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Social Media Is Important, If Done Properly

Written by Brandi Bennett

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Social media allows individuals to stay in contact with each other. That was the the original premise for its creation, also allowing folks to make new connections and friends across the vast open space that is the Internet. In recent years, however, social media has evolved into being utilized as a means of allowing organizations to promote their products to individuals, interact with their customers, and spark discussion and debate regarding the different products that are being offered.

social_media

 

The Benefits

This type of access, allowing brands and companies to interact with their customers in this manner is a great boon to organizations, providing them with information and insight into consumer preferences in ways that never would have been possible in the past while also allowing them to obtain personalized and direct responses and information from consumers regarding how their product performs, along with additional information about the desires of the market.

 

The Crux of the Matter

In spite of all of this positivity, there is one issue that is arising with increasing frequency: spam. Not spam in the traditional sense of the word, which relates to unsolicited email messages, but a new equivalent. I, personally, had avoided Twitter for years, but recent events prompted me to finally set up an account. I was almost immediately spammed with requests from companies to “follow” them. Companies that I had never heard of, whose requests were sometimes not even in English, but I’ve never heard of these companies and, to my chagrin, I hadn’t even filled out my interests yet!

These businesses mostly just wanted follows, though some asked me to “retweet” information on their business to get their name out there. These were clearly generic requests, sent out automatically. Now, some businesses may think that this is a good thing, that it’s an alright business practice, acceptable even, after all isn’t the whole point getting your name out there?

No. It’s not okay at all. Not only did I delete every single one of these, I also blocked those companies from contacting me. This is not the type of publicity for which businesses should aim.

 

The Nitty Gritty

Social media should be used by the business not necessarily to solicit, but to let their brand speak. It’s fine to send messages to those who have expressed an interest in your company via social media, but if you’re just randomly hoping to contact someone who might take the time to like or follow your organization, this is arguably spam. You want a user to want to talk about you in a positive manner. You want that individual to like your company or follow your company, expressing to their network that your business is worthwhile, but if you do nothing to engender that feeling, you’re shooting yourself in the virtual foot. Use social media strategically and your company has the potential to go far.

 

Image Source: LinkedIn. (2013). Social Media. Retrieved from http://blog.linkedin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Social-Media-and-College-Admissions.jpg-1024×701.jpeg

Five Must-Have Google Chrome Extensions For 2014

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

I’ve found that while computers have made our lives exponentially easier and more organized, sometimes the user can’t keep up with the technology, allowing mainstream tasks to become obsolete. For those of you who are unaware, a browser plug-in is a piece of software code that allows a program, or portion of a web page to do something it couldn’t by itself. One of the most common being Adobe Flash Player; without it, you wouldn’t be able to view videos embedded into web pages.

For these reasons we thought it’d be a good idea to share five plug-ins and browser extensions that may make your work flow and internet capabilities that much easier.

  1. Facebook Unseen- Block’s Facebook’s read receipts from being sent.

I actually really like this one. While Facebook has become an integral marketing tool, it has also become one of the largest time-sucks from a day of productivity. It’s hard not responding to a message from a friend or client when it’s indicated very clearly that the message has been received.

Sometimes we receive a message via mobile and don’t have the means to respond properly on the go. I find this is the perfect solution to still being able to read a message, while not offending someone while you wait to respond until later.

facebook_unseen

 

  1. Grammarly Lite- Rest assured your e-mails are making sense.

Spell checking is nothing revolutionary when it comes to most e-mail and comment boxes. However, when it comes to ensuring professional fluency in the messages you send out, grammatical mistakes often go unnoticed until the message is already in your sent box. The ways in which you’re covered include:

  • Prepositional errors

  • Inaccurate usage of pronouns

  • Irregular verb conjugations, etc.

Spell checking is also included in the set of features, which may come in handy for less developed messaging programs. Grammarly Lite works on all Social Media applications as well, so status updates, and messages will be on point.

 

  1. LastPass- Securely store your passwords and personal information

How many contact forms are you going to fill out before you entrust a third party to securely remember all of your Log-in information? With LastPass you won’t have to again!

Personally, I get overwhelmed with how many accounts I belong to, and how many new registration forms are requested on a monthly basis. Saving minutes here and there while logging in really amps up efficiency during the work day, and prevents remembering all of the various user-names and passwords we’re accountable for as individuals.

last_pass

 

  1. StayFocusd- Block out your online distractions

Here I sit, guilty as charged. As a writer I spend the majority of my work day pinned between my word processor, and a limitless expansion of digital distractions. My saving grace has been allowing StayFocusd to do what my discipline could not, and that’s block the pages and applications I knew were hindering my work flow.

Notable features include entire domain blocking, specific sub-domains, paths and in-page content (images, games, videos). You can even set a time limit if you want to browse for only a reasonable period of time. Many companies have put out comparable applications for considerable annual fees, StayFocusd is free!

 

  1. NiftySplit- Split Chrome into two windows

Not quite dual screen potential, but for anyone doing work on the go, having your browser split to surf through web pages more efficiently is a wonderful tool. How it works is you open your favorite website (The Homepage) and when you click on any link it then opens in the right hand side of the split screen interface.

Researchers, shoppers, and anyone just browsing web links will love not having to open a web page, click back and find their location in the link index again.

nifty_split

What are you favorite Chrome extensions? Let us know in the comments!

 

Image sources:

Facebook Unseen- http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage/f/facebook_unseen_for_chrome-518325-13771402970.jpeg

LastPass- http://www.majorgeeks.com/index.php?ct=files&action=file&id=2566

NiftySplit- http://core5.staticworld.net/images/article/2013/09/niftysplit-100054314-large.jpg

Responsive Web Design: A Goal For 2014

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Monday, June 16th, 2014

responsive web design 01

If your business depends on its website to any extent, and you haven’t made the switch to a responsive design by now, you’re at risk for losing a lot of business in 2014. The primary reason being the massive shift happening in how people browse the internet nowadays. During a study conducted at the end of 2013, Smart Insights discovered that of all web browsing just over 25% was done either on a Smartphone or Tablet. Signifying a potential 25% loss in business due to the sub-optimal experience many visitors encountered on web-pages that did not adjust for their particular device.

What’s more notable is that by 2015, mobile browsing is expected to surpass desktop use, making it imperative your website will be ready for use across any screen as soon as possible.

 

Responsive Web Design (RWD) Defined

Although it has been around since May of 2010, RWD is still a fairly new strategy to the majority of business owners. Most simply put, Responsive Design is: a website design that will adjust flawlessly to fit on a desktop, smartphone and tablet browser. If you’ve ever pulled open a website on a mobile device only to see the desktop version you understand it can be difficult to zoom in, navigate and ultimately achieve what you had intended by opening the web page in the first place.

 

How It Works

responsive web design 02

RWD aims to make the browsing experience seamless from one device to the next; therefore, retaining visitors no matter how they choose to access your site.</>

As you can see in the image above, the web-page’s content has re-sized and adjusted to fit within the confines of available space. The principles of RWD use “media queries” to figure out the resolution of the device it’s being served on, coupled with flexible images and fluid grids to then size everything correctly to fit on the screen.

In the past web designers would develop a desktop site, and then an entirely different mobile version to try and accommodate for all the different emerging devices. In November of 2012, the popular website Mashable was accessed by more than 2,500 different devices, a number that helped them declare 2013 to be the Year of Responsive Web Design.

 

The Top 5 Reasons To Adopt RWD

Beyond universal accessibility, there are several other benefits to having a site that can exist under one URL, the first being:

1. Google Highly Recommends It

Much like anything Google recommends, marketers and web professionals are usually keen with interest. In 2012, Google deemed it a best practice for smart-phone optimized websites. Having one URL and the same HTML allows Google to easily crawl and index your website within its algorithms. Leading into our next benefit:
2. One SEO Campaign

In order to promote your website within the search engines, you’ve probably managed an SEO campaign to help your website rank. With a Responsive Design you no longer have to worry about ranking two individual sites (Web and Mobile). Instead all of your efforts can now be concentrated towards one page. All of the links, all of the content will now be working twice as hard to ensure your page gets seen no matter what device it’s searched on. Talk about a good deal!
3. Positive User Experience

Without the satisfaction of your visitors, all of this talk of technique and strategy would be utterly pointless. RWD’s main purpose is to allow the users of your web-page to browse however they feel most comfortable. For if a potential customer arrives onto your page while browsing on a mobile device and feels the need to leave seconds later, you may have just lost a potential sale.

Research on mobile website usability shows that websites that are responsive and mobile-ready significantly improve user experience and satisfaction. By 2015 50% of visitors will be on a mobile device, be ready!
4. Adapting For The Future

The combination of media queries paired with fluid grids will give your web design sustainability in a time of rapidly changing technological trends. Users may keep updating their devices, but no matter how the screen sizes keep changing your website will be able to adapt which is an excellent feeling knowing your investing in a long-term design.
5. Saving Time And Money

While RWD aims to serve the satisfaction of your visitors, the bottom line is you’re tired of having to keep up with all the marketing trends when ultimately you just want to run a business. Cutting out dual websites, dual SEO campaigns and constant website maintenance will prove to be incredibly valuable both to your bank account and time management. It’s time to get back to what’s really important, so where do you sign up?

 

Getting Started

Much like hiring a web-designer there is no fixed cost when it comes to implementing RWD. If you have a simple brochure website for your business, modifications may cost as little as a few hundred. Perhaps you want to start from scratch, most web hosting domains have templates with RWD built right in with no experience necessary.

We recommend reading the book Implementing Responsive Web Design, if you”re serious about being on the forefront of RWD and learning how to build these sites yourself. Otherwise, get in touch with your preferred web designer and see how you can go about optimizing your site today. You will not regret it!

 

Image Source #1: http://poweredwebdev.com/tag/responsive-web-design-2/Image Source #2: http://www.cascadingmedia.com/responsive-web-design

6 Online Apps To Help You Focus

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

6 Online Applications To Help You Focus

Approximately two thirds of working Americans find themselves on a computer during the day. Many of which spend their entire shift glued to a screen, only a mouse click away from accessing the endless distractions that can be found on the internet. With so much information coming at us daily, our focus is quickly becoming diminished in exchange for the stimuli of the latest YouTube sensation.

For some it can become a serious problem, leading to low productivity, bad performance reviews, and the additional stress of bringing work home. Luckily we’ve compiled a list of six applications proven to break bad habits and help you get your work done on time!

 
1. Freedom- Block the internet for a certain amount of time

Have you ever played the psychological game with yourself that only after X amount of work, you’ll reward yourself with X amount of entertainment? Easier said than done. Freedom has one simple use, and that’s to block your internet completely for a specified amount of time. You’d be surprised just how quickly a glance at Facebook, or reading that ‘crucial’ article can take hours out of your day.

If turning off the internet completely is not an option, take a look at Anti-Social. It’s built for those who still need the internet, but would like to block certain sites while the web browser is open.

Freedom cost: $10
Anti-Social: $15

 
2. StayFocusd- Limit the amount of time you spend on distracting websites

With opposite functionality to ‘Anti-Social’, Stayfocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that works by restricting the amount of time you can spend on certain sites, rather than blocking them entirely. Once you’re allotted time is spent, those websites will become blocked for the remainder of the day.

Many prefer this calculated approach as they still desire intermittent breaks in working, but do not like to go beyond a certain point. Want to give yourself 45 minutes to space out? This app is right for you.

StayFocusd cost: Free

 

3. TrackTime- Understand how your time gets spent while online

While we acknowledge we spend a lot of time on the computer, most of us have no idea how that’s broken down into individual application use. How much time did you waste on Twitter today? How often were you actually using your Word Processing application?

TrackTime allows you to monitor your activities daily by providing you with statistics and colorful timelines of where you spend your time, and how often you’re switching between applications

Tracktime cost: Free (only available on Mac)

 

4. RescueTime- A more in-depth look at where your time goes and how to take action

RescueTime will give you one of the most accurate picture’s on the market as to where your activity is performed on your computer. With detailed activity reports, weekly email summary, and daily goals built right into the interface you’re guaranteed results in becoming more efficient.

With premiere, you also get the benefits of:

  • Customized Site Blocking
  • Track Offline Activity
  • Notifications- Notify yourself when spending too much time on something, or for being super productive.

RescueTime cost: $9/month or $72/year

 

5. Concentrate- Work and study more productively between tasks

Many of us are responsible for more than one type of task throughout the day; for instance, there’s times when I’m writing, budgeting, updating my web-page, or producing new content on Social Media. Needless to say these tasks can become intertwined unintentionally and break our focus.

Concentrate allows you to create custom activities that run a corresponding set of actions to only allow applications and websites to run that support productivity within that activity. In English, that means if I’m writing I can only access my word processor, and websites I haven’t placed on a block list while I’m working. You can set up multiple forms of activity to segment your work day and focus on each item individually.

Concentrate cost: $29

 

6. FocusWriter- Creating an optimal environment for your thoughts

Writing can require the greatest self-discipline of any profession, especially in the last decade as life and internet have become so intertwined. FocusWriter commandeers your desktop to provide a distraction-free writing environment so you can focus on what really matters, the words.

Some additional features, include:

  • Daily writing goals (word count or writing time)
  • Typewriter sounds
  • Standard text-editing features

FocurWriter cost: Free, but with a suggested “tip”

 
Do you have any other apps or tips that you use to stay focused? Let us know in the comments section!

 

Image Source: http://betanews.com/2014/02/26/are-you-reading-this-when-you-should-be-working/internet-distraction/

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