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June 26th, 2014

Security_June23_BVirtual machines are just gateways to a server, and cyber criminals want access to data on those servers. While you might think you’re keeping your virtual environment safe, there are several virtualization security myths which if believed can have a serious impact on your platforms, leaving them susceptible to attack. It’s vital that you are aware of these untruths to make better decisions about your business’s virtual environment.

Myth No.1: Existing endpoint security will protect our virtual environment

Most traditional endpoint security solutions are virtual-aware and provide low levels of protection. This simply isn’t enough. Depending on the virtualization platform used (VMware, Microsoft, etc.), your traditional endpoint security suite can probably recognize virtual endpoints. However, this physical software often can’t bring its full tool set of anti-malware to the virtual world, meaning it can only perform basic tasks such as on-access scanning.

Therefore what you need is a solution that has been designed to keep both virtual and physical computing environments secure. There are a wide-number of solutions out there, and the best one for your business will depend largely on the virtual environments you employ. We strongly recommend talking to IT experts like us, as we can help determine, or even offer, the strongest security based.

Myth No.2: My existing anti-malware doesn’t interfere with my virtual operations

Performance issues can create security gaps that don't exist in your physical environment. Traditional endpoint security uses an agent-based model where each physical and virtual machine has a copy of the security program’s agent on it. This agent communicates with the server while performing security tasks. This is fine for physical machines, but if you have 100 virtual machines running off of one main environment that has been infected with malware, you’ll also have 100 instances of malware running on the machines.

This high level of duplication can cause massive performance degradation and waste tons of storage capacity. Therefore, you should make an effort to ensure that all of your systems including the main ones are without malware. This not only makes every system secure, but can also speed up overall operations.

Myth No.3: Virtual environments are inherently more secure than physical environments

Sadly, this just isn’t always true. Virtualization is designed to allow software, including malware, to behave as it normally would, and malware writers will target any and all weak points in a business’s network to accomplish their goals. An attacker who compromises one virtual machine and finds a way to jump to the hypervisor - the system that enables the virtualization - then has access to every virtual machine on that host.

Therefore, malware scanners on both the user and main systems would be a good idea. If it does happen to get on a system, the chances of it spreading are drastically reduced.

Myth No.4: Using non-persistent virtual machines effectively secures a network

In theory, any machine that encounters malware is wiped away and recreated cleanly. However, we are now seeing malware that is designed to survive teardown of individual machines by spreading across the virtual network. This allows it to return when new virtual machines are created.

Additionally, being too eager to create new machines on demand can result in virtual machine sprawl, which happens when virtual machines are created but then forgotten. This leads to an unmaintained virtual endpoint operating without your knowledge. Even if the rest of your virtual machines are secure, it’s possible for one machine to eavesdrop on the traffic of another virtual machine, leading to privacy and security risks.

The best solution to this is to employ an IT manager who can track and maintain systems. Many IT partners offer a solution like this, so experts like us may be able to help ensure your systems are secure.

Myth No.5: Specialized virtual security programs are more or less the same

There are various approaches to virtualization security and your network will probably need a blend of available options. This all depends on what you’re trying to protect.

A non-Web-connected server is going to have entirely different security needs than a virtual desktop of a server that manages customer information. Implementing one without the other simply just won’t do in today’s world, where attackers are set on getting their hands on your data.

Proper security is vital in making virtualization a critical component of your business IT infrastructure. Looking to learn more about virtualization and its components? Contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 24th, 2014

Facebook_June23_BAs Facebook continues to provide interactive ways for brands to engage with customers, businesses are increasingly turning to the social media platform to build a recognizable brand for both existing and future customers. Following Facebook's recent expansion of its video capabilities, businesses now have some new toys to play with, such as Video Views Objective. The question is: What does this new function have to offer and how will it help your business?

What is Video Views Objective?

Following the introduction of video metrics and Premium Video Ads, Facebook has now introduced expanded video capabilities, called Video Views Objective. This feature will enable businesses running video ads to choose video views as an objective for their campaigns. In short, this allows businesses to take advantage of two solutions to direct Facebook users to additional content. All businesses will be able to plan their campaigns using the traditional broadcast model of reach and frequency.

Video Views Objective (VVO) will be added to Facebook’s Ads Create Tool, Power Editor, and its ads application-programming interface. Ads created using VVO will automatically be optimized to be shown to targeted Facebook users who are most likely to view videos across devices. This will allow businesses to take people on a deeper journey with their brand by encouraging them to take action right after they have watched a video, and sending them a targeted brand message later on.

How does this help businesses?

As mentioned earlier, you will be able to encourage those who have viewed your videos to view additional content with two new solutions. Firstly, businesses who work with a Facebook account representative can create audiences of people who have already watched their videos. Ads can be created for those specific groups to help move them from awareness to affinity and consideration of the brand’s product or service.

A second way businesses can encourage increased engagement is by adding a call to action, which invites people to learn more and visit a specific destination, such as a page on their website, after viewing a video.

You can also gain more control over the number of people who will view your videos by utilizing reach and frequency buying. This will predictably manage audience sizes and the number of times your ads are shown to these audiences. Traditional broadcast ad campaigns are planned and bought by focusing on the number of people you can reach and how many times you can reach them. This helps align Facebook media delivery with the reach and frequency levels that deliver business results.

Facebook is a versatile tool in that it can be used to exhibit a business's core values, as well as enhance customer engagement and experience. Looking to learn more about Facebook for business? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2014

virtualization_June17_BIn some cases, the value proposition that server virtualization offers business owners is a no-brainer. But for others, it might not be advisable. The real question is how do I identify if server virtualization will save my business money? To make sure that you are fit to reap all the benefits of a virtual server, you must first make sure that server virtualization is right for your business.

10 ways to identify if server virtualization will save you money:

  1. Expert IT personnel: Some small businesses don’t have an IT person on the payroll, or if they do, that person deals with tasks such as security or desktop management which often means they are ill-equipped to deal with the technological sophistication that virtualization demands. If you don’t have an IT expert, virtualizing might not be right for you.
  2. Technology as core competence: If your company’s core competence is technology, or if you have lots of servers which require abundant storage and skilled IT veterans, server virtualization is sure to help save your company money. Not only will you improve on storage efficiency, but you won’t have a payroll replete with lots of IT personnels.
  3. Busy servers: If your servers are taking up floor, rack or shelf space, or if they are dedicated to particular applications; your business is likely to save money through server virtualization. Moreover, if your server equipment is aging, server virtualization might help with significant server consolidation, meaning fewer servers, lower power bills and more floor space, too.
  4. Sensitive applications: Note that not all applications do well in virtual environments. Some critical or sensitive applications require a lot of processor or memory resources and you don’t want them sharing those resources with other virtual servers. Find out about your applications performance needs, if they’re not sensitive they may be ripe for a virtual server.
  5. Shared storage: Some people will tell you that virtual servers must have a virtual storage, however those themes usually come from vendors whose livelihoods are tied to virtual storage. If your business focuses on having a centralized storage that is shared between users, virtualization can be very beneficial.
  6. Speed of deployment: Some businesses need to be able to provision servers rapidly since failure to do so is a distinct competitive disadvantage. If thats the case in your business, virtualization is a must. Ordering a physical server and deploying it can take days if not weeks; unlike a virtual framework which once in place deployment can be done in no time.
  7. Server virtualization test drive: Why not try virtualization on a small scale before deciding if you should go all virtual? You can buy inexpensive tool such as VMware Workstation which costs around USD$199 for your IT staff to try out and see the potential value of server virtualization.
  8. Do research: Even if you think you know all the basics about server virtualization, be safe than sorry by doing more research before implementing anything. A good place to start is Virtualization for Dummies. It provides a thorough basic understanding of the idea as well as what it can do for your business.
  9. Ignore server virtualization hype: With so much hype around virtualization these days it would be easy for some businesses to rush into. Don’t do that! Instead, do some research and analyze your business’ components and needs before deciding to go all virtual.
  10. Get help: Server virtualization can be quite complicated, the good news is that vendors are making it much easier to deploy. If you decide to virtualize your servers, getting help from a reputable vendor can pay off in the long run. Most vendors offer solution bundles which include servers and storage pre-installed virtual servers for turnkey operation.
While server virtualization proves to be an efficient and cost-effective solution for many businesses, the most important thing here is to not rush into a virtual server. Take a little time and go through a checklist to see if your business is right for the idea because if not, you’re likely to be losing both time and money. Looking to learn more about server virtualization? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 17th, 2014

