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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
August 28th, 2013

SocialMedia_Aug26_BMarketing has changed drastically since the integration of social media. It's now expected that as a business you will have a social media presence and that it is active. One major problem many small businesses face though is that social media is always changing, often creating confusion as to what is currently popular. Therefore, to be successful, you need stay on top of the current trends.

Here is an overview of five common social media trends that small to medium businesses should be aware of.

1. Visual content rules Being successful with social media efforts means that you need to have engaging content. Sure written content will get likes and interest, but it's visual content that seems to really engage viewers.

According to a recent study by Kissmetrics, "photos get 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than posts containing text only." If you don't already post visual content, like pictures and videos, it may be time to start looking into how you can do this. One great platform that enables this is Instagram. You can also take great quality pics from a smartphone and post them directly onto Facebook.

2. Search and social media are one and the same With the recent release of Facebook's Graph Search, increase of Google+ related content in Google Search, and Google now indexing various social media activity, it's quickly becoming essential for a business to have a presence on various social media platforms. The key point to be aware of here is that Internet search results will likely continue to pull results from various social media platforms, so, you need be active on several of them.

3. Social media monetization Businesses are really starting to realize the important role social media sites like Facebook can play in branding and advertising. Companies are starting to take advantage of paid advertising, like Facebook's Ads, that ensures content is displayed to relevant users or user groups. These paid advertisements have proven to be largely successful for many small businesses.

4. Social currency Social currency is the idea of capitalizing on resources that are discovered by having a presence on social media. Essentially this means leveraging your presence on social media to explore new customer related trends and gain insight into what your customers are doing online and what they want. You can then use this information to create new products, or content related to customer wants, that will not only increase engagement but potentially sales too.

5. Microblogging The popularity of sites related to microblogging e.g., Twitter, is still on the rise. The more popular microblogging sites are actually ones that are more visual, like Vine and Instagram. These short posts allow users to share what is going on through images. As we said above, visual content really is key. If you can create posts using these microblogging sites, you are in a good position to see an increase in engagement with your customers - they will enjoy seeing what you are doing, as long as you don't bombard them.

These are just five social media trends but there are many more. Which ones have you noticed and how have they worked for your business? Let us know and share your social media experiences.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
July 31st, 2013

SocialMedia_July29_BSocial media platforms are continually being introduced, and in order for them to become popular, they often capitalize on a niche area. Many of these networks are utilized by businesses, who use them to extend their brand and connect with customers and potential clients. One network that many businesses are just starting to use that can be beneficial is Instagram.

Instagram is a social network focused around pictures. By downloading it onto your mobile device - Android and Apple iOS - you can take pictures, enhance them by applying various filters and share them on other social media sites, like Facebook, in a short amount of time. With more than 90 million regular users, there is a good chance that some of your customers are using this app.

If your business doesn't utilize this app, now could be the time to look into it, especially since there have been two recent updates that make the platform more viable for businesses. The first being that you can now take, apply specific filters to, and upload short videos. The second being the ability to embed pictures directly into your website, blog or other online content.

With these new features, Instagram has become an even more valuable tool to businesses looking for another way to expand their social reach and brand. Here are four ways you can utilize it:

1. Run a customer photo competition If your business sells physical products, why not start a photo competition where you encourage customers to take pictures of themselves using your products, and post them on Instagram. If you create a specific hashtag, they can add it to their photo and make it searchable too.

Doing this gives your products and company essentially free advertising, while enabling you to track how people use your products and where. Plus, it also gives you the opportunity to better connect with your customers.

2. Show off your products Instagram has a number of great filters that make photos taken on mobile devices look great. If you are looking for a way to show off your products, why not take pictures of them and share these on Facebook or your website?

With the new video feature, you or your staff can even do short product demonstrations, which you then share on social media. This can be a great way to drive customers to buy into your brand, and may start conversations about your products. If you get lucky, the content could even go viral. Again, this is free advertising for you. Plus, there is no need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for professional photos that are just going to go on Facebook, so why not save yourself a bit of money and use the phone in your pocket?

3. Capture events Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is taken very seriously by many businesses, and can include sponsoring various events. If your company is involved in community action then why not ask participants to take photos using Instagram, and tag your company using a specific hashtag.

You will get free exposure and could get some great pictures that you can share on other social media, or even your website.

4. Easily share pictures on different sites With the recent addition of the ability to embed Instagram pictures into different websites or blogs, you can not only create good looking content, but content that will spark a conversation. If you log into the browser version of Instagram, and find the picture you would like to embed on your site, click on the Share button and scroll down to the bottom-right. You will see the embed code which you can copy and paste on your site or blog.

If you are looking for a good way to expand your brand online, whether it be through Instagram or any other platform, contact us today to see how we can help you connect with your customers in a whole new way.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
July 3rd, 2013

SocialMedia_July2_BThere are numerous social media networks available for business owners and managers hoping to expand their business and connect with their customers. LinkedIn is the network for professionals wanting to connect with colleagues, but did you know that this network is also potentially useful for finding new customers?

Here are five tips on how you can better connect with your potential customers on LinkedIn. While many businesses have a profile, the personal profiles of business owners and managers can also say a lot about a company and either boost or weaken your corporate impression. Think of your LinkedIn profile as not only representing you, but also your business.

1. Be easy to find The problem with many individual profiles is that the owners use keywords that they feel make them look better. For example, many small business owners will use the word 'Owner' in their profile. This is a good idea, but it's likely not what your clients or potential customers are looking for. If your company specializes in say fixie bikes, you can bet that your clients aren't looking for 'fixie bike shop owners', they are probably looking for, 'fixie bike providers'.

When optimizing your profile, and trying to figure out which keywords are best to use, try thinking like your customer. What keywords would they will use to find you or your business. If your profile currently doesn't show up near the top in search results for specific keywords, try using different ones that you think potential customers might use. This will make your profile slightly easier to find.

2. Provide a reason to connect Did you know that you can put headlines in your profile? These appear below your name and are meant to provide a summary of what you do, and why people should connect with you. This is a great space where you can drive interest in you and your business, so create an attention grabbing headline.

The best headlines briefly explain what you do, and also include one or two keywords, along with the local area you work in. For example, if you are a small business consultant in Missoula, in Montana, a attention grabbing headline might reads something like: "I am a certified small business expert who helps businesses in Missoula grow, and achieve greater returns on investment."

It is beneficial to have a profile picture that is professional too, after all, LinkedIn is all about business. If you have a fun, or goofy picture, you may be turning off prospective clients, so it's a good idea to keep your image as professional as possible. That doesn't mean that you can't inject some individuality in your profile but just be careful not to include any potentially off-putting quirks.

3. Write a good summary All LinkedIn profiles give you the option to write a summary about yourself. Many professionals use this space to talk about themselves and their achievements. This may seem like a good idea, but the whole point of social networking is to connect with other people, or help them. You should use the summary to explain what sets you apart from the competitors, and how you can help the reader with their needs.

You can still list some of your experience here, as long as it makes you stand out. For example, 15 years of experience in managing a department is nothing to sneeze at, and you can use this to your advantage by saying something like: "With over 15 years of experience in managing the finance department of a growing small business, I have worked with many clients to help them improve..."

At the end of your summary, include a call to action suggesting that those who are interested get in touch.

4. Network LinkedIn is a social network, and many users seem to forget that. A large, and arguably important, part of the platform is networking. This is how you increase your connections, and it does require a fair amount of work and input.

LinkedIn offers a ton of great groups and channels, many of which will fit your experience and skills. Take the time to join them, and interact with the other members. If people have a question that you can answer, go ahead and do so, be sure to post your own ideas and content as well. Over time, you will come to be seen as reliable, and if you start connecting with members, you will find your network grows.

Another way to develop your network is to add clients who have contacted you, or who you already work with. These contacts can be a great way to spread your network, and if you approach them at the right time, may even provide valuable testimonials.

5. Follow up As with anything in business, follow up is crucial. When you make a new connection, either on LinkedIn, or in real life, be sure to connect with them in a timely manner. Once you have connected, a follow up message sent within a couple of days might be worthwhile..

The key is to be consistent. If someone asks you a question, and you don't reply, they will think less of you. Taking a quick minute to reply will go a long way in creating valuable connections.

If you have a LinkedIn profile and would like to learn more about how to leverage it, please contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
June 28th, 2013

VoIP_June26_BFor many people, technology is incredibly complex and confusing, and often regarded as the domain of highly specialized experts. Sure, the vast majority of us know how to use a fair amount technology, but when it comes to understanding technology terms there are often blank stares. This is certainly true with regard to VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) which has some pretty confusing terms associated with it.

Here is an overview of the 10 popular terms you will hear regarding VoIP:

POTS - Plain Old Telephone System. This is the term applied to traditional or older phone systems that rely on analog (phone line) transmission. Many smaller businesses and homes still use this system.

ATA - Analog Telephone Adaptor. This is a small adaptor, usually about the size of a thumb drive, that you plug into a normal phone to allow it to connect to a VoIP network and send calls over the Internet.

PBX - Private Branch Exchange. The PBX is an internal company phone system that allows phone calls to different lines, with an answering service, automated menus, and voice mail, as well as call transfers, etc. Think of it as the system that controls everything related to your phones.

Bandwidth - Is the amount or volume of data that can be transmitted over an Internet or communication line in a given amount of time. It is measured in bits per second (bps) e.g., 100 mbps for Internet speed, and Hertz (Hz) for phone/analog systems. The higher the number, the faster communication will be.

DDI - Direct Dial In. Is a function of VoIP and some POTS, whereby a caller can directly call a phone on a desk instead of having to go through the PBX and answering system.

CTI - Computer Telephone Integration. This system allows your phones to interact with computers. An example is the ability to make a call directly from Outlook, or send voice mail to your inbox.

SRTP - Secure Real-time Transfer Protocol. This is a security protocol that many businesses and VoIP systems rely on. What it does is create a unique encryption code for each call, which makes eavesdropping nearly impossible, without reducing call quality.

QoS - Quality of Service. This is the ability of a VoIP network to deliver traffic with a minimal amount of downtime and the highest quality.

Find-me/Follow-me - This service can find you wherever you are, and forward calls to that location or the phone closest to you, such as a mobile or home phone.

IP Phone - This is another term applied to VoIP phones. This phone can convert voice into a digital signal called 'packets' which can then send the audio over an Internet connection. It can also convert digital packets of back into voice audio.

VoIP doesn't have to be confusing, especially when you work with a partner who takes the time to talk to you and ensure that you are comfortable with the system. If you are looking for a VoIP partner, why not give us a call to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
June 5th, 2013

SocialMedia_June04_BOne of the most popular Internet based services is social media. It has drastically changed the way we communicate and interact with one another. One of the bigger platforms, Google+, has been consistently playing catch-up with other more popular services. However, Google recently announced and rolled out a big update to Google+ that should make it more appealing for many users.

Here is an overview of the new Google+ features recently introduced.

A new layout One of the first things you will notice about the updated Google+ is the layout has been drastically changed. On the main (Home) screen you will notice that posts have been changed to individual cards, similar to the Google Now cards, and are arranged in either one, two or three columns. These posts now take up more space horizontally which makes it far easier to view more content at the same time.

The menu bar that took up the left-hand side of the previous layout has been moved and is now collapsible. If you hover over Home on the upper-left of the screen the menu will pop out from the left-side. Circles and related feeds have also been added at the top of the window and clicking on a related circle name will bring up content only from your friends in that circle.

Adding new posts has also been turned into a card layout which is found at the top-left of the content stream. The different options e.g., Text, Photos, Link, Video and Hangout, are now big buttons that you can push to create a related post.

Improved Hangouts Possibly the most intriguing new feature introduced is actually an update to the existing Hangouts. The numerous Google chat functions have been merged into a single chat and video messaging app available for Google+, iPhone, iPad, Android, Gmail and Chrome.

This means that you can host group chats for up to 10 participants which users can access through various systems. What this means for businesses is that you now have an easier way to communicate across multiple systems without having to worry about compatibility.

Better pictures and albums A key component of any social media platform is visual content like pictures and videos. Google has introduced some interesting photo based features that could help make your content even more attractive. One feature is Auto Enhance, which will touch-up photos by looking at factors such as blur, contrast, saturation, etc. From what we have seen, the touch-ups are effective in making your pictures look better.

There is also a new feature called Auto Awesome, which looks at the types of photos you upload and can do various impressive things. For example, if you upload a series of similar pictures, say a sequence of images taken one after the other in a short amount of time, Auto Awesome will create an animated GIF which you can share on your wall. This function can also create panorama or HDR images.

Auto Highlight is another recently introduced feature which uses an algorithm to analyze pictures and skip over duplicate, blurry or underexposed pictures while uploading them, supposedly leaving you with only the best pictures.

Hashtags The hashtag (#) has become popular on many social media platforms and is an easy way to find similar content. Google+ has improved the hashtag system and will now automatically add relevant tags to your posts. You will see these as small blue tabs on the right of the card, and hovering over these will show the relevant hashtag. If you click on it, the card will flip over and show you other posts that have the same tag. This could be a great way to find similar content and could help bring more exposure to your profile.

The new Google+ layout is definitely a big change compared to previous versions and could prove to be useful for your company's profile and online presence. If you would like to learn more about using Google+ please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 8th, 2013

SocialMedia_May07_BMarketing is an integral element of any business strategy, and social media is largely seen to now be a large part of any company's marketing initiative. If leveraged correctly, various social media platforms could give your company a marketing boost that few other campaign types could. But, did you know that social media could also help other business functions or departments?

Below are four non-marketing oriented uses of social media that businesses could benefit from.

Hiring LinkedIn is a social network dedicated to helping professionals and organizations connect and find jobs and new talent. Most social savvy companies will have a presence on this network and may even hire exclusively from here.

If you are looking for new employees, it wouldn't hurt to have a LinkedIn profile. To find the best talent, you need to forge and maintain connections (usually starting with people you know), and be somewhat active in groups and on message boards.

It's also important to not forget the other major networks when it comes to hiring. Tweeting a job opening on Twitter, or posting ads on Facebook could also help you find your next employee. Facebook can be particularly useful because you can pay to target ads (in this case, job openings) at specific demographics.

Internal communications Communication is an important part of business, and most people choose to communicate using email. You have probably seen emails with jokes, invitations to after work events, lunch orders, etc. sent to the whole company and also received the many replies that go with it. This can get very annoying, and also confusing.

Why not utilize social media for non-essential (aka. not related to work) communication. Set up a Facebook group where your employees can share content, invitations to lunch or after work gatherings, interesting stories, etc. That way you can limit email to more important, business-related aspects.

Using social media for internal communication is also beneficial for companies with younger workers. Most already see Facebook, Twitter, etc. as their main form of communication, some even feel more comfortable communicating over this medium as opposed to speaking out in meetings. Having a group portal or Facebook page could give less-empowered employees a way to voice their ideas, and maybe even improve on them with feedback from others.

Learning A common complaint of many business owners is that they have a tough time staying on top of ever-changing trends and what currently interests their customers. Using social media to connect with your customers can be a great way to learn not only hot trends but also about new ideas.

Customer service When it comes to social media, users will often complain publicly on their wall or through their tweets. This is bad for you, as the reach of this complaint can go a long way and make you look bad. Some companies have decided to confront this head on by having specific customer service accounts. If a customer complains, has an issue, or even compliments you, be active and respond using that account.

If done properly, over time, you will see more and more people reaching out to your customer service account through social media. This also gives you another way to please clients or turn around negative customer experiences.

Social media and the various platforms are not only great for marketing, but can be incredibly useful for other business functions. Do you have any other ways you use social media? Let us know. Or, if you would like to learn more about how it can help your company, then contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 2nd, 2013

VoIP_May02_BWhile email has definitely become the most popular form of communication for businesses, there's still something about a good old fashioned phone call that email just can't convey. One of the most popular phone systems in use these days is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which uses an Internet connection to convey phone calls. Are you looking for a new phone system? VoIP may be what you need, especially since there are some great features your business could benefit from.

Here are five VoIP features offered by many providers that small to medium businesses will benefit from.

1. Voicemail/call forwarding Many smaller businesses simply can't be open 24 hours. This means that there will be time where you or your employees are unable to answer the phone. Most industry leading VoIP providers offer the ability to convert phone messages into emails, which could be a great help to your business.

A good VoIP solution will also provide you with a voicemail system and a feature called Find me/Follow me. This is a call forwarding feature that allows users to receive calls regardless of their location or phone number. This makes it easier for you and your managers to be reachable when they are outside of the office, especially if calls can be forwarded to their mobile phone.

2. DND DND, or Do Not Disturb is an important feature for those who work with clients on a regular basis. When you are talking to a client, the last thing you want is to be interrupted by a phone call as it can make you look unprofessional.

Many VoIP systems actually offer advanced DND features like the ability to send calls to voicemail, or transfer to another colleague who may be able to answer the call at the press of a button.

3. Conferencing You can pretty much guarantee that you will need to eventually make a conference call. Some managers and owners may even make this type of calls on a regular basis. The best VoIP systems go further than just supporting conference calls, they also enable users to send files, chat messages, collaborate on calendars, share presentations and even desktops. This is often called Unified Communications by many vendors.

4. Auto Attendant This feature gives your business a bigger footprint by allowing you to setup multiple numbers in local areas, and have a menu system like many large companies. This means you can setup a system where a caller can easily get into contact with different departments, or even a live operator.

Some users don't like this feature because they see it as an impediment to immediate customer service - think of the last time you had to navigate a menu system over your phone? It really comes down to the preference of your company.

5. Call Recording If your company operates in an industry that is regulated, you may need to record calls. Or, you may want to record calls to track customer satisfaction and questions. Regardless of your need, a good VoIP system will allow the user to easily record calls, often at the click of a mouse, and store them in an audio format that can be easily replayed later.

These are just five of many features offered by many VoIP providers. If you are looking for a new telecommunications solution, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
April 10th, 2013

SocialMedia_April09_BOne of the most important tools of a modern marketing plan is social media. With the various platforms leveraged correctly, social media could be the best way to expand your brand and gain vital exposure. Pinterest, the newest major social network which all about sharing images, has recently had its layout overhauled and new features introduced. Businesses can really benefit from these enhancements.

Here's a brief overview of the new features introduced with Pinterest's recent layout changes.

How to get the new layout

Before you can use these features, it would be a good idea to upgrade to the new layout. While, like other social media services, this will be happening automatically over time. Unlike other platforms, the new layout is available for all users to switch to when they feel ready, however when you switch to the new layout, you will not be able to go back to the old one. Here's how you can switch:

  1. Log in to Pinterest.
  2. Hover your mouse over your profile/business name at the top-right of your profile.
  3. Click Switch to the New Look.
  4. Select Get it Now. Note: If you press this, you likely won't be able to switch back to the old layout.
  5. Press Okay from the Welcome to your new look! pop-up window.

When the new layout loads, you'll notice that the pins are bigger, the category button has been moved to the left side of the profile beside the Search bar. You'll also notice that the comment button has been moved from the pins, you can access it by clicking on the image. On top of cosmetic changes, two useful functions that businesses will find beneficial.

Discovery

Now, when you look at an individual pin (click on the image), you will notice a number of changes.

  • You can see all pins on the same board.
  • You'll also see pins from the same website. For example if you pin something from a restaurant, you'll now see similar pins from the same website.
  • Most importantly, you'll now be able to see what other people have pinned along with the same image.

This will make it easier for users to discover what other people are pinning. For your business this means potentially higher exposure. Think of this as something similar to the way Facebook works: If a person likes you, the chances of this like showing on their friend's profile, and that friend visiting your Page is higher. It's kind of like easy brand exposure.

Analytics

Arguably the most useful feature added recently is Pinterest Analytics, which allows you to see if your pins are being clicked on or shared, and the general success of your activities. This will go a long way in helping you determine the overall success of your Pinterest oriented efforts.

The main caveat with this is that your profile/business's website needs to be verified and connected with your profile. If you have an unofficial Pinterest account, you can change it to a business one by:

  1. Logging into your Pinterest account and going to business.pinterest.com.
  2. Pressing Convert your existing account and choose your type of business.
  3. Entering the relevant account information like the name of your business, address and website.
  4. Agreeing to the new Terms of Service.

If you would like to have a new username or account simply go to http://business.pinterest.com/ and press Join as a Business. You will be asked to set your account information, username, etc. You will need to verify your account which will involve you having to download a file and upload it to the server that hosts your website. We, or your web hoster can help you with that.

After your account is verified, you will notice that if you hover your mouse over your account name a drop-down list should pop up with Analytics being about half way down. Click on that to be taken to the section.

This section will display a bunch of graphs including:

  • The number of daily pins and pinners on your site.
  • The number of re-pins you have done.
  • How many times your content has been repinned.
  • The number of clicks and website visits.
  • The most clicked and repinned pins.
  • The number of times your pins have been seen.

Overall, Analytics is a useful tool that will give you a clear picture of what is working and what isn't. If you pinned a picture of a dog and noticed that it got zero pins while another got hundreds, it may be a good idea to create/look for more similar content.

If you are looking to integrate Pinterest into your business's social media strategy or would like or learn more about how to use the service, please contact us today.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media