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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Marketing your SMB with Pinterest

Last October, Pinterest launched its first paid advertising service, “Promoted Pins,” which is geared toward large enterprises. Recently, a similar product named “DIY Promoted Pins” was released for small- and medium-sized businesses. This shows how popular social media has become in helping to establish an online presence for your business, and here are some tips to get you started.

Know your audienceAccording to a study conducted by Ahalogy and AcuPOLL Precision Research, Inc., Pinterest is largely used by women, mostly “Millennial Moms.” If your typical customer demographic is predominantly male, your marketing efforts would probably be better spent elsewhere. But if your business caters to women between the ages 15-29, you should consider creating an online presence on Pinterest.

Think like a content marketerUsers are looking for engaging content, which is why 59% of active Pinterest users go for Pins that lead to blog posts, articles, and even photos. The most popular topics on the platform are more visual (e.g., food, fashion, decor, etc.), so if you don't have highly visual content, then infographics, images from blog entries, and even photos of staff members also do the trick.

Look for inspirationGetting stuck in a creative rut happens to the best of us, so check out the boards that are saving your Pins to get some fresh insight. There's a good chance that people saving your Pins have related content that can help you gain insight into what your typical customer is interested in. Not only that, it also helps you identify trends and come up with new ideas for a marketing campaign.

Categorize your boardsBy creating and properly labeling multiple boards -- one for each of your products or services -- your users are able to engage not only with your general content but also with content they’re more interested in.

Determine posting frequencyExcessive pinning might overwhelm or simply annoy your audience, but not pinning enough might cause followers to lose interest. Create a posting schedule and gauge audience reaction before making any changes to the frequency of Pins.

In order to surpass the stiff competition, you’ll need all the help you can get, and that includes social media marketing. If you have any questions about Pinterest and how it can help your business grow, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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What to look for in a VoIP distributor

With a quick Google search, numerous VoIP distributors instantly appear. The problem is knowing whether they will meet your business’s needs. To attract consumers, these professionals throw around superlatives such as 'the best' or 'world-class' -- but that doesn’t always mean they are. Before committing to a distributor, here are some things you should take into consideration:

Highly-trained technical supportA good VoIP distributor will provide technical support both before and after the sale. But a great VoIP distributor will offer highly skilled, well-trained, and certified support. Make sure your distributor’s IT team has been trained on the latest advances in VoIP technology and has obtained the appropriate certifications.

Provisioning capabilitiesProvisioning means providing service to the user. This includes the hardware, wiring, transmitting the voice and data, and especially the final configuration. It can also refer to configuring the hardware and software in order to provide service. In other words, when a device is provisioned, it works. Ask your potential distributor how many stations and ports they have available, and whether or not they offer custom provisioning packages.

API servicesCheck whether your VoIP distributor offers Advanced API services. Short for Application Program Interface, an API is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications that specify how software components should interact. It helps streamline your ordering process and ensures your hardware will arrive correctly provisioned on your service platform.

Training programsBefore committing to any VoIP distributor, be sure to check their educational resources. How often do they offer webinars on new products? Do they provide training and educational material on their websites and product portals? Also, check whether your VoIP distributor will create custom training materials for you and your customers.

Remember, a VoIP distributor that offers a complete suite of telephony services helps you overcome your business's phone service obstacles and lets you better serve your customers.

For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Benefits of social media policy reviews

Does your business have a social media policy? If so, when was the last time you updated it? If you're taking too long to answer these questions, that isn’t a good sign. Because you should be conducting regular reviews, at least annually. You'd enjoy innumerable benefits, and deter your employees from obsessing over Snapchat filters in the process.

Avoid legal troubleDo you remember Chipotle’s social media debacle in 2015? It lost a lawsuit for firing an employee that posted negative content on social media because it turned out that Chipotle’s social media policy violated federal labor laws. That’s why you should work with your legal team to keep your policies up to date: so they comply with the Federal Trade Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.

Protect company informationSocial media policies can actually help safeguard sensitive data from hackers and cyber attacks, especially in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) working environment. Employees must know the proprietary company information that must never be shared, as well as understand that confidential information -- such as marketing tactics, non-public financials, and future product launches -- are to be communicated only ‘internally.’ A good example is General Motor’s social media policy, which clearly spells out what can and can't be disclosed to the public.

Define which kinds of social media activities are and aren't allowedAlthough posting offensive or insensitive material on a company-branded social media page being is an obvious no-no, it still happens. For the people handling your company’s social media, what precautionary mechanisms are in place to avoid a public relations disaster? Are there rules for different platforms? Beyond that, however, is a lot of gray area when it comes to if and how employees will be held accountable for what they post on their personal profiles. When social media policies clearly outline how employees should behave online and the punishments that come with violating that agreement, you can deter rogue employee posts and avoid a viral fiasco.

