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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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Get more retweets with these Twitter tactics

Are 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.

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Connectors: the new Office 365 update

At work, we depend on several apps to be more productive around the office. However, with so many of them open in our web browsers, it can be a drag to constantly click in and out of tabs just to get the information we need. Fortunately, Office 365 Connectors for Groups allows you to stay on top of all the third party services your company is using. So how, exactly, do these connectors make your life easier? Here are a few things you need to know about the new Office 365 feature.

What can it do?

Office 365 Connectors enable users to access third party apps and services within their Outlook groups, rather than having to scour through dozens of windows to access a specific application. This new feature allows you to keep your company’s discussion in one place, and enables your employees to stay up-to-date regardless of the service used to broadcast an event. For example, your team members can be informed about a particular hashtag that your company is following on Twitter without having to explicitly open the page. Groups aren’t limited to one particular service either. With connectors you can use Twitter, Trello, Mailchimp, Bing, UserVoice and over 50 other services.

Small organizations can also take advantage of connectors. Office 365 lets you develop your own connectors by embedding the Connect to Office 365 button on your site. This allows users to connect to your service and get updates on your company, as they would with other third party services. Basically, with connectors, your Office 365 client becomes a hub for third party that keeps your company in sync to get more work done.

Connector card

Connector cards offer a user friendly way to interact with external applications. If a particular connector is added to a group, connector cards are generated within the group’s activity feed. While most cards will display events in plain text, some applications like Twitter and Trello provide formatted actions to interact with the card. Trello, for example, allows you to Assign or Comment on an event card.

Who can create a connector?

Office 365 group members can configure and use an array of connectors. Once you configure a connector for a specific group, that app will be also be available for other members. However, the person who added a connector to the group is the only one capable of modifying that app.

How do you access Office 365 Connectors?

With its public release, any Office 365 Mail user can use Office 365 Connectors for Groups. Simply navigate to a Group from your Outlook page and click on the Connectors tab at the top of the page. From here, you can connect the available third party services on offer to any of your Outlook groups. You can even configure the settings of your apps without ever having to leave Office 365. However you should probably only consider pulling in the applications that you think your group will be using the most.

As your business grows, you’re going to need more services to be more productive in the workplace. By aggregating them all in one place, you save time shifting around dozens of apps to find the information that you need. So the next time you create an Office 365 Group, help your team members work more efficiently by setting up some connectors.

If you’re interested in learning about the latest Office 365 updates, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Get ahead in social media with these 10 tools

As a small business owner, you only have so many hours in the day, and managing your social media accounts is likely at the bottom of your to-do list. But while it can be easy to simply put off those social media updates, you know in the back of your mind your business can surely benefit from them. They can help you gain new customers and increase profits in the process. So how can you find the time to get it done? These 10 tools can help you better utilize your social media marketing time, and help produce more results.

Headlines

Let’s face it, most small business owners are not experts at writing compelling headlines. Thankfully, there are several social media tools that can help you get it right. Here are two of them.
  • Headline Analyzer - When it comes to spurring people to action, appealing to emotions can be very effective. This free tool analyzes and scores the emotional aspect of your headline and then informs you of which emotions are being communicated the loudest.
  • Optimizely - It’s one thing to hear a so called expert claim that a specific type of headline will work, and it’s another to see it for yourself. This tool enables you to A/B test your headlines, images or variations of them to see which are most effective.

Content Generation

When you’re generating new blogs, marketing messages and other content on a regular basis, sometimes the creative juices run dry. This is where these three tools can come in handy.
  • Portent - Whether it’s blogs, memes, videos or other social content, Portent provides easy idea generation. Simply enter a subject you want to create content for, and Portent will give you some ideas.
  • Hubspot Blog Topic Generator - Similar to Portent, but for blogs only. Enter three topics into this tool, and it will instantly give you a week’s worth of blog titles to write about.
  • Banner Ads Creator - Creating an effective ad can be a real pain in the rump. But this easy-to-use tool enables users to generate ads almost effortlessly in a matter of minutes. Use it to create ads for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, your website and more.

Management

Perhaps the most difficult part of social media marketing is the management aspect of it. These tools will help you be more efficient with your time and create maximum impact.
  • Social Rank - Curious to know which of your followers are most engaged? Well, now you can with Social Rank. This nifty tool enables you to identify, manage and organize your followers on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Riffle - Mingling with influencers can have a huge impact on the number of your followers. While doing that may sound easier said than done, this tool enables you to do just that. Riffle will help you find and connect with social influencers on Twitter, and engage with them when they’re active on the platform.
  • Hootsuite - How would you like to manage all your social media accounts from one location? That would probably save a lot of time, right? Hootsuite offers just that, and enables you to grow your brand by allowing you to schedule updates and engage with your audience from a single platform.

Video and Images

What many consider the bane of social media marketing, finding affordable images and videos on a weekly basis can be both frustrating and costly. These two tools will hopefully make your efforts a bit easier.
  • Unsplash - This tool gives you free access to thousands of high resolution photos that you can use however you please. And to ensure there is an influx of fresh new images to choose from, the service adds 10 new photos every day.
  • Mazwai - To go along with your free images, how about some free video? That’s exactly what Mazwai does, offering you the ability to download videos under the free creative common license. All you need to do is credit the video producer, and then you are allowed to use the footage.
We understand that for the small business owner, social media marketing can seem like a monumental chore, and we hope these tools will help make it a smoother process. If you need any advice or assistance with your own social media marketing, give us a call today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Social Media in the Middle East

When people think of the causes of downtime and the need for a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), they tend to think big. Powerful storms, massive blizzards, fires and floods are usually what springs to mind when business continuity is mentioned. And while these disasters can disrupt your business, a small power outage can be just as problematic if you’re not prepared. Here’s what to do to make sure your company isn’t halted when a power outage occurs.

Power outages are one of the only disasters that can strike just about anywhere in the United States. If you are in Seattle chances are tropical storms are not going to be an issue and if you’re in Miami you aren’t going to fret over a blizzard, but losing power can occur anywhere, at any time and without warning.

A Department of Energy report noted that power outages cost American businesses nearly $150 billion in 2014 and added that increasing demand for energy coupled with an aging infrastructure could see the number of blackouts increase. While weather-related events are the most common cause of power outages in the U.S., it is far from the only thing that can disrupt energy service.

Since this is a problem that will continue to plague businesses, especially those ones that are unprepared, it’s important to be ready should a blackout strike. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to power outages.

Power outages hurt in more ways than you think

The most notable issue a business faces when a power outage occurs is an inability to work. Employees often times sit around unable to do anything until the power is turned back on. Once the power does return, additional time is needed to safely turn everything back on and to check if all your files are still there.

There are also numerous indirect consequences that your business may face either during or after a power outage. These include a loss of revenue from potential sales, a decrease in customer satisfaction and a drop in your company’s reputation. The more your company is prepared for a power outage, the better continuity you will see and the less damage will be done. While it may be impossible to completely avoid issues caused by blackouts, you can minimize their impact.

Be ready in case of an outage

One of the biggest sources of frustration for employees during a blackout is losing files they had been working on. Autosave features do help prevent this but sometimes you’ll still lose that one important note or sentence you didn’t have the chance to save. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are one way to buy your employees a little extra time should the power go out. You're able to plug your computer into these devices and they will operate as a battery when the power goes out. The life of these power stations is anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for some models which should give you enough time to save your work and properly shutdown your computer.

If you want to stay in business during a power outage, a standby commercial generator can help. These normally run on propane or natural gas and immediately switch on as soon as your main power supply goes out. If you aren’t concerned about the lights but want to keep your employees productive, equipping them 4G enabled devices with Office 365 or Google Apps will let them continue to work on files that have been saved and stored on the cloud.

