Social Media to Influence your Business

Social media has plenty to offer your business in terms of promotion of your brand and thus more brand awareness, seals lead generation, and even search engine optimization. While not a direct channel for sales, your social media accounts can support and promote your ecommerce efforts by assisting with promotion, brand awareness, trust, loyalty, and also by providing you with valuable insights as to who’s following you and what people are saying about you.

Brand awareness via social media promotion is accomplished simply by branding your pages so that they look very similar to your website. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, and all of the other social media networks out there allow you to customize your page’s header image (often referred to as a banner or cover art) as well as your personal profile picture, and by choosing the same imagery that you use on your website, you’ll create brand awareness and recognition.

Consumers who may not be familiar with your brand may learn about you from followers of yours that are friends of theirs; or if you choose to promote Facebook posts or Twitter tweets, you’ll show up in their timeline if their published content is relevant to yours.

Those consumers who may not be familiar with you and thus may hesitate to make a purchase can be assured by your reputation on Facebook and other social networks that you are in fact a decent company whom others would recommend. And those customers who are happy with your services may become loyal customers, simply due to the fact that you are available online to interact with.

The great thing about today’s website and ecommerce platforms is that social media integration is almost always included. If not, you can include it with the use of a few simple lines of code, or “plugins” offered by popular content management systems. When used in conjunction with your other search engine optimization efforts, social media has the power to provide you with valuable insights, and help you obtain your ideal ranking. This may be a time-consuming endeavor, but it has a very promising pay-off.

Why A Good Online Presence Is An Important Thing To Have

I have noticed in our local Cornish news of late just how many articles relate to charitable activities and organisations which need new members or help with things. I have also seen businesses closing because of the costs of things like business premises and people not using them. In this day and age it is of huge benefit to local businesses and organisations in and around Cornwall to have some sort of online presence.

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Good Marketing:

If people are not aware of what it is that something or someone can offer them, then how can they possibly frequent that business or attend that event? Getting the word out there is an important part of local business practice these days. If done correctly and by experienced people, business can be driven in the right direction, sales increased and membership numbers added to. For businesses based in and around Cornwall, web design is important to get right. A good site can be used for multiple purposes and linking that into things like social media can make marketing painless and afford good results. Speaking to people with experience such as Spring Media Web Design is important so that you can understand just what you can gain from a good website.

Give Yourself Options:

Having an online presence can give you alternative ways of providing services to visitors. Businesses who sell product have the ability to have both a physical premise from which to work and an online shop. Indeed many businesses these days only have an online shop to work from due to the cost savings that this gives them. No rent, no bills, no other overheads. It is very tempting, and if done well can be a lucrative alternative. The other good thing about online shops is that they are not limited by geography.

Make it Enticing:

People are attracted to offers where they feel as if they are gaining something for nothing. In order to have a website that is inviting to your visitors and will persuade them to spend money with you it will be necessary to understand their needs. Talking to someone who has a good understanding of web design and marketing will enable you to make the most of the services that you have to offer and help to attract people to any organisations which you may wish to promote. If you do not understand your market, then you will not be able to build an appealing website, regardless of how technically good it is.

It is important to research and plan any new business venture. Creating a good online presence and website is no different. Speak to your customers and members and get a feel for what it is that you can offer them online. I am sure that their input will open new doors.

Image attributed to FreeDigitalPhotos.net Stuart Miles

How to Protect Your Data in the Cloud: Checklist for SMEs

Protecting our data in the cloud requires strategy. As cloud adoption rapidly increases among SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and professionals, we find our business’ core operations effective, efficient and agile, improving our customer service.

We can’t deny that the cloud services offered to us have enhanced our infrastructure. Whilst we are provided with enumerable ways to maximise the resources, particularly for anyone who wishes to venture a new business can scale and reduce their overhead and maintenance costs.

However, as we enjoy the seamless collaboration and business agility, we must also be aware of the security, privacy statements and compliance requirements. Whether we use the cloud for online storage, web hosting or app development, our knowledge (and applying the checklist) to secure our data, will save us from data theft, breaches, and even downtime.

Identification and Authentication – It’s highly recommended to use a formidable authentication method when accessing accounts such as the two-factor authentication from the cloud service. Always remind everyone to use strong passwords for different accounts. Tight security such as using your fingerprint or a digital certificate to prove the person’s right to access any information will also help to secure data. Staff should regularly change their passwords when accessing cloud services and immediately delete users’ accounts after contractual projects are completed.

Cloud Administration – Appoint a competent and technically skilled administrator to oversee the cloud, who understands the basic features. Create policies on accessing accounts when they use it. For the whole department, you may conduct security awareness training to help them establish a good routine in handling data and passwords.

Data Protection – List down the data you want to store in the cloud and assess them regularly especially if these records should be kept there for long-term. You can also make Hong Kong’s Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO) as your reference and avoid sharing data to unintended parties. If you need to give permission to a staff to access your personal data then make sure you regularly check if they still need access. If not, immediately change the user’s accessibility usage.

Service Continuity – Keep a direct and regular communication with your cloud vendor, so you can contact them in case of security issues. You may develop a contingency plan or a business continuity plan as an alternative if by chance your data will be inaccessible. You should always have an exit strategy for termination procedures if you wish to discontinue the cloud services subscription. Most people, who have become cloud dependent, should still always backup your data in the cloud and within their local network.

Terms of Service, Security and Privacy Policy – While it can be daunting to read the overwhelming pages of TOS and privacy policies of service providers, it is important that you know how your data is stored, transferred, and protected. Find out how the cloud vendor responds to incident reports and their SLAs for data protection. There might be some changes in the terms of service and privacy over time, so make sure you are updated with any new information.

Mac Productivity: Apps That Can Make A Difference In 2014

The use of Apple’s Mac computer has seen a significant growth in the past few years, and if the investment note on Apple from Needham analyst Charles Wolf is to be believed, Mac shipments have surpassed the PC market for the last 5 years.

And it’s not just the hardware part enjoying the increase in demand; a recently published report reveals that Mac App Store and iOS App Stores combined accounted for $10 billion sales in 2013, placing themselves above casino big guns Caser and MGM and the credit company Discover.

Apple also labelled Mac App Store as the fastest growing PC software store three years ago.

Today, there is a plethora of applications in each Mac App Store category, but if you’re specifically looking for options that convert previously daunting tasks into a breeze and make a difference in your productivity, here’s a complied list of apps that will fit into your workflow:

1. Gesture-based apps

Apps that automate certain tasks through the use of gestures can be utilized several times in a day. These applications are pretty useful when you want to take a quick screenshot, execute shortcuts in different windows, move the folders to a second monitor, play and close certain apps and a lot more.

BetterTouchTool, JiTouch and MagicPrefs are some examples of such Mac software. Most of them extend the capability of the Mac’s Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse and Multi-Touch MacBook Trackpad, enabling Mac consumers to use finger(s) swipe, finger(s) tap and finger(s) click for performing several actions.

2. Text-expander apps

Text-expander apps allow you to create short abbreviations of the content you regularly type, and the software does the expansion itself. For example, if you receive a lot of emails during holidays, you could configure ‘whr’ with the expander, which can be turned into: Thank you for the request. We will be back after a week and will respond as soon as possible. This means you can execute and complete several commands with a few keystrokes.

Examples of Text-expander software tools include Typinator and Presto. Both these apps will make you appreciate how time saving text-expanding apps can be, and the former one also come with handy options to define cursor placement and store the library of your saved abbreviations in the cloud.

3. Remote software apps

Remote control software for Mac can be a blessing in disguise when you’re not in front of the system but want software to access certain files and folders. Some of the offerings even let you drag and drop files between two desktops as well as stream media over a smartphone or a tablet.

SimpleHelp, LogMeIn and GoToMyPc are a few of the handy Mac remote tools with screen sharing functionality. These options also work great for Mac users behind the firewall shield, as they work around the firewall to establish a connection to a remote computer. However, security is not an issue as the software is backed by advanced encryption codes.

4. Focus-based apps

There are instances when you can get distracted from work… This isn’t a problem for a few minutes (you do need a break), but it can lead to a loss in productivity if it happens for long periods.

Self-Control and TrackTime are two such useful applications, blocking out distracting websites for a certain amount of time, allowing you to be productive when it matters most.

What are your favourite Mac tools to stay productive? Feel free to leave comments.

The University of Tomorrow Will Not Look Like it Does Today

It’s hard to believe that using a physical textbook in a lecture hall will soon be a thing of the past for individuals pursuing higher education. 


Meeting an instructor in person and jotting down notes in a traditional notebook are no longer the only, or ideal, approach for students enrolled in universities. Furthermore, as
eTextbooks and other enhanced instruments become prevalent, all of the mentioned scenarios may soon be considered obsolete as technology continues to be the primary vehicle of change in the world of higher learning.

The Future of the American University
Change is inevitable and necessary. This couldn’t apply more to universities in the country. As the economy recovers from disastrous conditions and studies reveal the nation’s overall inability to compete internationally more emphasis is placed on making things easier and accessible from every angle, an increasing number of developments that revolutionize higher education are becoming more evident.