Effective social media policies need to be fluid and responsive to the fast-paced modern business environment. Taking the time out to perform yearly social media policy reviews will save your employees a lot of confusion while helping your company steer clear of potential PR and legal nightmares. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to use Snapchat for your business

A growing number of small- and medium-sized businesses are turning to social media to help facilitate growth. The reasons are obvious, social media is easy-to-use and capable of reaching an enormous amount of users. That being said, you might be missing out on one of the fastest growing platforms available: Snapchat.

Over 71 percent of Snapchat users are under 34 years old; as of 2015, the social network boasted over 100 million active users. It’s an ideal marketing option for businesses targeting a millennial audience. If you’re still unsure about Snapchat for your small business, consider these statistics:

    • 58 percent of college students are likely to purchase a product from coupons sent over Snapchat
    • 65 percent of Snapchat users contribute content on a daily basis
    • Only 1 percent of marketers are taking advantage of Snapchat, which means you can be an early adopter and gain a competitive advantage
Snapchat is a social media application that allows users to send pictures and videos - called “Snaps” - to others. The media sent can only be viewed for 10 seconds or less (you can specify the length), after which it disappears for good. You can add a Snap or multiple Snaps to create your own “story” which can be viewed by others for 24 hours.

The reason Snapchat is getting the attention of marketers is that it allows users to personally interact with brands. Instead of regular content, you audience gets a candid, behind-the-scenes look at your business. Also, by using Snapchat regularly, you’ll be able to keep your brand in the forefront of your audience’s mind. Then, when they’re making a purchasing decision between you and your competitors, they’ll choose you because of the relationship you’ve established with them. Now that you know what Snapchat is, the next step is to gain followers.

How to grow a following on SnapchatUnlike other social networks like Twitter and Instagram, hashtags don’t suffice when you want to get your audience’s attention. They have to find and add you - not the other way around. Even if you want to add other users so they could add you back, you can’t base the search on vague terms -- you have to know their Snapchat username to add them. Basically, Snapchat has no native discovery features.

In order to gain followers on Snapchat, you’ll need to use your online presence as well as other social media sites to create awareness and entice others to follow you. Here are some easy methods to get the ball rolling:

    • The “Add Me URL” feature - share a custom URL on other social media platforms that allow other users to quickly add you as their Snapchat connections. To do so, replace “yourusername” in the following URL: https://www.snapchat.com/add/yourusername
    • Promote your username in your social media profiles - promote your Snapchat username by posting it in other profiles to encourage people to add you. You can also share your username in email signatures, blog posts, and even your company website.
    • Share relevant content - plan an interesting series of Snaps to share with your followers and post all the details on other social media accounts along with your username and/or QR code image, this gives followers an incentive to connect with your brand.
    • Snapcode image as your profile picture on other social networks - take a screenshot and crop your Snapchat QR code image (Snapcode) and set that as a profile picture on your other social media accounts. Anyone who points their Snapchat camera at the code will automatically add you to their friends list.
Snapchat is one of the newest social media outlets to date. If you start building your brand on it now, you’ll be taking a huge step ahead of your competitors - especially now that Snapchat is catching up to Facebook and other social media giants. If you would like to know more about what Snapchat can do for your small- and medium-sized business, feel free to give us a call!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Which Office 365 model is right for you?

From Word to SharePoint, Office 365 has a lot offer. But each business requires different features from Office 365. Some may prioritize business analytics, while others may be content with no more than the productivity suite and Outlook. If you’re planning to deploy Office 365, first consider your business needs, then use the information below to find out which license is right for you.

Business or Enterprise?If you’re running a cloud-first business, you’ll have to decide between Office 365 Business and Enterprise. Both may have access to Office Online and OneDrive, but there are some notable differences between the plan.

For one, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans have unlimited archive and mail storage space, while Business plans have a 50-GB storage limit and don’t provide archive access from the Outlook client.

When it comes to SharePoint, Business plans are short on enterprise search, Excel services, and Visio features. Additionally, unified communication solutions, Power BI, and Delve analytics are also missing from the Office 365 Business offering.

Although it may seem like Enterprise subscriptions are superior -- and in some ways they are -- Business plans are perfect for smaller companies running on a tight budget. Office 365 Business and Business Premium cost $10 and $15 per user per month respectively, while E5, the biggest Enterprise plan, costs $35 per user per month.

As a general rule, start looking for Enterprise plans when your employee headcount exceeds 50 people and users require more storage space and solutions.

E1, E3, or E5?If you do opt for Office 365 Enterprise plans, you’ll have to examine the features and choose one of three plans (E1, E3, and E5) that suits your needs.

