The right social media platforms for SMBs

170px_shutterstock_231341854Social media marketing is tricky, to say the least. It’s difficult to allocate the resources that create the desired effect, especially when so many platforms are available. Facebook might be the biggest name in the industry, but that doesn’t mean it will suit your organization. Instead, business owners should familiarize themselves with all the available options.

Facebook
According to the 2017 Wasp Barcode State of Small Business Report, Facebook is the most utilized social media of all the options. Out of the survey’s 1,100+ respondents, 68 percent used Facebook as an integral part of their marketing strategy, with LinkedIn coming in second at 39 percent.

One of the contributing factors to Facebook’s popularity is the fact that it’s currently approaching a total of 2 billion personal users, making it the first place companies go to when they want to increase their brand awareness. Other marketing-specific reasons businesses choose Facebook are social media referral traffic, terrific conversion rates for e-commerce traffic, and a huge impact on user purchasing decisions.

YouTube
YouTube is considered an undervalued social media resource for two main reasons. Firstly, although it’s the second-largest search engine on the internet, it still looms in the giant shadow of its rival Google Search. But when properly utilized, YouTube allows you to create channels for your products or services to be discovered by users, with little more than search optimizations.

Secondly, Google actually owns YouTube, and videos are reportedly 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than other organic content. Keep in mind that video production quality is more important than ever, so your content needs to be well-produced in order to make an impact.

Google+
Engagement and content on sharing might pale in comparison to Facebook, but an active Google+ page measurably contributes to the Google search ranking of your website — just another way you can ensure your site’s position on the first page of Google results should be done. Also, Google+ has hundreds of millions of users and some of the platform’s features — such as live Hangouts — can be utilized to share content across all Google channels, including YouTube.

Snapchat and Instagram
If your target audience is on the younger end of the scale, Snapchat is the way to go. The important thing to keep in mind when you want to connect with 18-24 year olds is to always be fun and creative. Your content doesn’t need to be overly-polished or corporate. Currently, there are over 100 million active users on Snapchat.

As for Instagram, it boasts over 400 million monthly users as well as a more well-rounded user base in terms of age and geography. The content on Instagram should look more professional and more artistic, and there’s an added benefit of direct integration with Facebook every time you post a new picture or video.

Yelp
Review sites might not be the purest form of social media, but Yelp is another great way to connect with users and respond to (hopefully positive) feedback. If you’re concerned about the controversy and negativity that have arisen from Yelp reviews, the Yelp team is known for helping businesses improve their online status and rise above the harsh comments.

If you still have questions about social media platforms and how to utilize them to your advantage, feel free to contact us today!

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Social media platforms that suit your SMB

170px_shutterstock_195098972Facebook might be the biggest name in social media, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all platform, there are trendier options such as Instagram and Snapchat, with a burgeoning millennial base to choose from. With that in mind, it’s essential for business owners to understand the pros and cons of each platform before settling on one.

Facebook
According to the 2017 Wasp Barcode State of Small Business Report, Facebook is the most utilized social media of all the options. Out of the survey’s 1,100+ respondents, 68 percent used Facebook as an integral part of their marketing strategy, with LinkedIn coming in second at 39 percent.

One of the contributing factors to Facebook’s popularity is the fact that it’s currently approaching a total of 2 billion personal users, making it the first place companies go to when they want to increase their brand awareness. Other marketing-specific reasons businesses choose Facebook are social media referral traffic, terrific conversion rates for e-commerce traffic, and a huge impact on user purchasing decisions.

YouTube
YouTube is considered an undervalued social media resource for two main reasons. Firstly, although it’s the second-largest search engine on the internet, it still looms in the giant shadow of its rival Google Search. But when properly utilized, YouTube allows you to create channels for your products or services to be discovered by users, with little more than search optimizations.

Secondly, Google actually owns YouTube, and videos are reportedly 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than other organic content. Keep in mind that video production quality is more important than ever, so your content needs to be well-produced in order to make an impact.

Google+
Engagement and content on sharing might pale in comparison to Facebook, but an active Google+ page measurably contributes to the Google search ranking of your website — just another way you can ensure your site’s position on the first page of Google results should be done. Also, Google+ has hundreds of millions of users and some of the platform’s features — such as live Hangouts — can be utilized to share content across all Google channels, including YouTube.

Snapchat and Instagram
If your target audience is on the younger end of the scale, Snapchat is the way to go. The important thing to keep in mind when you want to connect with 18-24 year olds is to always be fun and creative. Your content doesn’t need to be overly-polished or corporate. Currently, there are over 100 million active users on Snapchat.

As for Instagram, it boasts over 400 million monthly users as well as a more well-rounded user base in terms of age and geography. The content on Instagram should look more professional and more artistic, and there’s an added benefit of direct integration with Facebook every time you post a new picture or video.

Yelp
Review sites might not be the purest form of social media, but Yelp is another great way to connect with users and respond to (hopefully positive) feedback. If you’re concerned about the controversy and negativity that have arisen from Yelp reviews, the Yelp team is known for helping businesses improve their online status and rise above the harsh comments.

If you still have questions about social media platforms and how to utilize them to your advantage, feel free to contact us today!

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Which social media platforms suit your SMB?

170px_shutterstock_321247400The first thing that comes to mind when you think of social media is Facebook and for good reason. Not only does it boast the most users, but it also has the biggest reach and cultural impact. Since there is no one-size-fits-all social media platform, it’s imperative for small- and medium-sized businesses to examine their options before making an investment.

Facebook
According to the 2017 Wasp Barcode State of Small Business Report, Facebook is the most utilized social media of all the options. Out of the survey’s 1,100+ respondents, 68 percent used Facebook as an integral part of their marketing strategy, with LinkedIn coming in second at 39 percent.

One of the contributing factors to Facebook’s popularity is the fact that it’s currently approaching a total of 2 billion personal users, making it the first place companies go to when they want to increase their brand awareness. Other marketing-specific reasons businesses choose Facebook are social media referral traffic, terrific conversion rates for e-commerce traffic, and a huge impact on user purchasing decisions.

YouTube
YouTube is considered an undervalued social media resource for two main reasons. Firstly, although it’s the second-largest search engine on the internet, it still looms in the giant shadow of its rival Google Search. But when properly utilized, YouTube allows you to create channels for your products or services to be discovered by users, with little more than search optimizations.

Secondly, Google actually owns YouTube, and videos are reportedly 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than other organic content. Keep in mind that video production quality is more important than ever, so your content needs to be well-produced in order to make an impact.

Google+
Engagement and content on sharing might pale in comparison to Facebook, but an active Google+ page measurably contributes to the Google search ranking of your website — just another way you can ensure your site’s position on the first page of Google results should be done. Also, Google+ has hundreds of millions of users and some of the platform’s features — such as live Hangouts — can be utilized to share content across all Google channels, including YouTube.

Snapchat and Instagram
If your target audience is on the younger end of the scale, Snapchat is the way to go. The important thing to keep in mind when you want to connect with 18-24 year olds is to always be fun and creative. Your content doesn’t need to be overly-polished or corporate. Currently, there are over 100 million active users on Snapchat.

As for Instagram, it boasts over 400 million monthly users as well as a more well-rounded user base in terms of age and geography. The content on Instagram should look more professional and more artistic, and there’s an added benefit of direct integration with Facebook every time you post a new picture or video.

Yelp
Review sites might not be the purest form of social media, but Yelp is another great way to connect with users and respond to (hopefully positive) feedback. If you’re concerned about the controversy and negativity that have arisen from Yelp reviews, the Yelp team is known for helping businesses improve their online status and rise above the harsh comments.

If you still have questions about social media platforms and how to utilize them to your advantage, feel free to contact us today!

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Are your printers safe?

2017February23_Hardware_AThis is not a question often asked by anyone who has ever used a printer. Given the increasing sophistication of hackers’ capabilities, the discovery that cyber thievery can, in fact, be performed through some popular printer brands hardly comes as a surprise. One study reveals that at least 20 printer models are vulnerable to Distributed Denial-of-Service and other types of attacks. Let’s take a look at this chilling development in cybersecurity.

Which printers are prone?

Based on the study made by Ruhr University Bochum researchers, printer brands such as Hewlett Packard (HP), Brother, Dell, Samsung, and several others are prone to different types of cyber attacks. Online printers from these brands could serve as cyber criminals’ path in which to steal credentials, corrupt a printer, or leak sensitive data from printed documents obtained through a printer’s memory.

Printers serve the basic purpose of turning computer documents into paper and have never been a typical entry-point of hackers’ attacks. Government and corporate offices, business establishments, non-profit organizations, and homes own one, and when you think about the fact that most printers are linked to computer owners’ internal networks, this expansion of cyber theft to printers begin to make even more sense.

How can attacks be made?

Researchers identified security vulnerabilities that would enable hackers to corrupt common printer languages such as PostScript and PJL, which they could then use to launch Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks or reset the corrupted printer to its factory defaults, also termed as ‘protection bypass.’ Other ways in which hackers could exploit their access are through print job manipulations, which could lead to minor cases of printing corruptions or persistent printing distortions, and information disclosure, the leaking of sensitive information.

What safety measures are being developed?

The researchers who discovered the vulnerabilities developed the PRinter Exploitation Toolkit (PRET), a program designed to determine if a printing device is a likely target. This toolkit ‘connects to a device via network or USB and exploits the features of a given printer language, and is complemented by a wiki page that documents attacks made. It’s worth noting that more printer models and brands haven’t been tested due to the team’s lack of resources. But with this open-source toolkit, vulnerabilities of many brands and models may soon be identified.

Stealing information online is far from being a novelty in cyber security. But to do so through printers requires a special set of skills. It’s too soon to tell whether this form of cyber thievery is going to pose serious threats in the future, but regardless of how further studies progress, failing to implement security protocols for your network can cost you dearly. Get ready for any security threat by contacting our security experts now.

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Popular printer brands are prone to attacks

2017February23_Hardware_CDo you have security measures in place for your office’s printers? By “security,” we don’t mean locked doors or watchful guards; we’re referring to security against hackers that use printers as a weapon. Despite many companies going paperless, printers are still essential in most offices. And based on recent reports, popular printer brands are targeted for corruption.

Which printers are prone?

Based on the study made by Ruhr University Bochum researchers, printer brands such as Hewlett Packard (HP), Brother, Dell, Samsung, and several others are prone to different types of cyber attacks. Online printers from these brands could serve as cyber criminals’ path in which to steal credentials, corrupt a printer, or leak sensitive data from printed documents obtained through a printer’s memory.

Printers serve the basic purpose of turning computer documents into paper and have never been a typical entry-point of hackers’ attacks. Government and corporate offices, business establishments, non-profit organizations, and homes own one, and when you think about the fact that most printers are linked to computer owners’ internal networks, this expansion of cyber theft to printers begin to make even more sense.

How can attacks be made?

Researchers identified security vulnerabilities that would enable hackers to corrupt common printer languages such as PostScript and PJL, which they could then use to launch Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks or reset the corrupted printer to its factory defaults, also termed as ‘protection bypass.’ Other ways in which hackers could exploit their access are through print job manipulations, which could lead to minor cases of printing corruptions or persistent printing distortions, and information disclosure, the leaking of sensitive information.

What safety measures are being developed?

The researchers who discovered the vulnerabilities developed the PRinter Exploitation Toolkit (PRET), a program designed to determine if a printing device is a likely target. This toolkit ‘connects to a device via network or USB and exploits the features of a given printer language, and is complemented by a wiki page that documents attacks made. It’s worth noting that more printer models and brands haven’t been tested due to the team’s lack of resources. But with this open-source toolkit, vulnerabilities of many brands and models may soon be identified.

Stealing information online is far from being a novelty in cyber security. But to do so through printers requires a special set of skills. It’s too soon to tell whether this form of cyber thievery is going to pose serious threats in the future, but regardless of how further studies progress, failing to implement security protocols for your network can cost you dearly. Get ready for any security threat by contacting our security experts now.

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Vulnerabilities in popular printers

2017February23_Hardware_BWhat harm could possibly come from printing a document? According to some researchers who performed a large-scale analysis of printer attacks, a lot. These could be in the form of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, which are as devious as they sound, or attacks made through extracted print jobs. Today, we unveil the mechanics of this new cyber threat.

Which printers are prone?

Based on the study made by Ruhr University Bochum researchers, printer brands such as Hewlett Packard (HP), Brother, Dell, Samsung, and several others are prone to different types of cyber attacks. Online printers from these brands could serve as cyber criminals’ path in which to steal credentials, corrupt a printer, or leak sensitive data from printed documents obtained through a printer’s memory.

Printers serve the basic purpose of turning computer documents into paper and have never been a typical entry-point of hackers’ attacks. Government and corporate offices, business establishments, non-profit organizations, and homes own one, and when you think about the fact that most printers are linked to computer owners’ internal networks, this expansion of cyber theft to printers begin to make even more sense.

How can attacks be made?

Researchers identified security vulnerabilities that would enable hackers to corrupt common printer languages such as PostScript and PJL, which they could then use to launch Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks or reset the corrupted printer to its factory defaults, also termed as ‘protection bypass.’ Other ways in which hackers could exploit their access are through print job manipulations, which could lead to minor cases of printing corruptions or persistent printing distortions, and information disclosure, the leaking of sensitive information.

What safety measures are being developed?

The researchers who discovered the vulnerabilities developed the PRinter Exploitation Toolkit (PRET), a program designed to determine if a printing device is a likely target. This toolkit ‘connects to a device via network or USB and exploits the features of a given printer language, and is complemented by a wiki page that documents attacks made. It’s worth noting that more printer models and brands haven’t been tested due to the team’s lack of resources. But with this open-source toolkit, vulnerabilities of many brands and models may soon be identified.

Stealing information online is far from being a novelty in cyber security. But to do so through printers requires a special set of skills. It’s too soon to tell whether this form of cyber thievery is going to pose serious threats in the future, but regardless of how further studies progress, failing to implement security protocols for your network can cost you dearly. Get ready for any security threat by contacting our security experts now.

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How to test out Android Instant Apps

2017February22_Android_COne of the most anticipated features announced from last year’s Google I/O is finally available for early testing. Android Instant Apps allows users to run specific applications without needing to install them. Only a few Android and Google Pixel users will be able to test this new feature, and if you want to find out whether your phone has access to Instant Apps, follow these instructions.

Activating Instant Apps
To enable Instant Apps, go to your phone’s Settings menu, find Google under the Personal category, then select Instant Apps under Services and toggle it on.

Since this feature has limited availability some Android users might not have this option. Reports indicate that Google Pixels running Android 7.1.2 and Nexus 6P devices with Android 7.1.1 installed are able to access Instant Apps.

However, don’t worry if you don’t have any of these phones. Google usually rolls out new updates in waves, so make sure to update your Android OS as often as possible and check for the Instant Apps feature every week.

How to use it
If you manage to activate Instant Apps, simply go to Chrome, search for an application — so far, Wish, Periscope, Viki, and Buzzfeed are the only Instant Apps available for testing — look for a search result that includes the word Instant, then click on Open App.

Once you’ve loaded up the app, you can use it like you would any other local app. For example, you can open up the Wish Instant App to access your online shopping account, browse through product catalogs, and even make a purchase right from your phone’s web browser.

But if you want a local version of the application, pull down the Instant Apps Menu and tap on Install.

What’s the reason for the new feature?
The lack of quick and easy access to applications dramatically slows down app adoption rates. Sometimes users just want to access an app quickly, get what they need, and move on.

Another case for Instant Apps is when users are dealing with a crowded WiFi or 4G/LTE connection. In these situations, downloading full applications would take too long, whereas Instant Apps give you access to only what you need without using too much bandwidth.

And although the Instant Apps feature is still in its testing phase, it does present eCommerce and online services companies with new possibilities to market their applications and their business.

The only downside is, users have to be patient for just a bit longer to get their hands on Instant Apps. Fortunately, we’re always on top of the latest Android and Google developments. Contact us today, and we’ll make sure you get Instant Apps the moment it rolls out to all users.

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An early look at Android Instant Apps

2017February22_Android_BBack in May 2016, Google gave us a sneak preview of Android Instant Apps, a feature that loads a web-based version of an app instead of installing it. Today, the feature is available for limited testing on Google Pixel and certain Android devices. If you want to try out Instant Apps, follow the steps below.

Activating Instant Apps
To enable Instant Apps, go to your phone’s Settings menu, find Google under the Personal category, then select Instant Apps under Services and toggle it on.

Since this feature has limited availability some Android users might not have this option. Reports indicate that Google Pixels running Android 7.1.2 and Nexus 6P devices with Android 7.1.1 installed are able to access Instant Apps.

However, don’t worry if you don’t have any of these phones. Google usually rolls out new updates in waves, so make sure to update your Android OS as often as possible and check for the Instant Apps feature every week.

How to use it
If you manage to activate Instant Apps, simply go to Chrome, search for an application — so far, Wish, Periscope, Viki, and Buzzfeed are the only Instant Apps available for testing — look for a search result that includes the word Instant, then click on Open App.

Once you’ve loaded up the app, you can use it like you would any other local app. For example, you can open up the Wish Instant App to access your online shopping account, browse through product catalogs, and even make a purchase right from your phone’s web browser.

But if you want a local version of the application, pull down the Instant Apps Menu and tap on Install.

What’s the reason for the new feature?
The lack of quick and easy access to applications dramatically slows down app adoption rates. Sometimes users just want to access an app quickly, get what they need, and move on.

Another case for Instant Apps is when users are dealing with a crowded WiFi or 4G/LTE connection. In these situations, downloading full applications would take too long, whereas Instant Apps give you access to only what you need without using too much bandwidth.

And although the Instant Apps feature is still in its testing phase, it does present eCommerce and online services companies with new possibilities to market their applications and their business.

The only downside is, users have to be patient for just a bit longer to get their hands on Instant Apps. Fortunately, we’re always on top of the latest Android and Google developments. Contact us today, and we’ll make sure you get Instant Apps the moment it rolls out to all users.

Posted in Android, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

How to get a sneak preview of Instant Apps

2017February22_Android_AAt its I/O 2016 conference, Google introduced us to Android Instant Apps. This built-in feature allows users to access a cloud version of an app without having to download it from the Google Play Store. While the technology isn’t yet available to the general public, Google is running a limited test of the technology for a few devices. Here’s how you can opt in and test Instant Apps.

Activating Instant Apps
To enable Instant Apps, go to your phone’s Settings menu, find Google under the Personal category, then select Instant Apps under Services and toggle it on.

Since this feature has limited availability some Android users might not have this option. Reports indicate that Google Pixels running Android 7.1.2 and Nexus 6P devices with Android 7.1.1 installed are able to access Instant Apps.

However, don’t worry if you don’t have any of these phones. Google usually rolls out new updates in waves, so make sure to update your Android OS as often as possible and check for the Instant Apps feature every week.

How to use it
If you manage to activate Instant Apps, simply go to Chrome, search for an application — so far, Wish, Periscope, Viki, and Buzzfeed are the only Instant Apps available for testing — look for a search result that includes the word Instant, then click on Open App.

Once you’ve loaded up the app, you can use it like you would any other local app. For example, you can open up the Wish Instant App to access your online shopping account, browse through product catalogs, and even make a purchase right from your phone’s web browser.

But if you want a local version of the application, pull down the Instant Apps Menu and tap on Install.

What’s the reason for the new feature?
The lack of quick and easy access to applications dramatically slows down app adoption rates. Sometimes users just want to access an app quickly, get what they need, and move on.

Another case for Instant Apps is when users are dealing with a crowded WiFi or 4G/LTE connection. In these situations, downloading full applications would take too long, whereas Instant Apps give you access to only what you need without using too much bandwidth.

And although the Instant Apps feature is still in its testing phase, it does present eCommerce and online services companies with new possibilities to market their applications and their business.

The only downside is, users have to be patient for just a bit longer to get their hands on Instant Apps. Fortunately, we’re always on top of the latest Android and Google developments. Contact us today, and we’ll make sure you get Instant Apps the moment it rolls out to all users.

Posted in Android, General Articles A | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Virtualization troubles: 3 common pitfalls

2017February21_Virtualization_CImplementing a virtualized data storage solution at your business is no small feat. It’s a complicated process that requires immense amounts of technical expertise. Unfortunately, getting it up and running is only half the battle. For the most efficient solution possible, watch out for the three most common management issues outlined in this post.

Poorly structured storage from the get go

Within a virtualized data storage framework, information is grouped into tiers based on how quickly that information needs to be accessible when requested. The fastest drives on the market are still very expensive, and most networks will have to organize data into three different tiers to avoid breaking the bank.

For example, archived or redundant data probably doesn’t need to be on the fastest drive you have, but images on your eCommerce website should get the highest priority if you want customers to have a good experience.

Without a virtualization expert on hand, organizing this data could quickly go off the rails. Ask your IT service provider to see a diagram of where your various data types are stored and how those connect to the software-defined drive at the hub of your solution. If there are too many relays for your server to pass through, it’ll be a slower solution than the non-virtualized alternatives.

Inadequately maintained virtualized storage

How long will your intended design last? Companies evolve and expand in short periods of time, and your infrastructure may look completely different months later. Virtualized data storage requires frequent revisions and updates to perform optimally.

Whoever is in charge of your virtualization solution needs to have intimate knowledge of how data is being accessed. If you’re using virtual machines to access your database and move things around, they need to be precisely arranged to make sure you don’t have 10 workstations trying to access information from the same gateway while five other lanes sit unoccupied.

Incorrect application placement

In addition to watching how your data is accessed as the system shifts and grows, administrators also need to keep a close eye on the non-human components with access to the system. Virtualized applications that access your database may suffer from connectivity problems, but how would you know?

The application won’t alert you, and employees can’t be expected to report every time the network seems slow. Your virtualization expert needs to understand what those applications need to function and how to monitor them closely as time goes on.

Deploying any type of virtualized IT within your business network is a commendable feat. However, the work doesn’t stop there. Without the fine-tuning of an experienced professional, you risk paying for little more than a fancy name. For the best virtualization advice in town, contact us today.

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