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February 23rd, 2015

SocialMedia_Feb23_AHave you heard that social media can be used to skyrocket your business to unprecedented heights of success? You probably have; people like to talk. But unfortunately, not a lot of this talk is backed up with practical tips on how to go about it. So if you’re tired of waffling in the social media stratosphere, read on for some smart, focused advice that will breathe new life into your social media efforts.

Undoubtedly, the most important strategy to use in your social media plan is...to have a strategy to begin with. Know how much time you can dedicate to social media, block out the hours to focus on it and don’t waste that time checking out friends’ vacation photos or celebrity twitter feeds.

If you don’t have a strategy, you’re going to waste time posting irrelevant updates that won’t engage with your audience. To help you plan an effective social media strategy, here are three crucial tips to get you off on the right foot.

Initially focus on the big three

Most social media experts agree that the three platforms that generate the most business leads, engagement and brand exposure are Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. When you’re getting started, your efforts should be primarily focused on these three. After you’ve gained followings here, then you can start forging paths into YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest amongst others.

Post at prime exposure times

Studies have shown that around lunch and dinner time are ideal posting times (since everyone is uploading photos of their meals). As for which days, many marketers agree your posts are most likely to get noticed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So these are the times to deliver those high-impact messages you’ve been randomly shooting out.

Find the value in your post

On social media, you should always be focused on selling your services, right? Wrong. Only 15% of your posts should concern news about your business and its products. The other 85% should focus on providing fun, valuable and timely content.

When you create a new post, you should ask yourself what’s in it for the customer. What do they get from reading it? Seriously, why is someone going to share your post or talk about your business unless it adds value to their life? Think about the posts you share personally. Do they provide value to your friends and family? We’re guessing the answer is yes.

For more tips on how social media can create buzz for your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 20th, 2015

VMware_Feb20_AVirtualization has taken a firm hold over most businesses, since companies can reduce their costs and improve IT efficiency by virtualizing data. And when it comes to virtualization, VMware is an industry-leading virtualization company that allows businesses to store their assets in an economical way. Recently VMware has launched vSphere 6, the latest version of its vSphere flagship product. Here’s what you need to know about vSphere 6 and its capabilities that may benefit your business.

What is vSphere 6?

After three years of development, VMware has finally released vSphere 6, the latest version of its virtualization platform. vSphere 6 is a cloud system that turns physical resources into virtual ones. It also allows users to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer. The new vSphere 6 is equipped with new capabilities to suit the needs of business users.

What are its new features?

vSphere was recently updated to version 6 and, along with the update, a number of new features were added that could prove useful for businesses.
  • Content Library - This new function enables users to store virtual machine templates, applications, ISO images and script into a centralized management tool of vSphere, the vCenter. It is very useful when you need to install files or maintain your infrastructure. With Content Library, you can keep everything in one place, allowing easy access when needed.
  • vMotion - Migrating data can be one of the most daunting tasks for administrators. With vMotion, you can move an active virtual server from one physical server to another without downtime. vMotion will retain the network’s connections and perform non-disruptive live migration with a high speed network connection. The whole process takes merely seconds to execute, so users won’t even notice that the server has been moved!
  • Fault Tolerance - On those rare occasions when your company is facing power outage, the damage can be severe. vSphere 6’s Fault Tolerance protects up to 4 virtual CPUs and allows your applications to keep running in the event of server failures. This feature ensures zero downtime and prevents data loss. Fault Tolerance is needed for applications that require continuous protection.
  • NVIDIA GRID vGPU - VMware partners with NVIDIA to bring high-quality graphics to their virtual machines. GRID vGPU provides exceptional graphics when sharing desktops and applications on a virtual server. In the past some applications were impractical to use on a virtual server, due to their need for high-quality graphics cards. But GRID vGPU can bring those applications to life on a virtual platform without the need to install a high-end graphics card.
The new vSphere 6 packs in a whole load of new features and innovations that will bolster many enterprises’ virtual performance. If you’re interested in integrating VMware into your business, contact us today to find out how.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VMWare
February 12th, 2015

SocialMedia_Feb12_AWhen it comes to social media, most of us have privacy concerns at the forefront of our minds. Who can see what we post? Who owns the photos we upload? It even comes down to wondering what happens to our social media identities when we die. It is part of the reason for the emergence and subsequent popularity of apps like Snapchat, which allow you to send a photo to a friend and at the same time specify when it will self-destruct. Now, a new entrant to the app marketplace is taking things a step further - it wants to protect your privacy by filling Facebook with pictures of cats.

But there is more to it than that: the team behind social messaging app Wickr aren’t looking to post images of our furry friends just for the fun of it. In fact, the feline factor is just one feature of the app, known as the Wickr Timed Feed. Wickr actually promises to offer greater security and privacy controls than similar apps like Snapchat - but whereas Snapchat simply lets you set your images to self-destruct once they have been seen by the recipient, Wickr takes an alternative approach.

As well as allowing only pre-approved friends to see your photos within your Wickr feed, the app lets you share each photo through Facebook and control which of your friends can see it. So where do the cats come in? Well, when you first share to Facebook, no-one will see your photo - instead, they’ll see a decoy image of a funky-looking cat. However, Facebook users then have the option to click through to Wickr and, if they are one of up to 151 people you have pre-approved to have access to your real photo, it will be unlocked and the cat will disappear - at least, until the photo automatically self-destructs 24 hours later, as do images on your feed in the Wickr app itself.

If it all sounds a bit like security overkill, then that’s probably because it is. Sharing Wickr photos to Facebook also sounds a little cumbersome, and even more so the process for unlocking a cat-guarded photo, and this could have an adverse effect on widespread take-up of the feature. But it does address genuine concerns surrounding the far and often uncontrollable reach of images and information we post online. What’s more, it appears to be a way to prevent Facebook from claiming ownership of the photos we upload - as much a concern for professional photographers and companies using Facebook for marketing purposes, as for individuals using the platform to keep in touch with friends. Wickr claims that, because the cat photo is all that will be publicly visible unless the bona fide picture is unlocked, that will be the only thing to which the social network could claim to have ownership or reproduction rights.

Whether it catches on or not, the emergence of apps like Wickr is telling of the growing pressure for the usability of social media networks to be balanced with protection for their users’ privacy. It acts as a reminder to businesses to be aware both of potential issues with usage rights for corporate images shared online, and of the need to keep consumer concerns about data misuse in mind when designing social media marketing strategies.

To learn more about how to effectively put social media to work for your business, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 6th, 2015

BusinessValue_Feb6_AIn today’s society of instant gratification, people have short attention spans. They want to have everything accessible at their fingertips via smartphones and tablets. For businesses with an online presence, this is either a new opportunity - or a missed one. Establishing mobile strategies to target smartphone addicts can give you an edge over competitors who are not going mobile. Here are some mobile marketing tips that could help your business to fly high.

Use QR codes

As far as mobile marketing tools go, QR coding is among one of the most powerful. With QR codes you can set up announcements about special events, coupons, newsletters, updates on your latest products, etc. Your potential customers can simply scan the QR code with their mobile devices and see what you have to offer.

The real benefit of QR codes is they can be put virtually anywhere to lead people anywhere online. Imagine putting a QR code on a T-shirt and having it lead to an online coupon for special deals. While the possibilities for placing QR codes are endless, it’s probably not very useful to put them somewhere that doesn’t make sense, like on a street billboard; people can’t scan your QR code while they’re driving.

Buy Facebook mobile ads

Facebook currently has over 700 million active mobile users. Even if that number’s not increasing at the moment, it’s still huge. Many businesses that are competing online have a Facebook page and advertising plans already. But with the majority of mobile visitors on Facebook, all your content and ads should be easy to read and engage with.

Facebook mobile ads display better than normal ads on the right column on Facebook’s news feed. If you don’t make use of this feature, you might be missing out on a large audience.

Make your website responsive

Back in the old days all websites were static, meaning that content was fixed unless you edited the HTML files. Later came the dynamic website, where content was changeable once you refreshed a web page. Now we have responsive websites, which conveniently adjust themselves to different browser sizes or a mobile device’s screen size.

Responsive websites are the future of the web. Imagine how high the bounce rate is likely to be if a potential buyer visits your website on a mobile device, scrolls around to read your content with difficulty, gives it up as a bad job and finds your competitor’s website that is mobile-friendly. That’s why your business website is better off on a responsive design.

Mobilize your E-mail

There are many up and coming marketing tools, but email is still one of the best ways to get great results for businesses. As with Facebook, most people check their emails on a smartphone or tablet. Make sure your message reads well on mobile devices, or your customers might ignore and delete it or, even worse, unsubscribe from future emails.

There are plenty of mobile marketing tools out there. Before implementing them get in touch with us to find the best solution that works for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 3rd, 2015

Browsers_Feb03_AWhen it comes to surfing the Internet, there is already a wide range of browsers available for typical users. Most browsers aim to appeal to everyone, which means they all start to feel very similar both in looks and features. While some users are satisfied using these browsers for everyday purposes, others prefer a more sophisticated tool that meets their needs more exactly. And so the former CEO of Opera, a renowned web browser, has unveiled a new browser with advanced functionality, called Vivaldi. Let’s take a quick look at Vivaldi and its features.

What is Vivaldi?

Back in 1994, Jon Von Tetzchner and his team developed the Opera browser, aiming to serve each user’s individual requirements. However, when the company diverted from its initial purpose, Von Tetzchner left Opera and decided the time was ripe to design another browser, Vivaldi.

Packed with various features, Vivaldi focuses on the needs of power users and on those who want to gain more from their browsing experience. Vivaldi is a Chromium-based application and has similar features to its predecessor, Opera. This is a clear attempt by Von Tetzchner and his team to continue remaking what they believe Opera should have been.

As well as the usual components that other browsers possess, Vivaldi packs in a number of functions that could be very useful for the kind of user who works with a lot of content, keeps a lot of tabs open and spends a lot of time on the Internet.

The Features

Here are some neat functions Vivaldi offers to its users. If you make the most out of these tools they might just work wonders.
  • Speed Dial - Vivaldi adopts the speed dial function from Opera. If you’re a fan you’ll realize it makes website navigation so simple. Speed dial allows you to organize websites based on your interests all on one page; e.g. News, Sports, Health, Tech.
  • Tab Stack - opening too many websites at once? Couldn’t find what you wanted under all those excessive tabs? Tab stack lets you arrange those messy tabs by adding multiple tabs on a single one. Simply drag and drop the tabs to your desired spot.
  • Quick Command - another powerful feature for power users. Quick command is an option for keyboard and shortcut users. You can customize and execute various settings such as opening tabs, bookmarks and other features with the keyboard.
  • Notes - taking notes from your favorite website has never been easier. With this function you can easily jot down what’s on your mind while browsing. Notes automatically remember which site you were browsing and allow you to add tags for future reference.
Despite being in its early stages of development, Vivaldi has many advantages and boasts impressive features for high-level users. Its efficiency in the long run remains to be seen. However, with the current functionality Vivaldi provides, it is a browser that all tech savvy users should consider.

Do you want to learn more about the best Internet browsers for your business? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
January 22nd, 2015

socialmedia_Jan20_ASocial media has been increasing in popularity amongst business owners more than ever before. From LinkedIn to Twitter and Facebook, social media has enhanced ways in which businesses communicate with one another, leading to quicker connections and even stronger relationships. Is it time you took a look at different ways social media can help drive your business development?

In most cases, a business development manager already has an idea of the kind of company with which to partner. Their next step is to contact that company via a phone call or email. However, this can be an unreliable way to reach out, especially when your potential partner has never heard of you. Social media speeds up this process by identifying the best person to contact, as well as determining if you have any mutual connections.

Simply put, social media lets you understand the background of different companies and gives you an idea of the different players involved, before you even engage in a dialogue. With this in mind, let’s take a look at four ways you can utilize information available on social media to enhance your business development success.

  1. Social media is an extra pair of eyes Social media allows you to see first-hand what potential partners, competitors, and customers are doing, which is a major asset when it comes to your business development and performance. This can also reveal business-relationship possibilities or even warn where it is best to stay away. It’s crucial to position yourself and your company as industry experts by sharing mind-blowing content as well as highlighting recent successes.
  2. There’s no universal message in social media The way people behave and connect across different social media platforms varies, therefore it is important to adjust accordingly. For instance, you might use Twitter to promote ongoing marketing campaigns, share content, and direct customer service requests. You may use Facebook for larger marketing initiatives, such as showcasing a company’s culture and resources. It’s important to remember that there’s no universal rule to utilizing social media and that it is beneficial to be flexible. Think about what your individual goals are and work out which social media platform is the best avenue to explore.
  3. Leverage employee relationships If you’re looking to connect with an individual in a specific company, make it a habit to check and see if anyone in your company has a pre-existing relationship with that person. Social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn make it fairly easy to spot mutual connections, so it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking. Whether you ask your colleague to help make an introduction or to arrange a meeting, a mutual connection gives you the competitive edge in effective business development.
  4. Use social media as a touchpoint Social media is not only essential to business development, but also complements other more traditional practices, such as when you’ve sent an email or voicemail to a business prospect that has gone unanswered. It’s understandable that people get so busy they can delay, forget or pass over an inquiry, but instead of passively waiting for a reply, why not make it standard practice to follow up separately via LinkedIn or other social media platforms? This way you can build additional opportunities with potential partners, increase the likelihood of a response, and even forge a future business relationship.
The fundamentals of business development are strong relationships with a partner or companies with a good reputation, who will have a positive impact on your business, such as marketing an initiative collaboratively. Social media can get this whole process started, so the next time you’re looking to contact a business prospect or potential partner, start by visiting their social media channels to get the heads up to help you in your quest.

Looking to learn more about the benefits of social media in business? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 21st, 2015

Facebook_Jan20_AYou just got a Facebook message from a close friend. You sign on to read it, and suddenly you're assaulted with photos from high school pals you haven't seen in ages and cryptic status updates from your 40-year-old brother-in-law who still lives with his parents. Before you know it, you find yourself scrolling through travel pics of a former employee, and you have yet to get to that message from your actual friend. If this distracting scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to take control of your Facebook News Feed with these five tips.

1. Become good friends with the "Unfollow" button

If you haven't heard, there's this amazing little tab that instantly allows a person to disappear from your News Feed. It's called the "Unfollow" tab, and you'll soon become best buddies with it.

Don't worry though, when you unfollow someone, you’re not unfriending him or her. And they'll never even know you did it (unless you tell them). It just keeps their TMI and updates about visiting the grocery store out of your feed.

To unfollow a person, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of whomever's post and click "Unfollow [Name]"

An alternative option is to visit said person's profile and click on the "Following" button at the bottom-right corner of their cover photo. Once you click, it will change from "Following" to "Follow." Goodbye happy hashtag Sarah. #solongSarah #won'tbemissed

2. Avoid content from Facebook Pages

What if you don't want to unfollow someone but are sick of all the links they share? Not a problem. No more seeing surveys from Anotherdumbsurvey.net about which Hunger Games character you are or what baked good best describes your personality.

If you want to say goodbye to a page's content you're not interested in, click on that same top-right arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post and hit the "Hide all from [Page Name]" option.

3. Tell Facebook what posts annoy you

Sometimes you need to speak directly to the Facebook gods. Maybe you’re tired of seeing all those Facebook check ins, event spam, and baby pictures of little Tommy’s first experience eating cake...

To stop seeing posts you're not interested in, hit that same drop-down arrow and select "I don't want to see this." In theory, and if you do it enough times to the same type of content, this should put an end to all those baby updates for good.

4. Complete a Facebook survey

Yes, they do exist. And well, they kind of seem to work. We've tested this feature out, and it appears that some of the more spammy/annoying posts have disappeared. So back to the top-right arrow we go.

Click on it and the very last option is "Take a survey to make News Feed better." You'll click through 15 screenshots and rate how much they look like an advertisement.

5. Adjust your News Feed preferences

At the top of your home page is a little arrow that, when clicked on, shows you the option to choose your "News Feed Preferences." When you open it, you'll see the content you’ve viewed most and what you're currently following. Opt out of what you don’t want to see anymore.

Don’t get sucked into the online lives of people you rarely see in real life. Take action and control your News Feed today. If you're looking to learn more about Facebook and its features, contact us and learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
December 22nd, 2014

windows_Dec18_AWindows 8.1 is more than a year old, and as such, it has become one of the more common versions of Windows found on newer business computers and on all store-bought computers. While users have benefited from improvements with Windows 8.1, some are not 100% sure about the Start Screen, and more specifically how to find their installed apps on it.

How to find all of your installed apps from the Start Screen

When you install a new app on your computer, regardless of whether it is a Metro style app, or a traditional desktop style app, you are going to need to be able to find and open it. Because we often install a large number of programs on our computers, it can be a challenge to actually locate these apps via the file explorer used in Windows.

The easiest way to do find your apps is to:

  1. Switch to the Start Screen if you are currently in Desktop mode. This can be done by tapping on the Windows key.
  2. Hover your mouse at the lower-left of your screen.
  3. Click the arrow that is pointing down.
You can also access the apps screen by hitting: Control + Tab from anywhere in the Start Screen. Once open, you should see a list of all the apps you have installed. Apps that have been recently installed will have a NEW tag beside the name.

If you would like to sort your apps differently, such as by name or date installed, click the drop-down arrow beside APPS at the top of your screen and select the sorting option you prefer. Should you have a large number of apps installed and want to quickly find an app, click on the magnifying glass at the top-right of your screen and enter the name of the app you are looking for.

Adding apps to the Taskbar or the Start Screen

When 8.1 was introduced, Microsoft removed the feature where tiles were automatically created in the Start Screen and apps were automatically pinned to the taskbar. If you would like to either pin an app to the Start Screen or the taskbar you can do so by:
  1. Opening the Apps menu via the Start Screen.
  2. Searching for the app you would like to pin, either by scrolling through the list, or clicking the magnifying glass and entering the name.
  3. Right-clicking on the app.
  4. Selecting either: Pin to Start or Pin to taskbar.
This will subsequently pin the app to the taskbar on the Desktop, or create a new tile on the Start Screen.

If you are looking to learn more about Windows 8.1, and how it can be used in your business effectively, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
December 22nd, 2014

windowsphone_Dec18_AFor businesses that use Microsoft systems, the Windows Phone is often regarded as a no-brainer. Because of the deep integration with Microsoft systems and strong security, the Windows Phone system offers a lot. If your business does use these devices, you probably want to ensure that the different devices are named appropriately so that they can be easily identified. Here's how you can do that.

How to see the name of your Windows Phone

Before we look into changing the name of your Windows Phone, you might want to know how to locate the present name of your phone. To do this:
  1. Open the Settings app on your device.
  2. Tap on System.
  3. Select About.
In the screen that opens you should see useful device information like the name of your phone, model, version number, etc. By default, your device's name will be Windows Phone.

Changing the name of your Windows Phone

To change the name of your phone plug it into your computer, which needs to have the Windows Phone app for desktops installed. This app can be found here. If you have already synced your phone with your computer, then you should have this app installed already. To change the name of your device:
  1. Plug your phone into your computer using a USB cord.
  2. Open the Windows Phone app via your desktop. With some systems this will open automatically.
  3. Click on Settings followed by Preferences.
  4. Scroll down to the section that says Name Your Phone and click.
  5. Input the new name of your phone.
When you plug the device into your computer from now on, the name should be different. The same goes for when you turn on BlueTooth - the phone's name will become the name of the network.

Another way to change your phone's name

There is another way to change the name of your device, if for example you don't have the Windows Phone app installed on your computer. To do this:
  1. Plug your phone into your computer via a USB cable.
  2. Open File Explorer on your computer. The easiest way to do this is to open any folder on your desktop.
  3. Click on Computer which should be in the left-hand vertical bar.
  4. Right-click on your phone. It should show a phone icon and the name of your phone (Windows Phone by default).
  5. Select Rename.
  6. Type in a new name for your device.
If you would like to learn more about using the Windows Phone in your office, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 18th, 2014

SocialMedia_Dec15_AWhen working with social media in your business there are a number of metrics commonly used to determine whether the content you create and share is effective. One of the best metrics to employ is the number of shares each piece of content receives. More shares usually means higher visibility and therefore a greater impact. However, many businesses struggle to get their content shared. Here's four reasons why.

1. The vast majority of people are hesitant to share content

According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook over a 17 day period, approximately 15.3 billion comments and posts were written but were then deleted and not posted on Facebook alone.

While the reasons will have been varied, the numbers highlight that the vast majority of users are sensitive to what they post on Facebook, and most most likely other networks as well. What does this mean for businesses? Well, you need to ensure that the content you are posting offers value to not only your audience, but their audience as well.

Think about when you have shared content on any network. You probably didn't do so 100% for yourself, but instead shared the content or created a post so your audience would interact with it, or possibly get something out of it. Think of this as the "hmm, that's interesting, other people will like it too, so I'll post it" mentality. By sharing content others enjoy or respond to you get the benefit of increased recognition.

If you can create content that gets people to think this way, there is an increased chance that they will share it.

2. Facebook users want to be seen in a positive light

According to a study carried out by INC. 80% of respondents share content because it shows that they are being a good friend to those they care about. People use social media to foster good relationships and connect with those they care about. And if somebody regards your posts as potentially able to tarnish their image on social media, they won't share it.

Businesses looking to capitalize on this need to try to create content and campaigns that help users better relate to one another. Combine this with the above example of creating interesting-to-share content and you will be more likely to see an increase in shares.

3. Content doesn't fit our salient identities

Because social media has become an extension of society, many experts apply common social science principles to it. The most commonly applied theory is of the five identities (relational, personal, social, superficial, and collective) that determine how people behave in a certain situation.

If you are posting content that doesn't fit with an an individual's current identity then it's not going to be shared. So, how can businesses capitalize on these changing identifies? One effective way is to get to know your main target audience; how they act and react to certain social cues, and then create content to fit with this behavior.

For example, if your target group for posts is parents, then using language and content that triggers parental instincts could increase shares as parents associate better with it.

You might want to widen your focus too and try developing content that capitalizes on different identities, tracking what works best.

4. Content doesn't mesh with a user's values and goals

The same INC. study found that after being a good friend, 63% of users surveyed noted that they were more likely to share content that reflected their goals, values, and dreams.

How can a business capitalize on this? The best way is to get to know your audience. Look at their posting and sharing habits and the type of content they share on a regular basis. This may change over time, but you will see patterns evolve for different groups. If you can develop and post content that reflects these main goals and values then you are more likely to see your content being shared. Try different approaches and keep in mind who you are developing content for.

If you are looking to learn more about social media, contact us today to see how our systems can help you integrate it with your business success.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media