E1 offers basic enterprise solutions such as Outlook and Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel online for only $8 per user per month. Apart from this, users also get access to SharePoint Team sites, video conferencing, and Yammer for enterprise social media.

E3 provides all E1 features and adds data loss prevention, rights management, and encryption to ensure business security and compliance. While E5 is a full enterprise-grade solution with all the aforementioned features plus analytics tools, advanced threat protection, flexible Skype for Business conferencing, and unified communication solutions.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises will usually select either E1 or E3 subscriptions and decide to add third-party applications to meet cloud security and VoIP demands. But if you have the resources and prefer a fully-managed suite of Microsoft applications, E5 plans are the way to go.

Migrating to an Office 365 platform is a big step, and if you’re still undecided about which plan to opt for, contact us today. We don’t just provide Office 365, we assess your business and find the best solution that meets your budget and objectives.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How VR helps with business growth

Most people tend to think that the concept of virtual reality has a place with The Jetsons family, but not so much at the office -- think again. Recently, more and more businesses are exploring ways they can mesh virtual reality with daily business operations to possibly help benefit customer service and even employee satisfaction. Take your business to the next level by embracing three dimensions instead of two. Here’s why:

Create your own virtual product prototypes

With the help of virtual reality, you’ll no longer have to rely on manufacturing when you want to see what your product physically looks like and how it might work. These virtual products allow you to make any changes before going through with production. According to Abi Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of YouVisit, “Model creation in VR, for example, can save companies time and money, as these types of models or prototypes allow viewers to examine a product and make changes without the time or expense of building a physical model.”

Virtual designs for engineers

Especially beneficial for engineers, architects and other professionals that work with building or engineering large structures, virtual reality helps save both time and money. As an alternative to small models or 2D renderings, VR offers a more immersive experience that helps design and replicate structures.

Virtual tours

Let’s say that you’re a real estate agent showing houses to potential buyers. Your buyers might be in a different state or simply don’t want to spend time going from house-to-house. Virtual reality allows customers to see what the home looks likes in a three-dimensional setting without them having to actually be there.

Showing all the angles of a product

In order to entice buyers into making a purchase, they must first get an idea as to what it’s actually like, and they need to see as many angles as possible -- especially for products that customers don’t get to physically touch. With virtual reality, customers are given a better idea of what your product is like. Abi Mandelbaum says that “Virtual reality can allow current and potential customers to explore a product before they commit to making a purchase. Furthermore, VR completely immerses customers, helping place a product directly into their (virtual) hands or empowering viewers to see a product in action.”

Take customers on an adventure

If you are in any tourism or adventure-based business, you can use virtual reality to give customers a taste of what to expect from the attractions. Imagine that you have an amusement park and want to attract customers’ attention. You can opt to offer a short VR replication of one of your rides so people can see whether or not they’d like it. Or if you own a resort or campground, you’ll also be able to create reality versions of whatever activities you offer.

VR has the potential to take your small- and medium-sized business to the next level if done properly of course. If you have any questions about how you can mesh virtual reality with your company, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to assist with your queries.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Skype for Business and its benefits

Skype for Business (as hinted in the name), is the corporate-oriented version of Skype. Besides the snazzy title, Skype for Business possesses unique office applications that will benefit your company. Yet, many business owners pose the same question: how important is it to adopt Skype for Business? Here are three reasons that might help you embrace Skype for Business a tiny bit easier.

Cloud PBX

Skype for Business is designed for simple management, with Cloud PBX (public exchange servers) allowing you to store and transfer data via the Internet as opposed to a computer or other hardware that the end-user owns. With Skype for Business, you are able to easily record and store any audio or video conversation history. You can also store instant messages for future reference in a separate email folder.

In order for a cloud PBX system to work, it requires an IP connection or Internet phone for the necessary Internet connection. From there, you can access it through a personalized account from any Internet-enabled device capable of running the Cloud PBX’s interface. Your cloud PBX service provider is in charge of storing and managing all the data, meaning that your calls are connected to their recipients via the Internet. Your service provides “redundancy,” which backs up all your data in the event they were to get lost or corrupted because your computer crashed.

Expanded Capability

Over the past decade, webinars have become quite popular, mainly due to the fact that they allow important meetings to be held without having to converge at the same location. It’s like having a video chat with your friends. Whereas Skype allows up to 25 participants, Skype for Business accommodates up to 250. Other nifty features include:
    • Skype Meeting Broadcast - broadcast meetings for up to 10,000 people in large webinars.
    • PSTN Conference (or Dial-in conference) - allows attendees to join a meeting via landlines or cellphones.
On top of all that, Skype for Business is fully integrated with a host of other useful office applications. You have access to Microsoft Office (e.g., Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.), and you can share files with other participants throughout the meeting.

