Using Technology to Improve Your Business

In this day and age, small businesses are facing a serious question: keep doing business as usual or try to adopt and incorporate a more relevant way of doing things.

Keeping the status quo may be one of the reasons the business has remained so successful, but it may also be one of the reasons it starts to falter in the future. There is a certain loyalty to small, local businesses, but speed, convenience, and consistence overrules loyalty after a while.

With a few simple changes, it’s possible to keep the business running as usual (on the outside), while streamlining the way it operates from the inside. Ultimately, this provides the customers with the speed, convenience, and consistency they require to remain loyal.

The first change a business can make is to ensure a fast, easy way to accept credit cards as tender. A lot of small business still don’t accept credit cards or debit cards because they simply don’t have the means. Or, they accept these forms of payment, but rely on outdated, and time consuming methods, such as phone lines.

The solution to this is to utilize mobile devices to scan and authorize payments. More and more businesses are using this method and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing.

The second improvement that can be made is with accounting and bookkeeping. Using an accounting program that is not based in the cloud or using a program that the company has used for a decade may have worked in the past. However, as the business grows and taxes, payroll, and the bottom line increases, the business is going to be better off using a program that is constantly updated, constantly backed up, and that can be accessed from anywhere.

You move around a lot — and being able to access these important aspects of your business whenever you want and wherever you go becomes an important tool for managing your business on the go. The third and most important aspect of managing your business is providing your employees and customers with ways to contribute and feel valued.

A great way to do this is to keep an open line of communication with them. Implementing ways to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and feelings about their job and experience is becoming an important variable in employee and customer satisfaction.

In office settings, it can be very helpful to implement an instant messaging program between employees. This provides a way for everyone to communicate easily. In retail settings, employee text messaging groups can be utilized or social media groups can be used to let them feel a part of the team. Feeling a part of the team is crucial and feeling valued is even more important.

Social media can be huge when it’s used to interact with customers. Asking a customer to share their experience on Google or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. will always result in more and more people becoming aware of the services and experiences your business can provide.

These three changes can improve the way your business operates on a day to day basis, without having too much overhead costs, and without having to overhaul major aspects of the business. They can improve employee and customer satisfaction, as well as make them all feel included. In the end, the general sense from the customers will be one of “Whatever they changed, I like it, and it works.”

How Can You Use Google Trends For Small Business?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Google Trends is a tool that has been around for a while, and has great potential for improving exposure and sales for businesses. It is entirely free to use, and its simplicity makes it accessible to virtually anyone with basic computer knowledge.

Here are some specific ways in which you can use Google Trends to enhance your small business practices:

Brainstorming Topics
For instance, if your business website contains a blog, it’s common to quickly run out of content ideas that will not only interest your readers but also tie into the products or services your business offers.

Choose a phrase that describes a broad idea for a blog post, and Google Trends will show you how popular that phrase is and also suggest related topics. With one simple search, you could potentially come up with ideas for dozens of different blog posts, and relevant content is the best way to build your business website. [Read more…]

Social Media Hashtags: What Are They And How To Use Them?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

As we delve into our social media networks, like Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, it seems that hashtags – or little words and phrases preceded by the # symbol – are permeating everything in our feeds.

This cryptic little symbol can actually make it easy to categorize posts and search for similar content, but more and more people seem to be using it outside of that purpose, which creates confusion about this practice as a whole.

Unlike many internet crazes, the emergence of the hashtag can actually be traced to its very first Tweet.

Back in August 2007, Chris Messena, a former Google employee, wrote on Twitter: “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?” Granted, this single tweet didn’t revolutionize how we navigate social media all at once, but it eventually did catch on.

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Google+ Basics You Need To Know

While Google+ may not boast the same popularity that Facebook enjoys, it is becoming harder to ignore. If you are just getting started on Google+, you need to wrap your head around its workings. Here are some basic features to get you going:

The Stream
This is the main home screen for Google+ where updates from people you are following show up in card-like boxes. To pull up public posts related to the same topic as that of a particular post, click the hash-tag on its upper-right corner.

Circles
These are groups that help you organize and manage your social experience. Whenever you follow someone new, you assign the person to a circle, which could be for friends, family, acquaintances or people you don’t know personally.internet banking

You could also add your own customized circles. With circles, you get to focus on content from the specific group of people you want, although you can also view content from everyone. Circles are also useful for controlling who sees what you post.

Finding people
When you first sign in to Google+, the system walks you through a number of steps to locate people you know and to connect with interesting users you may not yet be acquainted with.

Notifications
Google+ uses notifications to let you know when something happens on the network that is directly relevant to you. You can access your notifications by clicking on the bell at the top-right corner of the screen.

Chats and Hangouts
Google’s Hangout messaging system is integrated into Google+ so you can chat with other users and initiate video calls from within the service. Simply click the “Hangouts” link at the top-right corner of the screen and then click on any contact’s name to open a chat session. Clicking the video camera icon will send the person a video chat request.

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How To Make Hashtags Work For Social Media

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

On the list of the great rewards of social networking is its capability to reach a huge crowd while spending minimal costs. Making use of the famous hashtag notation (especially for Twitter and Instagram), you are able to spread your products and services across the globe, and reap the benefits of well-liked trends.

A hashtag must be short and simple to recall
Crafting a hashtag that is too unique or special could be risky. As much as possible, come up with a hashtag that is brief and straightforward so it can easily be remembered.

Long hashtags are at risk of getting misspelled and forgotten. Additionally, with the 140 character limit of every Twitter post, longer hashtags only consume needless space. Simple abbreviations frequently are very effective.

A hashtag must be unique and relevant at the same time
The primary goal of using a hashtag is to bring online users to your social media page.

Picking a general hashtag that may gain large numbers of results will lower the probability of getting your desired volume of traffic.

It may only just make your posts wander off in the search results. You must make sure that your hashtags are only sufficiently unique to be able to avoid too few results.Печать

A hashtag must be searched first prior to using it
Even though you are confident that you have put together the ideal hashtag, it is still crucial to look for that hashtag prior to applying it.

This is the only way to make certain that you will not get classified with any messages that you are not related to. An example of a hashtag disaster was when a certain company used the hashtag “#notguilty” to express how their customers’ felt after eating their product.

However, this Twitter update was published during a popular person’s murder trial. The hashtag #notguilty became a trend, but for an entirely different cause.

Hashtags serve an excellent purpose which improves your chances of reaching a wider audience. Make sure that you know how to utilize them well.

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How To Show Brand Personality

Basic RGBSocial media channels are starting to replace traditional mediums such as radio, print and television when it comes to creating brand awareness.

One good method of showing brand personality on social media is to make such interactions more personal.

How your brand is perceived is greatly influenced by the way you engage with people on social media and making interactions personal will make them feel much more connected to your brand.

This means that you should respond to comments on Twitter and Facebook with dialogue that does not sound generic or scripted.

The more interactions that feel real and personal on social media, the more comfortable and connected people are going to feel with and to your brand.

Don’t hesitate to share personal, but relevant stories, comments and photos. But tie them into your brand to make them resonate with your intended client base.

Using humor can also be a good idea, but keep it simple and, of course, appropriate.

So long as the content is relevant to your industry and likely to resonate with the sense of humor of your target market, there is no good reason why humor should not be embraced on social media.

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Why Social Networking Is Important For Any Business

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
If you are not currently using social media for your business then chances are that you have fallen behind your competitors.

Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ are great platforms to promote brand awareness, communicate with existing and potential customers, as well as attract new leads.

Up to a quarter of developed nation’s Internet traffic is used on social media and networks. It is free to sign up and use all of these social networks. Why wouldn’t you want to address this market?

Social media sites can help you establish your online presence. Statistics show that over 70% of people trust ads on social networks from friends, while only 10% of people trust advertisements from websites.

Social media is more than just getting your name out there; it establishes trust and lasting relationships with new and existing clients. You can keep in touch in a personal manner, update services that you offer, and offer discounts and coupons on your social sites.

Social networks work like word-of-mouth, but more reliably. Your friends and followers can easily share your content with as many people as they want without interrupting their daily lives.

This is important because if it is a hassle to view your advertising it could be considered a nuisance instead of a promotion.

Instead everyone will check their social sites and see a post from their friend to check out your business. They are already in the mood for reviewing messages, so this is not an inconvenience to read.

Now before you start making a profile on every social site, first consider what you want to get out of social networking. Most businesses could get a Twitter account to share basically anything instantly.

Twitter is great for marketing and reaching many people instantly. Since Twitter is available easily from any smart phone, it is basically like texting all of your followers at once. Your followers can then retweet or share anything that you post.

Facebook is also very popular. It is a publicly trusted location and it performs really well in Google’s search index. This means that if you are having trouble with getting your website to the top results in Google, Facebook can help. Your company’s Facebook page should not take too long to reach the top results if someone is searching for your business.

Each social network is different and attracts different crowds. This can be seen in the usage statistics for each network. This can help you determine which social networks would be best for you to reach your desired audience.

When starting out you want to start slowly. Do not join every social network you can find. It would be best to join Twitter and Facebook at first. Determine who is going to manage the social sites. Then once you have some followers post some polls or special offers to attract more followers.

Once your followers start posting to your page, read their posts and answer them. This will add a lot of value to your business.

You can begin posting articles related to your business to encourage people to spend more time reading your content. Some things to keep in mind would be to not post too often or you may be considered a spammer.

Once you have become familiar with social networks you can expand to other social networks such as Google+ or Pinterest. The most important rule of all is to be patient; you may not see results overnight. However, if you provide quality content, service, and interactions on your social sites you will be successful.

If you would like help determining where you should start or need any help with your existing social networks, give us a call.

Social Media Tips For Non Profit Managers

In the world of non-profit organizations it is not rare for just one person to get assigned the social media duties for the whole company.

They may also have dozens of other demands to deal with that have nothing to do with public relations so they will probably need all the help they can get to be able to come up with fresh content week in and week out.

