Blog

June 13th, 2012

Promotion. To small businesses this means spreading the word and driving interest about products, services or the company itself. Traditionally this was done by placing ads in local newspapers and on the radio, tv or the Internet. Facebook has changed all that and is now one of the top ways to promote. A new feature has been added that makes it even easier to run a promotion campaign on Facebook.

The feature is called “Promote” and aims to give businesses a way to increase the reach of their posts. Think of it as a simplification process: instead of having to go through the ad dashboard to create an ad, it can now be done with one click.

The idea behind the promote button is to turn posts on your Page into ads that show up on a user’s News Feed - the area where posts are viewed - instead of in the ad bar, which is located on the right hand side of the page. This will, in theory, help your promotion or information reach more users while making marketing and advertising easier.

When you create a post, you can press the Promote button, located at the bottom of the post window. A pop-up window will appear giving you options. As this is a form of paid advertising, you pay to reach a guaranteed number of users. When you enter an amount to pay, (USD 5.00 is the lowest amount), you’ll be given the approximate number of fans the post will reach. You’ll also be able to target demographically and geographically. The post will be promoted for three days.

Once the promotion campaign has started, you’ll be able to view how effective the promotion is by going to your Page timeline and hovering over the numbers at the bottom of the promoted post. You’ll also be able to see how many users the post has reached, and how they viewed it. A useful tool to tell if the Promote feature is actually working.

At this time, the Promote feature is available for Page owners located in the US with more than 400 followers, and should be rolled out to all Page owners in the near future. If you’d like to learn more about the Promote feature, or other ways you can utilize Facebook as a marketing tool, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
May 30th, 2012

Every once in awhile an innovative technology comes along that completely changes both the way we interact with computers, and the dynamics of how we conduct business. The latest technology to do this is related to the cloud. Many of the popular programs we use have some cloud elements to them. The only problem is there’s a lot of confusing terminology that goes with this technology.

Here are 10 of the most common cloud terms and what they mean.

  • Cloud. Cloud is the general term applied to anything that uses the Internet to provide an end user (in most cases, you) a service. Your information is hosted on a company’s servers and is accessed via an Internet connection. A good way to think of it is it’s equivalent to ordering delivery from a restaurant. Say you want Thai food, but don’t have the ingredients, so you have someone else do all the work and bring it to you.
  • Cloud OS (operating system). A cloud operating system is an OS delivered via the Internet. The OS isn’t physically on your system, it’s located in a company's servers and you use a physical computer to access it. Windows Azure is an example of a cloud OS.
  • Cloud provider. A company that provides a cloud service, storage and servers, usually for a fee. Google is one of the most well known cloud providers.
  • Cloud storage. A cloud service that allows users to store data in another location, away from their computer, and access it using the Internet.
  • Disruptive technology. A technology that’s so different and innovative it changes the way things are done. The cloud is a disruptive technology as it’s changed the way business is being done.
  • Data center. What IT companies call the building where cloud servers are housed.
  • IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service. This is the term used to describe any virtualized service being offered to a user. This can include virtualized servers, maintenance and software.
  • PaaS - Platform as a Service. This term is used to describe any computing platform being offered over the Internet, normally the OS and related software. Google Chrome OS is considered to be a PaaS.
  • SaaS - Software as a Service. The term applied to a single piece of software that’s offered over the Internet. Users access the software using the Internet and don’t need to install it on their computer. Gmail is considered to be SaaS.
  • Client. Despite what many believe, the client is not the person who buys a cloud service. It’s what a user uses to access the cloud service. Computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones are all clients.
While there are many different cloud services out there, these terms are generally applied to all of them. If you’d like to learn more about the cloud and how you can utilize it in your business, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web Trends
May 24th, 2012

Social media, typically viewed by companies as a marketing platform, has started to reach a new level of maturity and branch out. The next big step is to get a company's customer service, traditionally a physical aspect, social. This is called social customer service and should become the next step in a company’s social media plan.

Social customer service is a bit of an ambiguous term with no real established meaning. Before you pursue this strategy, you should be clear on exactly what it is and the benefits it can bring your company.

What exactly is social customer service? Think of the last time you had a problem with a program on your computer. Did you contact tech support? Or did you turn to your friends on social media? If you turned to social media, this is one of the main elements of social customer service.