Enhanced Security Control

With Skype for Business, users have better security control through the authentication and encryption of private communications. So you have better access to guest accounts, and you can enable or disable certain call features to enhance communication.

Knowing which tools to utilize is vital to help you get the upper hand. By utilizing what’s best for you and your business, you won’t have to search for success; it’ll come looking for you instead. For any questions regarding Skype for Business and its functions, feel free to give us a call or send us a message. We’re more than happy to help you any way we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Twitter’s new dashboard app for SMBs

Fishes are known to travel together in schools. They do so as a defense mechanism against predators or as a means to find a mate. Rarely do we see a fish making its way through the ocean unaccompanied. Schools of fish are the Twitter equivalent of celebrities or public figures, whereby lone guppies are SMBs struggling to make a splash in terms of their online presence. Allow Twitter’s latest stand-alone dashboard app to lend your business a helping hand.

According to Noah Pepper, Twitter’s product and engineering manager, “For businesses, Twitter is a place to share news, tell stories, and have conversations that support, educate, and delight their customers.” On top of that, he states that “It's a place for authentic interactions – but we know that creating these kinds of connections isn't always easy for businesses that are time and resource-constrained.” Because of this, Twitter has developed a brand new application that helps lighten your social media load -- enter Twitter Dashboard.

Twitter Dashboard specifically caters toward small- to medium-sized businesses, helping them to establish a fast, efficient and affordable means to manage their online presence. It helps you easily track and engage with audiences. The free app is still in the beta phase but is available to all businesses in the United States via iOS devices. There’s also a desktop web version as well.

With the help of Twitter Dashboard, social media managers can schedule tweets and set up customized feeds with the sole purpose of tracking what’s being said about a particular business. There are tools in the app that aids in tracking keywords as well as brainstorming ideas for potential tweets.

Here are some examples from Noah Pepper:

  • Say you work at a restaurant. You can come up with something like, “Your team is as unique as your business. Tweet a surprising fact about one of your team members.” This helps remind you to share some of the recent recognition your chef has received.
  • Or if you are an interior designer, when you see the tweet “Share the love. Like and Retweet kind words from your customers,” you’re prompted you to Retweet the next customer’s reaction to one of your projects.
Twitter Dashboard may not be of much use to savvy online marketers, but for those who have just dipped their toes into social media, it might help build the confidence needed to take flight. And this is exactly what Twitter needs if it's aiming to increase overall platform engagement.

Small- and medium-sized businesses should seize every opportunity they can to grow. Leverage the power of social media and see your company spread its wings and fly, soaring amidst the chirp of the blue birds tweeting. For further questions about Twitter Dashboard, feel free to give us a call, follow us, tweet us or give us a direct message -- we’re always ready to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Best CRM Software Options for 2016

If genie lamps were out of stock before you could place an order for one, the next best thing to manage and grow your small- and medium-sized business lies in CRM. Short for customer relationship management, a real difference is possible, with the right software of course. With the numerous options out there, finding the most suitable one is like walking into a maze without a flashlight or GPS. We spared you the trouble and rounded up the best CRM software options for 2016:

Since every business differs in terms of size, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to CRM. Thus, varying corporate sizes require unique CRM software that best addresses requirements. We’ll be taking a look at ideal CRM software options for the following categories: businesses in general, very small businesses and ones that are free.

Best CRM Software for Small Businesses: Salesforce

Salesforce has long been considered one of the top-tier CRM solutions, mainly due to its cloud-based nature coupled with full-featured capabilities that cater to businesses of every size. Typically, Salesforce is synonymous with larger enterprises, but that doesn’t mean small- and medium-sized businesses are denied the same perks. Enter Salesforce’s small business edition: with it, SMBs can utilize the robust set of CRM tools at an affordable rate.

Salesforce Small Business Solutions offer packages that are tailor-made for small businesses. With it you’ll be able to fully utilize all that Salesforce has to offer. In order for your company to really thrive, your CRM should be equipped with features such as lead generation, contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, workflow automation as well as collaborative tools -- all of which can be found in Salesforce. Also, the software is cloud-based, meaning that you can access data and files anywhere at anytime via mobile devices.

Best CRM Software for Very Small Businesses: Insightly

Underneath its simple and navigable facade lies a CRM software that is abundant with capabilities, all of which fit the bill for microbusinesses. Aside from the fact that it has the vital components small businesses really look for in CRM software, it’s also highly scalable to accommodate the growth of your company. Furthermore, Insightly is currently one of the more affordable CRM solutions on the market; there’s even a free version if you wish to test the waters. There are also paid plans available at a fraction of the price when compared with other CRM software solutions.

Even with the free version or paid plans that start at $12, Insightly doesn’t compromise utility with affordability. It comes equipped with all the vital CRM capabilities any microbusiness would need. This includes detailed sales reports, opportunity, contact and project management as well. It’s also scalable to meet the needs of your business as it grows. To top it all off, it’s a cloud-based CRM software allowing you to access data anywhere at anytime via Internet-enabled mobile devices.

Best Free CRM Software: Zoho CRM

Not having to pay for Zoho doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t deliver the necessary capabilities required from CRM software. Zoho CRM provides your business with all the core functions it needs. Moreover, it allows you to onboard up ten users for free. Courtesy of Zoho CRM’s mobile app, you’ll be able be access data regardless of time or location. Here are some of the other features that the free version of Zoho CRM has to offer:
  • 360-view - all the vital information is stored and displayed, allowing you to make the best business decisions. This includes contacts, sale cycles, pipelines, and discover trends. It also helps you identify opportunities.
  • Automation - spend less time dealing with mundane tasks by automating tasks such as lead generation, contact management, calendars and even call logs.
  • Collaboration - Zoho CRM doubles as a social media platform integrating with Twitter and Facebook to link contacts to their social media accounts. This allows you to see their updates as well as the interactions you’ve had on social media right from your dashboard.
  • Analytics - you can track sales as well as measure both business and employee performance via a range of reporting capabilities.
  • Security - with Zoho CRM, you are given full control over who can do what with the software. Besides creating individual user profiles, you can assign roles and even restrict access.
Unlike farms, the main component to a company's growth isn’t fertilizer and sunshine. Instead, it’s competent CRM software that allows your business to reach its full potential. If you have any questions on customer relationship management software, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to not only provide answers but also be part of your success.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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The benefits of Instagram for your company

Out of all the numerous social media platforms, Instagram is playing in the big leagues with over 400 million active users. But since most companies are acquainted with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has essentially been overlooked as a marketing tool. The challenge isn’t posting a picture, but attempting to drive traffic back to your company’s website. Establish a solid corporate presence with the latest tools announced by Instagram:

Business profile pages

Previously, it was hard for Instagram users to distinguish an account belonging to a business from one that is dedicated to cats, but with the Business Profile feature, that’s a problem of the past. By taking advantage of this, you are giving customers directions to your business with just one tap - and on top of that, you can also establish a contact call to action with choices that include: text message, phone call or email.

The posts themselves are identical to those from other accounts, but as previously mentioned, the major difference is the account’s profile page itself. Especially when customers are given directions and various channels for communication with just a single tap. This fills in the void many business owners experience: converting the interest sparked on Instagram and converting it into action.

For example, if you stumble upon something you like on the page of a clothing boutique, you’ll be able to initiate contact with a single tap to inquire or to make a purchase.

Insights

Inspired by Twitter and Facebook, Instagram will now offer analytical data that tracks how the content is performing. Business owners will get to see reach and impressions data along with demographics (ex. On location and age) for each post.

This data won’t be available on Instagram itself, to access it you’ll need a business Facebook page that is linked to the Instagram account. By analyzing user demographics and behavioral data, you’ll be able to create Instagram content geared towards users that are more likely to engage with it.

Promote, promote, promote

Both the Business Profile and Insight features are free, but companies with a generous advertising budget can utilize the Promote feature to enhance top-performing posts through paid advertisements. Instagram will also suggest which posts should be promoted, and you can use the data gathered from Insights to designate top-performing posts based on your target audience.

Plus with customizable targeting options, you are in control of how little or how much you want your content promoted. Promoted content also comes with a call-to-action embedded in the post, for example: triggering a phone call or redirecting traffic to your website.

Both Instagram and Snapchat are emerging as the most popular social media platforms to date, and before these features are released later this year, you should consider establishing an Instagram presence for your business as soon as possible. For any further questions, feel free to contact us. #wereheretohelp

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Seven tips to Master Microsoft Excel

One of the skills crucial to the success of businesses today is digital literacy. This isn’t the proficiency of reading and reciting gadget labels, but according to Cornell University, "the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet." One of the first steps involves mastering Microsoft Excel. Here are seven tips that turns new users into power users in no time:

Easy as pie Charts

If you’d still like stakeholders to continue investing in your business, bombarding them with endless numbers and decimal points might not be the wisest thing to do. It might be better to compile the data into a comprehensive chart. Enter the Recommended Charts tool that offers a basic visuals that depict the latest data trends. More than one set of numbers? No problem, since you can insert multiple charts onto one sheet. After entering the data into the column headers, head to Insert > Chart > Chart Type and choose whichever one you’d like.

