re looking for the ability to manage layers (like in Photoshop) but don’t want to deal with the complexity of the Photoshop interface, then Canva is probably right up your alley. It’s a powerful free tool that was created for people who want to design eye-catching graphics for any purpose — they have pre-set dimensions for any social media platform you can think of as well as any marketing collateral you may need to design, and you also have the option for setting custom dimensions.

Canva: easy starting point!

There’s a wide selection of icons, stock photos, and graphics, and incorporating them is as simple as dragging and dropping them into the canvas. Some of these elements are paid elements, which are clearly marked out. There is the option of uploading your own images if that’s what you’re up for.

Canva: Suggested designs and elements

You may also like that Canva saves your previous projects and collections for easy reference and you can copy these projects if you want to quickly replicate the settings from those. This is great for creating content marketing campaigns that are consistent with your brand.

Canva: Example of instagram graphics I created for a side-project
Canva: Example of instagram graphics I created for a side-project

Speaking of consistent brand imaging, Canva also has a wonderful resource, called Design School, where you can find blog posts, tutorials, and teaching materials to help anyone learn how to craft impactful visuals! Their instagram account is also a wonderful and quick way to pick up these tips. I love how they bring such value to the community.

With a plethora of design options and guidance on how to craft visuals, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating great graphics of social media!

Would you love Canva? If you’re looking for a powerful, free graphic design tool, then yes!

Automate posts


Now that you’ve curated all the great content for sharing and created eye-catching graphics to go with your posts, the final step in the process is sharing all this content! You probably don’t want to inundate your audience with a barrage of posts and neither is it a great state of affairs if you were tethered to your computer all day manually publishing posts at their optimal posting times on social media. You may be on the market for a social media scheduling tool.

After trying out a couple of options, Buffer is my absolute favorite tool for this purpose. It integrates with Twitter, Facebook (Pages, Profiles, Groups), Google+ Pages, LinkedIn (Profiles, Page), and Pinterest, and the great people at Buffer are always working to meet all our social media posting needs so there may be more platforms available in future!

On the Individual plan, you can link 1 profile for each social account, and there’s always the option of upgrading to the Awesome plan for up to 10 profiles. The Awesome Plan also has the option to add RSS Feeds so you can Buffer them quickly! (Find out more here.)

With user’s convenience and experience at the top of their mind always, Buffer also plays very well with several popular apps. One of my favorites is the integration with Followerwonk, which analyzes the usage patterns of your followers and/or the people you are following in order to recommend the best times for you to post. With one click, your Followerwonk recommendations can be used to update your Buffer Twitter schedule to optimize your posting times to encourage engagement! Buffer also has its own Optimal Scheduling function, if that’s what you’re up for. The Power Scheduler tool also lets you repost the same content multiple times (based on a schedule) so that your message will definitely reach your audience. With these features, you know your post will reach your followers when they’re most likely to see it!

Buffer: Making scheduling less painful

With the Analytics function in Buffer, it’s also really easy to identify your best performing posts, which you can then ‘re-buffer’ (send it back to your Buffer queue) with the simple click of a button. This is a wonderful way to maintain engagement with your popular content over time.

Buffer: One click re-buffering

The browser extensions also make it easy to send great content straight to your profiles and you can share the same content to multiple profiles simultaneously. In case you forget to select more than one profile, a simple drag-and-drop to copy the post is also possible within your Dashboard! These functions are great if you have multiple networks in your social media strategy.

Buffer: The browser extension opens up this pop-up where you can toggle between the Simple Composer and Power Scheduler

With the browser extension, you can easily pull images from the page you want to schedule into the post you’re crafting. All you need to do is hover over the image and a ‘Share Image’ option pops up. It now also possible to schedule video posts, which are even better at promoting engagement than images!

Buffer: Pull images easily into your posts!

If I may be honest, though, it’s really the user interface that made me fall in love with the Buffer product. It’s truly an experience. Every step, from crafting posts, to reordering them, is incredibly intuitive and learning how to use Buffer takes a matter of minutes. There’s a huge community of users and fans on Twitter and Slack, which is testament to how wonderful the product is.