Always test your outage plans

Regardless of what your company's plans are during a power outage, you will need to test them on a regular basis to ensure everything runs smoothly when the real thing does happen. If you utilize a UPS or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly. If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties.

They key to business continuity is preparation. Let our team of experts help prepare your business for anything thrown its way in 2016 and beyond.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Twitter warns about cyber attacks

Earlier this month, social media platform Twitter alerted a number of its users to the fact that their accounts may have been hacked into by something, or someone, known as a “state-sponsored actor.” While a warning of this kind is certainly not unprecedented – for some time now, both Facebook and Google have also been contacting any of their users who they think may have been targeted – it suggests that attacks of this type are becoming more widespread.

But how at risk actually are you from a state-sponsored cyber attack? Is your small or medium-sized business in danger of being targeted? And who is behind these hacking attempts? Well, going by the warnings recently issued by Twitter, reports so far suggest that people, companies or organizations connected to internet security and freedom of speech are currently most likely to be at risk. But ‘currently’ is somewhat ambiguous, for in the world of cybercrime things can happen at lightning speed, and someone who is a target today might be deemed out of danger tomorrow – and vice versa.

As always, the best form of protection is to be forewarned, and you can only do that by learning as much as you can about the latest threats, scams and attacks. If you are a Twitter user, be it personal or for business use, you may be wondering why you have not yet heard of these alerts. That’s because Twitter’s messages were only sent to a small, and mostly rather niche, group of users. The email informed these users that Twitter was contacting them as a precaution due to their accounts “possibly” having been hacked by the state-sponsored actors. The email also stated that they believed that the actors may (or may not) be associated with a government, and that those involved had been looking to obtain personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers and/or IP addresses. So far, so vague!

Twitter then goes on to say that, although they have no evidence that any accounts were compromised or any data was stolen, they are actively investigating. They also lamented the fact that they wished they could say more…but that they had no additional information at that time. The email goes on to attempt to reassure users that their accounts may not have been an intentional target, but admits that if a user tweets under a pseudonym, that Twitter understands they may have cause for concern. But with so many Twitter users tweeting under a different name – and perfectly innocently, at that – what’s the real cause for concern here?

The issue lies with the type of accounts that were mostly targeted. The majority of these belonged to people or organizations connected to, or concerned with, cyber security. In fact, Twitter even offered some handy advice on protecting your online identity, suggesting users read up on the subject at the Tor Project website. Somewhat coincidentally, one of the victims of the attempted Twitter account hack is an activist and writer who currently educates journalists about security and privacy – and who used to work for the Tor Project. Another is a Canada-based not-for-profit organization involved with freedom of speech, privacy and security issues, and one of its founders is a contractor for the Tor Project.

Other Twitter users who received the email are also involved in some way or another in cyber security, albeit as self-described “security researchers” or simply by way of following or engaging with the online security community. This might lead you to the conclusion that, if you’re not in the business of security and instead keep your tweets to sport, entertainment, and the latest must-have gadgets, you are not at risk. But we urge you not to be so hasty. That’s because, within that small group of people who were contacted by Twitter, a large proportion of them had nothing to do with activism, freedom of speech, calls for greater privacy, or anything of the sort.

This means that, far from brushing this latest round of cyber threats under the carpet, individuals and business owners – whatever industry they are in – do have at least some cause for concern. As yet Twitter has not released details of the state the “actors” are sponsored by, so for now we are none the wiser as to whether it’s a homegrown issue or one from further afar – say North Korea or China.

What does all this mean for you as a business owner or manager? It means that you should be taking your online security more seriously than ever. It’s no longer just your network that is at risk; now simply having an account on a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter could be providing less-than-desirable third parties with the portal they need to access your company’s private information.

If you’d like to know how to ensure the online safety of your organization, give us a call today. Our experts have experience in everything from securing your computer network to increasing safety when it comes to sending out those all-important tweets!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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