Archive for the ‘Online Tools’ Category

Finding Time to Engage In Social Media

Rumor has it 2010 is the year that social media will become mainstream. The early adopters have already left the station, and the early majority has boarded and the late majority is in line. This means by 2011, 84% of individuals will be using some form of social media. Still not convinced? Check out the Social Media Revolution video.

The biggest reason people DON’T use social media

There is no doubt the number one reason for NOT using social media is time. People are already short on time, and just the thought of using social media creates mental stress as we conceive of the hours and hours of time sucked into the virtual realm of the social vibe. The fact is, you don’t have to spend hours a day. You can choose how much time to spend on social media, and then implement a schedule that works for you. The key here is to get engaged and be consistent.

The Social Media Diet: finding time for a social media plan

As a solution to the time dilemma, I wrote The Social Media Diet, a 30-minute-a-day plan for getting involved in social media. I came up with a 7-step plan to figure out where social media will fit into your schedule:

  • Step 1: Choose how much time you want to invest M-F
  • Step 2: Choose what you want to get out of social media
  • Step 3: Choose your networks
  • Step 4: Calendar in your time
  • Step 5: Track your progress
  • Step 6: Stop when your time is up
  • Step 7: Keep it up!

Step 1: Choose how much time you want to invest M-F

It’s best to choose how much time you can put in each day. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, that’s okay. It’s important to do it daily so it becomes a part of your routine. You only have to engage Monday through Friday. If you want to do more on the weekends, great, but at least commit during the week.

If you have people who work for you or your company, factor their time in as well. Collectively come up with how much time all of you will engage in social media tasks.

Step 2: Choose what you want to get out of social media

What you want out determines what networks to choose. There could be many reasons, but only you can determine what is uppermost on your list. I would chose ONE objective to focus on. This will help keep you on track:

  • Generate leads for business (probably the #1 reason)
  • Learn what others are doing in your industry
  • Generate PR for your company
  • Connect and interact with customers
  • Share information to establish your expertise
  • Generate SEO (search engine optimization) links for your website
  • Just to see what it’s all about

Step 3: Choose your networks

Based on the list above, I would suggest you choose 2 of the following networks to get you started. Once you’re in the groove with 1 or 2 networks, then expand to include others.

Generate leads for business (probably the #1 reason)
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Blog building
  • Guest blogging
  • Actively work on LinkedIn connections
  • Industry message boards
Learn what others are doing in your industry
  • All social media platforms
  • Industry message boards
Generate PR for your company
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Article Distribution
  • Create a blog or guest blog on industry blogs
  • Use Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc. to distribute content
Connect and interact with customers
  • Blog
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
Share information to establish your expertise
  • Guest blogging
  • Industry message boards
  • Article distribution
  • Answer questions in LinkedIN Groups
  • Participate in industry message boards
Generate SEO (search engine optimization) links for your website
  • Commenting on blogs
  • Guest blogging
  • Participating in industry message boards that are not behind a login
  • Press release and article distribution with in-line links in content
Just to see what it’s all about Ask your friends or customers what their favorite networks are, and choose what seems appealing.

Step 4: Calendar in your time

Many people ask me how it is I get so much done. Well for one, I calendar in specific tasks in order to accomplish them. Calendaring is the #1 way to achieve goals. I know many of you are crinkling your faces at this moment, but seriously, this is how you’re going to get this done.

Look at your schedule, and honestly evaluate when you could fit in some time to implement your social media plan. Let’s say you have committed to 15 minutes a day. Find the same 15 minutes each day so it becomes a habit. It could be first thing in the morning, just after lunch, or even at the close of your day. Right at the moment it doesn’t matter when you do it, just that you do it!

It’s important to actually put this time INTO your calendar. If you are using Outlook or Google Calendar, set up a reminder so it flashes on your screen to tell you it’s time to start your social media tasks. Treat it like a real appointment.

But I really just don’t have the time…

Sometimes you have to be clever about it, but there is always time to be found if you look hard enough. I took a poll of several people who have found time to include social media into their schedule. Here are some of the ways they found to fit the time in:

1) I started making coffee in the office instead of stopping at Starbucks each morning. The 20 minutes I saved in travel I now spend on social media.

