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Category Archives: Technology

Are You Making the Biggest Social Media Mistake?

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These days, everyone is on social media. But really though. There are fan pages for cats, Twitter profiles for cartoons and Instagram accounts devoted solely to food. It’s no wonder every business wants to also have a presence on these platforms because it’s where they can reach their targeted audience with interactive content that sparks discussion and builds brand loyalty.

With everyone diving in head first, this also provides a prime opportunity for a lot of mistakes. For the most part, these are minor errors or forgivable social infractions, but sometimes these mistakes can prove to be much worse – even deadly – for business. So what is the single biggest mistake businesses make with social media? It’s NOT having it be part of a bigger communications strategy.

The danger of a disconnected social media strategy

The most effective social media cannot be done in a vacuum. Nor can it be your only effort to communicate with your target audience. The danger is two-fold. First, you risk presenting a completely different voice on social media, one that does not resonate with the rest of your brand. Second, you turn off the power to all other means of communications that could help to amplify your social media efforts.

If you pique someone’s interest with a great Facebook post, only to send them to an outdated website that makes you look inexperienced or unprofessional, even the best social media efforts in the world won’t close the sale.

How to avoid this mistake

Luckily this is an easy problem to fix. It begins with identifying the missed communications opportunities outside of social media and paying special attention to the brand you want to create so that all efforts work in unison to achieve this end result. Knowing what to do is the easy part, but actually making the time to do it is where the problem most often lies. It can be overwhelming, especially to business owners who don’t consider themselves to be communications-savvy.

It’s good to keep in mind that outsourcing is always an option and the number of firms and consultants who offer these services are ever-growing. But proceed with caution. If you’re thinking about working with a person or company that only does social media, you may want to rethink this decision. It’s okay to be specialized or particularly experienced in a certain niche, but when it comes to your business communications, everything needs to flow together. The various ways in which you communicate with your target audience need to complement one another.

Instead look for a firm or consultant who offers multi-faceted communications strategies that go beyond just social media. You want someone who can also create content for your website, blog, e-newsletter and other promotional materials. This is the best way to ensure that the voice and messaging will stay consistent.

Steps you can take today

One. List your other current communication efforts. Do you have any? Maybe there’s a brochure or business card you hand out, but it’s badly outdated. Maybe you have a website that you push your targeted audience to visit, but it’s a static web page with cheesy clip art and bright fonts. Take a critical look at ALL the messages you’re sending out in various ways. How are people finding you and what is this saying about your business?

Two. Note the areas that need some TLC. So you have social media down to an art – after all, it is kind of fun. Now, turn your attention to the messaging on your website, blog, promotional materials and e-newsletters. How can they benefit from some of the modern messaging you’re putting out on social media? Create a vision for how they can better engage your audience, just like you’re doing on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

Three. Dedicate time in your schedule to tackle some of these tasks in order of priority. If you know you simply don’t have the time, allocate this work to an employee or hire a communications consultant to help you keep things moving forward. While you’ll need to invest in their time, if they allow you to keep doing what you do best while they improve your comprehensive communications strategy – that is a worthy investment!

Where have you seen the biggest social media mistake being made? Join in the discussion by commenting below!

 

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Why Your Facebook Page Isn’t Getting Likes and Why It Doesn’t Matter

facebook dislike imageIf you’ve noticed that your business’s Facebook fan page is at an all time low for views and interactions, you are not alone. In fact, 94 to 98 percent of your page’s postings will never see the light of the newsfeed unless you pay to sponsor or promote them. Even before the recent change in Facebook’s relevance algorithms, only about 16 percent of brand posts were allowed in user feeds. Now it’s more like six percent (and for big brands it’s about two percent). I’m kidding, right? No, this isn’t some depressing joke; instead it’s the hard-hitting reality that if people are willing to pay for promotion, companies will gladly create more and more ways to profit from it.

