Blog

Featured

Useful Tools to Save you Time

As a social media professional, I am always seeking ways to make more efficient use of my time.  I belong to a couple of forums and groups that often discuss free tools or low-cost options.  I would like to share a compiled list here with you:

  • Hootsuite – one of my faves – up to 5 social media accounts for free, up to 20 for $5.99 per month
  • If This Then That – will help you do just that with about 11 social platforms – ex. if [Twitter mention] then [thank them] – will work with Facebook pages.
  • Buffer – share your posts at a later time on any Twitter account or Facebook personal pages
  • Dreamstime – free photos for use in your materials – they also have photos for purchase.
  • DIIGO – similar to Dropbox for websites you want to save for later – lets you bookmark in a cloud favorites by keyword.  You can even highlight things, place sticky notes on pages and share it with connections.
  • FanTools – the free side lets you set up one Twitter and one Facebook page, upgrades available for planning, coupons and deals.
  • YouSendIt – sending large files through email is no longer a problem, use YouSendIt.  You upload, the receiver downloads.  You must stay under a size limit for it to remain free.
  • Morgue File – more free photos. Has a connection with Dreamstime.
  • CutePDF – makes pdf files for any of your printable documents for programs that don’t already convert them.
  • Join.me – screen sharing
  • Skype – video calling and screen sharing, have a group video conversation for a monthly fee.
  • IWOWWE – video email and conferencing.
  • MailChimp – e-newsletter system free up to 2000 emails
  • FreshBooks – on-line accounting, up to 3 clients for free, up to 25 clients $19.95 mos.
  • BeFunky – photo effects editor
  • Zoho – CRM on-line tool.
  • Gimp – photo editing software – you download it.  You don’t need Photoshop with this one.
  • Inkscape – modify vector art similar to Illustrator.
  • ClipArt – open clip art library
  • AVG – anti virus
  • Adobe Browser Lab for website testing
  • WeTransfer – for sending files
  • PrimoPDF is also free PDF converter
  • Hamster – another Free video converter
  • MyPictr – Avatar creator – for profile pictures on social networks – not sure if its up to date but you can manually change the px size
  • DaFont – Free Fonts
  • OpenOffice – The Free and Open Productivity Suite
  • LastPass – Online Password storage.
  • Malwarebytes – Don’t run windows without it – not free
  • Nitro PDF Reader – recently added thanks to SME club thread
  • Toggl – Time tracking, great when you are billing by project
  • Avast! – Anti-virus, some free, but all the bells and whistles cost
  • Audacity – Sound recording and editing
  • TeamViewer – Screen sharing and more.
  • Jing – screen capture. pro version for a small upgrade is no longer available.  Will have to switch to Snag-it or Camtasia.
  • FileZilla – FTP management
  • CCleaner – keep your hard drive clean and optimized
  • Synergy – use one mouse and keyboard to connect multiple computers (from Zoho)
  • Any Video Converter – convert any video, aptly named
  • Dropbox – store and share files online
  • Google Docs, Calendar, mail, keyword tools, alerts, analytics, insights for search – access docs that you share, share with others, check your calendar, multiple email accounts from you desktop, phone, or laptop, find what keywords you need to use, set up alerts for anything you want to track from the web and blogs, add analytics to your website and track traffic to your site, .
  • Evernote -remember everything, anywhere
  • Readitlater – don’t have time to read that article now, save it to readitlater.
  • SimpleNote – similar to Evernote, jot yourself a note anytime, anywhere
  • KeePass – another password compiler
  • Free Conference Call – teleconferencing line available 24/7. Each call accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.
  • SuveyMonkey – free survey tool
  • Evite – free party planning tool
  • Producteev – task management app, helping to organize office days. It’s cross-platform, desktop and mobile.
  • AnyMeeting – web conference meetings
  • Bit.ly – link shortener and tracking
  • Box.net – add files to this on-line application and link it to your LinkedIn profile
  • Scribd – post your pdf files and documents to share on your social networks if you don’t want to post them on your website.
  • Visual.ly – create your own infographic
  • Get Listed – enter your business name and zip code.  The tool finds the location sites on which you are or aren’t listed.
  • Timeline Image Tool – helps you build custom tab images without needing design software.

What have I missed?  What do you like best?  What wouldn’t you use?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Research, Research, Research – Comcast got me again!

Research – Before you make decisions get both sides of the story.

It pays to do your research thoroughly. I pay a boat load of money to Comcast for my phones, cable and internet and I now have Xfinity phones. I switched us away from Sprint because they were eating me alive with fees and I found the by the gig option that saved us over $100 per month.

smart city and wireless communication network, abstract image visual, internet of things

Recently, while at a networking luncheon, I met a salesperson for Comcast Business. I spoke with him several times about the service. He told me that he had spoken with a residential person about what the cable would cost if I moved the phones and internet to the business side. It sounded like I would save about $40 per month. He also told me that the Xfinity mobile deal would be fine because everything was all billing to one address.

My Story

WELL, I should have called residential myself!!! I got my Business bill AND my residential bill and noticed that no one told residential to turn off the service. Now silly me, I thought maybe once they ported the numbers over from one to the other, that one hand would know what the other hand was doing. My first mistake.

On a Saturday morning, I make a phone call about why my residential was still active, blah blah blah. After getting the word that my cable bill would actually go up because I was no longer getting the “TriplePlay”, I did some quick math and discovered that I would actually be paying about $20 more a month if I retained the Business service.

I decided right then and there to switch back to the residential side of Comcast. The faster speeds that I was promised were not happening, I wasn’t saving any money, and I wasn’t going to wait around to see if the service response time was faster or not.

After I got switched around to the third person… whom I was able to completely understand, we talked about making the switch. This last person I spoke with on Saturday from Florida claimed they were Customer Solutions. She promised to call me back at 8AM on Monday my time. By this time I had spent 90 minutes on the phone. She wasn’t able to get in touch with Comcast Business.

The UpSide

When Monday at 9:30 rolled around and I felt “stood-up”, I called customer service back. i found out that there were no notes on my account. I got transferred three more times and was up to my eyebrows with rage. The bright spot in this whole story is an operator named Shannon from Mississippi. I was so mad from having to repeat myself, I thought the top of my head was going to explode. When I get really mad, I cry and I was probably unintelligible to Shannon, who listened and kept reassuring me. Shannon was on the phone with me close to 90 minutes. She made calls to Business and got the process started to port the numbers back to residential.  She had another person on the other line to facilitate the transfer. There was a hold-up because it takes up to 24 hours to release the numbers. We finally had to hang-up. But Shannon assured me that she would call me back and talk me through switching everything back to the residential modem that I had not returned.

Anxious to get this going, I called back in the late afternoon and spoke with someone who did some  checking on the numbers and they still weren’t able to port. BUT, Rachel (the second customer solutions person) told me that she checked with Shannon who told her she had been continuing to check on my case.

Lo and behold, on Tuesday morning, I got a phone call (while I was off-site teaching a class) from Comcast Technical Assistance to port my numbers over. I couldn’t talk but this kind tech called me back in the afternoon when I was back in the office. Over about 45 minutes, we got everything switched over and back to residential service.

While I was driving to return the business equipment to an Xfinity store, I got a phone call on my mobile. It was Shannon!!! She had been thinking about and following-up on my case since Monday. We chatted a bit about how frustrated she and her supervisor were. If they were frustrated, imagine how bad it was for me! I feel that even though the name is Comcast, one side of the business doesn’t know and can’t help you with the other aspects.

My Advice

This is a long story and if you got this far, take this advice from me: Do your own research! Check on what things will cost you if you move your service. If you are moving it all, find out installation, taxes etc. If you are leaving partial, find out the associated costs. If you tell a company you are leaving their service they might offer you a better deal to stay. Do your research. Do your due diligence.

Shannon from Mississippi, you deserve a gold star, a medal, an extra day of vacation or something. You remained calm during my stress and helped me solve my problem. God Bless you!

 

Email Scams are Running Rampant!

Don’t be fooled by email scams!

This time of year, and sometimes all the time, we are so busy that email scams may hit without you even knowing it. This article is dealing with email scams, but phone scams can be just as pervasive. Beware – Microsoft, Apple, the IRS, Social Security will not call you unless there is a pre-arranged time established through letters. Emails on the other hand, just pop up in your mailbox and if you aren’t careful, you could become a victim.

Look for the following!

Here is one that recently showed up in my email box. Here are the tips to the email scams:

  1. The address may look normal in your lines of emails, but if you open the email and look at the address, it is not from American Express. On a side note, I can’t remember ever having an American Express card!!!
  2. Notice the Amex Express reference. American Express doesn’t refer to itself as Amex Express. It is spelled out.
  3. Dear Amex Customer, if they are sending me information about updating my account, don’t you think they would know the name on my card and address me that way?
  4. Typos abound. A professional company like American Express is going to triple spell check a template before sending out anything.
  5. Lastly, the images are either off or non-existent. A company as strongly branded as American Express would never send out a communication that was not properly branded.

I am sure there are other tip-offs to the email scams. These are just a quick few that I saw to point out and share with you.

Warn your elders!

I remember undoing the results of phone calls my Mom got while I was at work. Do your older family members a service. Discuss with them how to recognize the potential rip-offs and email scams out there.

Fake Profiles – How Do You Know?

How do you know if they are Fake Profiles?

Honestly, I don’t always know what are fake profiles and what aren’t. But I recently read this article from LinkedIn about what they are doing to combat Fake Profiles – An Update on How We’re Fighting Fake Accounts | Official LinkedIn Blog

In the past year my Facebook account was cloned. You can read about that here. I was surprised I was hit because I do all the password things I am supposed to do. I don’t click on suspicious email links. But it happened. It made me very leery about connecting with people that I don’t know, especially on Facebook.

I know I have connected with fake profiles on Twitter. I am pretty sure I follow some fake profiles on Instagram, but not as many. On Facebook, I always look at the invitations from people that I might know to see how developed the profile is and who mutual friends / connections might be. If it is a repeat invitation from someone with whom I regularly communicate, I will send a text or message them through another social platform before connecting.

One of my Facebook friends recently decided to switch her account to a “grown-up” version and sent out several posts alerting people to the fact that she would be closing down the old account in an effort to share the more adult/professional version of herself.

On LinkedIn, I find that not as many people are trying to scam others. Based upon the article linked above, LinkedIn is doing what I would consider a decent job of nipping fake profiles in the bud.

7 tips

Here are my tips to do your due diligence before falling into the Fake Profile trap:

  1. Use a recent image of yourself on personal profiles.
  2. Brand your company profiles with a logo or a different image of yourself.
  3. Personalize any invitations that you send to people who might not know or remember you.
  4. Check profiles before you accept.
  5. Alert all connections if your account is compromised.
  6. If you do connect with a fake profile, be careful of any messages or requests asking for you to send money. If it is out of character, then it is probably fake!
  7. Don’t use the same password for all of your accounts to prevent a mass breech if you are compromised.

Social Media Plan – Wildly Beautiful or Just Wild

What’s your social media plan?

The other day I was walking along a path and noticed this stand-out wild flower and it made me think about plans – especially a social media plan. When wild flowers are sown (or not) they come up and they are wildly beautiful. On my walk I noticed black-eyed susans, beebalm, coneflowers, Queen Ann’s lace and a couple of others for which I don’t know the name. Just like with social media there is Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and couple hundred others that I don’t remember the names!

What is right for your brand?

Do your posts just come out based upon your whim at the moment? That would be wild. Creating a pattern that involves planned posts along with an occasional wild one can be beautiful. One bit of information which I learned that I frequently share is 70% of your posts should be other people’s content, 20% should be original content from your expertise, and 10% should be promotional.

Which platforms?

Your social media plan should incorporate what is right for your business. Do you need a wild scattering of posts across all of the platforms, or do you need to concentrate your efforts on 2-3 platforms where your clients frequent? Wild would be the hit or miss scattershot. But, a planned effort on either side of a path might be wildly beautiful. Have you determined which platforms work best for your company? If you are a B2B company you definitely need LinkedIn, but is Instagram a good fit? Maybe.

Wildly Beautiful or Just Wild?

In the long run, no matter which approach you take, content will be added to your brand and allow people to get a feel for what you do and your thought leadership. If you are looking for the wildly beautiful option, make a plan and carry it out. If you need some help with your plan, I would be happy to be of assistance.

Social media commitment required to succeed 

What is your commitment level to your social media?

I just read this article about social media commitment from the  Deleware Business Times . There are a few points I would like to expand on.

commitment

I can be as guilty of this as the next person. I go for stretches where I don’t post blog articles and then I don’t have new content to share socially. Then I might binge for a bit and have many weeks in a row where I write fresh content. This is where knowing how to schedule things plays in your favor.

Sparse, old or dated content –

I visited a website of someone I met at a networking event. The blog posts on the site were from 2014. That is not going to bring the search bots back very frequently. Write when you feel like writing or schedule a time to write. Save drafts of things that are on your mind and make a weekly commitment to completing the articles you started. If you can schedule the posts for once a week, you are really only spending an hour or so to write the actual articles. If you are using WordPress, there is a plug-in called PressThis that can help you with drafting your ideas. WordPress lets you schedule your posts.

Track what is happening

Using alerts and checking periodically during the day can help you be aware if your content on social media is getting traction. The article says that unanswered posts tells people that you don’t care. If you do find an old post or comment, answer it anyway and apologize in the comment for just seeing it.

Do what you have time for

If you only have time to do one thing on social media, DO IT WELL! Don’t spread yourself too thin because you think you have to be on all the platforms all the time. When people ask me what they should do with limited time, my answer is always create content on your website – blog. Then, pick one social site where the majority of your customers are and use that to drive them back to your website. Use scheduling when possible, or mobile if you can.

If all else fails, give me a call and I can walk you through strategy or take some of the burden off your shoulders. Do what you do best and let me do what I do best for you!