businessintelligence_June16_BBusiness intelligence (BI) plays a vital role in most businesses. It helps identify and monitor business trends and facilitate decision making, as well as improve your strategic management processes. Isn't it time you made use of your company’s resources and accessed valuable corporate data to improve your BI for the good of your company success?

5 ways to improve business intelligence value

1. Pump customer data into your analysis Most companies are chasing after a 360 degree view of their customers, and while this seems like an elusive goal, it can be achieved. Take the first steps by integrating data from your CRM, accounting, and customer support systems into your BI dashboards and reports to allow analysis of customer growth, profitability, and lifetime value. Understanding these KPIs can help you spot trends as well as identify opportunities to cross-sell or upsell. 2. Set up alerts and delivery Your business intelligence can instantly improve its standing and value with alerts and report delivery. Notifications, in the form of email alerts, are useful for managers to keep an eye on business operations without having to log into the BI system. The added perk here is that managers can stay on top of KPIs and new updates even when they're on the move as reports and dashboards can be emailed to them according to a set schedule. 3. Reassess your dashboards If it’s been a while since your BI dashboards were first designed, try updating them with modern charts and stylish fonts. While this may seem unnecessary to some companies, attractive dashboards attract more users and you’ll likely see an uptick in adoption after a dashboard refresh. 4. Deploy existing content on mobile devices By increasing your BI content’s availability, you can quickly increase the number of users accessing it. A great way to do this is by deploying your dashboards and reports on mobile devices. This is especially useful for decision makers who travel frequently or need to be able to access KPIs from anywhere; after all it’s easier for them to pull out a phone or tablet rather than drag out a laptop. Your BI system likely includes some way to make your existing BI content mobile. Allowing users to access BI the way they want can be a great way to boost your BI value. 5. Make it predictive While BI has traditionally been used to present historic data for manual analysis, now more than ever it’s incorporating predictive analytics. By leveraging stored data from your BI system and applying predictive analytics, you can project future performance and make better business decisions based on more accurate forecasts.

Modern BI platforms come with many options, from multi-data source connectivity to mobile BI. It is up to you to leverage the full breadth of your BI software’s capabilities to ensure that you’re getting all the value it can deliver. Looking to learn more about business intelligence and its functions? Get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 13th, 2014

security_June13_BThanks to rapid technological advancement over the past decade, businesses have been able to flourish with great tech tools at their disposal. But the widespread adoption of new, smarter technologies has also given rise to security issues and the ability to infiltrate networks. These threats, if not taken care of appropriately and at the right time, can have an adverse impact on the success of your company. Having a basic security system in place is no longer enough. Businesses need to act quickly to protect themselves and deploy the best security practices to ensure smooth business operations.

