It's what's hidden away in my categorized folders that are of real value; apps that I use daily to grow my social following, build my email lists and stay connected with clients, both old and new.

Let me start by saying that I've never been one to hide any "trade secrets" from other entrepreneurs and business owners. It's in bad taste to not help others when they're reaching out for expert advice.

I know I hold a couple amazing solutions for your problems, even if you don't know that you have these problems yet!

Let's jump right in!

Half of my hashtags are doing pretty well! The trick is to continue to split testing until you find the perfect set.

Half of my hashtags are doing pretty well! The trick is to continue to split testing until you find the perfect set.



I don't remember exactly how I stumbled upon this app, but it's amazing! If you're looking to build your Instagram following, this is the tool to do it. I bought the original version which was fairly limited in its capabilities, but the 4th version released in early February ironed out most of the minor issues that I had. 

Here's the major benefits of using Smarthash:

  • You can save up to 60 hashtags for each hashtag set on every Instagram account
  • You can select "Split Test" to copy a random selection of your hashtag set that will test which hashtags are performing the best
  • Automatically color code your best performing hashtags in yellow and red
  • Access the daily "Top 100" hashtags easily within the app
  • Check your insights for the best days to post, hours to post, best caption length, most engaging locations, and even highest performing filters
  • Respond directly to users that comment on your posts

There's no doubt that having the right set of hashtags will increase your visibility to the audience that you're trying to attract. The mistake that many businesses make is by not utilizing the hashtags! You should do the maximum number of hashtags (currently 30 per post) for every post made. My advice is to post your picture or video and then immediately "Copy All" or "Split Test" your hashtags from Smarthash and paste them as a comment. 

Even my worst performing posts with Smarthash are doing better than my best performing posts pre-Smarthash. For only $4.99, it's totally worth it!

A tiny widget is placed on your website and will open immediately with a custom message when a visitor lands on your page.

A tiny widget is placed on your website and will open immediately with a custom message when a visitor lands on your page.


So many potential buyers fall through the cracks and businesses have no idea where or why it happens! Because I use certain analytical tools like Google Analytics, Shopify and Squarespace Analytics, I can see certain behaviors that most small business owners never know exist. For example, if clothing retail brand "Client A" is getting 2,000 new visitors with only a 0.5% purchase conversion rate, that's pretty bad. Clearly, there is a weak link in the chain that needs to be fixed. By looking at the analytics, I might notice that many are adding items to the cart, but not clicking the purchase button. Without going into the nitty gritty details of how to fix fictitious "Client A's" conversion problem, one thing I might suggest is to add a customer service support widget. 

When it comes to retail, SAAS, or any company that sells services via their website, customers are going to have questions...a lot of them! When they’re about to click "BUY" you don't want to leave any reason for them to click away. Zero! Zilch! Nada! One of the best solutions--that is FREE--is Drift, an online messaging service that connects you to your customers in real-time. If they have a question, you can be there to answer it and further push them down your sales funnel. I currently have it set up on my company site just in case a potential client has a question about my services or wants to know a good time to book a meeting. It is so convenient!

The best part is that you can integrate it with Slack so your entire team can be available to answer questions whenever you need them to! It also cleverly collects the customer's email "just in case you get separated." Smoooooooth!

Here are the benefits of using Drift:

  • Free for individuals, but $360/month for teams (yikes, a huge price jump!)
  • Answer customer questions in real-time
  • Stay connected anywhere via the mobile app
  • Generate more qualified leads
  • Automate the conversation with a LeadBot that will also collect the visitor's contact information
  • Integrate with numerous marketing software like HubSpot, MailChimp and Salesforce
Click on the image above to watch the full video in Instagram.

Click on the image above to watch the full video in Instagram.


This powerhouse of an app has become my go-to for content creation. It edits, has great music tracks and sound effects, stickers, a decent font collection, and filters. I can't say enough good things about this app and it's absolutely FREE! There are plenty of in-app purchases that can be made (and I definitely have) in terms of video filters and sticker sets, but is beautiful right out of the box.

Do you follow social media and entrepreneurial guru Gary Vaynerchuck? If you don't, then you definitely should. If you do, you've seen plenty of his videos on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. You might have noticed that he rarely ever posts in landscape (16:9) mode. No, he posts either in square (1:1) or 4:5 ratio. InShot allows you to pick basically any canvas size you like. With my workflow, I generally edit in 16:9 and upload to YouTube first and then come back around, change the original 16:9 canvas to 4:5 and upload it to Instagram. It's easy enough to do and looks great natively on each platform. Because I admire Gary and he's proven time and time again that he knows what he's doing, I began follow this same format and adding additional flair of my own.

As you can see, this video grabs your attention a lot more than if I were to just post the original 16:9 version without fonts and crazy stickers. It's all about grabbing your audience's attention as quick as possible because as fast as people scroll through their feeds, you don't have that much time to make an impression.

Here are the best things about the InShot app:

  • It's free unless you want to buy additional elements
  • Quick edit functions like trim, cut and split
  • Numerous canvas ratios (16:9, 4:5, 9:16, 3:2, 1:2, etc.)
  • Fun stickers, some of which are animated
  • Pre-made background templates or you can create your own
  • Decent, but not impressive font library

Between the above 3 apps you should be able to find a more targeted audience for your business, close the gaps in your sales funnel, and create more memorable content to post on social media. Pushing out interesting content that your audience wants to see while making yourself available via Drift with any questions your customers might have will definitely give you a leg up on your competitors. 

I spend a lot of time reviewing apps and these 3 are by far my favorites that I use daily because I see how much of a positive difference they've made by garnering attention for my company. I can't give them all the credit though because it is a lot of work on my end, but I promise that if you dedicate 30 minutes a day to familiarizing yourself with these apps, you'll become an expert before you know it!

I hope this article helps you as much as these apps helped me! Good luck and please reach out to me with any feedback--good or bad--that you have for me:)

-Chris, owner of Founding City Social