Would you love Buffer? Absolutely. This is a versatile product that works well for social media beginners as well as experts. Moreover, Buffer (the company) has the user in mind all the time, so you know the product will just keep getting better. Beside the amazing features mentioned (that’s not all of it, by the way!), the Happiness Heroes and Community Champions also do a fantastic job of supporting users through any queries or challenges. Win, win, win!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what works for you! There are so many amazing apps out there and if you’d love another post on the other apps I have in mind, please drop me a tweet at @stephe_lee!


I have these gems delivered straight into my mailbox!

Inbox zero is a fantasy for me. But I don’t really mind it because my massive inbox load is partly due to the collection of great newsletters I’m subscribed to. I used to do freelance copywriting for edms (email direct mailers) and thought I knew it all. I thought email was just sales and marketing, and personal letters and that the public sharing of great insight takes place on blogs.

Not anymore.

Now there’s a lovely in-between. Mass emails sent to lists of subscribers, much like marketing mails, only they don’t want you to buy anything. In fact, they’re giving you stuff. They’re giving you knowledge and understanding through a package of wit and creativity. It’s like personal heartfelt emails and wonderful recommendations, writ large.


I’ve discovered some wonderful newsletters along the way, and I’d like to share 5 with you.

Further by Brian Clark

This weekly newsletter receives a ‘star’ in my gmail inbox every single time. Further is a deeply intelligent and carefully crafted newsletter about health, wealth, and wisdom. Each newsletter has a ‘Feature’ in addition to the three areas and there’s a certain gravity to Brian Clark’s writing. Each feature is thought-provoking and I have personally enjoyed this one several times. It is difficult to communicate the sheer value of having this newsletter in my inbox, so I shall let the work speak for itself.

Subscribe to Further here.

Sketchplanations by Jono Hey

A hand-drawn weekly newsletter that is always a nice surprise in my inbox. Each issue is a surprise because you don’t know what idea Jono Hey has decided to sketch for the week! Also, the name is incredibly clever. I wish I’d thought of it. The latest issue introduced me to Koomey’s Law. Haven’t heard of it? Think it’s a complex concept to communicate? Clearly you need to subscribe to Sketchplanations too!

Subscribe to Sketchplanations here.

Think Clearly by Mathias Jakobsen

This is another hand-drawn newsletter that I enjoy. This one is all about creativity, reflection, and growth. Mathias Jakobsen’s emails communicate a positivity that is shown, not told, and I really like that. Check out this cute one and this helpful one.

Subscribe to Think Clearly here.

Next Draft by Dave Pell

Want something clever and ridiculously timely? This daily newsletter may be right up your alley. Dave Pell was christened The Internet’s Most Fascinating Newsletter Writer by TechCrunch, which is a really specific accolade, so you know that you have to check this newsletter out. Every day, Dave finds interesting news, says something witty about them, and send them out into the interwebs. Here’s an example for you. People love it. Maybe you would too!

Subscribe to Next Draft here.

Think Smarter by Penguin

This newsletter by Penguin is a little more heavy going than the others but it only comes once a month so you have ample time to digest it. Meant to challenge the mind, each issue of Think Smarter is packed with big questions and deep ideas. Here’s an example and another for you to have a taste.

Subscribe to Think Smarter here.


project: fly-bottle by Stephanie Lee

I started this little newsletter with the strange name because I wanted to make philosophy more accessible. (You can read about it more here.) Expect a new issue every Wednesday with bite-sized philosophy for the uninitiated. From human nature to the mind-body problem, there’s nothing under the sun that we cannot investigate. There is also a dedicated attempt to link the concepts back everyday life. Past issues have referenced Calvin & Hobbes, Sherlock Holmes (yes, the Cumberbatch one), Stewart Butterfield (CEO of Slack), and The Matrix (of course). Visit the archives for an idea!

Subscribe here.


Reinventing Organisations – Frederic Laloux

Reading Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organisations has taken longer than I expected thanks to the other reading I have to do for my day job. Thank goodness for these audio and video files!