2) I put social media apps on my smartphone, and now whenever I wait in line, wait for a stop light or wait for anything, I am on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and working my networks. I’m amazed how much I get in with just 2-3 minutes at a time.

3) Our office wanted to implement a social media plan. Together we committed to shortening our daily status meeting by 15 minutes so we could all return to our desks and implement our social media strategy.

4) We did a poll in our office to find out who was using social media. We then came up with a strategy that included time people were already spending. Together we promote our articles, tweets and other online links.

5) We hired a consultant to teach us how to use Twitter. We found we were wasting a lot of time figuring it out. He showed us some great tools to help us manage Twitter and make it go faster. After the class, we found it very easy to fit in 15 minutes a day per person because we knew exactly what to do.

6) Each person in the office chose which social media outlets they wanted to use. Then our vice president hired his niece to spend a day creating accounts for each person. She set up profiles, photos, and all the details. That way we were ready to go out of the chute!

7) We asked everybody in our company if they wanted to help write our blog. We found 7 people who wanted to help. Each of us wrote 3 blogs a month, and it has been easy to post daily blogs for our customers.

Step 5: Track your progress

Keep an Excel spreadsheet or other document where you track what you’ve done in your social media domain. It could be as simple as tallying your progress:

  • Sent 5 tweets today
  • Put one comment on a blog

Or you go into more detail by copying and pasting URLs of places you’ve left comments. We signed up for Disqus, which is an excellent tool that helps track comments on blogs. Unfortunately it only works on blogs where’s it’s installed, but it’s becoming more popular, so it’s start towards organizing all those blog comments.

Step 6: Stop when your time is up

As important as it is to commit to doing social media, you must honor your schedule and stop when your time is up. I set a a pop-up reminder on my computer that simple says “time to stop.” If you go overboard, you will get frustrated, and there will always be tomorrow to do more.

Step 7: Keep it up!

While nobody expects perfection, do your best to honor your social media commitment. If you do it consistently, in about a month you’ll start to see an online network begin to build. After two months you will likely have some new online friends. After three months, you’re certain to see some impact in your business. If you find yourself getting bored with the outlet you have chosen, throw in another one, or research articles on how to use that outlet better. Just don’t give up! This is the new way of networking, and pretty soon you won’t meet anybody who isn’t doing it.

How do you find time for social media?

I’d love to hear the ways you have found time to fit social media into your schedule. I’d also love to hear what kind of results you’ve seen from the efforts you’ve put in. Please share in the comments how it’s working for you!

What is a QR Code and What is It Used For?

A QR code is a specialized type of bar code that allows you to encode information that can be read by a mobile device. The QR stands for “quick response” because they allow the end user to quickly capture information you want to share. Much like a product bar code, the QR code is unique and the pattern is created depending upon the information it contains.

To read the QR code you need to download a QR code reader to your smart phone or other mobile device. To read the code you simply activate your QR code app, and point it as the QR code square. Your device will read the code and transmit the information it contains.

What can a QR code used for?

Any information that can be typed out can be shared in a QR code. This could include:

  • URL to a specific web page. Particularly useful if the URL is complex, such as a YouTube video.
  • Your contact information on your business card.
  • Link to auto-follow you on Twitter or other social network.
  • Link to auto-like your Facebook fan page.
  • Link to auto-like your business on Google Places.

Where can QR codes be published?

This is what makes the codes so unique. Anywhere you display information you can put a QR code. This can include:

  • Billboards – yes, these big billboards can contain giant QR codes that mobile users can point and capture.
  • Print advertising or brochures – a great way to bring somebody to a specific page on the web. A great way for entrepreneurs to ensure their contact information is easily uploaded into a person’s phone book.
  • Websites – users can hold their mobile device up to the computer monitor and read the device here. This is particularly helpful if they need to download information since it can insert the information directly into their mobile device.
  • T-shirts – a unique way to share your information and create an unusual design for a custom t-shirt.

4 Tips On How To Stop Email Attacks

Whether your company is a small business or a large conglomerate, you are still liable to the same threats from emails as the private user. The problem is that if a business is affected by a malicious email, it can have much bigger ramifications than that of a private user. Below are some tips to help any business or company shore up their email defenses.