Facebook has found a way to monetize business fan pages and they didn’t grow to be a multi-billion dollar company for passing up such opportunities. Just as social media continues to get smarter, so must we. Sure we can just beef up our advertising budget, or we can refocus the value we’re gaining by having a Facebook business fan page. And there is still value to be gained! Here are four reasons why you should continue to maintain your social media presence even when your likes and comments may urge you to do otherwise.

1. You’re still reaching people

Yeah that little number that appears at the bottom of every post may feel like it is silently mocking your social media efforts. But so long as that number is greater than zero, you’ve still reached more people than you would have by not posting any content at all.

More importantly, these people you do reach are ones who have found your content organically. You didn’t pay to have it forced upon someone who might become annoyed with being subjected to advertisements. No, these are people who have personally chosen to like your page, follow your content and stop scrolling through their newsfeed long enough to have Facebook register it as a view. And this data is invaluable. As dismally small as that “real” number of views may be, it’s what your raw, unpaid efforts earned and a good indication of where you realistically stand with your audience and within the market.

2. It creates a professional presence

For many of my clients, a social media strategy is to foremost create a professional presence. We’re not necessarily counting likes, comments or shares; we’re looking at the big picture. We want their information to be accurate, updated and to align with their overall communications strategy. We also want to have content posted with enough frequency and consistency that anyone who visits their social media profiles to “check them out” further will get the impression that they’re on top of their game. Finally, I recommend using social media profiles to position a person or a business as an expert in their field. Continue to provide free, valuable information that people will find useful and your real fans will “like” you for this!

3. You never know how people will find you

Another reason to keep a professional presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Instagram is because you never know how people will stumble upon your business and these social media platforms are a powerful form of SEO. My WordPress blog is sometimes still the first thing people are directed to before my website – and so long as they’re finding me, I’m okay with however that happens.

This is all the more reason to keep my social media updated with enough consistency that visitors know it’s alive and active. Even a fresh post just once a week is enough to let a potential customer know that this isn’t an abandoned account. Most importantly, active social media accounts (regardless of likes and comments) show people you pay attention to detail, follow through with responsibilities and are accessible – all positive qualities for every business to showcase.

4. It’s fresh content

You can never produce enough fresh, quality content. It can always be repurposed! Much of your social media can be fueled by a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly blog. Simply take snippets of this content to create multiple social media posts over the course of a weel. Not only does this make blog writing an even more valuable use of your time, it also helps to further promote your blog and website by linking back to them. Fueling the content on your social media shouldn’t be re-inventing the wheel. A good communications strategy is all about creating a consistent message; so repurpose and reuse your content in every facet of your business.

How have you refocused the value of your business’s Facebook fan page? Let’s get a discussion going!

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Social Media, Technology

 

How Reseller Hosting Can Earn You Extra Profits Online (Guest Blog by James Manner)

The following guest post comes to us from James Manner, the PR and marketing director at Premium Reseller hosting company. Enjoy his insights and expertise in this field and be sure to visit his author’s bio below to connect with him on the web!

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web hostingFrom such an extensive diversity of ways to make money online that are available today, there is one that really stands out among the crowd. It allows you to start up your own branded business of high-profit potential, yet with really minimal effort and investments involved in the whole process. Actually, I’m referring to reseller hosting here. It has been one of the hottest trends in the online market because of its sophisticated business opportunity with considerably low start-up costs. Let’s take a closer look at what makes reseller hosting so special – and first, what it really is!

What is Reseller Hosting?

First of all, let’s get down to the very essence of reseller hosting. Actually, this kind of hosting services is all about providing a user with the ability to split his or her allotted server resources (disk space, bandwidth volume, RAM, CPU, etc.), create any necessary number of separate hosting packages, typically on a shared hosting basis, set up individual prices and then resell them as value-added solutions for a profit. A reseller can host virtually unlimited number of domains on his/her own reseller hosting account.

In other words, you will act as a middleman by purchasing web hosting services from a large company and then reselling it to your own clients at your own prices. The extra cost is actually what is going to be your profit, while only minimal investments are required from your side.

What’s especially significant about starting up your own online business with reseller hosting is that you will avoid all the associated hassles and costs, such as establishing a data center, purchasing all necessary network and server hardware, fitting up physical and virtual security systems, managing technical and support staff, etc.

Your Own Brand-Name Company

It’s essential to point out here that being a web hosting reseller is absolutely anonymous and your hosting provider guarantees you this right by allowing you to act as an absolutely independent web hosting company. Your clients will never know that you are a reseller. All newly created web hosting packages are 100% private label, ensuring private nameservers and anonymous hostname. Furthermore, you gain full control over your web hosting infrastructure along with all your clients – from setting and configuring mailbox quotas to enabling various website scripts and even managing spam settings.

You Gain Profits, While Your Hosting Provider Takes Care of Everything

As you have probably experienced firsthand, one of the most important aspects in the web hosting business is the level of support provided. Hosting service users expect to get professional and prompt assistance with any issues that may arise. Otherwise, a hosting provider simply won’t be able to retain clients and run the business successfully. While you are just a reseller, you don’t have to bother yourself with customer support issues. Your hosting company takes care of all related processes.

When choosing a reseller hosting provider, opt for an established and experienced company that is large enough to provide resourceful packages and one that is reliable enough to ensure top-notch and hassle-free performance of your online venture. While working with a reputable provider, you can also enjoy total peace of mind knowing that both you and all your clients will get comprehensive and knowledgeable technical support and assistance.

Ever Increasing Demand

For the foreseeable future, web hosting will never be out of demand. No single website can appear on the Internet without being hosted somewhere, and as you can see, more and more new web projects – from personal blogs to large corporate websites – are emerging in the World Wide Web every single day. All of them need hosting services for the proper online presence. While technologies may change the way in which we host websites, the need for hosting them will remain.

Have you ever used reseller web hosting services? Feel free to share your experience and related ideas in comments below.

jamesmannerphotoAbout the Author: James Manner is the PR and marketing manager at Premium Reseller hosting company, an established provider offering all-in-one Linux hosting / Linux reseller hosting and Windows hosting / Windows reseller hosting services. Connect with James Manner on twitter @jamesmanner5.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Guest Blogger, Technology

 

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How Has Technology Affected Human Behavior? (Guest Blog by JaguarPC)

The following guest post comes to us from JaguarPC, a web hosting services company based out of Colorado Springs and the original leader in VPS hosting. Enjoy their following insights and be sure to visit their bio below to connect with them on the web!

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Technology has never been more influential than it is today. Many people find themselves in a situation where they feel like they cannot exist without technology. How many of us have a work colleague or a teenage child who appear on the verge of a nervous breakdown whenever they realize they need to spend some time without their iPhone? Throw tablet devices into the mix and pair it with the almost blanket 24/7/365 internet coverage that we enjoy, and we start to understand just how important technology is, and why people are so reliant upon it.

Often, we laugh at individuals who get themselves in this position, without ever really considering the role that technology plays. There is no doubt that technology has influenced our human behavior. The question we must ask now is, “What have we gained – and lost – from these technological advancements?”

evolution

Technology Makes Us More Productive

Make no mistake; although many people look at technology through a negative set of eyes, there are many ways in which it plays a positive role in our lives. What often passes by without discussion is the ways in which we can use technology as individuals at work.

The increasing use of cloud storage software is probably the best example of this, particularly in terms of employees who can work at home, or those who work in the field. Think about an employee who works in client sales. Instead of flicking through a ragged looking folder, they can now access all their business documents on a tablet or smartphone.

The crucial point here is that employees will become more confident, empowered by the faith they have in their technology. Whether they are responsible for securing high value sales or sending basic follow up emails, technology empowers and makes people more productive.

Technology Erodes Social Skills

From the positive of productivity to one of the more common global gripes about technology. Does it really erode social skills? You’d probably have to say only among certain groups. For example, people who use technology from a social media perspective to facilitate easier meetings with their friends would be fine. Those who use it to avoid any actual personal contact, in contrast, will undoubtedly see an erosion in social skills. Anyone on the outside can see it, too. Just speak to someone who is an avid user of social media, and uses it in preference to personal contact, and you’ll notice the difference.

Does Technology Make Us Unhappy?

There have been numerous studies that have looked at the psychological impact of someone “unfriending” you on Facebook, for example, or carrying out the equivalent action on another social platform. Think about how people are made to feel by the number of likes they receive or other social shares, and it becomes clear that technology does indeed make us unhappy.

However, this again has to be linked with the ways people use social media and other technology, as well as to the fact we now live in more of an instant gratification society than ever before. Technology only makes us unhappy because it has become such a big part of the way we live.

There is no question that technology has changed human behavior, with both positive and negative consequences. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

JaguarpcAbout the Author: Based out of Colorado Springs, CO, JaguarPC has been touted as the “world’s most trusted and experienced hosting company” for its ability to provide high-quality internet hosting solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, government agencies, prominent individuals and non-profit organizations worldwide and is the original leader in VPS Hosting. JaguarPC’s core portfolio comprises information technology and business hosting services, as well as programming services. Learn more about JaguarPC’s highly respected services at www.jaguarpc.com!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Guest Blogger, Technology

 

The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities

annoying_email_habits

Proper email etiquette is an acquired skill and one we must actively work to maintain. Communicating with someone who lacks this etiquette can be one of the most frustrating experiences for any professional. A few of your most frequent offenders might be coming to mind right now. You know who they are. They’re the people who never respond, always hit “reply all” or frequently fill your inbox with spam.  Simply put, they make communication far more complicated than it needs to be.

From my experience, I’ve identified 11 personalities of poor email etiquette. Some stem from ignorance while others stem from defiance. No matter the origin of the personality, they all produce a similar aggravation when it comes time to communicate with them. How many of these sound frustratingly familiar?

The black hole

You may as well be sending your message in to outer space. No matter how many times and ways you follow-up, you never receive a response. Ever. I mean, why even have an email account?

The never BCC

Blind-closed-copying (BCC) is a glorious tool that allows people to send a message to the masses, without disclosing everyone’s email address to each other. That is, until it is misused. Such as when you get included in a long email chain with people you don’t know – and don’t really want to have your email address. Which leads to…

The reply all

Inevitably the “never BCC” offender brings about the “reply all” guy who copies the entire email list on a response that is only relevant to the sender…or no one at all. Most of us know this disastrous scenario. The reply all email responses keep coming days, even weeks later and not one of them ever really relevant to anyone more than the sender (yeah, the “never BCC” guy).

The reply one

In selective instances where you actually want people to reply all, like when you’re trying to introduce two people or have them work together, one person only ever replies to you. This means you have to constantly forward to the rest of the group so that they’re aware of the response.

The forward with no explanation

This is the person who forwards a message to you with no additional details and it’s not overly apparent as to what’s expected of you. Do you need to respond? Is this just FYI? Forwarding an email takes no effort, at least grant us with a small explanation so we don’t have to send the passive aggressive response, “Is any action needed for this?”

The single word response

You’ll send a long email with various topics requiring some thought and explanation in return, yet this person finds it somehow sufficient to respond simply with “okay” or “yes.” After a while, you’ll try tactics like bolding, highlighting and underlining the exact questions you need answered in detail – but I promise you, even with all that effort, they’re only ever going to tell you that it’s “okay.”

The stream of conscious

These email messages tend to read like a terribly written monologue. They include every thought that pops into the person’s head during his time writing, sometimes even including strange and irrelevant details like what he ate for lunch or that he has to walk the dog tonight. You’ll wholeheartedly wish it was acceptable to respond with “Can you just boil this down into an executive summary for me?”

The spammer

This person clutters your inbox with non-work related emails, sharing those forwarded messages that contain corny jokes, awkward gifs and links to download a video you just “have to see to believe.” Not everyone thinks that video of a dancing cat is hilarious – or deserving of 5 minutes of your busy work day. If only the government would also mandate a required unsubscribe option for these people as well.

The hit and run

This is the person who, for a while, will answer your messages quickly and with enthusiasm. Then, he goes completely AWOL. What changed? What did I do? I get it. Everyone can get swamped with work for a few days or be out traveling. Still, such a drastic 180 in email communication is as hard to rationalize as it is annoying.

The last word

This person always has to have the last word, even when a response is completely unnecessary. Say, for example, you send an email to coordinate a time to meet. Once you decide on a place and time, it’s perfectly acceptable to close the conversation there. Instead “the last word” guy will always shoot back a final email to whatever you say even if it’s merely repeating your exact message. If you have the time and patience, you could really have some fun just to see how many of the same responses you can get from “the last word” guy.

The selective responder

This email personality is most frustrating when you have several important questions for which you need answers. You clearly outline each one (maybe even with numbers or bullet points), yet “the selective responder” will reply with only a fraction of the requested information, offering no acknowledgement of or explanation for the outstanding questions that remain. Inevitably, you reply again (and again) with a narrowed down list of questions until you get all your answers. You may as well be a dentist pulling teeth.

The better late than never

Finally, there’s this wild card. The “better late than never” guy will finally respond to an email you sent months ago without acknowledging the fact half a year has gone by or offering an explanation as to why it took so long. Even odder, this email personality doesn’t seem to realize that his response has little to no value now as you’ve had to move on and find your information elsewhere.

What type of annoying email personalities do you most often encounter? Do you have some more that should be added to this list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
 

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How to Cultivate Social Media Relationships (Outside of Social Media)

cultivate2Social media has forever changed the way we connect and communicate with people all across the globe. I’m always amazed to see the many various states – and countries – in which my followers reside. There’s no question that social media has fostered relationships that simply wouldn’t exist without this technology. Although social media helps to make communication easy and automated, there’s one very important aspect of relationship building that we must never put on autopilot or take for granted.

To cultivate meaningful (as well as beneficial) social media relationships, we must continue to build this connection outside of social media alone. Here are four important practices to help you foster your relationships and make yourself more than just an avatar.

Make it one-on-one

Following or friending a contact is only the first step, yet so many of us stop there and think we’ve built a meaningful relationship with someone. Sure, it’s exciting when your favorite celebrity follows you back on Twitter, but this hardly means you’re anything more than a number. To take it one step further, you have to seek out one-on-one interactions.

Once you get a good interaction going with someone on social media, such as a retweet, a like or a comment, follow-up with a private message (or even better an email) to continue the conversation on a more personal level. This could be a potential client, someone you admire or someone who has a question for you. While it’s not exactly face-to-face, in the virtual world, this one-on-one interaction makes you feel like you know the person on a much deeper level and is an important step in building a meaningful relationship outside of the massive, public social media platforms.

Reciprocate

It’s what every social media guru preaches, yet so often we still disregard this advice. To build a meaningful social media relationship, you must both give and take. If you have a connection that loyally supports you by retweeting, commenting, liking and sharing – look for opportunities to do the same for them!

The reason so many of us fail to do this is because we can’t rely on platforms like Hootsuite or Socialoomph to monitor this for us. Sure, they can tell us who interacted with our posts, but we need to take it one step further and closely follow our feeds, looking for appropriate times to reciprocate such support for news our contacts share. In doing so, we build mutual trust, respect and friendship that lay the groundwork for a meaningful relationship.

Put a face with a name

Any in-person, social function like a networking mixer, awards dinner or happy hour is a prime opportunity to take your social media relationships offline. There’s always that awkward moment when you know you’re already connected with someone on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook, but when you meet them in person for the first time you still introduce yourself like you’re complete strangers. Stop the madness!

So long as you’ve kept a clean and professional relationship with them on social media (i.e. no stalking or creepy personal messages), there’s no shame in acknowledging you’re already connected with them. Introduce yourself and let them know you’re connected online; they might be thinking the same thing but don’t want to say it. This will put a (real) face with a name and show that you’ve done your homework. It will also make you memorable. Which brings me to my final point…

Be memorable

To make yourself more than just an avatar, you must first make yourself someone worth remembering. Out of all the people who contact me for various reasons, I’ve found the most memorable ones to be those who feel the most genuine. It’s easy to spot a message that was written just for you versus one that’s being sent out to an entire contact list. Private messages on social media are a great tool for cultivating meaningful relationships, but they’re also heavily abused. Be sincere in why you’re contacting this person – this will show through and help you stand out among the spam. It will also increase your chances of getting a response in return.

In a world where virtually everything is accessible online, the need to build personal and meaningful relationships becomes ever more important. It’s possible to accrue thousands of followers without a single one knowing you beyond your twitter handle. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you should strive for quality – not quantity – of connections. For it’s how well you engage your audience that ultimately determines whether they become a future client or customer.

Do you actively cultivate your social media relationships? Share how you do it!

 
 

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The Virtual Work Environment: When it simply doesn’t work

virtual work environmentAs a consultant, I strive to run a lean business. I work from home and meet clients on location to eliminate the overhead of an outside office. I delegate work to additional contractors rather than taking on full time employees. And because I require merely an internet connection and laptop, I can and have worked from almost every location I’ve ever been in. The virtual work environment has suited me very well. My clients have also experienced the benefits through my pricing and availability. But as fun and flexible as working from home can be, I acknowledge that it simply doesn’t fit every situation.

Different personality types are better suited for the “home working” experience and depending upon the job description, a business may need an in-office employee to meet various needs. I’m a full subscriber to the virtual work environment, as it lends itself to my particular services very well. But before you start setting up your own home office, take into consideration these following work situations that shouldn’t go virtual.

When you need immediate responses.

I make the commitment to my clients that they will receive a response or acknowledgement of their message within one business day – often much sooner. In comparison to most email communications, this is quite a quick response time; however, it’s still not as quick as if I were sitting at a desk next to you. In-office employees allow for almost instant communication because you have the benefit of popping your head over a cubicle or hunting them down in the break room. If the job description requires immediate responses, a virtual position could substantially decrease efficiency.

When you thrive on social interaction.

This is when working from home may have nothing to do with the job, but everything to do with the person. I thrive on a quiet, uninterrupted work environment. I used to HATE having people drop-in just to chat or getting pulled into an impromptu meeting. I worked much less efficiently because of these distractions. But I’m an introvert. For others, these are not “distractions” but are part of the company culture that makes them feel like a team. They thrive on social interaction and pull their energy and inspiration from those around them. If you took this away, work would suffer.

When you don’t trust your teammates.

Trust influences how well tasks are accomplished when employees aren’t working face-to-face. When working virtually, you don’t have the benefit of building relationships as quickly as you do in a traditional office. It takes a lot longer to build up the feelings of trust and accountability toward someone you don’t see day to day. Distrust can also come from not knowing if someone is doing the work they need to be doing. It’s easy to assume your co-worker is snoozing on the couch at home while you’re slaving away on a project if you don’t trust them or have the ability to check-in on them as you do in a traditional office.

When you’re needed to serve various, undefined roles.

The final work situation that does not lend itself well to a virtual position is one in which you are the Jack of all trades. Think of an office assistant. Their job description might outline the role of answering phones, entering data and scheduling appointments. But in reality, they are likely asked to take on many additional projects to help around the office since they are there and available. In an office where it’s all hands on deck, virtual employees benefit from being “out of sight, out of mind” and are not utilized to their fullest. This leaves the in-office employees to pick up the slack.

Even though we just covered four situations that are not best suited for the virtual work environment, don’t get me wrong. There are still many, well-documented benefits. Studies show that home workers are more productive, happier in their jobs and less likely to leave than their office-bound peers.  Virtual working also saves money, is better for the environment and gives staff the flexibility that many people crave. But it’s equally important to note that “home working” simply doesn’t fit every situation. Technology can connect us from sea to sea, but it can’t completely replace the need for in-office employees.

 

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