I’ve compiled a Soundcloud playlist for anyone else interested in these audio gems — the podcasts sure helped me understand and appreciate his approach to organisational development very quickly! Below is also a YouTube video for you 🙂 Enjoy!

Curated Dialogue

Pinterest: Another Tool In Your Social Media Arsenal

I am a big Pinterest fan. So much so that I signed up for a Buffer Awesome plan trial just to try out scheduling for Pinterest (I always feel bad spamming my fellow pinners with a barrage of pins). If that doesn’t convince you of the extent of my fangirling, let it be known that my partner has once remarked to me that “life isn’t a pinterest board.”

During a recent #bufferchat, I was excited to discuss this platform’s potential for promoting Hangouts on Air with some twitter friends (Hi, @jacobhenenberg & @JoelRRenner). Yes, it’s a little unconventional, but Pinterest’s particular strength in promoting the longevity of its pins makes it a valuable ally to your other social media efforts. While many of the engagements with my posts occur within a day of two of (re)pinning, I’ve found that many of the pins are liked and repinned weeks and months (sometimes a year!) after I’ve posted them up on my boards. Kevan of Buffer shares some insight into this in this recent article.

The longevity of pinned material makes Pinterest a great complement to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which have a more immediate effect on engagement and conversion. A great marketing strategy that incorporates these platforms could drive interest and early engagement via the more timely platforms like the abovementioned Big 3 — articles, tweets, influencer endorsement, flashy pictures galore! — then ensure that interest doesn’t wane too much by pinning great relevant images (a little on this later), retweeting and resharing older articles, and posting images via Instagram.

Besides the longevity of pins, Pinterest is also great because:
  • It has an excellent UI that is beautiful and engaging
  • All pins and repins lead back to their sources, so credit’s (usually) given where credit’s due and you can drive traffic to your site even through repins
  • There’s a discovery-centric ethos that runs through the site, from clicking on repins to see the boards that an image has been pinned to (great for discovering likeminded folk) as well as the Related Pins and Also on These Boards features that direct you to similar boards/pins.
  • The Pinterest algorithm suggests boards that users may be interested in based on their pins and likes (look out for ‘Picked For You’ pins on the homepage)
What does this mean for you?
  • Pins (e.g. rich pins) can drive traffic and conversion if they are posted strategically. Pinterest’s considerable conversion rate means that it’s worth exploring it if you’ve already got your Facebook strategy down pat. (Read this HubSpot article for some impressive factoids.)
  • Consider pinning several engaging images that lead back to the same source. This gives a richer dimension to the content and ensures that more people can stumble upon your site through Pinterest’s wonderful discovery algorithm
  • An engaging pin can drive traffic to your site months after your article has been published!
  • A well-curated collection of boards can really set the visual tone for your brand. You can also leverage on Pinterest’s algorithm to reach out to users who are fans of similar brands
  • You can focus more on content (pins) and less on follower count since even non-followers can find your pins.

But what if you’re not trying to drive sales up for a product? As I suggested during the #bufferchat, it’s entirely possible to use this great platform for even something as unexpected as a Hangout on Air!

Here are some ways I can think of:
  • Complement the pre-Hangout promotion by pinning great images on both Instagram & Pinterest
  • Maintain post-Hangout engagement by pinning multiple relevant images that could capture the interest of audiences who didn’t manage to catch the ‘live’ Hangout on Air (direct them to the youtube video or your site)
  • Leverage on Pinterest’s collaborative feature on boards and get your Hangout guests to pin relevant material on a board. Each Hangout could have its own board!
  • Compile key insights from the Hangout on Air into an infographic. (Make it vertical for extra oomph!)
  • Share pins on your Facebook page to reach out to your Facebook fans who may not have known about your Pinterest page. Who knows, they may even click through to some older sites.

In any case, cross-check the demographics of your desired audience with these demographics from Pew Research Centre. Is your audience a little older, mostly female, and into arts and crafts? If so, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t spend a little time pinning! Also, I wouldn’t worry about Pinterest being a more female-centric platform — male users are increasing by the year, and some of the best curators of pins that I’ve come across are men.

Want more?

