Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Top IT Trends for 2012

January 6, 2012

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]In keeping with our new year’s tradition, we have compiled our list of the top technology trends for 2012. We scanned the available data, reviewed our previous predictions and made some leaps of faith. We are optimistic about the economy and expect many delayed IT expenditures to be completed this year. Advances in business technology continue their steady progression with many smaller businesses adopting leading edge technologies.  This year will be interesting for consumer electronics.  Maybe Steve Jobs left his next great invention in the Apple pensieve.

Local Data Centers – As Cloud Computing gains acceptance and market share, more business will move their equipment and applications to the cloud.  Companies will look for neighborhood data centers that are accessible and provide boutique services. This provides an opportunity for IT service providers and managed service providers (MSPs) because smaller businesses will be looking for help in managing their collocated equipment and cloud applications.  Many small businesses are accustomed to contracting IT services rather than maintaining in-house IT expertise and will look for service providers that can meet their changing IT model.

mCommerce – Mobile commerce is not only for impulsive buyers, but for smart, savvy shoppers looking for the best deal.  The 2011 holiday season broke all records for mCommerce and this will continue as increasing numbers of merchants and consumers embrace mobile applications.  Powerful processors will give handhelds a big boost in acceptance for those that have been reluctant to adopt the technology.  Near field communication (NFC) will take off as applications are developed that use NFC for everything from sharing contact information to reading garment labels to purchasing anything with the swipe of your phone.  In 2012, if you are in the consumer market – become an expert in NFC and mCommerce.

Speech Recognition – This could be a breakout year for speech and voice technologies.  Speech recognition has been used by medical and legal for years and widespread acceptance is just around the corner for all types of businesses.  As mobile device users embrace speech recognition for on-the-go computing, they will bring this technology into the office for a variety of efficiency improvements.

Handhelds Replace Laptops – With more powerful CPUs, handhelds can replace many of the features of laptops.  The keyboard and screen size continue to be obstacle but projection and foldable technology will bridge the gap.  One day we will think and our computer (probably won’t be called a computer) will translate our thoughts into input and output, but in the meantime virtual docking stations will be used to interface with our analog (hands and eyes) systems.

Another Social Media Surge – With Google+ claiming that it will have 400 million members by the end of 2012, we are expecting another surge as social media expands its audience. Online aficionados will continue to be plagued with spam and scams, but new strategies will emerge to catch and isolate the offenders.   The number of users and the average time spent online will increase, but there are too many platforms for the market.  Users will consolidate around the most beneficial and productive sites.  Facebook may take over the world in 2012, but then again it may not.

Disclaimer: Like horoscopes, our predictions for the Top IT Trends of 2012 are general in nature and for entertainment purposes only.

If you have your own 2012 trends, please send to me at mary@lansystems.com.

Social Media Tactics: Part 2

May 6, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]By Katie Sewell, TAG and Mary Hester, LAN Systems

social_media_tacticsThe second part of our tactics for social media includes LinkedIn and blogging.  LinkedIn is widely used by business professionals to promote their business and to job search.  It’s easy to set up  a personal and/or business LinkedIn page and you can keep it current using built in tools that won’t take too much of your time.

Upon creation of your LinkedIn profile, be sure to craft a flattering position summary for your company to promote.

Deciding how you will accept connections is important, as well. LION (LinkedIn Open Network) members connect to almost anyone that requests whether they know them or not. More conservative members only link to people they personally know. This is your choice and you can adjust your settings to share or hide your connections. There are many security settings that control how much or how little of your information is shared. If you are concerned about sharing information, start with very secure settings and adjust as needed.

On to business promotion:

  1. Create a company page with your logo, overview, specialties and statistics. Make sure current employees link to the page and that you have included your website.
  2. Look for groups to join that are of interest to your customers. There are many groups on LinkedIn that you can easily reach the 50 limit set by LinkedIn. Of course, you can join groups that are of personal interest, but if you are promoting your company the best groups will be those of interest to your customers.
  3. Create a group based on your subject matter expertise and promote to your contacts. It is best to approve new members rather than have an open access.
  4. Start group discussions and keep the conversation going. Some groups will be very active and others will need prodding. Be sure to monitor messages for appropriate content and spam. You can remove abusers.
  5. Look at the open Q&A discussions. Even if you choose not to participate, take a glance at the types of questions and answers that are being posted. You may want to experiment in this open forum before starting your own group. If you are (or want to be) a subject matter expert for your company, search this forum for questions to answer.

Blogging  – Choose the type of blog and your voice.  Try to be consistent in your post frequency and blog personality.  Remember what’s said on the Internet stays on the Internet!

  1. If you’re not ready to start your own blog, contribute to others.  This is an easy way to get started and test if you really want to be a blogger.
  2. Pick a schedule and try to stick with it.  If you have lots of demands on your time that are not blog-related, you may want to start with a monthly or weekly blog.  Entries can be informal or traditional depending upon your style and your business.
  3. Use your blog to point readers to your web site, Facebook or Twitter account.
  4. Try to engage your readers in a dialogue by encouraging comments and feedback. Respond to comments and questions quickly.  Many readers will not post comments, but will correspond with you privately.  If it starts as a private conversation, keep it that way unless both parties want to go public.

Hope that you have enjoyed our short series on Social Media. Please share your experiences, ideas and comments!

Social Media Tactics: Part 1

March 31, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]By Katie Sewell, TAG and Mary Hester, LAN Systems

social_media_tacticsBy now you have heard that Social Media is a revolution.  A big change is coming in the way businesses market and communicate their message.  To understand Social Media you have to spend time studying the concept, method and strategy.  Don’t worry if it seems complicated and time consuming at first.  We have a few proven strategies that we personally use to give your social media campaign a boost. We’ll start with Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter – Twitter is a social networking site which enables news sharing and connectivity among people and businesses through short updates. It’s hard for some to understand the Twitter sensation.  Why would anyone tweet their lunch menu or location? There is a great deal of self-indulgence on Twitter and you should always be conscious of your personal safety. Try these few tips to propel you to the top.

1)      Be interactive – reply to and retweet items of interest.  Post articles about you and your company.  Give information of interest to your community.  Minimize the sales pitch.

2)      Use and create hash tags for topics and events.  TAG promoted the 2011 Technology Summit with #GTS2011 on Twitter.  You can use the hash tag term to search and it may “trend” on Twitter which is similar to going viral on YouTube.

3)      Keep it real and meaningful – don’t tweet just for the sake of tweeting.  Automated tweets and pre-canned quotes and messages are obvious. Twitter is a conversation that you have in your own voice.  The voice can be business or personal, but be genuine.

Facebook – If you are going to use Facebook for business, be sure to keep it separate from your personal account.  Being on the Internet is like being in a magnified fishbowl where every imprudent act is available to all and kept forever.  Even with the risks, Facebook can be a fabulous business tool if used wisely.

1)      Create a company Facebook page where you can write about your company values, events and people. Post tasteful pictures and items of interest.

2)      Invite Facebook users to “like” your page.  Remember, it’s about quality here, not quantity. While it’s important to have a high number of “likes” on your company’s page, it’s more important to keep the content fresh and updated.

3)       An important goal to have for your organization’s social media sites, especially Facebook, is to encourage interactive behavior from your users. A good way of accomplishing this is to have contests where a prize is given. When you want feedback and user interactivity, offer a reward or prize that makes it worthwhile for the user to participate. LAN Systems is having a contest for a copy of Microsoft Office Pro 2010 for liking its Facebook page. We’ll let everyone know how it turns out on our page.

4)      Share links and Tag others in your posts and status updates. This creates exposure from both sides. Be polite and considerate when sharing.

5)      Like and or comment on photos, articles and posts. Depending upon your online persona, you may want to avoid controversial topics.  In any case, always review your posts before submitting for content, spelling and grammar.  A typo isn’t the end of the world, but it can be embarrassing.

Once you create your Twitter and Facebook page, it’s important to check on a regular basis. Your company needs to appear to be responsive to the users. Answer messages and keep the conversation going!

Next time, tips for LinkedIn and Blogging.  Until then, please send us a comment or leave a message.

Creating an Outlook signature with hyperlinks

July 6, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]Now that you have your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts all jazzed up, it’s time to add links to your email signature.  You can make a hyperlink to your social media sites and mail recipients can “click” right to them.  Follow these simple steps to add your signature.  For instructions with screen images, go to:  http://www.lansystems.com/Creating-an-Outlook-signature-with-hyperlinks.html

  1. Get your logos.  You will need your company logo and logos for the social media sites to hyperlink.  There are many logos to choose from that are in the public domain.  If you want to use a logo that requires payment or special permission, make sure to satisfy all requirements before using.
  2. Get your hyperlinks.  Go to each of your social media sites and cut/copy the links to that site.  Be sure that you use the links that do not require login to the site.  For instance, when you login to Twitter your homepage is: http://twitter.com/home  For others to see you, use the link to your account: http://twitter.com/LANSystems
  3. Open Outlook and go to Tools – Options – Mail Format – Signatures – Edit
  4. Since graphics/logos and hyperlinks will be added, we will use Word as our editor.  Choose Advanced Edit and you will see a message that an external editor will be launched, select Yes.
  5. Use Word to create your signature.  You can start with a format line above the signature and then add your name, phone and other contact information.
  6. Add the logo, by inserting a picture.  Right click on the logo and choose- Edit Hyperlink.  Add your hyperlink here.
  7. Adjust until you like the look.
  8. Save as Your_Name.rtf.
  9. Create a new email message and check the signature format.  Make sure to verify all links.
  10. Use with all email messages.  And be sure to add logos as you add new social media sites.

For more technical notes go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

If you have any questions or need help with the instructions, email me at: mary@lansystems.com.

Using Facebook to promote your business in 5 easy steps

June 7, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Facebook can be used to promote your business by building an Official Page.  You can open a Facebook business account that has limited privilege or you can use your personal account to create a Company Page.  Facebook only allows an individual one account and it is a violation subject to your account being terminated if you create more than one account.

If you choose to attach a business page to your personal page, you can promote your business to your friends by suggesting that they “like” your page.  Whether you use a personal or business account, you can promote your business with ads.

You can mix your personal and business page by sharing posts, photos and sharing with friends or you can keep them completely separate.  This is determined by your security settings, how you post information and who you confirm as a friend. If you worry about what family or high school friends are going to post on your wall, consider keeping your accounts separate by not sharing information between them. For more information on business accounts, go to Facebook Help Center Business Accounts.

Now let’s get down to business promotion:

1) Create your Official Page.  This page can be linked to your personal page or can be created as a business account.  Business accounts have limited privilege. In order to make an official company page, you’ll have to have a Facebook account business or personal.  If you currently use your Facebook account to connect with family and personal friends, consider keeping the pages separate.  It is possible to have all your “friends” under the same Facebook account by managing security settings, but it requires that you manage your account.  You don’t want items posted to your wall that are not appropriate for your business friends.

2) Create your Official Page for a local business, product or group.  Keep in mind your brand as you add character to your page.  Your business summary and logo are essential to branding.  You can add more detailed information and photos to give more personality.  You can be formal, keep it light-n-lively or anywhere in between.  If you need ideas, go to some other Official Pages of businesses in your industry or area. Don’t try to be just like another page or site, just use as a way to spark you own creativity.  If your page will be a group effort, make sure you establish the ground rules and that one person is charged with brand monitoring.

3) Post to your Company Wall.  If you have a blog, you should link or add your posts to Facebook.  If you have decided to post photos, upload flattering photos of company events individually or in albums.  Keep it interesting and mix up the types of  posts to appeal to your fans.  The frequency of posts is up to you, but once you start make sure you are consistent.  Start with once or twice a week to test the required time commitment.

4) Promote your Company Page by suggesting to your friends.  Facebook recently replaced the “Become a Fan” button with the “Like” button.  Not everyone likes the new terminology and the debate continues on what it is to be a fan or like a page.  For your Company Page, the important point is to get people to like and visit your page.  Provide useful information and use as a way to drive visits to your blog or website. 

5) Promote your Company Page with an ad.  You can purchase impressions or clicks and choose your target audience. You can create variations of ads to test your marketing campaign using different logos, text and demographics. 

These are 5 easy steps to start promoting your business with Facebook.  Experiment to see what gives you the best interactions.  The Insights box, visible to administrators, gives you an indication of the amount of interaction with your business “friends.”   And one good like, deserves another. Go to the businesses you know, favorite their pages and like their posts to get the ball rolling.

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

Jazz up your LinkedIn profile in 5 easy steps

June 1, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]If you are going to use your LinkedIn profile to promote yourself or your business, be sure you jazz it up a bit.  Make sure your content is informative and interesting and that you use the new features and tools to add color and content.

Even if you don’t want to spend much time on LinkedIn, try our 5 easy steps. They will give your profile depth and make you more interesting to your connections.

1) Make sure you profile is complete with present and previous positions, education, awards and specialties.

2) Give and request recommendations.  Write thoughtful recommendations for connections that point out an exceptional or unique circumstance or attribute. Don’t be shy, request recommendations from connections that will share your talents and achievements.

