Blog

July 11th, 2016

2016July11_SocialMedia_AIf you’re like us, you’ve always got a finger to the wind when it comes to search engine strategy and internet presence. If you’re not like us, that’s okay too, because we’ve got a breezy little article here to bring you up to speed on 5 of the latest SEO and Social Media trends that are blowing through the ether.

Everyone knows about death and taxes, the two most famous certainties that we must endure. If there were a third, surely it would be that without robust up-to-date search engine optimization (SEO) and social media strategies, your business will fall behind.

And since there’s no time like the present, we’d like to put forth some of the things that your business should consider taking into account this year in order to increase awareness of your brand, drive more traffic to your websites, and ultimately boost conversion rates.

1. Conversational search

With the success of digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, and the relatively recent roll outs of Amazon Echo and Google Home - two virtual helpers for the home - voice recognition is becoming much more prominent. For businesses, this means adapting your site’s content so it’s detectable by spoken phrase searches in addition to simple short keyword searches.

2. Social publishing

There’s tons of content published on social media, but what’s changing is the convenience with which it can be consumed. Users are ever more at ease with the videos and full-length articles dropping into their feeds - and with not having to leave the comfort of their favorite social apps to see them. The new challenge for companies will therefore be to publish high-quality content through social channels first.

3. Real-time customer interaction

Having interesting videos on your social media channels is practically old hat. Nowadays, given our speedy and seemingly omnipresent internet connections and our on-demand expectations, the move is towards live, streaming, “in-the-moment” interplay with customers, which has been shown to capture users’ attention for longer periods of time than recorded video content.

4. Increasing emphasis on apps

Mobile users spend nearly 90% of their time in mobile apps and just 10% on mobile websites. It’s not surprising given their relative ease of use, and this disparity could become even greater as social media platforms continue favoring apps and search engines like Google continue developing a “web of apps” - something that just might mean the end of traditional websites in the mobile environment.

5. More rich answers

“Rich answers” are Google’s attempt to provide search results that are sufficient enough to eliminate the need to click through to a website for more information. Their prevalence is on the rise, which could significantly reduce the amount of visits to your site. But it does provide an opportunity to use “structured markup,” a protocol that allows search engines to display your site’s data in more creative ways.

As always, the fast-moving advance of ways to optimize your internet presence is keeping us on our toes, and these 5 trends will likely make a difference for you in 2016 and beyond.

So if you sense a need to enhance your company’s SEO and Social Media strategies - but you’re not entirely sure about what to do first or how to do it - remember what Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

We’ve got the knowledge, call us today and start collecting on those dividends right away.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
July 8th, 2016

2016July8_VoIP_AFewer and fewer people are taking phone calls for granted. That is to say, more and more of us have become discerning when it comes to ringing up our friends, family, colleagues, and customers. And the reason for this is simple: we no longer have to rely on traditional phone companies and pricey calling plans. We can now use VoIP.

In technical terms, VoIP is a broadband phone service that uses the internet instead of a public switched telephone network (PSTN) for things like voice calls and video conferencing. In simpler terms, VoIP stands for “Voice over IP” which is another way of saying “making phone calls over the internet instead of over traditional telephone lines.”

Here are some statistics on internet-based communications that really show where the trend is heading:

  • Telecom companies are losing an average of 700,000 landline customers per month.
  • Skype’s 300 million users spend an average of 3 billion minutes per day on calls.
  • During its annual stockholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that there are 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls every day -- and this was back in 2014.

Why the big numbers?

Surely you’ve noticed that you incur no charges when using an application like FaceTime for that quick face-to-face with your associate who’s away on business, or for the video conference with your clients who are stuck at LAX after a cancelled flight.

But phone calls for free aren’t the only advantage of VoIP. Many of us utilize it because it has features and benefits that make it a more attractive alternative to the phone company’s usual mobile calling plans.

Take the VoIP functionality in Apple’s latest version of its iOS operating system (iOS 10). Apps like Skype and Facebook Messenger are so well incorporated that they work just like the iPhone’s own phone application. Incoming/outgoing calls interface just like your regular phone, your contacts are fully integrated...You can hardly tell the difference.

So as consumers and businesses continue to recognize the benefits of VoIP and default to applications like FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Line, or Viber for their calling needs, will conventional providers like AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Bell Canada, etc. get squeezed out?