10 Security practice guidelines for businesses

  1. Encrypt your data: Encryption of stored data, filesystems, and across-the-wire transfers is essential to protect sensitive data as well as to help prevent data loss due to equipment loss or theft.
  2. Use digital certificates to sign all of your sites: You should obtain your certificates from a trusted Certificate Authority, and instead of saving your certificates on the Web server, save them to hardware devices like routers or load balancers.
  3. Implement a removable media policy: Devices like USB drives, external hard disks, external DVD writers or any writeable media facilitate security breaches coming into or leaving your network. Restricting the use of those devices is an effective way to minimize security threats.
  4. Implement DLP and auditing: Be sure to use data loss prevention and file auditing to monitor, alert, identify, and block the flow of data into and out of your network.
  5. Use a spam filter on your email servers: Using a time-tested spam filter such as SpamAssassin will remove unwanted email from entering your inbox and junk folders. It is important that you identify junk mail even if it’s from a trusted source.
  6. Secure websites against MITM and malware infections: Start using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which creates a secure connection between a user and server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely. Through SSL, you’ll be able to scan your website daily for malware, set the Secure flag for all session cookies, as well as use SSL certificates with Extended Validation.
  7. Use a comprehensive endpoint security solution: Using an antivirus software alone is not enough to provide defense against today’s security threats. Go for a multi-layered product to prevent malware infections on your devices.
  8. Network-based security hardware and software: Start using firewalls, gateway antivirus, intrusion detection devices, and monitoring to screen for DoS attacks, virus signatures, unauthorized intrusion, and other over-the-network attacks.
  9. Maintain security patches: Make sure that your software and hardware defenses stay up-to-date with new anti-malware signatures and the latest patches. If your antivirus program doesn’t update on a daily basis, be sure to set up a regular scan and a remediation plan for your systems.
  10. Educate your employees: As simple as it sounds, this might be the most important non-hardware, non-software solution available. An informed user will more likely behave more responsibly and take fewer risks with valuable company data resulting in fewer threats to your organization.
Businesses cannot afford to take chances with security. Why? Because doing so can trigger a domino effect, causing a cascade of problems that can lead to operational outages, data loss, security breaches, and the subsequent negative impact to your company's bottom line. Looking to learn more about security for your business? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 10th, 2014

hardware_June10_BGo Mac or go PC? That has been an increasingly divisive question over the past decade with users from either side insisting their choice is the better one. While both have their positives and negatives, many people are still unsure of the real differences between the two. However, understanding what sets them apart can help ensure that you opt for the right platform for your business.

Design

Apple prides itself on its iconic design while PC design depends on which company is making them. Even with the first Macintosh, introduced in 1984, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and monitor were housed in one single unit thus reducing the number of cables necessary and creating a sleeker look. This design forward view has carried throughout the company's history and modern Macs are sleek, light, and designed to look cool.

PCs on the other hand, don’t come from one single manufacturer like Mac so there are countless designs available on the market. If you don’t like the design from one manufacturer you can simply look to others. With Mac, if you’re not keen on their design, you’re out of luck.

Specifications

While both Mac and PC have similar internal parts like RAM, hard drives, and graphics cards, their speed and capacity varies. Macs generally outperform PCs because of better hardware optimization, but tend to skimp slightly when it comes to RAM, hard disk space, and USB ports. PCs offer a wider range of customization, and you can add almost any parts you want.

Connections and optical drives found on Macs and PCs are different too. Mac offers standard selection of features including a Superdrive, audio in and audio out, USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet. PCs on the other hand offer comparable features but with added bonuses like Blu-Ray players, TV tuners, touch screens, and HDMI ports.

The main difference here is that with Macs you have generally limited customization options, while PCs usually allow for a much wider range whilst supporting different kinds of hardware.

Operating System

Most PCs today come preinstalled with Windows 8.1 while Mac runs OS X Mavericks with users having the option to upgrade to the new OS X - Yosemite - this fall. OS X is generally thought to be more user-friendly, while Windows PCs generally see a more comfortable user base and a higher number of programs that work with the OS.

However, with the increasing adoption of virtual desktops and cloud systems, the idea of a separate OS being better is quickly falling to the wayside. This is especially true if you use a virtualized desktop solution where you connect to a server which delivers your desktop.

