Know your social media followers

On July 31, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

It’s one thing to have a lot of followers on your company’s Twitter account. However the goal is to get retweets, mentions as well as other benefits. If you aren’t getting these, what’s the point of having all those followers? Fortunately, the Small Business Trends Web site recently ran an article providing clues about how small businesses can get more from their Twitter followers.

Know Those Followers

According to Small Business Trends, one of the best ways to gain more interaction from Twitter followers is to learn more about these followers. You can do this with such products as SalesForce Marketing Cloud, SoDash, BirdSong and KnowYourFollowers.

What They Tell You

This software analyzes your Twitter followers to give you tons of valuable information: They can tell you where your followers live, where they work, what other Twitter accounts they follow and even how old they are. Knowing these details can help you create a Twitter account that more accurately addresses their needs and wants.


You need to tailor you Twitter posts to the biggest possible segments of your followers. Social media analysis programs will help you do this. When you sharpen your message, you’ll dramatically increase your odds of inspiring your followers to buy your products and promote your business to their neighbors and friends.


The risks of Bitcoin payments

On July 29, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Should your small business accept Bitcoin payments? A newly released Entrepreneur Magazine story listed the pros and possible risks of receiving these virtual payments. You’d be wise to take into consideration both the rewards and possible problems of accepting these payments that are growing more popular then ever on the web.

What they do

Bitcoins aren’t real money – as Entrepreneur says, they are simply pieces of computer code – however they are used as real money by many online vendors. Not surprisingly, a number of these vendors are shady. But more “real” online businesses are starting to acknowledge this currency. Entrepreneur lists such reputable vendors as Reddit, WordPress and Etsy as accepting Bitcoin. Remember, too, that Bitcoins only exist after individuals purchase them with real, old-fashioned money.

How safe is it?

Bitcoin transactions are secured by way of a process called public key cryptography encryption, according to Entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean, though, that all Bitcoin transactions are perfectly safe. Cybercriminals, particularly clever ones, can hack Bitcoins. Additionally, there is Bitcoin-stealing malware to worry about.

Why take them?

Why would any business want to accept Bitcoin payments? For one thing, these payments come with no credit card or bank transaction fees. Additionally they aren’t subject to taxes. And if more online vendors are accept Bitcoins, it might be a trend you don’t want to miss.


Want to be more efficient? Follow these tips

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

It’s challenging running a successful small business today. You face larger competitors and a still-struggling economy that makes your customers think twice before spending some of their hard-earned dollars. Nevertheless, you can gain an advantage over your competition by using technology more efficiently. As the Web site states, if you use tech more effectively, you and your employees will be more productive. And the site provides three excellent tips for doing this.

Password power

Hackers can wreak havoc on your small business. The proper passwords, though, can keep these cyber criminals at bay. advises that you create passwords that are at least eight characters long. The site adds that you need to include symbols, numbers and both upper- and lowercase letters in your passwords. And, of course, don’t use passes such as “password” or “1234.”

Keep your passwords out of harm’s way

Of course, creating safe passwords won’t help you if you don’t store them properly. Too many people still write all their passwords on a piece of paper. Others place them on an easy-to-find Word doc. TechnologySchools recommends that you employ a password-storage service such as LastPass or Dashlane. Such services can keep your passwords safe while giving you quick access to them.

No more sluggish computers

You won’t be nearly as productive with a slower computer. Fortunately, TechnologySchools provides advice for speeding up even older machines. Each month you should delete programs that you don’t use, drop old files, defragment the hard drive and execute a registry scan to identify damaged or corrupted files you can then delete.


Project-management software can make your business a model of productivity. But searching for the right software for your business? That’s difficult.

Pros and cons

Fortunately, has already done the research for you. A recent review of project-management tool Asana features a very useful matrix comparing Asana to its competitors. The matrix lists the advantages and disadvantages with each tool.


The matrix comes in a review by Jill Duffy, of the Web-based Asana program . But business owners can use the story to learn not only about Asana — which PCMag loves — but about its many competitors, as well.

Your search

Finding the proper project-management tool, of course, is important. Here’s the truth about project-management software: A few of these tools do far too much and offer features that you’ll never make use of. There’s no reason to pay money for features that your small business will never use. So do the research and get the project-management tool that is best suited for your small business.


