Using Google Hangouts Yet? Why Not?!?

On June 26, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Using Google Hangouts Yet? Why Not?!?

Google is known for coming up with new programs and then getting rid of them when they don’t work out. Anyone recall Google Wave, Google Buzz and now Google Reader? Even though many have predicted much the same fate for Google , an addition to this may just save the day. Google Hangouts is Google’s latest addition, and one that really has lots of usefulness. (Especially for marketers!)

Google Hangouts – The Short Version

The short version is that Google Hangouts are a good way to connect with others via a live video chat, one that can be recorded and used in various platforms and in many different ways. Joined at the hip with your Google account, a hangout is really simple to launch, and has a goldmine of interesting features for marketers. You can host a hangout with as many as ten other people, and many others can watch live at your YouTube channel, Google page, or a web page. Google records the whole affair, and delivers a YouTube URL to you after you’re done, that you can then easy use in your marketing in a number of ways.

How to make use of Google Hangouts in your marketing

There are tons of ways to integrate Google Hangouts into your marketing. Listed below are 10 ways people are finding effective.

  • Webinars - Sick of expensive GoToWebinar fees? Now you have a free alternative!
  • Conferences – Setup shop at any conference you are attending and share the event!
  • Meetings - Hold meetings for clients, customer, prospect or affiliates on an informal, yet immediate platform.
  • Product Launches - A creative way to create positive buzz on launch day. (Or before!)
  • Interviews - Capture interviews with people on the fly with Google Hangouts!
  • Product Demos - Show people what you’ve got, live and in person!
  • Virtual Press Conferences - Make your press releases go viral!
  • Live Streaming Events - Would you like your own weekly live TV show? Many marketers are now using Google Hangouts for precisely this purpose.
  • Q & A with Customers - Build relationships with your customers live and answer their questions and concerns.
  • Podcast from your Hangout - Making a Podcast to share through iTunes is quite easy to accomplish.

Google Hangouts is a terrific new tool to include in your marketing mix. Don’t miss your chance to connect with your customers in a meaningful way.

 

Is Google+ Viable Now and In the Future?

On June 24, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Is Google+ Viable Now and In the Future?

Has Google+ become an afterthought in your social media marketing plan? Just when was the last time you took a look over there? You may also be questioning if Google+ is now or ever will be a viable tool for your business. You’re not alone because many are still divided whether or not to even spend any time or effort on Google+.

Why we feel it’s worthwhile now and in the future!

One startling fact that really doesn’t ring true (yet) is that Google+ is now larger in terms of reach than Twitter. This is undoubtedly due to the proliferation of Gmail and the convenience of having Google’s entire suite of web services at your fingertips. Since Google Plus Local Listings already include such small business services as Zagat, StreetView and Google+ User ratings, it has effectively replaced Yelp.

The development of Google Hangouts, for example, has a direct effect on where Google+ is headed as well. The cabability to use a Hangout, as an alternative to say Skype, to do any sort of video conferencing, is a tremendous advantage. While it’s true that in its beginnings Hangouts is a bit clunky and hard to grasp, once you do, it’s miles ahead of the competition. The capability to have your Hangout automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube is sufficient to swing the scales in its favor.

So how are businesses using Google+?

There are many uses of Google+ in your small business. Here is just a few:

  • Build networks of like-minded individuals with Google+ Circles
  • Using #hashtags to help posts show up in Google search
  • Link Google+ to your blog, and benefit with your photo attached to your search results
  • Do live video chat with Google Hangouts
  • Use tags to reach out to people directly

To experience a wonderfully comprehensive selection of strategies and infographic for Google+, see this post on Copyblogger. Google+ may not seem like it’s worthy of effort just yet, but we feel as though it is both in the present and long term!

 

Marketing: “Vanity” Metrics You Should Ignore

On June 19, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Which Social Media Metrics Should You Ignore?

The term “vanity metrics” has made its way into the marketing lexicon recently, and for good reason. What many use to determine “results” can quite often be misleading and due to this, it’s worth examining some of the marketing metrics you can (and possibly should!) disregard.

Here are a few you can safely ignore:

  • Likes, Followers and Connections - The one with the most followers wins, right? If only it were that easy. In reality, more followers translate to a better bottom line only when you are actively engaging with them, and building a relationship leading to conversions. Merely developing a huge number of likes or followers who don’t make the transition to customers is fairly pointless.
  • Comments - Again, with the objective being to improve conversion,  merely creating a blog post that titillates and creates a large number of comments, but generates no leads, is a waste of a blog post. Make the reason they comment have something related to leading them further along the path toward conversion, say for example topical question.
  • Impressions - Mainly used in your advertising, the number of ad impressions is relatively useless, as it does not indicate any measurable action. Simply having your ad display in front of a couple of million computer screens is no real measure of how it performs. Rather, take a look at click-thru rates and conversion rates.

More on this subject can be found at HubSpot.

Those you should keep an eye on:

  • Shares of your content - Even though this is not a concrete statistic, having your content shared in whatever form is a step in the right direction. This means that that your content making an impression (the right kind!) and is being shared around.
  • Social mentions, citations - Especially now that Google is integrating social signals (mentions) into the search algorithm, these can be most informative. It will not only help with search, but in addition authority as your content continually gets shared.
  • Conversions - The holy grail, so to speak. If all of your social media and content isn’t ultimately resulting in conversions, you need to take a look at it.

Read more about this at Mashable.

 

Access your PC through your iPad with these apps

On June 17, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Ever needed to access your personal computer or laptop while you were out of the office? Ever needed that particular special file from your desktop computer while you were on the opposite side of the country from it? Using your iPad and a remote-access app, it’s easy to access your desktop or laptop no matter where it is or you are. As the name indicates, these apps permit you to utilize your iPad to take control of your personal computer or laptop. Once you’ve gained this control, you can easily open files, explore folders, access contact lists and, in some instances, watch movies or videos that you’ve saved on your Home computer or laptop. The best news? There are several remote-access apps on the market. While remotely managing your PC isn’t quite as smooth an experience as working with it in person, these applications can help in an emergency.

GoToMyPc: Citrix has long offered GoToMyPC, a means to access your home computer when you are traveling. In fact, Citrix was offering the service before tablets and smartphones became the favored toys of tech-savvy consumers. Today, you are able to enroll in this service for $9.95 monthly for basic service or $99 for one computer for a year. Once you sign up, you’ll get a free app for the iPad that permits you to run GoToMyPC from your tablet. As the name suggests, use this service to remotely access your Word and PowerPoint documents, e-mail folders and file folders. PC Magazine just evaluated the service and praised it for ease of use and usefulness. The cost, though, is high. Many iPad users will find cheaper services which work just as well for their needs.

SplashTop Remote Desktop: One of the more popular remote-access iPad apps, SplashTop Remote Desktop is remarkably powerful for the affordable price of $4.99. And, as a recent review in CNET says, you can even utilize this software to access and stream videos and music from your PC to your iPad. This is a uncommon feature in the remote-access industry, and makes this software a desirable one.

LogMeIn Ignition: LogMeIn Ignition is another lower-priced alternative to popular GoToMyPC, though at $30, it’s more costly than rival SplashTop. This program has also been praised by CNET for its simplicity of use and effectiveness, but also for two nifty features. First, you can use LogMeIn to remotely wake up a sleeping or shut-down PC. Secondly, you can utilize the software to remotely transfer files from a PC to your iPad.

 

Worried about cyber attacks? Take these steps

On June 12, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Think your small business is protected from cyber criminals? Think again. Most small businesses across the country are remarkably vulnerable to hackers. It’s relatively easy for savvy cyber criminals to hack into your business’ Wi-Fi account, for instance. From there, it’s an easy process for cyber criminals to steal your company’s data and money. Thankfully, Entrepreneur Magazine recently ran a story providing tips for small business owners who want to shield their companies from hackers. The good news? Thwarting cyber crimes sometimes needs the simplest of steps.

Encrypt your Data

Make sure the full-disk encryption tools on your company’s computers are switched on. When they are, these tools encrypt every file or program stored on your computers’ drives. This is important because hackers would rather go after easy targets. When they notice that your company’s key data are encrypted, they will often move on searching for easier targets. On Macintosh computers, the encryption tool is labeled FileVault. On Windows-based machines, the tool is called BitLocker.

Lockdown

Here’s a surprising fact from the Entrepreneur story: Many businesses become the target of cyber crimes only after burglars physically break into their offices and steal their laptops or other devices. Once equipped with your equipment, cyber criminals can potentially access important company accounts and information. That’s why employees should, before leaving for the day, run a cable through the Kensington locks – the small metal loops attached to most computers and laptops – on their electronic devices and lock them to their desks. This may prevent some criminals, interested in completing their theft quickly, from bothering with the devices.

Wi-Fi Vulnerability

Often the simplest way for cyber criminals to gain access to your company accounts is through your business’ Wi-Fi network. That’s why Entrepreneur Magazine suggests you do away with Wi-Fi completely and instead install a wired network. If you can’t do that, as a minimum protect your Wi-Fi accounts with passwords that are difficult to compromise. A good bet? Long passwords made from a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

 

Sharing screens on a tablet no longer a hassle

On June 10, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Think you can’t use your tablet to share screens with your co-workers? Think again. There are several apps you can get today that allow you to share your reports, images, documents and videos with co-workers and friends. With one of these screen-sharing apps, you won’t even miss that heavier laptop computer. Whatever screen sharing it can do, your tablet is now able to do, too. But which screen-sharing apps for iOS should you download? Miguel Leiva-Gomez, a writer for the tech site smallbiz technology, recommends three that should handle all of your screen-sharing needs.

Join.me

The join.me app is available in free and “pro” versions. To make use of this app on the iOS operating system, you’ll need to spend about $20 a month for the “pro” version. But as Leiva-Gomez writes, the cost is worth it. The application allows users to share all of their screens with co-workers, and it does it without having a steep learning curve. It’s exceedingly simple to use. The application also includes other bonus features, like instant chat capabilities, Internet calling and file sharing.

Air Sketch

Leiva-Gomez says that this app will turn your tablet into a whiteboard with such features as multiple pages. Users can use images from their own libraries as the background in their whiteboard and they can rely on one of five different drawing tools. Users are also able to use Air Sketch to open PDFs. The program displays everything in real time, creating an environment well suited to collaboration.

Conference Pad

Conference Pad is a simple but helpful screen-sharing program, one that Leiva-Gomez gives high marks. Users can open and share PDFs and documents with just a few taps. The application also boasts some exceptional zooming features, allowing users to zoom without sacrificing any image quality.

 

Vacation isn’t always fun and games. Sometimes you have to work. But if you’re stuck at a hotel or resort having a sluggish Internet connection, this could be frustrating. Fortunately, the Lifehacker Web site provides some easy strategies for working with a slow Internet connection.

Plug-in hogs

Sometimes, plugins and apps hog your bandwidth. Turn off these features. You can even try installing such programs as AdBlock Plus or FlashBlock. Lifehacker states that these programs can block bandwidth-hogging ads and videos.

Change your habits

When you’re struggling with a slow Internet connection, it’s time to adjust your surfing habits. Visit the mobile versions of Web sites. Disable all images. And don’t try to watch streaming video or download TV shows or movies.

Change the way you work

At times, there’s little you can do to boost your Internet speed. In such cases, you’ll have to work smart. Perform those tasks that require little bandwidth – for example sending e-mails – when you’re saddled with a slow connection. Don’t perform high-bandwidth tasks – such as editing videos – until you’re blessed with a speedier connection.

 

Using a laptop while you are on an airplane is definately not ideal. But sometimes you can’t get around it; work must be done. Nevertheless, you don’t need to suffer a back ache after your plane lands. The Lifehacker Web site provides a quick tip for easing your back strain.

Back Pain

First, no hunching. Hunching to type is really what leaves you with a sore back by the end of the day. And if you are working in on an airplane? The natural impulse to hunch will be even stronger.

Angle

Lifehacker suggests that you angle your laptop so your neck stays in a natural and relaxed neutral position. Your objective is to lineup your laptop screen with your eye level. To accomplish this most effectively, you’ll need a laptop stand. You can get these fairly cheaply, with quality ones retailing for about $20.

There’s Skymall, too

And you’re not out of luck if you don’t have a laptop stand, either. Lifehacker says that you can just roll up a Skymall catalog – can’t get on a plane without having one of those! – and you can tuck it beneath your laptop to create a laptop stand in a pinch.