3) Add your Blog. Under More… go to Application Directory and add your Blog.  Use WordPress or Blog Link to display your Blog on your LinkedIn page.  You can show the recent posts or choose those that will be fed to LinkedIn. Blog Link will allow you to add blogs from your connections. If you don’t have a Blog, add your Tweets to LinkedIn.  If you don’t have Tweets, you better get with the social media program!

4) Put a couple of interesting books that you have read in your Reading List.  Choose books that are unique and distinctive to add depth to your online persona.  Books with lively covers will add colorful graphics to your profile.  Change your books periodically to keep it interesting.

5) Upload a presentation about you, your company or a topic you have presented. Use Google Presentation to upload or create presentations in .ppt format.  Google Apps  costs $50 per year there is a trial version available. But if you don’t want to buy anything, use Slideshare to upload up to three presentations – it’s free.

These are 5 easy steps to jazz up your LinkedIn profile. For more ideas, go to the LinkedIn Application Directory. Experiment with the other applications like Polls and Events.  If you don’t like the result, applications are easy to remove.

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

Using LinkedIn to promote your business – 5 easy steps

May 30, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]The possibilities for using LinkedIn to promote your business are practically endless. If you don’t know where to begin or are having trouble finding the time, try our five easy steps for promoting your business with LinkedIn.

First, you need a personal LinkedIn page.  Make sure you have completed your profile and have a flattering position summary for the company to promote.  Additionally, your profile should be 100% complete.

Next decide how you will accept connections. LION (LinkedIn Open Network) members connect to almost anyone that requests whether they know them or not.  More conservative members only link to people they personally know.  This is your choice and you can adjust your settings to share or hide your connections. There are many security settings that control how much or how little of your information is shared.  If you are concerned about sharing information, start with very secure settings and you can adjust as needed.  Never share personal information like home address.

Now let’s get down to business promotion:

1) Create a company page with your logo, overview, specialties and statistics.  Make sure current employees link to the page and that you have included your website.

2) Look for groups to join that are of interest to your customers.  There are many groups on LinkedIn that you can easily reach the 50 limit set by LinkedIn.  Of course, you can join groups that are of personal interest, but if you are promoting your company the best groups will be those of interest to your customers.

3) Create a group based on your subject matter expertise. It is easy to create and promote a group. Create a group choosing a name that describes the group and promote to your contacts. It is best to approve new members rather than have an open access. 

4) Start group discussions and keep the conversation going.  Some groups will be very active and others will need prodding. Periodically promote your group to get new members.  Be sure to monitor messages for appropriate content and spam.  You can remove abusers from your group.

5) Look at the open Q&A discussions.  Even if you choose not to participate, take a glance at the types of questions and answers that are being posted.  You may want to experiment in this open forum before starting your own group. If you are (or want to be) a subject matter expert for your company, search this forum for questions to answer.

This will get you started.  Next time, we will add 5 steps to jazz up your LinkedIn experience.

For more technical topics, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

If you have comments or suggestions for topics, please leave a comment or email mary@lansystems.com.

Promoted Tweets: lead or gold?

May 16, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]Promoted tweets have been with us for such a short time, but already declared a success by Twitter and doomed by the blogosphere.  Virgin America claims its fifth highest sales day for special to Toronto launched by promoted tweets.  But they did have a 50% offer so that could have helped.

In truth, promoted tweets will most likely be a successful venture for Twitter and its business model.  Twitter’s COO tells that the company is under no pressure to make a profit from its investors and that they are focusing on the user experience. So we should see only a modest amount of targeted ads that are high value to the user.  The type and frequency of ads will be a barometer of Twitter’s intent. 

Currently, promoted tweets are on a cost-per-impression pricing model, but that could change if they realize quick success and acceptance by the user community.  Of course the advertisers like it, they are getting great exposure and that means name recognition.  But today’s online user is turned off by ads and has adapted by ignoring them. Persuasion is a powerful tool, but once we realize we are being persuaded – resistance is easier.

Ads that we consider spam are easily blocked, but what about subtleties.  With so much obvious fodder in cyberland, our natural defenses tune them out. But what happens when the laws of persuasion and selective perception marketing are newly applied.  It takes a while for our skills improve so we can ignore the new ad stimulus.  It’s not easy to resist because people desire new possessions.  Our buying impulses are quite predictable because product marketing is successful and profitable especially online.

Twitter can’t make everyone happy with promoted tweets no matter what formula they use. Purists want no advertising on the Internet and advertisers want to be highly visible on successful sites. There is no middle ground.  But Twitter can learn from the mistakes of others and if users don’t like the ads, they’ll tweet about it.

If the number of retweets is any measure of success, the launch of promoted tweets was embraced by the Twitter community.  But changes come quickly in cyberspace, so we’ll observe, analyze and redefine our expectations as Twitter learns the advertising ropes.  It makes for good blogging!

Using social media to promote your business

May 10, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]As the market determines how social media will ultimately impact businesses, you should be positioning your company to take advantage of this new wave of advertising.  Depending upon your marketing strategy, you may decide to just test the waters or jump in with both feet.  Either way, develop a marketing plan for your social media endeavors.  Be sure that you have a policy for anyone (even the owner) that participates in online conversation.  Remember, you want to promote a positive corporate image and attract high quality customers and employees.

At our seminars on social media, we present an overview of how to get started in social media.  We concentrate on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blogging as these are popular, fast-growth platforms that look like they are here to stay.

Social media takes time.  Beginners spend approximately 2 hours a week.  After a few months, the amount of time spent jumps to about 10 hours a week. Those who actively practice social media marketing, commit 20 hours a week or more to keeping up with their social media activities. As with any initiative before you start, make sure you can devote the time and energy needed to have a consistent presence.  Starting small with steady growth is preferable to a big splash then fizzling out.

Many people are struggling with an effective social media strategy and evaluating the social media return-on-investment.  There are some who claim you can make money with social media, but quantifying the revenue has been difficult.  For most, social media is a model for positive promotion, reputation monitoring and networking.  Remember, social media is an extension of the more traditional forms of networking.  So approach your social media communications with the same integrity and etiquette that you would use in face-to-face exchanges.

LinkedIn – A business-oriented social media site used for networking.  You can create your personal profile and make a company page.  You approve people that want to link to you and send invitations to others to link.  Once linked, you get notification on posts, groups, updates and other details about your connections. LinkedIn is powerful for connecting to business professionals, researching companies and participating in industry and topical groups.  You can send your Facebook, Twitter, Blog and other posts directly to your LinkedIn page

Facebook – Originally used as a social networking site for college students, Facebook has gained acceptance and influence for all ages.  On Facebook, it is easy to post pictures, videos and personal information. Users connect by posting information on walls.  You have to accept invitations from friends and choose what information to share.  Facebook accounts are created by an individual, but you can make a company page linked to your personal account to promote your company.  Use Facebook ads to promote your company by designing an ad and choosing the demographics that will view the ads.  Ads can be pay-per-impression or pay-per-click.  The fasting growing Facebook demographic is women over 55 years of age.

Twitter – A social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers. Find followers that are interested in your industry, products or services.  Follow those who tweet information of interest or value. Use tweets to drive followers to your blog or other social media sites.  Send tweets on a variety of topics, but don’t just tweet advertisements or your followers will dwindle. 

YouTube –  A video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals but some media corporations offer content.  Users can watch the videos and registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos.  Use YouTube to upload video blogs, interview, tutorials and presentation to name a few.  YouTube content can be used on your website or blog to provide information through video.  Some markets prefer video and recording demonstrations, instructions and interviews can be a powerful addition to the printed word.  Photos can be uploaded to YouTube, set to music and made into a video with captions. On your YouTube account you can monitor how many views each video has received and allow viewers to leave comments.

Blogging – Blog comes from the term web log.  A business blog is a website with regular entries of information, commentary, and events.  Blogs can be maintained by a single individual or group.  There are many group blogs on broad topics of interest Blogs are mainly text, but often add graphics, music or video for meaning and content.  Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.  Most blogs allow readers to leave comments in an interactive format, but it is important that comments should be reviewed before being posted to your business blog.  Blogs should be professional and well written.  Your posts should be used to establish your expertise in an industry or on a topic.  Use other social media sites to drive users to your blog where you can explore topics more deeply.  Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.

Want to try social media, but don’t know where to start? 

  • Try LinkedIn first.  It’s easy to get started, find connections and add content. 
  • Then try Facebook.  It’s a bit more complicated, but worth the effort.  Once you get your personal page and some friends, make a company page and suggest it to your friends. 
  • Now you’re ready for Twitter.  Set up your account and tweet once or twice a day.  Remember to make your tweets interesting and minimize advertisement.
  • Now start blogging!  Use the other sites to drive traffic to your blog.  Create content that can also be used on your social media sites, web pages and newsletters. 

For more tips, visit:  http://www.lansystems.com