Can you ditch your legacy voice plans altogether?

It’s food for thought, and even if you don’t abandon them entirely, there are plenty of reasons to make broadband internet phone service a part of your day-to-day operations. And not only on your smartphones and other mobile devices.

Did you know that small businesses that change over to a VoIP network can save up to 40% on their local calls and up to 90% on their international calls? Or that a recent piece in PC World indicated that a business with 30 users on its calling plan saves nearly $1,200 per month when switching to VoIP?

Add in features like call recording, call-routing, conference call bridges, auto attendants, and virtual faxing and it’s easy to see why roughly 31% of all businesses now employ some type of internet-based VoIP telephone system.

So if you have a good-quality internet connection and you’re intrigued by the prospects of moving your business away from your local phone company’s services, we’re here to help. Call us today and together we’ll develop a robust VoIP solution that delivers cost savings, provides state-of-the-art functionality, and presents a professional image to the world.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
June 21st, 2016

2016June21_SocialMedia_AIn today’s modern age, the speed in which your reputation can change almost as fast as the speed of light. For example, your reputation might be stellar one day and completely flop the next - meaning that striking a balance isn’t no walk in the park. In order your business to reach its peak, it’s important to understand how to utilize reputation marketing to establish much-needed consistency. Here are ten tools to help get you on your way:

ConsumerAffairs

Businesses can forge a strong online reputation and boost revenue with an array of advanced features. Namely, unpaid business plans along with third-party accreditation programs coupled with powerful software as a service (SaaS) platforms - offering companies various resources to convert customer engagement into cash.

BazaarVoice

Ideal for companies with deeper budgets, BazaarVoice extends the online marketing potential of customers’ voices to shopping portals, offline channels as well as natural search. Customers are also able to leave reviews, rating, questions and other customer-generated content on client websites which will then be shared on social media.

Better Business Bureau

Suitable for entrepreneurs and SMBs, not only does this non-profit group mediate and resolve customer-business disputes but also helps you to personally interact with customers - other networking services are also available at an affordable price.

Yotpo

The mechanism behind this ecommerce-oriented plug and play solution is that if you have made online purchases via Yotpo, after receiving them you will get an email asking you to review the product(s). This Mail After Purchase (MAP) provides more verified reviews since they are sent directly to the customer.

Cision

Focusing more on public relations, Cision allows your company to connect with over 1.6 million contacts and outlets, including influential journalists, bloggers and social influencers that would normally be inaccessible.

Percolate

Create campaigns, store files, create content and manage your business’s marketing efforts with Percolate. It takes into account all your details, target audience, brand identity and objectives, after which it provides a cross-channel marketing calendar that helps you plan ahead and eases the process of sharing content with consumers on social media, the Internet and other methods.

Reputation Loop

Similar to Yotpo, Reputation Loop primarily works by automatically emailing customers for product reviews but with this tool, additional features such as real-time reporting, review monitoring on Yelp and Google+ are at your brand manager's disposal.

TinyTorch

Utilizing social influencers and user-generated content (UGC) to build your online profile, TinyTorch is a social platform that allows brands to identify, monitor and manage their online presence. The tool helps you locate your most influential customers and redistribute their stories and photos across multiple marketing channels.

HootSuite

This social media management platform allows your business to monitor and sync all social media accounts onto one interface. HootSuite makes it easier to monitor customer feedback on their social media accounts and share positive reviews across multiple social media networks at once.

TrustPilot

TrustPilot is ideal for businesses looking for something simple to work with. Users get to leave business reviews on its website while offering both free and paid brand listings. It’s an easily-navigable site equipped with an assortment of analytic and engagement tools,

Building a credible and consistent brand reputation might not be easy, but it isn’t an impossible task to complete. Whether or not you have one, it’s never too late to start. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the efficient tools that’ll help you get started on creating your own company’s reputation.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
June 17th, 2016

2016June17_VoIP_ABig data is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days, but rarely in conjunction with SMBs. VoIP has often been touted as a way for small businesses to access enterprise-level functionalities, and better access to customer data is one of the many ways to do exactly that. Keep reading for coverage of the best ways to leverage your VoIP data to increase conversions and provide better service to your clients.

Time/Date Data

One source of information that nearly any VoIP system should be able to easily access is time, date and duration of calls. As a small or medium-sized business, you probably work on a tight budget. Properly analyzing this data can be invaluable when deciding how many staff you need on the phones and on what schedule.

For example, you may notice that on Mondays you get a rush of calls in the morning, but by Tuesday afternoon the lines are dead. Just asking your employees when the phones are dead may work, but consider looking for more specific trends to better assign call responsibilities to your staff. You may find that there is a particular combination of time and day that simply doesn’t generate a need for anyone to work the phones.

The more agreeable the person on the other end of the line is, the more likely they are to vote for your company with their dollars. If you’re making outbound calls, pay close attention to when you see the most success. Everyone knows that no one likes to get a call during dinner time, VoIP allows you to take this one step further and find other stress points in your call schedule.

Location Data

Location data is also easy to track and a simple way to make your call strategy more agile. Understanding how purchasing or support habits differ between different locations can improve your marketing, customer service and client retention.

Ask your VoIP service provider about call-routing options so that whoever answers your phones is an expert on the area the caller is from. With the right amount of preparation you can help a client on the other side of the country as if your company was right around the corner, and there are few things as valuable as being helped by a local.

Customer Intelligence

Combining your VoIP services with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software opens up entirely new data points. How many times have you called a support line with an issue and have had to explain all of your history with the company? Even if you somehow did win the customer service lottery and got the same representative every time, the chances of them remembering you and your story are slim to none. With proper CRM integration, your VoIP system can route callers to the same service representative every time they call and provide your staff with a detailed support history.

Customer Habits/Personalities

Analyze client call habits and predict how to contact them and offer assistance before they even realize they need it. Does your data show that one of your clients generally calls once a week, but missed last week’s? Give them a call and check up on them.

If you want to really get in the weeds with your data, you can begin to match clients with your service and sales representatives based on ‘personality’ data. Data points like staff’s age, gender and average call time can potentially be used to route customers to the best possible representative.

Product/Service Trends

Whenever possible, tie data to specific products and services in each call and look for the most consistent patterns that result in a successful contact. If you notice that most of the customers that buy your flagship product come back and buy an accessory to it within three months, stop dumping money into marketing the accessory products during the original sale and trust what your data tells you. Follow up in a month and ask if they’re interested in that ancillary product.

You may be thinking that some of these data points were accessible with your legacy systems by simply logging the information separately. Tracking data that way is prone to user error and requires a pre-meditated plan. VoIP services track all of your data, all the time. Your SMB can easily view and analyze up-to-date data in no time. This agility and efficiency can revolutionize how you design your customer interaction strategies.

Do you feel like you could be getting a better ROI from your VoIP services by taking another look at your calling data? It could be as simple as better organizing your usage statistics, or as intricate as installing specialized analytics software. Regardless of how you want to go about it, we’re the ones to do it -- contact us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
June 1st, 2016

2016June1_Facebook_AWe all know you can buy ad space on Facebook. And while ads on the world’s largest social network are generally quite affordable, they still cost money - which as a small or medium sized business owner, may be in short supply. Thankfully, there are many ways to market your business for free on Facebook. Here are a few of the most popular methods.

Get your friends on board

A business is nothing without its fans...at least on social media. So after setting up your Facebook business page, your first order of duty should be to invite your friends to “Like” your company page. Bear in mind, we use the term “friends” broadly here. Really, you should be telling pretty much everyone you know about your business. This includes family members, colleagues, that random parent you chatted with at your son’s baseball game, and any acquaintances from all walks of life. The goal of this is to create a foundation of followers to build upon as you grow your business.

Create your brand identity

On Facebook, your brand needs to do more than simply sell a product or service, because no one wants to interact with a company they feel is constantly trying to sell them. This is exactly why your brand should have a persona and human characteristic. In other words, you need a brand voice. So ask yourself, how should your brand sound? Should it be funny, easy-going, serious or inspiring? Once you’ve figured it out, ensure this voice is consistent in all your posts as it will help your audience form a relationship with your brand as they get to know it better. While you can and definitely should advertise different products or services your business offers, most of your posts should aim to entertain, inspire, and encourage social interaction. As your followers get to know your brand better, they will develop shared interests with it, which will eventually lead to trust. And when your audience finally trusts you, the sales will start to come in naturally.

Exploit algorithm changes

If you thought Google was the only platform that changed their algorithms, think again! Just like Google, Facebook also uses algorithms to determine the amount of organic reach your updates get. This raises an interesting question...how do you discover what algorithm changes Facebook has on the docket? Well, they occasionally post them on Facebook’s newsroom, so regularly check there to stay updated.

So once you’re aware of an upcoming algorithm change, how can you exploit it? Let’s look at an example. Back in the Fall of 2014 Facebook announced they’d begin to favor link posts with an image attached, over photo posts with the URL in the caption. Users who were aware of this change in advance and implemented it accordingly, were reportedly getting three times as much organic traffic by February 2015. Those who missed the announcement were left scratching their heads wondering what happened to their traffic.

Check your data

Many people believe there’s a best time and day of the week to share a post. While this is true, the actual day and time that’s best may be different from what you expect. While some people are quick to proclaim Tuesday and Thursday mornings are the best time to post, the reality is the best time to post depends on your unique business. Everyone’s audience is different, and results will vary from business to business. So while some SMBs may discover they have their audience's full attention on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, others may learn their customers are most engaged on Thursday and Friday evenings. So how can you find out when your audience is watching? Check your page’s Insights tab. This will provide you a plethora of information about your customers, including the days and times when they’re on Facebook.

While all these tips to market your business on Facebook are free, bear in mind you’ll need to invest a significant amount of time if you want to see results. To really succeed with Facebook marketing, you need to regularly interact with the platform - and not just treat it as an afterthought.

To learn more about how your business can leverage Facebook and other social media platforms, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 23rd, 2016

2016May23_VoIP_AAs SMBs continue their steady transition away from traditional telephony services in favor of VoIP, threats of cybercrime and fraud are more common than ever before. Risks to VoIP systems are distinctly unique from those posed to your other networks and understanding how to combat them is critical. Here are 5 tips for securing your organization’s internet-based communication devices and services.

Types of threats

The majority of VoIP services involve live communications, which often seem far more innocuous than stored data. Unfortunately, your business has just as much valuable information moving across VoIP networks as it does hosted on company servers. Internet-based calls are far more vulnerable to fraud compared to more traditional telephony services and face threats from identity theft, eavesdropping, intentional disruption of service and even financial loss.

24/7 monitoring

A recent study by Nettitude reported that 88 percent of VoIP security breaches take place outside of normal operating hours. This could be attackers trying to make phone calls using your account or gain access to call records that contain confidential information. This can be avoided by contracting outsourced IT vendors to monitor network traffic for any abnormalities or spikes in suspicious activity.

VoIP firewalls

Every VoIP vendor should provide a firewall specially designed for IP-based telephony. These protocols will curb the types of traffic that are allowed, ensure the connection is properly terminated at the end of a session and identify suspicious calling patterns. Consult with your VoIP or IT services provider about which of these features are available and currently in use at your organization.

Encryption tools

One of the reasons that eavesdropping is so common is because a lack of encryption. Inexperienced attackers can easily download and deploy tools to intercept and listen to your calls. Although some services claim built-in encryption, be sure to investigate how effective they really are. Many of these protocols require the same VoIP client on the receiving end of the call -- something that’s much harder to control. Encryption should be compatible with as many other software clients as possible to effectively prevent anyone from undermining the privacy of your calls.

Virtual private network

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a secure connection between two points as if they were both occupying the same, closed network. It’s like building a tunnel between you and the call receiver. In addition to adding another layer of encryption, establishing a VPN can also overcome complications involving Session Initiation Protocol trunking, a recommended VoIP feature.

Password protection

Usually password protection refers to requiring password authentication to access sensitive information. However, in this case it actually means protecting the passwords themselves. Eavesdropping is one of the easiest, and most common, cyber attacks against VoIP networks and even with all of the protocols above, employees should be instructed to never give out any compromising information during a VoIP call.

VoIP is as important as any of your other network security considerations. It requires a unique combination of protection measures, and we’d love to give you advice on implementing any of these protections or managing your VoIP services. Give us a call today to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
May 13th, 2016

2016May13_SocialMedia_AAre your tweets not getting enough exposure? With so many other social media campaigns out there, it can be tricky to get the attention of followers in Twitter. While posting regularly and writing bold headlines are important in grabbing the audience’s attention, there are other Twitter tactics that you should be employing in order to get the most retweets. Listed below are just a few ways to maximize your company’s reach over Twitter.

Schedule your tweets

There is absolutely no point in tweeting out any content if your audience isn’t even awake for it. That’s why it’s important for you to tweet at the right time to get the most retweets. Usually people won’t be retweeting in the morning and are more likely to retweet around 2pm to 6pm EST. However, if your followers live in different time zones and countries, the time you should be tweeting may vary. Twitter tools like Tweriod track down the geographical distribution of your audience and pinpoints the optimal time you should be tweeting to get the most retweets.

Use links

The next time you tweet out something, try embedding a link in your post. Whether it’s news, sports or celebrity updates, people will put some effort in keeping up-to-date with their interests. Studies have also shown that links to instructional posts get the most amount of retweets as well. The problem is, 140 characters is not enough content for your followers. So by satisfying your audience’s curiosity, you motivate them to pay you back by sharing your tweet out to their friends.

Ask for retweets

This is perhaps the most obvious tactic to get some retweets. Using call to action phrases such as “please retweet” significantly increases your chances of a retweet. Of course, you probably aren’t the only one asking for retweets. Adding something to sweeten deal, like a prize for one lucky person who retweets you, gives people incentive to do so.

Use visuals

Intriguing images can inspire retweets. Images are a great way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, and social media users love that. Some have found that, using colorful images and infographics in their tweets significantly increased their engagement rates and found that more followers were retweeting their content. It’s probably because there’s just more content to engage with other than a witty 140 character thought.

Use retweetable words

Research has shown that some words are more retweetable than others. Words like you, twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, help are the top 10 most retweetable words. However common-use words in any conversation such as “lol, haha, work, sleep or watching” are less likely to get retweeted. Unless you’re someone incredibly famous, it’s best to avoid using conversation filler words and stick to the buzz words that encourage people to share your tweets out to everyone they know.

Use quotes

Quotes express a lot in one simple line, making it perfect for any Twitter posts. Depending on your audience, a thoughtful quote can really move their fingers to click that retweet button. The next time you’re running out of ideas for tweets, dig up some good quotes relevant to your topic to get those retweets going. However, don’t continuously plug in quotes into your tweets. The trick is to do it occasionally, so you don’t risk people tuning out of your tweets.

#Hashtag

You’ll notice that the more popular tweets tend to have at least one hashtag. Using hashtags on keywords helps categorize your tweets with similar ones, giving your posts a bit more reach and, hopefully, more retweets. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as #thiscanbequiteannoying.

We get that small business may find it tough getting their name discovered among so many social media accounts. But if you consider some or all of these Twitter tactics, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your tweets. If you want to learn more about useful Twitter tactics to increase your exposure and engagement, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 9th, 2016

2016May9_VoIP_AAs a business owner, it’s important to raise your company’s morale to be more productive. But you can’t just keep throwing office parties everyday of the year. Thanks to advancements in VoIP technologies, you can offer a better way to keep your employee’s spirits high by allowing them to work from home. This allows your employees to take a breather from the monotony of the office environment while still being able to get some work done in the comfort of their home. Not convinced? Here are a few reasons why work at home strategies paired with VoIP systems is a good idea.

It’s good for business

Many businesses have misconceptions about their employees choosing to work from home. They assume that their employees will be less productive if they are not within the office environment. However, this is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, work at home policies for your small business tends to be more beneficial for your company. This is thanks to the combination of cloud computing and VoIP technologies, which can easily migrate the office environment virtually anywhere with an Internet connection. Along with this, VoIP services can empower your small business and work at home employees in a number of ways:
  • VoIP technologies allow you to keep your employees on track with an array of management tools like barge, monitor and whisper which allows you to coach and micro manage your employees.
  • The cost of business resources, furniture, space and sick days are reduced when there is an effective way for your employees to work at any location.
  • VoIP services promote continued collaboration between employees even if some of them are not in the office, allowing workflow to be more efficient.
  • As a business owner, VoIP gives your company more opportunity for growth. You can communicate and hire people from different countries with minimal cost.

Perks for employees

Work from home policies with VoIP systems isn’t just good for business either. It’s also good for your employees. As more of their workload is digitized, working from home or anywhere else has never been easier. In fact, studies have shown that employees who took days to work from home were actually more productive. Part of this is because it gives them a break from the stressful office environment and, with a VoIP service readily available to them, they feel as if they haven’t missed a day’s worth of work. With the right VoIP systems installed, employees can easily collaborate with co-workers.

Using VoIP at home also saves your employees from long and costly commutes in the morning. They can simply pick up their VoIP device and join the conference meeting without physically being in the boardroom. Furthermore, employees who want to recall important events during conferences or seminars can use the VoIP call recording feature. This way, employees can make sure they are correctly approaching their work in their own time.

VoIP requirements for remote workers

If you’re convinced that working from home is a good solution for your company, it is essential that the VoIP service provider that you choose offers the features listed below:
  • Voicemail: a must for any VoIP device. This feature will record a missed call and send you an email of the audio file.
  • Call forwarding: allows your employees to simply take and transfer calls between VoIP devices and their smartphones.
  • Whisper, monitor and barge: allows you to check on your employees. If they’re in a business call you can still contact them without disrupting the call. This is also a good tool for call coaching.
  • VoIP integrated to shared documents: products like Office 365 let your employees access Skype while collaborating on a Word document. This means your employees can give instant feedback and correct each other without the need to send emails.
Many companies are now benefiting from a mobile and remote work environment. Although work at home strategies may seem like a risky venture, making the most out of your VoIP technologies will keep your employees happy and productive. If you want to learn more about the VoIP services that we offer and where it will fit in your company, give us a call.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_A500+ LinkedIn connections can open doors. It can lead to more business, new clients, and provide social proof to yourself or organization. However, getting to 500+ connections can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have a business to run. So how can you break through and become a LinkedIn power networker? Here are a few tips to get you to 500+.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 19th, 2016

2016Apr19_VoIP_AYou’ve likely heard of VoIP: the innovative telephony solution that can dramatically cut costs and replace your traditional phone line. While it may sound appealing, you might have a few reservations. What if the call quality isn't up to par? What if your staff is confused by the technology? What if you have to deal with the complexity and costs of installing an additional network? These are all assumptions that hold little truth. Here’s how you can avoid them, and ensure you get the most out of your VoIP service.

Use the same network for voice and data

A popular reason many businesses choose VoIP is to cut costs, which is exactly why you should run voice and data on the same network. Running them separately will significantly increase set up and running costs. And doing so will add an extra layer of complexity to your business that is completely unneeded. Regardless, choosing to combine your voice and data does take a bit of thought to ensure you don’t bump into unnecessary issues. So ask your provider the following questions before getting started:
  1. Will you be able to scale the service as needed?
  2. How much bandwidth will you need to cover both data and voice? Does your business have enough?
  3. Can you make modifications to the network?

Prioritize voice communication

VoIP saves you money. But you don’t want to do so at the cost of the integrity of your business. If you have unreliable voice communications with clients and colleagues, this can tarnish your reputation. This is why voice needs to take priority on your network over applications and other Internet activity if a bottleneck occurs. You can do this by setting the QoS (Quality of Service) on your router to prioritize voice and VoIP traffic. This can help provide clear voice communications without lag or interruption.

Provide comprehensive staff training

As with most technologies, VoIP has a learning curve. While many business owners are happy to give a few quick tips to their employees along with a brief manual, the training often stops there. However, what if your employees encounter problems with the technology while they’re on the phone with a customer? With proper training you can avoid such scenarios. What’s more, your training also gives you an opportunity to share some of the more advanced features VoIP has to offer such as in-call coaching, hot desking, and call screening.

To ensure your staff can maximize their VoIP experience, your training should include the basics of how the software, hardware and data flow operates. You should also include the procedures to take when encountering a problem with the technology and how your voice and data staff can work together for optimum VoIP performance. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to test your employees on what they’ve learned and answer any and all questions they may have.

VoIP presents a unique opportunity for your business to gain a more advanced telephony solution while cutting costs. Call quality does not have to take a hit. If you’d like to learn more about how VoIP can improve your business, call us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP