The Most Popular Smartphone Apps Are All Useful In One Important Way

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

SensorTower, a company that tracks data about mobile applications, has released its quarterly listing of the world’s most downloaded non-gaming apps. When you take a look at the list, particularly if you run a business, you’ll discover something amazing. You’re probably using most of these apps. In fact, many people in your company are using these apps. What’s truly amazing is that I’m using all of these apps on my Android Galaxy S7 smartphone and so are the people in my company. Not for fun or for laughs (well, OK…a little). But to help run my business. Slowly, but surely, mobile applications have evolved from novelties and time-savers to tools that our companies rely on day-to-day.

Yes, I admit that a few of the apps I’m using are a little more for my personal life than my company. But each and every one of these has some professional value — some more than others. Let me further explain.

#1 WhatsApp. This is a chat application (owned by Facebook) that doesn’t require a mobile network — just a WiFi connection. It’s hugely popular around the world because many people don’t have mobile plans that can be used internationally. At my company, we use WhatsApp for group chats and for sending photos and files to each other over WiFi so I don’t have to incur data charges. I also have a few business contacts overseas and use WhatsApp to message them because it’s cheaper, more reliable and happens to be (for most of them) their primary messaging tool anyway.

#2 Facebook. My Facebook presence has been growing over the past year, and my business page is now up to about 21,000 likes. I’m constantly checking the page throughout the day, posting articles and engaging with my followers. I’m doing most of this from the mobile app.

#3 Messenger. This is another Facebook application. As my followers increase, I’m finding that my Facebook page is slowly but surely rising as a customer service tool. People are messaging questions about our products or services directly from Facebook, and I’m using the mobile Messenger app to respond to their questions because it’s 2017, and no one wants to wait for me to be back at my desk.

#4 Instagram. For now, I’m using Instagram only to follow family, a few celebrities like The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus and some hilarious accounts that are way too inappropriate to list here (but trust me, you know them). From a business standpoint, we’ve been gathering data on potentially using the platform as an advertising tool and planning on opening an Instagram account that could feature content that I write with the hopes of building a reader and customer community there. Oh, by the way, this is also a Facebook app — that makes four out of the top five!

#5 Snapchat. Although primarily for family, I do have some clients that I follow — and they follow me — and we Snapchat each other photos now and again. A few of the people in my company like to use this tool to message instead of sending a text or email because it’s more expressive and can capture a moment on a project or with a client that’s more compelling. We’re not advertising on Snapchat…yet. We don’t have a company Snapchat presence…yet. But it’s been a good relationship-building tool with some of our clients.

#6 UC Browser. My professional life depends heavily on information from the Internet. Even though Chrome is pre-installed on my Android phone, I’ve found that UC Browser is faster for not only browsing but also for downloading and watching videos. It can sync data, has good pop-up blocking and sucks up less battery power than Chrome. I get why it’s so popular.

#7 Uber. According to some reports, Uber is now the number one reimbursable expense among business travelers, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. I look at it as my personal concierge car service and rely on it heavily when I’m out of town, particularly in places where there aren’t a lot of cabs around. I travel a lot for business. I use Uber all the time.

#8 YouTube. My company’s YouTube page is very active. We post training videos and recordings of our webinars there, and I also post snippets of any media appearances that I make. I can review and track comments using the YouTube app and also look at other professional videos that are published by my partners and yes — even my competitors.

#9 SHAREit. This is a Lenovo app, and we own a lot of Lenovo devices. But you don’t need a Lenovo device to enjoy the ease of sharing documents, files, quotes, proposals, spreadsheets and other business information quickly between devices.

#10 Bitmoji. Yes, it’s fun creating personal bitmojis, and everyone’s doing it. The app works with many of the messaging systems listed above, and I love it because sometimes when communicating with clients, it’s nice to be a little playful and lighthearted (assuming they’re not angry because our products aren’t working). Bitmoji is just another entertaining way to message — both with employees and customers — that keeps us all from not taking ourselves too seriously at work.

Amazing, isn’t it? I’m using all of these applications, and I’m using them all in my business! These top mobile apps aren’t just for fun and games. They’re turning out to be great productivity and communication tools at work, too.

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