Software

One of the biggest reasons as to why Mac hasn’t captured a larger share of the market is due to the lack of software for its OS. This is most obvious in business computing where many applications are standardized for Windows but are not available on Mac. That being said, the major programs businesses use on a daily basis are all available for Mac too, so it's more the customized software you will need to look into.

User interface (UI)

While many computer users will proclaim one or the other superior when it comes to user interface, or UI, this is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Highlights of the UI in Mac include Launchpad which is a screen full of app icons for easy access, hot corners that can be customized for various types of views, a dock featuring your favorite apps, full screen mode for apps, and spaces that create as many desktops as you like to help minimize clutter.

With PCs UI, highlights include a touch-friendly interface which contains live tiles or rectangular boxes on the screen that represent an app and which is refreshed with the latest app content. Above all, Windows has the familiar desktop which almost every computer user is comfortable with using, and may even prefer.

There are more components that set Mac and PC apart. Find out more next month where we will dig into security, selections and customer satisfaction between the two.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 9th, 2014

businesscontinuity_June9_BHistorically the months of June, July, and August are when the vast majority of natural disasters strike. Regardless of your location, there is a chance that your business could be facing a real challenge if something bad happens. In order to limit the potential damage a disaster can create, it helps to be proactive and introduce a disaster strategy. One essential element that you might find useful is utilizing your mobile device, and looking at the benefit of disaster apps.

Both Android and Apple mobile devices offer a wide variety of apps that users rely on daily. Because of this, these devices have become an integral part of our lives and would no doubt be on hand if disaster struck. The upside to this is that there are apps that can help you and your employees whatever the disaster. Here are four of the best types of disaster related apps you and your colleagues should download in order to prepare.

Weather apps

It is always a good idea to know what the weather forecast is for your local area. This can help you predict what could happen and even prepare your business should say a big storm be rolling in. There are a wide variety of weather apps out there and it can be difficult to actually pick which is the best to use. We recommend:
  1. The NOAA Weather Radio - Available on iTunes for iPhone and iPad users, this app is the official app for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. When installed, you can receive local weather forecasts based on your location and storm or severe weather warnings pushed directly to your device. The app can be found on iTunes and costs USD$3.99
  2. Weather Underground - This app is among the most powerful weather apps out there. Using a wide variety of weather stations and user submitted weather it is up to date and able to offer accurate forecasts. With a Weather Radio feature, and push notifications of weather alerts, you can easily track potential storms. There is also the WunderMap which has radar, reports and IR Sat views as well. The app is available for free on Google Play and iTunes, and is rumored to be coming soon for Windows Phone.
  3. Local weather apps - Many TV stations and weather organizations have localized weather apps that focus on just local conditions. If you live in a disaster prone area, it would be a good idea to see if your local TV station has a weather app, as this could be the quickest way to receive updates.

American Red Cross apps

The Red Cross has a number of excellent survival oriented apps that could really come in handy for when a disaster strikes. These apps provide tips on how to prepare yourself and your family, as well as buildings for disaster, and what to do during and after a disaster strikes.

The best part is that most of the information is available offline, so you will have access to it even if cell networks are down. Some of the apps even provide weather alerts that will sound even if the app isn't open, alerting you about any impending danger.

These apps are all available for free on Google Play and iTunes. The best thing to do is to visit the Red Cross website and look for the apps that are relevant to your local area e.g., if you are in the mountains the Forest Fire and First Aid apps may help. The apps are all free and can be downloaded by clicking the links for your device's app store on the Red Cross site.

Social media apps

Social media services could prove to be a good way to connect and communicate during a disaster. Try setting up a group for your employees to communicate and encourage them to use it when a disaster strikes to share information and enact plans. One of the biggest added advantages to using social networks is that the servers that host the service are located around the world, so the chances of the service being down is fairly slim. If you have Internet access, you will be able to access the service.

It would be a good idea to define which social network you want to use and establish your pages and connections ahead of time. Have each employee sign up for and join the group you have created and also download the app onto their mobile devices.

Google Public Alerts

Google Public Alerts is the company's alert platform that allows for the distribution of emergency messages and notices like evacuation notices, public alerts, and storm warnings. For users in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia alerts will appear in Google Searches, Maps and if you are an Android or iOS user, from Google Now.

Mobile users who have Google Now installed should see relevant alerts pop up when something happens. While you won't see alerts for absolutely everything, Google does a pretty good job at broadcasting useful information. On mobile devices, these alerts will usually pop up in your Notifications Center where they are easy to see.

To get these notifications on your Android device, you will need to download the Google Search app and activate it on your device. You can find it for free on the Google Play Store, and on iTunes. Android users can also download the Google Now Launcher which will add Google Now to your device's home screen, and can be accessed by swiping to the right from your Home Screen.

Tips for using your mobile during an emergency

Here are six tips to help you leverage your mobile device during a disaster.
  1. Install relevant apps - In order to be prepared, you should install the apps necessary to communicate during a disaster, along with a weather app and if necessary a survival app.
  2. Ensure your contacts are up to date - To be sure, you should periodically update your contacts. Should anything happen you will know how to contact people and have a higher chance of being able to get in touch.
  3. Ensure your employees have devices that work - Even if you don't allow mobile devices in the office, or employees to use their own devices, it would be a great idea to ensure that your employees have devices that are in working order so should they need to contact you, or vice versa, you will have a better chance of being able to.
  4. Establish procedures to follow during a disaster - This is arguably the most important preparation you can do. Take the time to establish procedures you and your employees should follow during an emergency. Include where people should meet, backup plans, contact suggestions and the roles you expect your employees to take.
  5. Keep your batteries topped up - Mobile devices rely on batteries to operate, and during a disaster you may be without a power source for an extended amount of time. Therefore, Minimize use during a disaster. Ensure your batteries are full, or charges as often and has high as possible.
  6. Invest in a good power bank - Power banks are useful tools that are essentially big batteries. You can charge them up then use them to charge your devices. Take a look for one that is at least 9000 MHZ, or higher. The higher the number the bigger the charge.
If you are looking to learn more about using mobile devices during a disaster, or how your company can prepare, contact us today. Learn about our services and how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 3rd, 2014

SocialMedia_June02_BWhile many of us have a profile on at least one social media site and likely have for a handful of years now, we are seeing businesses joining these platforms in an ever increasing number. Many business owners create a corporate profile in order to interact with customers and conduct marketing. One of the more popular ways to market your business through social media is through social PPC.

Define social PPC

Businesses who advertise through social media have a number of ways they can get their ads and content seen on this platform. The most popular is based on one of the Internet's oldest marketing schemes: Pay-per-Click, or PPC.

In a broad sense, PPC is the act of paying an advertiser or website to place ads at strategic locations. Placing these ads is usually free, or comes with a nominal fee, but when a user clicks on the ad and goes to the destination site, the owner of the ad pays the advertiser or site a small fee.

In relation to social media, social PPC is simply ads which are placed on the social networks. For example, you can pay Facebook to place an ad on the right-hand bar of certain user's News Feeds. If they click on the ad, Facebook will then charge you a set amount for that click.

Where social PPC differs from other types of PPC, more specifically search PPC - paying search engines to display your ads - is that it is more display oriented. With search PPC, you pay the engine to show your ad when specific search keywords are entered. With social PPC, you pay the site to display your ad regardless of what the user is looking at.

3 Common misconceptions about social PPC

While this process is becoming more popular with businesses, especially those who have integrated social media into their marketing plans, there are some common misconceptions that seem to be floating around.

1. Starting small is the way to go

As with most strategies in business, when starting something new you often want to test the waters before jumping in full scale. Many companies who are trying social PPC for the first time will often start with one or two campaigns running at the same time. While this may work for small businesses with an unproven profile, those with an established profile and marketing strategy may want to try running 3-5 campaigns at the same time.