Content Filtering

Content filtering software, is a great way for companies to control the content of emails that are outbound as well as inbound. This is very important for companies that are responsible for the sensitive data that they work with, and many companies are required by law to ensure the data’s security. Content filtering works by using character strings to identify possible undesirable content. Because the content to be filtered can be controlled by the company itself, this is a very useful tool to have; especially it administered by somebody who is aware of threats posed by phishing and spam.

Separate Your Email Server

If the only access emails have is to other emails, then the risk to a company’s application and storage servers becomes massively reduced. This option is easy to manage and is becoming very popular with small businesses worried about email attacks. Another way to separate your servers is to move the security to a hosted server; this will mean that your security is cared for by a professional hosting service. The use of cloud based security could also give could give you the security you desire, and is usually an affordable option.

Education

Sometimes the best upgrade you can make to your companies internet security, is the education of your employees. If all your employees are aware of what to look for, and what to avoid when dealing with their emails, then the chance of something malicious entering your system will reduce. It is also worth educating employees about the effects that your company could suffer. Many people simply do not realize what can happen, and what consequences a malicious virus can have on any computer system.

Use a Professional

Many companies don’t feel they have the resources to employ somebody to look after their computer security, but when you way-up the cost of a possible attack, the cost is usually very small. A professional may only install software or hardware that you could have installed yourself, or advise you to have a separate server; but they will give you what you need, advice that is relevant for your specific company. One of the great things about using a professional is that you don’t need to employ them permanently, and you know that they will be up to date on all the latest threats. Knowing about a threat and how to nullify it is exactly what you need from a professional.

Computer security is becoming more complex. This is because the threats it is protecting you from are becoming more difficult to discover. Keeping ahead of the threats from emails is a major problem for businesses everywhere, and I hope these tips will help you decide how it would be best to stop any problems occurring.

About the Author:
Nancy Baker, today’s featured writer, is a freelance blogger who writes articles for Connexus, a leading broadband service provider in Australia. She enjoys making use of social media in her free time. You can follow her on Twitter @Nancy Baker.

An Easy Way to Create Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

Make sure your users know your site is trustworthy

We are launching a full scale e-commerce site this weekend. One of the small details of these sites is to have the “compliance policies” in place that cover terms of use, privacy, etc. These policies are important because if something bad happens on your site e.g. a hacker adds unethical content to your site, your company could have damages without them.

However there are more important reasons to create a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use with some care. Users expect to see the policies and some actually look at them. It would be a big disservice to have them look sloppy. In addition, when most organizations create policies, it helps them understand how they do customer service now, whether they want to make changes and coordinate their online image with the rest of their activities.

So how do you get started?

There are usually 2 policies (Terms of Use and Privacy Policy) required, although some organizations have them combined into one organized statement.

Terms of Use would include:

  • What is the purpose of the site>
  • What can people do with the content and technology used on the site? (Typically users have a license for private personal use only.)
  • What responsibility do you have for typos, broken links, and external links? (The typical answer is very little.)

Privacy Policy would include:

  • Does your site set cookies?
  • Does your site collect personal information?
  • How is it used?
  • Is information retained for later use?
  • Is the information kept private?
  • Is it kept internally? In printed form too?
  • Is it made available to “partners”?
  • Do you allow children to visit your site?
  • Are safeguards and warnings in place for children?

Writing content for these pages

If you are having a hard time answering these questions, it often helps to look at examples first. Check out Why Have a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use? for ideas on where to get templates for these pages.

As you get ready to write your policies, ask for input from the marketing, legal and PR staff. Before you finalize these policies, you should review them with your legal staff or lawyer.

Compliance policies are important. If you never have a problem with online privacy or content issues, it will be well worth the time you spend getting them right from the start.

15 FREE Websites to Promote Your Webinars

We have been working to promote our SEO and social media summer school classes for Landau Digital, and in the process we have gathered tools to help us get the word out. We thought we would share these tools since we are certain they would be useful in helping you promote your webinars.

General online event sites

Webinar listing sites

Social networking sites

Don’t miss our upcoming webinars: