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March 6th, 2014

VoIP_Mar03_BIt’s widely known how the benefits of having a VoIP system greatly outweigh the costs or of simply not having one. Not only are you able to utilize the great variety of features that it offers, but the fees are also usually very manageable too. The only question many have regarding VoIP is, whether they are getting the best system.

Consider these tips when choosing a VoIP system and you'll stand a much better chance of ending up with the best one for your business:

The cheapest ones aren’t always the best

Just like bidding for projects, you need to be wary of those systems that offer full services at incredibly low prices. Don’t be tempted with how low the fee might be, as in the long run, you might end-up with a system you're not happy with. You don't want dissatisfied customers because they won't be able to reach you, or a system that's not a good fit for your business.

A good way of going about this is to test the service to see if the quality is in fact on a par with what you’re looking for. Another factor to consider is how seamlessly the new VoIP system will integrate with your business

Think about what your phone system’s key roles are

When you have a clear idea of the “what”, your “how”, “when” and “whom” will be a lot easier to determine. This is where you determine what kind of features you’ll need your VoIP system to have. Consider whether you need voicemail, auto-attendant or voicemail to email capabilities (among many others). Once you have a clear picture of what you need, you’ll have a better idea of which package or provider to obtain your VoIP system from.

Review different packages

There are many packages that are packed with features, making them seem incredibly appealing. Don’t get carried away with how seemingly amazing these packages are though. Instead, focus on what your business needs are and stay within the bounds of these demands. There is no point in having unlimited calls to Canada or other countries when your customers are based in the US, for example.

Look for excellent customer support with an almost zero downtime record

Regardless of how seemingly perfect and tailor-made your system is to your business, if you’re experiencing a lot of downtime from your provider it just isn’t going to work. You need to do a background check on your provider to make sure that their system has a near zero downtime.

Another factor to look into is their customer support. You’ll always encounter situations where you have a question about the system, such as a technical issue or maybe even to ask about upgrades. In cases like these, your provider must have an excellent customer service so you know that your questions and issues are going to be dealt with properly and quickly.

Work out what the real costs are

Don’t just think about the package that’s being sold, think about the equipment you’ll need and the manpower needed to get the system up and running. As your company grows, you’ll have to add more users to your system too. You have to think about the costs relating to upgrades and purchasing add-ons.

If you only consider the upfront payment and neglect the upgrades, maintenance, and any other factors of operating with a VoIP system, chances are you might end-up spending more than expected.

If you are looking for the perfect VoIP system, then we can help. Contact us now for our expert advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
February 12th, 2014

SocialMedia_Feb10_BModern marketing is made up of a number of increasingly complex functions and systems, with one of the most important elements being social media. There are a number of platforms available to businesses and a popular one is microblog Twitter. While Twitter is fairly easy to use, there is actually a really common mistake that many users make which can harm the reach of their posts.

Social media is an always evolving idea, so what works one day won't necessarily work in the near or foreseeable future. Combine this with the various changes and features of the different social media platforms and it is nearly impossible to master every service.

When it comes to Twitter, one of the most popular features is using @username to bring the tweet to the attention of the user and to tweet about them. When you do this you and the person will be able to see it, along with people who follow that person.

What is the #1 mistake Twitter users make?

The problem is, many people put the @username at the beginning of the tweet. What this does, as we stated above, is only make the tweet visible on your feed, to the user and their followers. Why is this a problem? Well, it comes from how most businesses use Twitter. They use it to share content, e.g., a blog article or a video, etc.; to essentially tweet about the person, not at them. You see this in many tweets, for example, "@microsoft's new blog is great. Read it!"

While you want to share the content with people other than those who created it, putting @user at the front of your tweet actually limits the audience to the person who created the content and their followers - in other words the opposite of what you intend, unless Microsoft is your target audience of course!

How do you avoid mistake tweets?

If you are looking to tweet about someone or the content that user has created, using the @user is still a good idea because it will bring to the content-creator's attention that you are sharing their content. This is a great way to form relationships and even have these individuals and businesses share your content. In turn, this can help increase the potential of your content being seen by a wider audience.

For many tweets it makes sense to put the @username first as it helps make the overall tweet easier to read. The problem is, this will also limit your audience. So, for those who want to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak, add a period before @username e.g.," .@microsoft's new blog post is great. Read it!".

What this does is ensure that the tweet isn't addressed only to the user, but can be seen by everyone.

Looking to learn more about utilizing Twitter or any other social media as a part of your marketing strategy? We have a lot to tweet about and can help you tweet too.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 6th, 2014

VoIP_Feb03_BWhen it comes to business communication, VoIP can bring great benefits to the table. Not only is Voice over Internet Protocol able to remove the geographical boundaries that limit your business, but its cost saving potential (among many others) can help you immensely as far as optimizing your business. Many companies understand this and are looking at the numerous platforms that are available, some of which are free. The question: Does free equal better?

Here are four of the most popular free VoIP apps available and a look at what they can offer businesses.

1. Skype

Skype is one of the pioneering apps that revolutionized VoIP. As a leading VoIP app, It has a large user base, with about 50 million users logged-in at least once during January 2013.

This service lets users make free Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls, group calls, and instant messaging. But, if you want more advanced calling features like call forwarding, SMS messages, caller ID, calling landline or other mobile phones around the globe, video conferencing, and having your own Skype number, you are going to have to subscribe to a business plan.

2. ooVoo

ooVoo, another free app, offers the optimal basics like free audio and video calling services to other users, instant messaging, and even 12-way video conferencing, which can be great for individual users and small businesses.

The biggest downside to this app is that while it does allow calls to landlines and other numbers, you need to purchase credits or a premium account which can prove a bit expensive for many users.

3. Viber

Viber offers users free calling and instant messages to other Viber users and is one of the most popular VoIP services for mobile users.

Although Viber has already released a version for Windows and Mac, this app is definitely made for Smartphones. You need to have a Viber mobile account before you can use its desktop version. This is a good solution for individual users, but may not be the best option for businesses that need to make calls to landlines or non-Viber users.

4. Jitsi

Jitsi is a free open source VoIP program formerly known as SIP Communicator that is primarily written using a popular Java script. Jitsi supports multiple operating systems as well as a variety of internet telephony.

Aside from video calling, Jitsi also offers you the features of instant messaging, desktop streaming, call recording, encryption for calls, and file sharing. Jitsi's broad compatibility and powerful encryption support may make it seem like a great tool for business. However, because it is open source it could pose potential security risks and be a challenge to manage for your business.

Is free really better?

In all honesty, the free aspects of the services above will satisfy many of the communication needs of individual users. The problem is, that many businesses still rely on traditional landline style communication e.g., people calling the business. This means that you need a service that can port - transfer - your number from the old provider to the VoIP one, while also allowing others to call the business. Many of the free services don't allow this. What this means for your business is that you will be able to call people with the program for free, but others who don't use it likely won't be able to call you so easily.

The VoIP systems provided by IT partners like us however are designed for business use and can offer the same benefits as many of the free solutions - video calls, text messaging, etc. - along with the traditional phone requirements, only delivered through a digital connection and at a cost that is usually far below traditional landline subscriptions.

The other main problem with choosing free services is that they may not be able to handle a high volume of communication, largely because many of them are designed for personal or home use, rather than a business environment. Adopting the business features will usually require a paid subscription that could end up costing you more, especially if you subscribe on a per-user basis.

If you are looking to use one of the free apps above or are considering another solution, we strongly recommend you talk to us first. We can talk you through the process, and help ensure that any service is truly right for your business. Beyond that, we can also make recommendations for a system that will truly fit your business.

If you want to know more about VoIP, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
January 15th, 2014

SocialMedia_Jan13_BSocial media, while still fairly new, is starting to enter a more mature phase. Most businesses have a presence on one or more social media platforms and are comfortable with at least the basics. As we start 2014 however, social media is growing and businesses will find that they need to be doing more in order to be successful. One of the first steps to take is to know what trends could be popular in the coming year.

Here are five social media trends we believe businesses should track throughout 2014.

Successful content will become more helpful

One of the key rules of marketing is that you need to create content that is relevant to your target audience. If you can't show how your company, service or product will help the customer there is a high chance that they won't invest, or will look elsewhere.

Throughout 2014, we should see a shift of strategy with companies using social media to engage with customers to leverage data and create content aimed at being helpful to 'fans' and followers. This might include tips on how to use products and visual images that show fans how to use products, etc.

The key idea business owners should grasp is that they should not be using social media to promote their company, but rather using social media to help. When you can help your followers, you will see more positive association with your brand and possibly even more sales.

Planning ahead will become increasingly important

It used to be enough to simply have a social media account, but now you need to also be active. As more companies break into social media, you will need to post more content on a regular basis.

Because many managers and business owners are busy, they often lack the time to concentrate on social media, especially as demand grows. This means that companies will have to start planning ahead if they want to be successful on social media. What this means is likely hiring a new employee, or appointing a staff member, to run your social media activities. You will also need to schedule posts and content well ahead of time, as well as set budgets.

If you just post occasionally now, or have a profile that isn't that active, the first step you need to take is to schedule a day each week where content goes out. Take a look at older posts and see what worked well with your audience and create similar content. Schedule the content to be posted at roughly the same time each day. Over time, ramp up when you post - try posting new content on different days to see how reactions and interest changes. The key is to stick with it, and you will begin to see some positive returns - likely an increase in Likes, Shares and Comments.

Content will need to be mobile

It's not difficult to see that the mobile device - smartphone and tablet - has become the gadget of choice for many social media users. Some have even gone so far as to stop using social media on their computers entirely. This trend will grow throughout 2014 and what this means for businesses is that they need to be creating content that can be viewed easily on mobile devices.

Because mobile screens are smaller, and many companies are starting to create mobile oriented content, we should see some more visually oriented posts, including both movies and images. At the very least you should ensure that your content posted on social media platforms can be easily viewed by users on mobile devices and your other social related sites, like your blog, can also scale to fit on smaller screens.

Social data will play a key role in company strategies

As the number of users on social media continues to grow, we are starting to see a trend where many users are basically using social media for everything. Because these systems are online, data regarding nearly everything is being tracked and made available to companies and users. This social data can be a huge help if leveraged properly. For example, it allows you to see what users like and dislike, and the content that works best in certain regions, and different dynamics, etc. You can extrapolate this information to your products or services e.g., if post on how to use your product is liked more than other posts, you can assume that the product is seen to be good.

In 2014, companies will increasingly come to realize that they have access to this data and will start to use it to plot their marketing and social strategies. If you aren't already tracking your social data, now would be a good time to start. It will also pay to learn how to analyze it and develop useful insight.

Social integration is the next step

The first step in social media was to get users, including businesses, online and interacting. Now that this is happening, it's time to move onto the next step. For businesses this means integrating social media into their company. In 2014, that's what we predict we will begin to see businesses doing in larger numbers.

This trend has already started with businesses linking their websites to social media profiles but we predict it will go even further with companies integrating social data and plans into the organization as a whole. This will likely be the connecting of social data with other streams of data to make marketing and overall business decisions. In other words, social media will become an integral part of business.

What do you think the biggest social media trend will be in 2014? Let us know today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
December 18th, 2013

SocialMedia_Dec17_BSocial media brings many different benefits to business users, and one of the most useful is that they provide businesses with a way to connect with their customers on a deeper level. It's true that Facebook is the most popular network, but LinkedIn is also a valuable platform that can really help users connect with other like-minded people and related businesses.

To get the most out of your personal profile on LinkedIn follow our five top tips:

1. Specialize

A popular feature of LinkedIn is endorsement. You can view other people's profiles and endorse their skills. Some popular users have hundreds of different endorsements. The purpose of these endorsements is to highlight the important skills of each user.

If a user has say 30 so-called important skills that they are all endorsed for, it kind of looks like these aren't really that important. It is a good idea to pare down your skills and endorsements to 3-5 which you feel best represent what you have to offer.

2. Don't connect with people in order to grow your following

One of the main goals many users have with other social media networks is developing content that encourages people to essentially connect with the business. This in turn increases the reach and popularity of the business. With LinkedIn, connections and content are still the goal, only the type of desired connection is different.

You shouldn't be aiming to connect for the sake of connecting. Instead, try to develop connections that will help your business meet its goals and objectives. Some good examples of this include connecting with suppliers, colleagues and even other businesses you work with.

3. Think socially (What's in it for them?)

LinkedIn is really just online networking, and as with most forms of networking you are looking to build rapport and establish a connection. This is usually done by being interesting, which means creating content.

When creating content or developing your profile you should keep in mind that it is for the people looking at your profile and not you. With everything you write or create, try to keep in mind: WIIFT (What's In It For Them?). If you can create something that your connections and profile viewers will be able to benefit from, they will be more willing to listen to you when you actually need to contact them.

4. Look at your profile

As we stated above, your content and profile should be oriented towards your viewers and connections. Look through your profile and posts to see that the information does reflect this purpose.

Try looking at the different sections of your profile and focus on how you can help your connections. This includes giving detailed descriptions on your roles and how you helped the company or customers. Above all else, make sure your profile contains the information that is relevant to the people you want to connect with. If it isn't, you likely don't need it.

5. Join groups

Possibly the best way to get the most out of LinkedIn is to join groups. There are groups that cover nearly everything in the professional world. Try joining groups that are relevant to your profession and interests. There are usually some great conversations going on that you can really learn and benefit from. If you are an active member, you will become well known over time.

This is positive, as it makes other members more approachable and willing to listen to you, and engage with the content you share. Joining groups also gives you a great way to connect with people of varying experience. If you need the help of a specialist you can look through group members until you find an expert with the experience you need.

LinkedIn can be a useful platform for business users and if you are looking to learn more about how you can leverage it, connect with us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
December 13th, 2013

VoIP_Dec09_BTechnology of any kind has become an important business component. While many companies are upgrading servers, virtualizing environments and even implementing the cloud, there is one function often ignored: The telephone and phone lines. One option to modernize older phone systems is to upgrade to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

If you are using older, more traditional phone systems, here are five reasons you should switch over to VoIP.

1. It offers more than just voice calls

Aside from offering voice calls, many VoIP programs also allow for video calls, video conferencing, and even screen sharing. For those who don't have a phone - say someone who is out in the field, or who is working in a noisy environment, many VoIP systems also have chat capabilities that are also integrated into the service.

In other words, they allow for a wider range of communication from one system and can really help with collaboration.

2. It's more flexible and scalable

Because VoIP systems rely on the Internet to send data and calls, they can be easily expanded. Adding a new line or number is usually as simple as clicking a button. If you have lines that aren't being used, you can also remove these easily too. This means that as you grow, you can easily scale VoIP connections and lines.

This level of flexibility and scalability is not easily achieved with older, more traditional phone systems.

3. The cost is usually lower

If you make a large number of calls in your business, or are calling long distance on a regular basis, you know that telephone bills can become a large expense, especially when you begin to add in extra features and lines.

With VoIP, you often get cheaper calling rates and lower monthly fees, which means you usually save money. Costs are also lower because you won't need to install new lines for each office or cubicle. As long as there is an Internet connection, you can often just plug an existing phone into an adapter and start making calls.

4. It's easy to set up

With many VoIP connections, there is no need to install extra wires, switching boards, or phone connections. Some systems can be installed by simply downloading an app to your computer. Other systems require that you install an adaptor to your existing phones that converts the analog voice signals into digital, before sending them over the Internet. These adaptors are small and usually all you have to do is plug the phone's cable in, then plug the adaptor into an Internet connection socket.

Many systems also offer Web or app-based management which allows you to easily manage everything related to VoIP. Because the management tools are light, you likely won't need to invest time or money into actually running the system, which is great for many small businesses.

5. There are more features included

When you use traditional systems you usually have to pay extra for features like call display, call holding, call forwarding, fax lines, etc. These are often features that businesses need, and having to pay extra for them seems at times nonsensical. Most VoIP providers, on the other hand, include many important features in their products, meaning businesses won't have to pay extra for them.

If you are interested in implementing a VoIP system into your company, contact us today to see what we have to offer and how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
November 20th, 2013

SocialMedia_Nov18_BThere are many factors that contribute to business success, and one of the more recent ones is a corporate social media identity. Sure, simply having a presence doesn't mean a business will be successful, but it will go a long way in helping gain valuable and important connections. It is these links that can help determine how successful a business will be. However, many businesses are struggling to connect effectively with their customers. One reason for this is because they can't be easily found on social media.

If you are struggling to make your existence known on social media, and missing out on those all important connections, then here are five tips to make you easier to find.

1. Use your actual name When it comes to social media, you want to be easily found. When your customers try to find you, they will almost always enter the name they call your company by. Therefore, your profile on social media needs to register this name even if it isn't your company's official name. Use the same name in various places on your profile e.g., in the About us section and even in your posts if it fits. If they can find more than one of your social media profiles (because you have used the same company name for all of them), there is a higher chance they will connect with you.

2. Become more recognizable We are highly visual people and when we see patterns, will normally begin to associate it with something. Many of us are also on more than one social media platform, so companies can leverage this in order to gain more connections.

Try having the same profile picture on all of your profiles too. What this does is make you and your brand more recognizable. If people are looking at other social networks that you have a presence on and they see the same profile picture, they are more likely to recognize you as the same company and potentially be more willing to connect with you. If you change your picture on one profile, be sure to update it on the others.

3. Create more social emails We don't mean start emailing people asking them to connect, as this will likely drive people away because they will think you are spamming them. Instead, try putting links to your social media profiles in your email signatures with a suggestion to connect. Because you likely send a fair number of emails out on a daily basis, having links to your social media profiles can help increase the chances of people reaching out and connecting with you.

4. Don't use multiple email addresses It can be tempting to use different email addresses for each social media platform - this can help track integration and engagement - but in truth, this can actually confuse people and could make more unnecessary work for those who manage your profiles.

Many personal users have only one email for social media, largely because it's easier to manage and quickly look at traffic. So, in order to make things easier for you or whoever manages your company's social media, it might make sense to just use one email address for all of your profiles.

If you have already used more than one email address for different social media profiles you have two options: You can choose to change the email addresses so that they are all the same, or you can simply link the other email addresses so that they are included in all of your profiles.

The most professional looking option is to pick just one email as it will reduce uncertainty as to what email address to use when customers want to contact you via your social media pages - e.g., email you about your products.

5. Make your website social Finally, you likely have a website. While many people will find you on social media, it is a good idea to include links to your social media profiles on your website. The reason for this is because it helps you build your brand image. It is a way of letting people know that you are not only on the Web, but also have social media profiles and that as a company you interact.

The most popular way to display your social media presence on your website is to include icons on the homepage, or in the footer. When you click on each of these, a new window or tab opens and takes you to the relevant social media page.

In general, the more locations you broadcast your social media presence, the higher the chance of gaining more connections. It follows that the more connections you have and the more active you are on your social media profiles, the greater consumer interest and engagement is, and the stronger your brand identity becomes. Over time, you should see an increase in sales and ultimately profitability.

If you are looking to learn more about how to leverage social media in your business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
October 23rd, 2013

SocialMedia_Oct21_BIn order to reach a bigger market or expand brands, companies are increasingly turning to social media. The network of choice for many businesses is Facebook, and while it is great, actually creating visual content like images is tough. That's why Instagram could be quite useful. Because it allows users to take and share images and connects with Facebook, businesses could benefit from using this network.

Here are three ways your company can leverage Instagram for better marketing.

1. Post at the most opportune time Many social media platforms like Facebook, have a strategic time for you to post content in order to have a higher chance of getting your name and content in front of users. But with Instagram, the time is actually different.

Because Instagram is largely mobile based, users tend to be accessing the platform at nearly all hours. One would think that if users access the platform mainly from their mobile devices, optimal time to post content would be after working hours. But, most people use their phones throughout the day, so there really is no major difference; users are online at all hours.

Therefore, the best time to post is almost any time. This means you need to figure out when the best time to post is for your company. Try picking a time when you think your audience will be looking at their devices and post then. Keep track of how many shares, likes and comments you get. Be sure to do this for a few weeks, then try another time. Over time, you should find when you get the most interaction, which becomes the best time to post.

Also looking at your industry could help. If you are a restaurant who is only open for dinner, posting pictures in the evening may not be the best. Instead post in the afternoon, before you open.

2. Hashtag it! Like Twitter and now Facebook, Instagram supports hashtags. By adding one in front of the terms in the image or video's description, you will make your post searchable and could increase the chances others will see it. Unlike the other networks however, numerous hashtags could actually increase interactions.

That being said, not every word should have a hashtag. Instead, hashtag words related to the image or video and try to integrate them seamlessly into the description. By putting all of the tags at the bottom or first, you could risk driving users away, largely because they are jumbled.

3. Videos or photos? Instagram recently introduced videos, which have proven to be useful for many marketers. While this is still a new feature, the bigger companies are using it while the smaller ones haven't begun to adopt it.

If you can find a use for your 15 second videos, for example how to use your product, you could see an increase in traffic and interactions. Because you can also upload or link these to your Facebook and even your website, Instagram could turn out to be a valuable tool for short video promotions.

Of course, you can do this with photos as well, so be sure to try incorporate both features. There are also numerous filters you can apply to both your videos and photos, so be sure to look through them all to see what makes your content look the best.

If you are looking to learn more about Instagram and how it can help with your social media and marketing presence, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
September 27th, 2013

VoIP_Sep24_BVoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems have proven to be an incredibly disruptive technology. With companies of all sizes increasingly relying on these systems for their telecommunications needs they have become the go-to system. However, despite how great this technology is, there can be issues with call quality and delays. Experts usually attribute this to something called 'packet delays'. Are you familiar with this concept?

So what exactly are packet delays and what you can do to minimize any issues and ultimately improve the quality of your VoIP based calls?

What are packet delays? Before we look into this, it is a good idea to know what a packet is. In digital communication, data goes back and forth between a sender and receiver. This data can be anything from a file, information or even a VoIP call. In practice, this data is too large to actually send as one chunk. As a result, it is broken down into smaller pieces that are called packets.

These packets are then transmitted to the receiver and reassembled into the original piece of data. The time that these packets take to get from one source to another is called latency. However, because digital transmission lines can only handle so many packets at once, they occasionally become overloaded. This means it takes packets longer to get to their destination, causing higher latency, or in other words, packet delays.

When this happens, you will likely notice a drop in call quality, echoes and even delays.

What causes these delays? In a perfect world, all networks and VoIP systems would be able to essentially organize their packets so as to minimize delay and offer high quality calls with zero issues. Unfortunately, this is not possible all of the time.

Packet delays are actually a normal part of VoIP, and providers have integrated systems and buffers to minimize their impact, offering call quality on a par with, and often better than traditional landlines.

There are two main reasons why delays occur:

  1. Network connections - If there are a high number of users connected, or there is a high volume of bandwidth being used while you are also trying to use a VoIP connection, you will likely see a drop in call quality. Be aware that peak usage times e.g., working hours for businesses, may result in some delays.
  2. End systems - Sometimes, it is the end system - the system where the data packets are reassembled into data - that creates the delay. The cause of this is usually older equipment that lacks the computing power to handle fast connections and large data transfers.
How to minimize the effect of packet delays As the end-user of VoIP systems, it may seem like there is little you can do to actually reduce packet delays. This isn't true. There are actually several steps you can take to decrease delays:
  1. Reduce the systems between the connection and you - Generally, the higher the number of systems that have to code and decode packets the higher the chance of delays. If you are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, try connecting directly to your router or modem via a cable. This will drastically reduce the chances of delays.
  2. Try turning equipment off and on again - If you normally experience a high call quality, and are experiencing delays or low quality, try turning your computer, server or router/modem that the VoIP line is connected to off and on again. This cycle refreshes systems and may improve quality.
  3. Close other applications - Other applications that user bandwidth could be causing delays. For example, if a colleague is downloading a file via a P2P program, you may notice delays in Internet speed. This will affect call quality, so try turning other programs off.
  4. Work with an IT partner - Sometimes the problem runs deeper. For example, the cabling in your building may need to be upgraded or servers might not be configured properly for VoIP. Try contacting your IT partner to see if they can help spot and fix problems.
VoIP is a valuable communications system, and if you are looking to integrate it into your business, or speed up and improve the quality of your calls, why not contact us today? There will be no delay in us looking for a solution you might just need.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
September 25th, 2013

SocialMedai_Sep24_BMarketing is an essential part of any business strategy, and these days social media has become one of the most important mediums you can use to convey your corporate message and brand. A common issue many small businesses have however is how exactly to go about using social media to not only increase exposure but also improve where they show up in search results.

If you are looking to harness the power of social media and potentially increase your ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) here are five tips on how you can do so.

1. Relevant & interesting content When people look at websites and social media profiles, they are usually looking for specific information. When it comes to businesses, most people look at social media profiles to get a better glimpse into what exactly a company does and how they interact with the online world around them.

It is guaranteed that an interested user will look at your About page, so it is a good idea to include information about your company and what you do in this section. This is a great place to use keywords that usually don't fit well into the newsfeed. Try thinking like a customer and asking yourself, "What keywords would I type in a search engine to find my company?" Create a list and try to work them into the Description and About sections of all social media profiles you use.

Because these sections aren't set in stone, you can, and should, update them on a fairly regular basis. If you notice that certain keywords are becoming more popular, or users are using different keywords, update your content to match this. The key here is to try and always be aware of what information your customers - potential and otherwise - are looking for.

2. Promote & maintain discussions Search giant Google has publicly acknowledged that part of their advanced search algorithms have been written to look for social media pages and accounts that have discussion and commentary. In other words: If you create content that promotes discussion, there is a higher chance that your site will feature higher in search results.

It's important to remember that social media is a two-way street. When you post content that starts a discussion, you should be an active member of that conversation or debate. Try prompting users to explain their ideas and comments, or ask more questions to keep the discussion going.

3. Audit all of your links Links have become an important part of the Internet and social media. For an effective strategy, social media needs to be linked to your main Web presence - your website. This can be done by putting a link in your contact information and in your About sections. It is also acceptable to put links in some posts or tweets, as long as they are relevant to what you do. i.e., a post that tells users to check out your new website or page.

The reason for this is because search engines don't just look at websites for results anymore, they also look at social media and so much more. If you can find a way to show these engines that your profiles and site are linked, you should see a stronger overall presence in search results.

There is one caveat with links however: If you post a comment about something unrelated to what you do that includes a link to your website, this can be seen as a negative form of link building and you could end up being punished in search results. To that end, it is a good idea to go over your profiles and make sure all links work, and make sense. By having working links that are appropriate, you could see an increase in your location in search results.

4. Location! Location! Location! For many small to medium businesses physical location is still an incredibly important aspect of your online presence. You should make sure that you include your physical address, contact information and regional location. If possible, it is a good idea to include geo-location in your posts. For example, when creating a post in Facebook, press the button that looks like a pin in the bottom of the post window. This will add your location to the post.

The reason for this can be found in the way people search for businesses. Now, when people are looking for a business they usually conduct a local search i.e., printer in Denver which will return similar businesses in their local area. If you have your location on your social media profiles, the chances of you showing up in local searches is increased.

5. Be realistic While social media is important, it's not the be-all and end-all. In order to increase your search rank, you will need to work hard on your social media campaign. Posting relevant, interesting content on a regular basis and keeping conversations going takes time. Beyond that, you can't expect immediate results. It could take months or longer to see an increase, and even then it may only be slight, especially if you operate in a highly competitive industry.

While your rank may not improve in leaps and bounds, a solid social media presence will bring about an expanded brand awareness overall. Combine this with other business aspects, like excellent customer service, and you could also see increased loyalty and sales. If you would like to learn more about social media and how it can help your brand, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media