Conditional Formatting

This tool helps you highlight any points of interest within your dataset, for example, you are presenting the latest numbers on project efficiency - any numbers lower than 80% are highlighted in red, making it easier for everyone in the office to not only see but also understand the dataset. If red isn’t your favorite color, the formatting is fully-customizable. Select the cell, click Home > Conditional Formatting > Add and voila!

Quick Analysis

Lessen the time needed to sift through and compile numbers from small data sets while also reducing time needed to create charts. Select the data, then click on the icon in the bottom right corner and bring up the Quick Analysis menu - this comprises a variety of tools such as formatting, charts, tables, totals and Sparklines.

Autofill

After Excel picks up on the pattern within your data, Autofill fills in the other rows and columns for you. This saves you time by removing the need of having to manually enter row upon row of data. Just click and hold the lower-right column of the cell and drag the column the down.

Power View

After making yourself comfortable, allow this Microsoft Powerpoint-compatible data exploration and visualization tool to help decipher large datasets to create interactive, presentation-grade reports. With Power View, not only are you saving copious amounts of working time but also minimizing any human errors that could affect the accuracy of the report. For Excel 2013, click Insert > Report.

Pivot Tables

When it comes to data analysis, Pivot Tables might be one of the most powerful yet intimidating tools in Excel’s arsenal. Summarize large amounts of data in lists or tables without having to use a single formula. Head over to Insert > Pivot Tables and select the data range, then select the fields in the top-half of the right-hand sidebar to generate the table.

VLookUp

If you think using Excel was challenging, try working across multiple sheets and workbooks, now that’s a challenge. With the help of VLookUp, you can create reports and/or summaries by collating data from the multiple sheets. For example, sales professionals can pull information on item descriptions, prices, inventory etc. without having to endlessly wander between rows and columns. Start off by selecting the VLOOKUP formula in the formula menu, then enter the cell containing the reference number. Then enter the range of data you want to pull the data from, the column for the data point you’re looking and click either “True” or “False”.

It’s safe to say that Excel is one of the most commonly used business software on the market. And yet not everyone is able to fully utilize it. For any questions on the previously mentioned, or other features on Excel give us a call and allow us to help elevate your user status from beginner to pro.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Build an Online Community for your Business

The word ‘Community’ is derived from the Latin term communitas meaning ‘things shared by many or all’, which hints at our innate desire to connect with others. With the Internet being such a powerful medium, connecting people regardless of their locations has never been easier. Imagine thousands and thousands of people that are genuinely interested in what your company does -- that level of attention would not only propel but possibly skyrocket your business to heights you didn’t think possible. But before running, we must first walk. Here are five tips for building an online community for your business:

Make sure your customers are passionate

The number one rule of online community is that it should be a place where like-minded people are genuinely interested in your brand and are able to engage, if that’s not the case, it won’t be any different from throwing a party that everyone ignored. Make sure you have brand appeal, pick up on vibes your customers are giving off and figure out what they really want. The size of your online community isn’t what’s important, customer’s annual revenue and genuine passion for your products play a much bigger role.

Loosen the reins

It’s an undeniable fact that you have put copious amounts of time and energy into building and managing your business - so you can’t help but develop an attachment to it. What business owners have to realize is that your company really belongs to your users. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome, but when you are still clinging on for dear life and discouraging open discussion, you’ve basically shot yourself in the foot. Several times.

Another rule to follow is NEVER delete a post (unless it’s spam), under no circumstances would you want to hide negative feedback. Online communities might be the reality check you’ve been looking for, so accept honest feedback with open arms.

Create a rich experience

Thriving communities are the ones that engage in numerous activities, the same can be said for online communities as well. An example to help put things in perspective is bird watching. Let's say one community only has support forums dedicated to basic subjects whereas the other community offers a feature request area that allow customers to give their thoughts on what they want to see next as well as a visual library on local species. Ensure that there’s always something for your community to do.

Invest in infrastructure

Dedicated team members and the right software are essential components required in taking on an online community - don’t pinch any pennies here. Growing the team and utilizing suitable tech resources are necessary steps that (although nerve-wracking) need to be taken. Entice customers further by tying up all the technological loose ends, make it easy-to-use and devoid of downtime.

Don’t stress over measurements

We live in a time where numbers hold immeasurable power and people expect dashboards to show trending activity constantly. It’s a fact that measuring the ROI of an online community is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There is one way of measuring your community’s value, not with a measuring tape, but by looking at the number of posts.

If you're aiming to establish higher brand credibility, corporate integrity and customer loyalty but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it, just give us a call! We’ll help you with any questions you may have about building an online community for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Enterprise level virtualization for clients

The word ‘Community’ is derived from the Latin term communitas meaning ‘things shared by many or all’, which hints at our innate desire to connect with others. With the Internet being such a powerful medium, connecting people regardless of their locations has never been easier. Imagine thousands and thousands of people that are genuinely interested in what your company does -- that level of attention would not only propel but possibly skyrocket your business to heights you didn’t think possible. But before running, we must first walk. Here are five tips for building an online community for your business:

Make sure your customers are passionate

The number one rule of online community is that it should be a place where like-minded people are genuinely interested in your brand and are able to engage, if that’s not the case, it won’t be any different from throwing a party that everyone ignored. Make sure you have brand appeal, pick up on vibes your customers are giving off and figure out what they really want. The size of your online community isn’t what’s important, customer’s annual revenue and genuine passion for your products play a much bigger role.

Loosen the reins

It’s an undeniable fact that you have put copious amounts of time and energy into building and managing your business - so you can’t help but develop an attachment to it. What business owners have to realize is that your company really belongs to your users. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome, but when you are still clinging on for dear life and discouraging open discussion, you’ve basically shot yourself in the foot. Several times.

Another rule to follow is NEVER delete a post (unless it’s spam), under no circumstances would you want to hide negative feedback. Online communities might be the reality check you’ve been looking for, so accept honest feedback with open arms.

Create a rich experience

Thriving communities are the ones that engage in numerous activities, the same can be said for online communities as well. An example to help put things in perspective is bird watching. Let's say one community only has support forums dedicated to basic subjects whereas the other community offers a feature request area that allow customers to give their thoughts on what they want to see next as well as a visual library on local species. Ensure that there’s always something for your community to do.

Invest in infrastructure

Dedicated team members and the right software are essential components required in taking on an online community - don’t pinch any pennies here. Growing the team and utilizing suitable tech resources are necessary steps that (although nerve-wracking) need to be taken. Entice customers further by tying up all the technological loose ends, make it easy-to-use and devoid of downtime.

Don’t stress over measurements

We live in a time where numbers hold immeasurable power and people expect dashboards to show trending activity constantly. It’s a fact that measuring the ROI of an online community is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There is one way of measuring your community’s value, not with a measuring tape, but by looking at the number of posts.

If you're aiming to establish higher brand credibility, corporate integrity and customer loyalty but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it, just give us a call! We’ll help you with any questions you may have about building an online community for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to get 500+ LinkedIn connections

500+ 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.

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4 ways to manage your online image

Not only has the 21st Century brought about vast technological advances, it has also enabled new ways for businesses to get their brand messages out to customers and unearthed a new-found necessity: online reputation management. With a multitude of platforms and tools out there, it has never been easier for customers to directly interact with brands and products. So to ensure they get a positive impression of your company online, here are four steps to follow.

Own the first page of search results

In his new book on online reputation management, Tyler Collins, a digital marketing expert for Fortune 500 companies mentions the importance of a company's search results that appear after pressing enter. These results make up the majority of a business or personal reputation online. For optimal results, it is advised that you occupy the first 10 spots (the entire first page of the search results), and within this number, there should also be a variety of related content such as positive reviews, media coverage as well as customer testimonials that contribute to the establishment of trust and credibility.

Paint the picture before the exhibition

Especially for entrepreneurs embarking on a new company, it is best to work on their online reputation before launching. This includes creating a brand, company name and message, all of which should help your business land the top 10 search results online. You should invest some time in thoroughly researching potential brand names to ensure your tentative company name has no negative associations.

Don’t forget the execs

Equally important to online brand management is the implementation of reputation management policies for key executives. While researching a company, potential customers don’t only take statistics and reviews into consideration but also the people that are involved with and leading the organization. This is why it’s absolutely essential that your key executives have a clean online reputation.

To achieve this, the company can create a dedicated bio for each executive that helps increase the search ranks of that particular executive’s name. The next step is to get (positive) media coverage whenever possible. Everything from blog posts to press releases and quotes in an online news story will help forge a strong and credible image for the individual, and in extension, for the company.

Ask for help when required

When times get tough, seek the expertise of specialists that help maintain and improve online images for a living. It is almost impossible to change a customer’s first impression of executives and the company, so investing in expert advice can turn out to be the most important step in creating and maintaining your virtual image.

We hope you find these four online reputation tips helpful. If you need more help creating a credible online image or are looking to utilize technology to establish a stronger online image, give us a call. Expert advice awaits.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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4 biggest Facebook marketing mistakes

When it comes to social media marketing, most businesses would think of Facebook before all other platforms. Over the past few years, the number of Facebook users has been growing at an astounding pace, and many businesses are advertising on Facebook, allowing them to better target their audiences. Yet plenty of Facebook advertisers have been burned by low engagement, high costs, and negative feedback from followers. With that in mind, you need to watch out for these Facebook marketing mistakes.

Mistake #1: Treating Facebook like a one-way communication tool

The content you post on Facebook should encourage followers to express their thoughts. Think of it this way - Facebook is a social media network, which means that people use it to connect with friends and communicate with family members. They don’t want to be showered with advertising messages! Instead of speaking at customers, create dialogues that promote engagement and feedback. Try asking probing questions, sharing fun quizzes, or posting images and videos that get your followers talking. Remember that engaging content has a better chance of going viral and attracting more followers to your profile.

Mistake #2: Ignoring follower metrics

There’s no telling whether your content is going to appeal to your followers or not. All audiences are different, and the only way to find out what’s going to work for them is to head over to Facebook Insights in your admin panel. Take a look at the metrics there to determine if your posts are resonating with your readers. Some of the best insights include your top posts, where you can find the types of posts that rank high on the list (they can either be text, links, images, or videos). You can analyze the statistics and pick up things from there.

Mistake #3: Targeting ads poorly

It is true that Facebook has more than one billion active users. But guess what? Most of these people don’t want to see your ads! So don’t waste time and money to show them ads when you can use Facebook’s powerful set of audience targeting tools. Facebook allows you to choose potential ad viewers based on their location, age, education, interest, and more. You can easily weed out people who are unlikely to click on your ads. You can create multiple ad groups to be displayed at different times to various audience groups. This is a method to test and see which ones work best.

Mistake #4: Abandoning your audience

This is probably one of the worst things you can do. When it comes to Facebook marketing, consistency matters. People won’t be very impressed if they visit your page and see that your last post was a few months ago. When you post at regular times, on the other hand, your followers will get into the habit of expecting posts from you - they’ll even look forward to them if the content is really good! If you find it hard to stick to a schedule, try using tools that can automate your posting for you like Hootsuite.

If you’re not using Facebook to expand your online business presence, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. Want more tips on how to expand your business through Facebook? Get in touch today and our experts will be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Getting started with Facebook advertising

With social media being such a big part of everyday life, it likewise plays a huge role in online marketing. There are many social platforms a business can use to reach out to audiences, but the one that stands out from the crowd is Facebook. Over the past few years, Facebook advertising has seen steady growth in revenue, thanks to its specific audience targeting methods that allow business owners to lower their new customer acquisition cost significantly. If you haven’t tried Facebook ads, you’re truly missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. To that end, here’s a step-by-step guide to implement Facebook ads in your business.

1. Create a Facebook Business Page

First things first: before you can advertise on Facebook, you must have a Facebook Business Page. Log in to your Facebook account and, on the news feed page, click on Create a Page from the left column. Choose the category of your Page that best describes the nature of your business. Then fill out all your business information, including your website, hours of operation, phone number, address, and email. Finally, add creative profile and cover images to attract potential visitors.

2. Define your Facebook ads goals

Facebook offers a variety of advertisement options to choose from, depending on your business’s needs. That’s why it’s important to create goals for your ads, to make sure you’re spending your money wisely while achieving your business goals. Start by asking yourself why you’re utilizing Facebook ads in the first place; defining advertising goals and strategies will help you choose the right type of Facebook ad.

3. Choose an objective for your campaign

Now that you have a Facebook ad goal in mind, it’s time to translate those goals into objectives for your campaign. For instance, if you want to drive more visitors to your business website, your Facebook ad objective is to Send people to your website, but if you want to increase your number of social media followers you would choose the objective Promote your Page. From your Page, click on Create ads and choose an objective to get started.

4. Target your audience

This is the step where most businesses fail at Facebook advertising. You can target your ads based on location, age, gender, language, interests, and behavior. By defining the right audience group, your Facebook ads will be shown to the right people and will give a high conversion rate. After you’ve chosen your target audience, you can decide how much money you want to spend, and choose the time to run your ad.

5. Customize your ad

This process is equally as important as audience targeting. In this step you have the option to choose how your ad will look, by adding up to five images and text that will accompany them. The text is only 90 characters long, so make sure your copy portrays what the content is about, so it will encourage people to click on your ad. Then choose where you want your Facebook ad to show from four options - the news feed, mobile news feed, right column, or audience network.

6. Place your order

The last step is to click on the Place Order button to submit your ad to Facebook for review. You’ll receive an email from Facebook once your ad has been reviewed and approved and is ready to launch.

Facebook advertising requires effective planning, testing, and measuring. You need to experiment in order to find the campaign that works best for your business. If you’re interested in advertising on Facebook or through other social media platforms, drop us a line and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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