If your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. That’s why it’s crucial that you stay on the lookout for new solutions to improve your small business. There is one area, though, where small business owners often neglect to look for growth strategies: IT. Yes, you can grow your business’ revenue by investing in IT. Small Business provides a roadmap, listing several IT projects that can help make your business and employees more efficient and productive.


A growing number of businesses allow their workers to bring their own electronic devices – everything from laptops to tablets – to their cubicles. The thinking behind this movement: When people work on laptops and tablets that they know well, they work more proficiently. But enabling your employees to participate in the bring-your-own-device movement doesn’t mean much if your office isn’t equipped with a reliable Wi-Fi router that enables your workers to access the internet, send e-mail and post to social media sites while at their desks. Make adding a powerful Wi-Fi network in your office a top priority for 2013.


Ultrabooks are impressive tools. They’re not as cumbersome as traditional laptops and far more powerful than Netbooks. They can also help your salesforce bring in more business: They are able to take their Ultrabooks home with them or on the road when they’re traveling to work on reports and presentations. They are able to run multimedia presentations for prospective clients. And Ultrabooks tend to be more affordable than ever today. If you want your staff to reach their full potential, equip them with Ultrabooks.

Say farewell to Windows XP

Do you still have computers that run the Windows XP operating system? That’s a mistake. As Small Business highlights, Microsoft will not provide technical support for this operating system as of early April 2014. The company will no longer distribute regular security updates for the system as of this time. Running Windows XP, then, means that not only will your employees be working on a decade-old operating system, but their computers will also be highly vulnerable to virus attacks. Make the smart move and upgrade to a more recent Windows operating system.


Vine – A Terrific Way to Create Short Sharable Videos for Your Business

Ever thought of using Vine for short, sharable videos for your business? If not, you should. Making these videos is probably already within your skill set and technology, as many are simply just using their smartphones and publishing these by the boatload.

Why is everyone so all aTwitter about Vine?

So, in case you’ve not yet delved into just what Vine is and just what it can do on your behalf, here’s the short version: Vine is a video sharing platform on Twitter that permits you to create and upload 6-second videos to Twitter. So what good is a 6-second video, you may ask? Well, plenty of good! Have a look at how a few companies are using Vine videos to further their brand, promote their merchandise, and otherwise tout their business: RedVines, Urban Outfitters and Nintendo.

These companies get it. They understand what this service, which is trending off the charts just now, can achieve for them. Consumers are less willing to read, so a 6-second video is an answer to prayer for a lot of of them. And, you’d be very astonished at some of the things people are accomplishing with this briefest of time frames. According to, businesses are using them to introduce new employees, announce events, give an insider’s look into the business, and even creating short commercials to show off their latest product or service. offers more innovative ways to use Vine. Some of these include:

  • Recording customer testimonials
  • Recording short introductions from your company principals
  • Real estate professionals are using Vine to offer a (quick) virtual tour of new listings
  • Restaurants are broadcasting daily specials. Picture a scrumptious plate overlaid with the link, “Click to Smell”, that takes them to the reservation desk. Lots of possibilities here!
  • Businesses are using Vine to show off stunning after and before pictures

The possibilities are practically endless, and this is something that can be performed quickly and make a difference in as little as a day. Take a look at Vine today!


Monitoring your employees: No easy answers

On July 11, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Faculty members at Harvard University were shocked to find out that university administrators monitored their e-mail accounts recently to uncover the source of a media leak about a school cheating scandal. But should they have been?

Privacy in the tech age

These are the concerns that Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large with Information Week, recently tackled in an online feature story. In his story, Claburn wrote about Harvard University administrators searching the e-mail accounts of 16 faculty members to locate the source of leaks to the media about a recent cheating scandal at the school. Faculty members were angered and shocked at the administrators’ actions.

High-tech snooping?

That’s because today’s technology allows employers to monitor everything from where their employees are throughout the day – thanks to smart phones and GPS – to what Web sites they’re visiting to what e-mail messages they’re sending. Employers implement this for a variety of reasons; they don’t want their employees to embarrass them on social media sites. They would like to make sure that their employees aren’t visiting TMZ during working hours. The question is: Does this monitoring pay off for companies?

