The benefits of internet monitoring

The internet is constantly tempting us. There’s an endless collection of funny cat videos, memes, and social media statuses to consume. Sure, the occasional three-minute YouTube video never hurt anyone, but if employees waste hours of their working day on these websites, that’s a problem. So how can you, as a business owner, discourage employees from procrastinating on the internet? When it comes to increasing employee productivity, keeping a close eye on your personnel’s internet behavior reaps various benefits.

Time-saving measures
At times, the internet can be very addictive. Internet monitoring software saves employees from the temptation of online videos and games by restricting access to time-wasting sites that you deem unnecessary for business. But internet monitoring software doesn’t even have to be as extreme as denying permission to harmless social media websites. Just letting your employees know that you’ll be randomly monitoring their internet activity discourages them from taking prolonged visits to their Instagram page.

Avoiding harmful websites
The internet hosts plenty of unsavory links and websites. Employees who haphazardly click phishing links or access malware-ridden pornography sites can put your business at risk. Working with infected machines can slow down the entire system and, in some cases, completely halt operations. But by using internet monitoring tools you can restrict access to dangerous websites, and identify reckless employees to remove their internet privileges, if necessary.

Controlling bandwidth usage
Even while using the internet for the right purposes, bandwidth can be used up quickly. Internet monitoring gives you up-to-the-minute reports on your bandwidth usage. Once you have a clear understanding of your company’s overall bandwidth usage, you can then control its expenditure. This feature allows you to prioritize bandwidth for critical business applications and reduce bandwidth for less necessary websites.

Increasing productivity on the internet
Internet monitoring software may be a powerful tool, but it should be used responsibly. As a business owner, you need to walk a fine line between over-surveillance and under-surveillance. What you should do is establish a clear internet policy. Then, explicitly define the disciplinary measures to be dispensed on anybody who goes against the requirements of the internet policy. And deal with time-wasting employees on a case-by-case basis. It’s unreasonable to remove everyone’s Facebook privileges because one or two abused theirs.

Employee productivity can be difficult to achieve, especially with the proliferation of what we would like to call, “procrastination software.” But with web monitoring software, you can truly get your business — and your employees — back on track. Looking for more ways to increase business productivity with technology? Give us a call. We’ll be happy to make suggestions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Twitter reveals new SMB dashboard app

The ocean has a strange way of making you feel so small; so does a Twitter account with virtually no followers. It does become quite hard for your small- to medium-sized business to establish a strong online presence when they are surrounded by singers and supermodels with their own collection of trending hashtags. This is the part where you’d wish you had come across a genie lamp; while waiting for that to happen, take Twitter’s new dashboard app out for a spin.

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.

Creating online communities for businesses

Gamers require an effective strategy to thwart the boss, athletes require constant updates on the latest tournaments to improve performance and businesses require an online community to fully thrive. As the saying goes: ‘What comes easy won’t last, and what lasts won’t come easy’. This is especially true when you embark on building an online community for your company. Allow the following five tips to help you make the process an easier and enjoyable one:

Make sure your customers are passionate

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

Loosen the reins

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

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

Create a rich experience

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

Invest in infrastructure

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

Don’t stress over measurements

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

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

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Secure your business with these IT policies

Employees are one of your biggest security holes. There is no foolproof prevention method for human error, and this is why employee mistakes are one of the most common causes of a security breach. So what can you do to prevent it? Well at the very least you need to include policies in your employee handbook, and ensure your employee reads through it and signs off on agreeing to abide by them. Having measures in place drastically reduces the chances of a security breach. Here are four areas to keep in mind when developing your own.

Internet

In today’s business world, employees spend a lot of time on the Internet. To ensure they’re not putting your business at risk, you need a clear set of web policies. Here are three important ones to keep in mind:

  1. Employees should be using the Internet for business purposes only. While this is undoubtedly hard to avoid without blocking specific websites, having a policy in place should at least cut back on employees spending time on non-business related sites.
  2. Prohibit unauthorized downloads. This includes everything from music to games, and even data or applications.
  3. Accessing personal email should not be done on business devices. If employees must access their own email account during the day, they can do so on their smartphone or other personal device.

These are just a few Internet policies to get started, but you should also consider including information on your recommended browsing practices and your policies for using business devices (such as company phones) on public wifi.

Email

Just like with the Internet policy mentioned above, company email accounts should only be utilized for business use. That means your employees should never use it to send personal files, forward links or perform any type of business-related activities outside of their specific job role. Additionally, consider implementing a standard email signature for all employees. This not only creates brand cohesion on all outgoing emails, but also makes it easy to identify messages from other employees, and hence helps prevents spear phishing.

Passwords

We’ve all heard the importance of a strong password time and time again. And this same principle should also apply to your employees. The reason is rather simple. Many employees will create the easiest to crack passwords for their business accounts. After all, if your organization gets hacked, it’s not their money or business at stake. So to encourage employees to create strong passwords, your policy should instruct them to include special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers in their passwords.

Data

Whether or not you allow your employees to conduct work on their own device, such as a smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If your employees aren’t aware of your stance on BYOD, some are sure to assume they can conduct work related tasks on their personal laptop or tablet. So have a BYOD policy and put it in the employee handbook. In addition to this, make sure to explain that data on any workstation is business property. That means employees aren’t allowed to remove or copy it without your authorization.

We hope these four policies have shed some light on best security practices. If you’d like more tips or are interested in a security audit of your business, do get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Your business can fight ‘rant’ sites

When a person searches for your company on Google or any other search engine and sees a negative review from a ‘rant’ site, it can have significant repercussions to your online reputation. That’s because more people are likely to see something, and even click on it, when a page turns up on the first page of search results. It is important your company acts swiftly to push these negative reviews off the first page of search results. Here is some advice for fighting back against these ‘rant’ sites.

You’ve probably seen websites like Ripoff Report and Complaints Board give upset clients a sounding board to voice their frustrations. These unverified reviews are almost always negative and can damage a company’s online reputation. This is especially true if these reviews show up on the first page of an organization’s search results where it will appear to anyone who uses a search engine to look for information on a company.

Businesses are not powerless when it comes to dealing with these ‘rant’ sites and the negative content they contain. While you won’t be able to have this content completely removed from the internet, if you are smart with your online reputation management (ORM), you can push it further down the search results rankings where most people will never come across it. We compiled some useful advice to help you fight back against ‘rant’ sites that may be hurting your company’s online reputation.

Don’t engage site or users directly

When many business owners read one of these negative reviews, their first instinct is to start sending out strongly-worded emails that demand to have the content removed. A few will also try to engage with the person who posted the content in an attempt to resolve the issue. We would recommend against both when it comes to a ‘rant’ site where both users and content posted are not verified.

That’s because there have been reports of users posting fake reviews in an attempt to solicit money from businesses who they criticize. A few of these websites also claim to offer paid programs to mediate negative posts but business owners should be extremely wary of any website offering to remove or edit a review in exchange for cash.

Get on social media

If one of these negative reviews makes its way onto the first page of search results for your business, you will want to start up social media accounts to help bury it. Not only do social media accounts hold greater weight in search result rankings, they also provide your past, present and future clients with better information. Even if you already have a Facebook and Twitter, don’t be afraid to expand beyond that with an Instagram or LinkedIn account. It’s also a good idea to get on Foursquare, Google+ and any other sites where reviews are verified by real users and not nameless people who don’t have to be accountable for what they say. Just remember to update these regularly to ensure they stay at or near the top of the search result rankings.

Encourage positive reviews

While people are quick to post negative reviews, sometimes you need to cajole customers to post positive reviews on verified websites. Depending on what your business does, sites like TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Angie’s List or even Facebook can be great places to have satisfied customers leave reviews. Of course getting them to do that can be difficult.

That’s why you should consider offering a discount to customers who post a review of your business on any of these sites. It truly is a win-win situation as you get to build a positive online reputation, have more reputable sites gain traction when it comes to search result rankings and build brand loyalty with customers who will be more likely to return because of the discount offered on their next visit.

Don’t let a negative review on one of the ‘rant’ sites get you down. There are plenty of ways to get a positive message to people through online and social media channels. Let our team of experts show you how it’s possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.