Customers are starting to go to social media sites when they have questions, many times contacting the company directly. Having customer service elements on social media to answer these questions or field complaints is social customer service. A great example of this is OPEN Forum, run by AMEX. It allows customers to interact with one another, while giving the company a channel to feed technical help and information to them.

Benefits of social customer service There are four main benefits of leveraging social customer service in your business.

  • Increased customer satisfaction. By offering a way for customers to interact with you on a medium many are already comfortable with, you’ll find customers to be more satisfied.
  • Meeting consumer expectations. Let’s face it, the majority of your customers are using social media with many now expecting you to as well. If you meet their expectations, there’s a higher chance they’ll stay your customers.
  • Increased loyalty. One of the main reasons companies should be on social media is that an effective campaign can help improve customer and brand loyalty. Social customer service is an extra service that can help further increase loyalty.
  • Decreased customer service costs. If you offer customer service on social media, you could potentially decrease your total costs. The expenditure required to setup and maintain the online service is fractional compared to the physical operation.
While there are some distinct advantages to social customer service, it’s not a good idea to shift all of your customer support onto social platforms. Rather it should be viewed as a supplementary service, or another way for customers to get in contact with you. If you’d like to know more about how to integrate social customer service into your company's social media plan, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 24th, 2012

Social media, typically viewed by companies as a marketing platform, has started to reach a new level of maturity and branch out. The next big step is to get a company's customer service, traditionally a physical aspect, social. This is called social customer service and should become the next step in a company’s social media plan.

Social customer service is a bit of an ambiguous term with no real established meaning. Before you pursue this strategy, you should be clear on exactly what it is and the benefits it can bring your company.

What exactly is social customer service? Think of the last time you had a problem with a program on your computer. Did you contact tech support? Or did you turn to your friends on social media? If you turned to social media, this is one of the main elements of social customer service.

Customers are starting to go to social media sites when they have questions, many times contacting the company directly. Having customer service elements on social media to answer these questions or field complaints is social customer service. A great example of this is OPEN Forum, run by AMEX. It allows customers to interact with one another, while giving the company a channel to feed technical help and information to them.

Benefits of social customer service There are four main benefits of leveraging social customer service in your business.

  • Increased customer satisfaction. By offering a way for customers to interact with you on a medium many are already comfortable with, you’ll find customers to be more satisfied.
  • Meeting consumer expectations. Let’s face it, the majority of your customers are using social media with many now expecting you to as well. If you meet their expectations, there’s a higher chance they’ll stay your customers.
  • Increased loyalty. One of the main reasons companies should be on social media is that an effective campaign can help improve customer and brand loyalty. Social customer service is an extra service that can help further increase loyalty.
  • Decreased customer service costs. If you offer customer service on social media, you could potentially decrease your total costs. The expenditure required to setup and maintain the online service is fractional compared to the physical operation.
While there are some distinct advantages to social customer service, it’s not a good idea to shift all of your customer support onto social platforms. Rather it should be viewed as a supplementary service, or another way for customers to get in contact with you. If you’d like to know more about how to integrate social customer service into your company's social media plan, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 22nd, 2012

When considering a new telephone system for an office, many small business owners are turning to digital solutions, like VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol. While researching the systems available, it’s common to come across a number of confusing acronyms and terms that sound outright scary. Have no fear, we’re here to help.

Here are seven of the most commonly used VoIP terms and what they mean.

Internet Service Provider - ISP. The company that provides your company with Internet access.  Private Branch eXchange - PBX. A system within a company that allows internal phones to connect to an outside line. This is also referred to as a switchboard in larger businesses. An IP PBX, Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange, is the same thing, but it handles VoIP calls as well. Analog. The old system that transmits voice over telephone lines. Your normal landline telephone connection is most likely analog. In many countries, this is also called the Plain Old Telephone System - POTS for short. Analog Telephone Adapter - ATA. A piece of hardware that allows you to use a traditional telephone for VoIP calls. Digital. Any information, including sound, that’s on a computer. VoIP is a form of digital communication, because it uses a digital system, the Internet, to transfer your voice. Integrated Services Digital Network - ISDN. A telephone network that allows digital signal e.g., VoIP, to be transmitted over traditional phone lines. Softphone. A VoIP application that is run strictly on your computer.

