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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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Updated Microsoft Teams is set for release

Preceding its general availability, Microsoft has recently rolled out a major update for Microsoft Teams -- Window’s version of the cloud-based team collaboration tool, Slack. The latest bundle of features will kick things up a notch, allowing you to do more than IM your manager about your weekly meeting or ask your colleagues to remove the “view only” setting on Google Docs.

Smarter meetingsThe latest addition to Microsoft Teams is Scheduling Assistant, responsible for finding the ideal time to schedule a meeting. It takes into consideration the schedules of all members, and suggests the best possible time for all attendees. Needless to say, whereas Teams allowed users to schedule only intra-team meetings, Microsoft now supports one-on-one meetings. If you want to steer clear of Skype, read on.

Bots, bots, and more botsWith the latest update, bots are now capable of tapping into conversations happening in a team as opposed to a separate chat. To activate team bots, simply type “@” and begin interacting with the bot from there. Microsoft is also working on adding a Bots tab to Teams. This allows you to keep track of all the bots that have been added to a certain team while allowing you to discover new tabs as well. Other bot-related improvements include:

  • New bot gallery - the gallery displays a complete list of all the available bots on Microsoft Teams. Alongside the gallery is where you can add bots to one of your teams.
  • Discover bots via search - simply click on the search bar at the top and select “Discover bots”. From there click on a bot to start chatting, or click “Add” to add it to a team.
  • Add a bot with an @mention - to add a bot to a channel, simply type “@” in your compose box, then select “Add a bot”
Public teamsWith public teams, anyone from your organization can join the team, unlike the private teams which are open only to specific members. Public teams will show up when a user is trying to join a new team, and you can also turn your existing private team into a public team (and vice-versa).

When it was launched in November 2016, Teams was a relatively minimal service. But in just four months, it’s become a lot more powerful and stable. Microsoft Teams has been available to Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3 and E5 users since March 14th. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to 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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Introducing Cloud Search for G Suite users

Google Cloud Search is the latest tool launched for business customers that allow users to search across their G Suite products including Drive, Gmail, Sites, Calendar, Docs, Contacts and more. It was previously available in a limited preview, named Springboard, and was described as something similar to Google Now for enterprise workers.

Google Cloud Search is designed for larger corporations where different groups and individuals have access to different files. This search engine respects file-sharing permissions, so users can only access what’s available to them, whether that’s company-wide resources such as a policy manual, team projects or documents only they are able to see.

On top of retrieving work documents, Cloud Search also acts as a directory service that allows users to look for their colleagues’ contact information, while simultaneously viewing the events and files they have in common. When viewing a contact’s information in the search results, users will be able to click and start an email, phone call, or a Hangout.

Much like Google Now, Google Cloud Search utilizes a card-style design that presents information to you, whether you’re accessing the search service through your phone or laptop. Google Search also takes advantage of machine intelligence to highlight information it thinks you need to know. In these “assistant cards”, Google Cloud Search will reveal recently accessed files, meeting reminders, notes and more.

Adding machine intelligence to enhance its productivity tools has been Google’s recent focus; this goes hand in hand with the G Suite rebranding. In fact, the company announced a number of machine-powered features such as “Quick Access” in Drive that predicts which file you need before you even begin typing. According to Google, this reduces up to 50 percent off the average time to locate the right file.

The goal of this predictive search service via Google Cloud Search is to offer a productivity boost for G Suite users. Google notes in this blog post announcing Cloud Search, that workers spend 20 percent of their week searching for and consolidating information; the new service aims to reduce that figure. Google Cloud Search is now rolling out to new customers using G Suite Business and Enterprise editions, Google plans on introducing more features and will integrate with third-party applications.

By knowing how to leverage the latest technologies to your advantage, not only will you get a leg up on the competition, you’ll also streamline work processes and drive greater revenue. For further questions or more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email anytime!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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IG Stories: redefining online marketing

Since it’s inception in 2010, Instagram has come a long way from just double-tapping. The photo-sharing application recently announced its plan to experiment with video ads via Instagram Stories. Give your small- or medium-sized business a competitive edge by understanding and utilizing Instagram Stories.

Jim Squares, director of product marketing, said in an interview with Fortune that “a two or three-week test period” will be carried out before releasing it to all its active advertisers. Let’s face it, the similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat ads are undeniable. But with Snapchat ads, they work mainly with larger brands and keep ads as unobtrusive as possible. If you want to collaborate with big boys like Netflix or Coca-Cola, you’re looking at a budget bigger than what you might have. By contrast, Instagram ads are self-serving and employ auction-based pricing.

When it comes to setting up and paying for video ads inside Stories, it’s a pretty straightforward process, much like Facebook advertising. Not only do you have the ability to target your audience, but the benefits of working with demographic and Internet-based targeting capabilities definitely give Instagram a competitive advantage. On top of this, users can expect more goodies when the format officially takes off. For the time being, Stories seems to be a simple yet efficient way to test out advertising placement.

Instagram also announced that analytics from Stories will also be included in the Business Tools dashboard, sharing basic insights including reach and impressions -- with a good chance of more analytics to be seen in the future. It’s estimated that up to 71 percent of US businesses will begin to market on Instagram in 2017, and these efforts will not go unnoticed since 75 percent of users initiate some sort of action after seeing a post.

It took Instagram quite a while before it rolled out any type of advertising or introduced any kind of business feature. When it finally did, however, they didn’t beat around the bush in monetizing the platform. Yet, several months after Stories’ initial launch, Instagram is already making plans to leverage its power.

That’s because Stories represents a stellar opportunity at getting back at its biggest rival -- Snapchat -- while simultaneously providing an immersive advertising experience. Because Stories take up the entire mobile screen, so will the ads. Sponsored Stories isn’t exclusive to just images; videos are an optional format for both advertisers and consumers alike. Meaning that full-screen multimedia truly makes it both an interactive and engaging experience. There won’t be a difference in engagement between organic and Sponsored stories; both enable viewers to like, comment and share.

It might not be the traditional once-upon-a-time kind of story, but Instagram’s latest feature is poised to bring happy endings to many -- if utilized properly, of course. If you are still uncertain or would like to ask further questions, feel free to give us a call. Allow us to partner with your business, so you can #succeed that much quicker.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Improve networking with LinkedIn Alumni

How many times have you heard the saying “It’s not about what you do but who you know”? -- probably too many to count. Regardless of whether that’s your current business mantra, it's hard to ignore the advantages of tapping into your network. From landing jobs to furthering your career, the benefits of building relationships are undeniable. If you’re thinking, “Well, that sounds easier said than done,” you’re right. But here’s a tool that can lend you a helping hand: LinkedIn Alumni.

Get started

Access the Alumni tool by going to the homepage and hovering over “My Network.” Then select “Find Alumni.” From there, you are free to perform any search for individuals who have attended your school. You can apply one or more of the following filters:
  • Where they live (geographic location)
  • Where they work (company)
  • What they do (job function)
  • What they studied (major)
  • What they’re skilled at (LinkedIn skills)
  • How you are connected (first- and second-degree connections, group members, etc.)
On top of that, you can also identify alumni by the year they attended school, or you can conduct a text search for specifics that don’t fit in any of the listed filters.

The benefits of LinkedIn Alumni

Imagine that you’re looking for work in a new city. Let’s say you're looking for a marketing job in Texas. With the Alumni tool, select “Dallas/Fort Worth” area under “Where they live” and “Marketing” under “What they do.” If you are interested in a specific area of marketing like social media, you can refine your search by selecting “Social Media Marketing” for the “What they’re skilled at” filter. The more you target your search, the more relevant your results will be. From there, you can sift through profiles and send messages to those you want to have an actual conversation with. You can dip your toes into the water first by setting up an informational interview or exchanging questions via email.

If you’re looking to change careers but don’t know anyone in your new sector, all you need is filter for your alma mater. It shouldn’t be hard to reach out to anyone who went to the same school as you, because going to that school is what you both share in common. If you want to know how others made the leap toward where you’re headed, you can use the “What they studied” and “What they’re skilled at” filters for further information. You might also be able to find an individual with a nontraditional background, but who’s nonetheless working in the industry you want. This person may have insight into how to land the job without possessing the typical required experience.

Know how to contact the candidates

After narrowing down your search by utilizing the appropriate filters, you now have a list of individuals you wish to connect with. Technically, you’re just about done with the “Alumni Tool” portion of the process, but you’re not at the finish line just yet. All that’s left is to reach out to the people in your list and make the most out of the search.

If you have a first-degree connection with certain people, message them by clicking on the envelope icon found below the job title. Without a first-degree connection, you’ll see a silhouette and plus sign below the job title. From there, look to the bottom right of the profile photo; if there’s a Venn diagram, hover over it to see the connections you share. If you have a good relationship with one of these mutual connections, you should consider reaching out to see whether he or she would be willing to make an introduction.

There are a few ways to connect even without mutual connections. One option is to leverage your school’s alumni database to find contact information. Another is to send a personalized connection request. In the message, politely and briefly explain your reasons for wanting to connect. That should do it!

When used properly, networks truly are the keys to success. Like any other untapped resource, you must proceed with caution and know how to fully utilize it. If you have questions or concerns regarding LinkedIn’s Alumni tool, don’t hesitate to call in or send us an email. Let us be a part of the success that awaits you.

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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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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