One good tip is to use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to offer a first look at an upcoming event or newsletter, introduce a staff member, share photographs of volunteers as they are working and ask a trivia question, the answer to which will shed light on your company’s particular cause.

Other good tips include connecting a news story that is currently trending in your non-profit work, sharing a client’s words of gratitude, sharing a success story, thanking a staff member or volunteer, or sharing a photograph that was taken at a special event.

If you take a specific approach on a regular basis, the audience will start looking forward to what is coming next.

Advertising Via Social Media Sites

For all the hype that surrounds the use of social media when it comes to small businesses, many owners have learned the hard way that a Facebook or Twitter account alone is not going to drive up sales.

Successful social media campaigns need forethought, planning and skill and using a few tips can assist you to give more traction to your social media campaigns.

Advertisers often see Facebook as the social media site of choice but other social networks might actually be more effective for your particular brand.

LinkedIn for instance offers a wide array of users from the world of business while B2B clients might find Slideshare the ideal vehicle.

Advertising a niche product in a magazine aimed at the mass market is an obvious ‘no-no’ and the same applies to social networks.

Profile pages offer an amazing amount of data about users and this can be used very effectively to target the audience that best fits the demographic that you are targeting with your product or services.

Make use of video marketing
Seventy two percent of business executives watch videos that are related to business on business websites a minimum of once a week, according to Forbes. This means that you are seriously missing out on what may be one of the greatest lead generation techniques ever devised.

The bottom line is that creating an informative and compelling video is an excellent method of attracting attention from other businesses and indeed today video marketing is almost essential as a lead generation technique.

The main thing when it comes to using video marketing is to have a plan.

Think about the audience that you are attempting to reach with this video, as there are likely to be different approaches and language used when trying to reach executives as opposed to average people.

You also need to think about the benefits that targeted viewers can glean from the video as without benefits there will be not much in the way of follow-up!

Keep things short, make sure the sound quality is good and include the logo of your company at both the start and end of the video.

Content publishing tips
Having a good hold on content generates a lot of opportunities before you have even started promoting your business due to the fact that you can create and edit and then even publish that content by yourself.

When you have become efficient enough to be able to cope with B2B content you will then be able to help the online reputation of your business grow. Publishing content leads to increased exposure over the internet and results in more and more potential clients paying a visit to your website, so making sure that there is a good representation of that business is obviously going to help you generate and keep a good reputation.

The website’s content should be free from errors and feature appropriate and accurate material. The accomplishment of the website, and by extension your business, is dependent on the content being of the absolute highest quality possible, which means there should be no comprises made of any kind.

There are a number of different techniques, both classic and decidedly offbeat, that can be used to help turn customers into subscribers and even passionate advocates for your business and brand.

One tried and trusted method is to give special treatment to your subscribers. This can take the form of office perks, offering services to subscribers (plus their networks) or one-day specials on products via your social media channels, providing online recognition by asking your followers to post their own stories about your services and products.

Social Media: Authenticity And Perseverance

Social media is the current zeitgeist and the way of the future, or so we are told. This makes it all the more important to make sure that we are conducting our social media behavior in the correct manner.

Two of the most important things in the way we conduct ourselves in the world of social media are transparency and authenticity. In other words, do not try to pretend to be anyone or anything but what you are and be honest in all your interactions.

That said, perseverance and a thick skin can also come in handy. You cannot worry over what anyone else thinks about you 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the world of social media any more than you can in the real world.

Build and work your plan and just get out there. Make sure that you manage your brand, your image and your reputation. Take any legitimate criticism onboard, but do not be beholden to it.

Optimizing social strategy in emails
Senior management often tells B2B marketers to be more social when it comes to their B2B marketing efforts, but how exactly are you supposed to go about doing that?

The more familiar channel of email sees B2B marketers pushing their brand, solutions and messaging onto a targeted list of leads who are quite likely to either ignore it or even list them as spam.

One good tip when it comes to using email marketing for social media is to share rather than tell. It is not sufficient to leverage social media by just adding your social media links onto the bottom of an email. Provide links in emails in order to let leads share the content.

You also need to remember that at the end of the day it is all about the content. Sending the right content to the right person in the social sphere will have the result of amplifying the effect of that content, so take note of who your space’s loudest social media users are and try to get them to join in with your communications in order to leverage their long reach.

How to grow your market
There are a number of innovative methods with which you can attempt to connect and ultimately grow your market.

One good method is to actually invent a whole new market segment. B2B marketing is all about making sure that your service or product is put in the position of being at your category’s “logical extreme.”

For example, B2B companies that create disruptive technologies tend to be heavily funded when it comes to R&D, but the winners will be those companies that have positioned themselves to be the first in people’s minds.

Another good method is to swap your sales funnel for a sales network. These days there are innumerable ways to get out of the B2B sales funnel, with the market of today making it very expensive to find new prospects.

The trick is to create services and products that are so amazing that your existing customer base will not be able to stop talking about them to their friends and colleagues.