There’s a lot of technical terminology out there, the majority of it in acronyms. Don’t be afraid to ask us for more information. If you’d like to learn about ways you can use VoIP in your company, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
May 21st, 2012

What’s the most visited website? If you said catvideos.com aka YouTube, you’re close. Facebook was actually the most visited website in 2011, not really shocking when you think about all the people and businesses that use it. One of the underutilized features of Facebook, Groups, now gives members the ability to upload files to share with others in the group.

With the update, there’ll be a new files tab added to a group’s page. Members will be able to upload and share files with all members in the group. When you click on the publication box, you’ll now have the option of uploading a file to share with the group. You’ll be able to upload files up to a maximum of 25 megabytes in size. The majority of file types can be uploaded, however, music files won’t be allowed.

Groups can currently create and edit documents within the Group page, although these documents can’t be exported to a word processor or be printed. The new feature covers this hole but does not allow online editing at this time. To edit a file, users will have to download it to edit it and reupload it when they’re done. The edited file won’t replace the old version, allowing for reversal of changes if need be.

Will Facebook be the death of cloud collaboration services like Dropbox? It’s too early to tell, but, it does provide Facebook users with an enclosed sharing solution that all users will have access to. If you’d like to learn more about ways you can use Facebook in your organization, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
May 14th, 2012

With a large number of technological devices and access to an incredible amount of data, our collective attention span is shorter than ever. This has posed a serious issue for SMBs. A rising number of companies and app developers are taking popular concepts and elements used in video games and applying them to business situations with the goal of holding our attention.

The term to describe this trend is gamification, but what is it, and how can businesses use it?

What is gamification Gamification is the application of game design techniques and mechanics to non-game applications. Foursquare and its badges is a good example of this - users check in at locations to earn points, unlock badges and compete with their friends. Do they win anything? Nothing physical, but there’s something satisfying with competing with other people to be the best.

While gamification got its start with technological related operations, it has since been integrated by businesses of all sizes. Business that have adopted elements of gamification have seen improved user engagement and ROI.

How can businesses leverage gamification? Gamification is interesting because it can be applied in a variety of different business situations. For example, here are three such uses:

  • To increase employee engagement. It can be hard at times to keep your employees engaged while they’re doing mundane tasks. One of the most common uses of gamification is deploying badges to act as a motivator to encourage employees to put effort into their job. When an employee reaches a predetermined level they are recognized for their achievement. This will go a long way in improving engagement.
  • To create brand advocates. You can use gamification to turn your customers and fans into brand advocates. Before they start singing your praises, they need to be given a reason to do so. The best way to do this is to create a points/reward system. For actions such as purchases or reviews, customers gain points that can be spent on other services. Think of it as akin to the points system used by credit card companies.
  • To generate traffic. Many SMBs are dependent on their websites for revenue but struggle to get traffic to their site. Gamification techniques can be employed to encourage people to spend more time on, and return to, your website, almost like a modern loyalty program.
There are many uses for gamification and we’ll continue to see new and innovative ways to deploy it in organizations. If you’re interested in ways you can implement aspects of gamification in your business, or would like to learn more, we are here happy to sit down with you for a chat. Please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web Trends
May 9th, 2012

One issue that’s sparked a large amount of debate is whether or not companies should allow their employees to access social media while at work. One thing's for certain, the number of employees who actually use social media on a regular basis is large, and growing. There will come a time when companies that block social media can no longer afford to do so.

There are four distinct advantages to allowing social media:

  • Increased productivity. There have been a number of studies that have found that judicious use of social media in the workplace will actually increase productivity. A study conducted by the University of Melbourne found that employees with access to social media are 9% more productive than those without.
  • Increased buy-in. Employees like to feel trusted and empowered. If they don’t you can expect to experience higher turnover and lower morale. A good way to gain trust is to allow employees to use social media in the workplace. If an employee feels like they are trusted, they’ll be more likely to stay with the company.
  • Recruiting. Small businesses have started to use social media for recruitment, but limit efforts to one account. If you have 10 employees in your organization, each with a social media account with 100 friends, you have the potential to reach 1,000 people. This is achievable if employees are allowed to access social media at work and are encouraged to share posts.
  • Identification of business opportunities. Through the use of social media, employees in charge of sales and business development can source new clients and build fruitful relationships.
There are many advantages to allowing access to social networks at the office. If you‘re hesitant to completely open the social media floodgates, try doing so in short periods, like the final three hours of the working day.