The reason for this strategy is that it can help spread out the overall views, along with enhancing the quality of information and results. For example, you can easily compare and establish what is working when you have more than two alternatives to compare.

2. You need to be active on the services you target

Despite what some people in charge of marketing believe, you don't need to be active on a social network in order to be able to use social PPC features. Many networks, like Twitter, simply require that you have an account in order to be able to use the ad features.

If you do want to use the ad features of different social networks, you should be sure to at least have a fully completed profile. This includes address, name, location, and business info. Of course, if you want to enhance the success of your initiative, an active profile will help but it is not necessary.

The best example of this is if you want to use the promoted post feature in Facebook. You will need to have content in order to actually use this feature successfully and the more content and followers you have, the higher the chances of what you promote being seen.

3. You MUST be using Facebook Ads

Facebook is the most popular social media platform, and many businesses already have a Facebook Page. But many feel that in order to maximize the potential of their Page, they need to be advertising using Facebook Ads.

Sure, it can help to use this service, but it isn't the only one out there. You do have other options, including different platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. To really get the most out of a social PPC campaign you should try different platforms anyway. For example, if you want to target other business customers try using LinkedIn, which is where this target group may be more likely to be found than through Facebook.

Looking to learn more about social PPC or using social media in your company? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 29th, 2014

BusinessValue_May26_BAs a business owner, or manager, you probably have a social media profile and create content for it. One of the most common types of content is blog articles, and yet some companies have problems actually getting their content shared. If you post articles to bring in new customers and interact with existing ones, then you need to know how you can enhance the chances that your articles are shared.

The key to getting your content shared

There are countless blog posts on how to create content that is shareable. And to create content that will be shared by users on social media and other platforms you need to know why content gets shared in the first place.

In order to help, we scoured the Internet and found a great article over at OK Dork, which was written by the content masters at BuzzSumo. This article listed things you can do to increase the shareability of the content you produce. While it is quite a long article, we found there were some great tips worth talking about here. In order to make things a little easier, we have split this article into two parts. Here are the first five tips you can leverage to increase the reach of your content, and more specifically the blog articles you create:

Create longer content

Take a look at what people share on their social media profiles and there is little doubt that the vast majority of content is short, and can range from often photos and videos of funny cats to memes. But look at the articles that are shared and you will often find that the most popular ones are actually longer, or long-form as they are referred to by content experts.

The main reason for this is because there are fewer long-form article creators out there, and there is a demand for higher quality, well researched and well-written articles. Sharing this type of content generally adds some depth to a posting which can create a more involved and sustained dialogue.

You might want to mix it up to increase shareability by creating some articles which follow this longer style approach. You could try writing shorter articles on a regular basis, for example, with a 2000 word article say once a month.

People like images

Think about the last time you read an article in the newspaper without an image, or even saw a link on social media without an image. Did you remember the content, or did you even click on the link? Many people wouldn't. So, if you want your content to be shared on social media add some visuals.

With longer content visuals not only serve to draw the eyes of the reader and break up content to keep the reader engaged. For shorter pieces, an image can attract initial attention and give the reader some an idea about what the subject of the content is.

The key here is to include visuals with every piece of content. Make sure that the image relates to the content and is interesting enough to capture attention, enough that users will want to share what they see and read.

Even Twitter users like images

Although Twitter is largely based on text posts visual content tends to be shared more by users of this platform.

As per the point above, try to have a visual with every piece of content. If you are an avid Twitter user, try coming up with titles or overviews that are 100 characters or less. This will leave room for a link on Twitter to the content. If social media users likes the content, and there is an image too, chances are higher that they will share it via Twitter.

Using certain emotions really helps

If you want people to share your content, you need to write articles that evoke emotion. The three most successful, when it comes to sharing, are:
  • Awe
  • Laughter
  • Amusement
If your article inspires one of these three emotions, you have a drastically higher chance of the content being shared. Generally speaking, if content makes someone laugh or think about an issue then are more likely to share what resonates with them.

The other emotion to capitalize on is selfishness. Take a look at your Facebook News Feed and we guarantee that you will see a ton of quizzes shared by people. These quizzes are usually something like "What TV character would you be?, or "What's your dream job?", etc. While entertaining, these quizzes appeal to our more narcissistic sides. They provide little to no value to your followers, but they can be fun and help social media users establish an identity which they can compare with others trying out the same 'test'.

You can also try to create articles that challenge normal assumptions or are opinion pieces on relevant hot-button issues. The spark of debate that the content ignites is sure to attract interaction with comments and sharing, and you can also keep interest going via social media.

Users love infographics and lists

When writing your articles, you have a wide variety of ways you can format your content. Most people will agree that your articles, regardless of length, need to be broken down into easy to read sections, especially if you want to keep mobile users reading. There are a number of ways you can do this, but the two most popular are through infographics and lists.

What this tells us is that readers generally prefer content that can:

  • Display a large amount of information in a clean, easy to read, and visual format i.e., infographics.
  • Are scannable.Take for example list articles. You can format these to be highly scannable, yet still include all the essential information.
  • Tell us what to expect. We like to know what an article is about before we read it.
If you are writing longer articles that contain a large amount of information try creating an infographic, and summarizing the most important parts in a list.

Next month we will reveal five more tips to enhance content sharing. In the mean time, if you have any questions about creating effective content or on social media, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 27th, 2014

Facebook_May26_BIf you have a Facebook account, you are likely well aware that the company loves change, implementing it on a never ending basis. For businesses who incorporate social media into their company strategy, it's important that any differences are noted. It seems like almost every week they have tweaked some function or introduced a new feature. One of the latest changes is to your News Feed, and you may not even know it has been implemented.

About the content displayed on your News Feed

The average number of friends a user has on Facebook, and the content they post, is increasing. This makes it difficult to actually see all of the news and posts on your News Feed, which can pose problems for businesses who want and need to keep track.

In order to make viewing content easier, Facebook introduced two views:

  • Top News
  • Most Recent
These two views can drastically change the content you see on your News Feed, and the order it is displayed in. In recent months, the company has changed the default view to Top News for all users. This has created some confusion though, especially for those who want to view everything posted.

Here is an overview of the two Facebook views:

The Top News view

This view is an aggregate of the most popular content posted by your friends and the Pages you follow. If you log out of Facebook and come back after a while, this will be updated to show which posts have gained a lot of attention since you have been gone.

These posts might include a funny video that has received a lot of comments, or even a post from another Page that has gone viral. Now, unless you change it, this is your new default view when you log into Facebook.

To determine what to show in this view, Facebook uses an algorithm which factors in what content is being interacted with and how many people are interacting with it. It then displays this content as being the most relevant and what it decides you are more likely to find interesting. However, this view does not show content chronologically.

For businesses this view option can be really useful. If you have posted content that has been interacted with then there is a better chance that it will be seen by other users through this default view.

The Most Recent view

As the name suggest, this view is of the most recent posts on your News Feed. Posts are presented chronologically with updates from all of your friends and Pages.

This view is a great way to track everything people are posting so that you don't miss those posts which wouldn't be included high up in the Top News view. For businesses, this allows a valuable insight into what people like and don't like at any given moment, and to be able to respond to interactions which are important but haven't necessarily become popular. It could be that by seeing these posts and coming back with a reaction that you then create a flurry of interest which would then be seen in the Top News view.

How to switch between them

Looking to switch between views on your News Feed? You can easily do so by:
  1. Logging into your Facebook account.
  2. Pressing News Feed on the menu on the left-hand side of the page.
  3. Clicking the gray arrow beside News Feed and selecting either Top Stories or Most Recent. This will switch your News Feed view to the one you select.
If you are looking to learn more about Facebook in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.