More schools are offering online courses to fit the needs of working high school graduates, single parents, and retirees. Multimedia materials are being incorporated into classrooms to enrich students’ learning experience. Moreover, officials in higher education are working together to revamp the majority of curriculum content in universities in order to keep students up to date on current information in their chosen field of study, as well as expand their thought processes.

Those who aren’t able to adapt with these transformations will surely get left behind. Staying current on the trends affecting universities is crucial, especially if you, or someone you know, plan on pursuing higher education.

Technological Advancements in Higher Education
• In the age of iPads, laptops, and Smartphones, it’s proven that no other generation of young adults have been so fully immersed in a digitally rich environment as the current one.

According to the US Department of Education (USDE), one of the main goals of using technology in school is to close the gap between the tech-savvy experiences that exist outside of the classroom for many students and the conventional, sometimes hum-drum, sphere of education, that they’re familiar with, and thus, eventually close the achievement gap.

Utilizing more technological innovations in college is particularly beneficial to those pursuing professions that heavily rely on tech growth to transform their industries. Examples of these areas of study include, but aren’t limited to, business, engineering, statistics, economics, and medicine.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) states that teachers reported having several vehicles of technology in their classrooms, including computers, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras, and LCD or DLP projectors.

According to The Economist, recent studies revealed that 52% of respondents said that online collaborative tools would make the largest positive impact on higher education while 48% believed the growing delivery software applications and content would offer the best results to students.

Why eTextbooks?
Imagine being able to quickly search your laptop or phone for information that’s relevant to your class assignment, not to mention having more room to spare in your backpack. Experimentation with technology has provided relief among many university students with the introduction of eTextbooks. These features are the digital version of print textbooks that can be downloaded.

Convenient

What could be easier than turning on your laptop in order to complete your daily reading assignments for one of your most challenging courses? University students no longer have to worry about wasting their time trying to sift through printed pages of information or finding rare textbooks in hit-or-miss bookstores. eTextbooks can easily by downloaded from several websites that specialize in these applications.

Affordability

Many print textbooks cost more money than students are willing to pay. With eTextbooks, you can often get the same material for half the price of what a traditional book would cost. Some digital textbooks can even be accessed free of charge.

Additional Features

Some eTextbooks also offer enhancements that aren’t evident in paper textbooks. Features often include digital note-taking and color-coded highlighting which can improve students’ overall efficiency.

The future of universities looks bright, especially with technological advancements like eTextbooks on the rise. Take advantage of these kinds of blossoming inventions and find out how they can make your commitment to higher education more successful.

Competition Promotes Better Services

The telecommunications industry is a competitive sector. There are always special offers and introductory promotions aimed at getting subscribers to switch to another service. The approach that companies have used to increase business has often drawn criticism. Some have even used practices that actually leave consumers unsettled by the whole concept of a telephone when it should be such a beneficial link to family and friends.

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TalkTalk

TalkTalk has announced the withdrawal of charges for the services it provides to combat unwanted phone calls. It is perhaps in recognition of the bad publicity it has been receiving since it was fined heavily for using that tactic itself to increase its business. The fine dates back to a strategy it used in 2011 when it is said to have been responsible for 9,000 such calls, a figure well in excess of what regulatory body Ofcom would sanction.

The calls came from two call centres that used an automatic dialling system which meant at times there was no one on the other end when the recipient answered the ‘call’; the result was often a pre recorded message if the centre was not fully staffed.

TalkTalk’s response was to sack two marketing companies directly responsible for the tactic but that does not necessarily mean that the consumer is happy with the company’s activities. The Citizens Advice Bureau felt that individuals should be compensated as well as the Treasury coffers being boosted substantially.

Bad publicity

The media has been looking at the whole subject of unwanted calls with the Telegraph recently reporting that TalkTalk was removing all service charges. There are different things that can help; caller ID is exactly that. You will know who is calling unless the caller blocks that information. Of the different methods that telecom companies can use to stop the nuisance TalkTalk uses two; selected number blocking and the barring of calls where the caller’s number is not identifiable.

There have been calls for action in general from regulatory bodies, consumers, charities and legislators in response to the huge number of telephone subscribers who believe these calls are more than an irritation. There are people who are extremely reluctant even to answer a call, if they do not know who is calling.

Effective blocking

A good nuisance phone call blocker is the answer to those unsolicited callers who are often ringing on behalf of companies trying to sell you something. A consumer can always block an individual number, whichever company he or she uses for a line, but that is a very slow way to remove the problem.

The quickest way to remove a large number of callers from causing a nuisance is for each unwanted call being blocked right across the board. In that way everyone is contributing to the build up of a database of numbers that cannot get through to anyone within the system.

Image attributed to Freedigitalphotos.net Stuart Miles