Here’s an interesting interview with Pinterest’s ex-Partnerships Chief, Joanne Bradford, and Twitter’s President of Global Revenue & Partnerships, Adam Bain, on the Re/code Replay podcast.

Some great articles:

The 4 Biggest Pinterest Marketing Mistakes We Made (And How You Can Learn From Them)

17 Tips, Tools and Tricks To Improve Your Pinterest Marketing Strategy

12 Most Strategic Ways To Use Pinterest For Marketing

How To Use Pinterest For Business: The Definitive Guide

Pinterest For Business: Everything You Need To Know

5 Ways To Automate Your Pinterest Marketing Strategy

Pinterest’s Evan Sharp: Guys Are On Here, Too

Curated Listen Technology

5 podcasts to get you started

Getting into podcasts can have a pretty steep curve and I never thought to listen to them to fill the long drives that make up a regular day in my life. Back in 2013, a good friend of mine recommended RadioLab and I was hooked. Podcasts are now a staple in my daily drives and I cannot get over how amazing they can be. If you love listening to stories, just as I do, then podcasts may be just what the doctor ordered for your commutes.

Real-Life Stories

RadioLab | Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR

This episode is a great example of what podcast producers can creatively use the medium. You may not think that a podcast episode on genetic modification would be interesting, but RadioLab shows that they’re veterans at this game because some of the audial illustrations of DNA is really amazing. It happens within the first 3 minutes of the podcast — super interesting.

Serial | Episode 1: The Alibi

Serial took the podcasting world by storm by being innovative both in its format and its storytelling techniques. The narrative (a true story, by the way) is so immersive that you’re taken on the investigative journey alongside host, Sarah Koenig. If you haven’t heard of this podcast that inspired a really enthusiastic reddit community, you need to listen to this episode now.

Contemporary Issues

Reply All | #18: Silence and Respect

Reply All covers pretty much anything to do with the Internet, which is… digital-anything! This episode is about how some things that are posted on social media go viral — and the after-effects of that. If you’ve heard about the Lindsay Stone situation, this is the podcast for you.

Radio Dramas

The Truth | The One About the Dead Dog

The Truth | Don’t Touch a Thing

Radio dramas have enjoyed a special place in my heart since I wrote and co-produced one in school. There’s something powerful and immersive about relying completely on sounds to tell a story. These 2 radio dramas were particularly memorable for me, especially Don’t Touch a Thing, which is reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s short stories.


Good Life Project | Brain Hacking: How to turbocharge your noggin

Podcasts with talkshow-formats are pretty common and Jonathan Fields’ podcast is one of the best I’ve come across on life, in general. There’s a huge variety of topics to choose from by a common thread runs through them — they’re all meant to help you enrich your life in some way or other.

Curated Listen Technology

Pitstop: Slack’s amazing podcast

Thought of jumping on the podcast bandwagon? The good people of Slack have teamed up with Pacific Content to shed some light on Podcasting 101 in this episode.

I really like how punchy the editing is for this podcast series. It’s easily the most polished one I have on my playlist.


Reading Pitstop: Words, oh, words

I recently received an email from Pocket (one of my all-time favourite apps) telling me that I’ve made it to the Top 5% of readers. Yes. I am now a verified bookworm-nerd. And I was quite pleased at the affirmation. Read till the end because I saved the best for last ♥

Instagram makes teens and celebrities angry by killing millions of spambots // Article, Social Media // I thought this was amusing because of the vitriol that’s spilling from those affected. The closing lines are also pretty funny.

What Happens to Our Brains When We Exercise and How it Makes Us Happier // Article, Fitness // I kid you not, this article literally got me out of bed one morning. Been trying to get back in my exercise groove and reading stuff like that is a small motivation.

How Exercise Changes Our DNA // Article, Fitness // I started exercising for health reasons, but the aesthetic ones can get in the way. Time and again, when I feel like cutting back because I’m happy with the way my body looks and feels, I come across a reminder like this that the goal is a long-term one. Look beyond the ‘now’.

The New Trophy Wife // Opinion, Relationships, Women // Love it or hate it, this writer speaks the truth about the evolution of the ideal wife. Some women hate this article because the term “trophy wife” suggests that a wife still only has instrumental value, others hate it because it sets the bar even higher than it previously was. I love it because while the bar may be set higher, becoming smarter than you currently are is, to me, more achievable than becoming more beautiful.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Passionate Love Letters to Vera and His Affectionate Bestiary of Nicknames for Her // Review, Letters, Literature, Love // I’m including this because underneath my practical, efficient, and utilitarian exterior is a great big softie — any non-corny, romantic sentiment will leave me much like a s’more. I’ll leave you with some lovely words:

“How can I explain to you, my happiness, my golden wonderful happiness, how much I am all yours — with all my memories, poems, outbursts, inner whirlwinds? Or explain that I cannot write a word without hearing how you will pronounce it — and can’t recall a single trifle I’ve lived through without regret — so sharp! — that we haven’t lived through it together — whether it’s the most, the most personal, intransmissible — or only some sunset or other at the bend of a road — you see what I mean, my happiness?


I swear — and the inkblot has nothing to do with it — I swear by all that’s dear to me, all I believe in — I swear that I have never loved before as I love you, — with such tenderness — to the point of tears — and with such a sense of radiance.”

“I simply want to tell you that somehow I can’t imagine life without you…

I love you, I want you, I need you unbearably… Your eyes — which shine so wonder-struck when, with your head thrown back, you tell something funny — your eyes, your voice, lips, your shoulders — so light, sunny…”

Oh, words.


Listening Pitstop: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1

I attended The Flaming Lips gig last week. It was amazing. They are amazing. This song is amazing.

Her name is Yoshimi – she’s a black belt in karate
Working for the city – she has to discipline her body –
Cause she knows that it’s demanding to defeat these
Evil machines – I know she can beat them –

Oh Yoshimi
They don’t believe me
But you won’t let those
Robots defeat me
Oh Yoshimi
They don’t believe me
But you won’t let those
Robots eat me

Those evil natured robots – they’re programmed to
Destroy us – She’s gotta be strong to fight them –
So she’s taking lots of vitamins – cause she knows that
It’d be tragic if those evil robots win – I know
She can beat them –


Listening Pitstop

I was super lucky to have been able to catch Chvrches ‘live’ last week and part of the reason why is Riot !n Magenta. This local band opened for Chvrches and they are good. (Not being biased here.)

They are really really good. I found them on Soundcloud and the tracks are excellent, but the studio versions just can’t convey the energy that this band has ‘live’. In any case, here’re two of the tracks I have on repeat. Enjoy!

Curated Listen

Serial: Why you need to listen to this podcast right now

You know I love podcasts. I used to be a voracious consumer of them, listening to episode after episode during the drive to work, back from work, to the gym, back from the gym… I eased up on the listening in recent months, but they may always be a part of my life as a driver.

I’ve been fortunate to get started with excellent podcasts. Some gems I would recommend are:

This American Life


On Being

The Partially Examined Life

Intelligence Squared

These are all podcasts worth spending your time on, but my absolute favourite at the moment — the podcast you need to drop everything to listen to — is Serial.

It’s a true crime series that unfolds parts of a case with each episode. It’s absolutely engaging because reporter Sarah Koenig has a knack for piecing together evidence and weaving everything into a narrative that is both personal and professional. You hear her voice, not just as a journalist trying to get to the bottom of a case, but also as a person who grapples with the puzzling pieces and parts that come with the ultimate possibility that lingers at the back of my mind all the time:

What if Adnan Syed didn’t do it?

Koenig is masterful at getting you to appreciate the significance of ‘facts’ in the same way she does… except she doesn’t tell you what to believe. She just points things out and lets the audience make their own judgments. I pretty much arrive at the same place she does by the end of the show. That’s a masterful producer for you.

Even the Slate is intrigued by the Adnan Syed as presented by Serial. The New YorkerGizmodo and BBC also have something to say about this unique production.

I’m floored.

Listen to it now and get hooked. It’s so worth it.

I would babble and gush more, but Episode 3 is playing and I want to find out more about Leakin Park.

Join me! Get started here.