Mixed opinions

For Claburn, monitoring largely comes down to trust. Companies that explain their monitoring policies clearly, will have fewer problems with disgruntled employees. And those that trust their employees to act like grown-ups are frequently rewarded with harder-working and more loyal workers.


Why napping at work makes sense

On July 8, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Feeling rundown by the end of your workday? A power nap may be the ticket. Writer Melanie Pinola, in a recent feature for the Lifehacker Web site, covered the benefits that short naps can offer for workers struggling to get through the workday. You might be able to use Pinola’s research to argue for your very own workday snoozes.

A Shorty

For instance, Pinola writes, a 10- to 20-minute nap in the middle of the day can leave you feeling energized and alert. Which, in turn, can make you a much more productive employee.

Not Short Enough, Not Long Enough

On the other hand, a 30-minute nap may cause more harm than good. That’s mainly because you’ll wake up from a nap of this length still groggy. You’ll struggle to focus. And the sluggishness could last for another 30 minutes.

Longer but Powerful

Instead of taking an hour for lunch, maybe you should take a 60-minute nap break. Pinola writes that a nap of this duration leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. You’ll also find it easier to remember facts and names. The problem? Getting your boss to acknowledge that you really need that 60-minute power nap.


Using infographics in your business yet?

On July 4, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Why you should use infographics in your business

So should you use infographics in your small business? Infographics have become extremely popular, no doubt because all of us seem to need pictures to process anything these days instead of the written word. So Al Gore invented infographics (purely conjecture) to help us tell our stories. And help they do! Based on research from 3M (maker of Post-its, among other things), visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. It’s no real surprise, then, that businesses have quickly adopted these visually pleasing illustrations as marketing tools. Here’s a nice example of how one online marketer is using infographics to grow his business.

There are a lot of wonderful reasons why you need to consider using infographics in your business. Here’s merely start:

  • They are visually impactful and easily scannable, both aspects that match up with today’s web browser
  • They present information easily and in an organized manner
  • They help establish you as an authority on the subject
  • They can go viral, which can result in traffic and search engine ranking benefits
  • As an image, they’re easily shared, and can make the rounds at many image sharing sites (as outlined by social media expert Dan Zarrella, images have more shares and likes on Facebook than every other post type—even video)

And as an example of some of the power of infographics, what better way than—you guessed it—check out this infographic from

How to produce your own infographics

If you would like to build your own infographics, there are sites and tools that allow you to jump in and develop breathtaking infographics. At the basic level you can create them in PowerPoint, which is not as challenging as you may assume. If you’re looking for a somewhat more advanced or polished option, you might look into a tool like, where you can transform existing templates to your needs, or perhaps make use of a service like PiktoChart or Infogram.

What if you haven’t a design gene in you?

Simply outsource them. Sometimes we don’t have time, skills or patience to get the job done, particularly if you’ve never really opened Photoshop before. Don’t worry, as there are top-notch designers willing to make your infographics for you,and for a reasonable expense. Examples of these places include 99Designs, Elance, Odesk, Fiverr, and Make sure to request samples of their work, set clear guidelines and expectations, and communicate clearly your vision, so there aren’t any surprises come delivery time!


Maybe those video games won’t rot your brain

On July 1, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Wouldn’t it be awesome if playing video games were actually good for you? Well, you’re in luck. A recent New York Times story reported on a new study showing that playing simple video games might actually make your brain younger.

Short-term and long-term gains

According to the study, older adults that played a simple video game in which they had to drive a car past other vehicles while identifying key road signs displayed the neurological patterns of much younger adults. Just how much younger? The study discovered that some 80-year-olds boasted patterns more common in the brains of 20-year-olds.

It Doesn’t Fade

And the best news? This benefit didn’t end when the video game did. Researchers told the Times that participants benefitted from the younger-brain attributes when performing normal day-to-day activities.

Crack out those old games!

So, it might be time for our older readers to break out their long-abandoned copies of Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Anything that helps build a younger brain ought to be embraced. And if it takes a few hours of shooting down aliens or gobbling dots to do it? That’s even better.