No matter what you decide, allowing access to social media is a good practice for your business. If you would like to learn more about social media and how you can leverage it in your business, we are happy to talk with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 4th, 2012

Collaboration is important to a company’s success, and one of the tools that has enabled collaboration is Skype. Utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) it offers users a way to communicate and work together across vast distances at a low price. With these benefits, businesses have been integrating Skype in greater numbers.

Skype has some excellent features but many businesses stick to the basics. Here are four ways you can better utilize Skype.

  • Call forwarding. If you’re expecting an important call but have to step away from the computer for a bit you can forward any calls to your phone. To set up call forwarding: open preferences and select Calls. You will see the option to set up call forwarding at the top of the page. Press the Forward calls radio followed by Set up Forwarding. Be aware that regular call rates will be charged.
  • Screen sharing. Skype is a terrific collaboration tool and many businesses take advantage of it by holding virtual meetings. You can take this one step further by sharing your screen with other parties you are chatting with. This is a fantastic way to give virtual presentations. To share your screen while in a chat press the plus symbol at the bottom of your screen, or right click, and select Share Screen.
  • Customer service tool. Using Skype is a convenient way to get in contact with your customers. Ask your website developer to put a Skype button on your website. Be sure to add when you or your employees are available to be contacted.
  • Add-ons. Skype has solid features but there are a multitude of add-on apps that can make it even better. Some apps allow for closer collaboration, let you broadcast pre-recorded messages, or record video and audio calls. The apps can be downloaded from the Skype Shop.
Skype has many useful features that when utilized allow businesses’ clients and employees to communicate with ease. If you would like to know more about using Skype or other VoIP services in your company please give us a call.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
May 2nd, 2012

Everyone has the right to privacy and most are willing to go to great lengths to keep their information private. When it comes to the Internet however, many of us seem to be freer with our private details. Companies have been taking advantage of this and have been using the Internet to research applicants who apply for jobs. A few companies have gone a step too far, much to the indignation of job seekers.

News agencies have been carrying stories about companies that have been asking job applicants for their Facebook logins and passwords before or during an interview. This is a slightly unsettling trend when observed from the job interviewee viewpoint.

It’s become a common practice of employers to look at the social profiles of potential employees to get to know the job seeker on a more personal level. Users have responded by ensuring that their profiles are private, much to the chagrin of would-be snoopers. So what have companies done? Some have started asking potential employees for access to their social media usernames and passwords. This new practice has the masses wondering, “Is this legal and am I protected?”

Currently there are no laws (in the US) that state that it’s illegal for employers to ask employees, potential or otherwise, for their social network usernames and passwords. There are however lawmakers in California, Maryland and Illinois who have introduced legislation that will bar companies from asking for account information. But this is by no means law yet.

Facebook has weighed in on this as well, “This practice [asking for passwords] undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

What Facebook means by this is that if a company does check into a potential employee, sees they are part of a protected group e.g., LGBT, and does not hire a person on those grounds the company could face claims of discrimination. Beyond that, Facebook also pointed out that giving out or soliciting passwords to your or another user’s account is a breach of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

According to most articles, this is a fiasco. But if you look at it from an HR point of view, you want to know that the person sitting across from you really is who they say they are. You are protecting your interests as much as the interviewee is protecting their privacy. Short of asking people for their passwords there are five legal actions you can take to find out more about an interviewee.

  • Basic Internet search: Your results may return hits for other people with the same name. To get around this, narrow the search by adding an email address, phone number or address.
  • Facebook: It’s perfectly fine to use Facebook to search for a job seeker’s profile and do a little social snooping. Don’t forget, there are other social media sites out there, LinkedIn is a particularly good source for discovering a person’s work history. A big boon of Linkedin is that users tend to be free with their work related information on this site.
  • Conduct background checks: It’s a good idea to conduct checks, especially if you work with money or other high value items. If you don’t have time to conduct checks, there are companies that will conduct checks for you. It’s important to be aware of the law regarding background checks in your region.
  • Ask for, and check references: Companies just don’t do this anymore. It only takes a few minutes to call or email each reference provided. If you call the referrers and ask the right questions, you could learn a lot more about the applicant this way.
  • Prepare ahead of time: We are all busy, but it’s important that you look over a resume before the interview. Pay close attention to employment history and take note of gaps in employment or short stints (less than one year) at companies.
You will be able to find just as much information about a person by using legal means to research as compared with asking for their social media accounts. If you would like to learn more about Facebook or other social media sites let us know.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook