Tag Archive: youtube

The A to Z of Small Business Technology Trends

As a small business, you might find it daunting to try to keep up with new technologies. There may be technologies that you can’t even define. The following is an “A to Z” overview of hot technology trends that you might want to explore for cost savings, marketing penetration or helping streamlined operations:

Analytics encompasses such new forms as “next-generation analytics,” which allows companies to make forward-reaching business decisions, and “social analytics,” which measure, analyze and interpret interactions among people and online content.

Browser add-ons are third-party software tools that can be accessed on the toolbar of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Safari and Mozilla Firefox. Add-on tools include design, collaboration and communication functions. Small business owners can use these third-party software tools to bolt quickly onto existing browser software. Now once-unimaginable services run natively on web tools.

Consumerization of IT refers to the fact that many companies, large and small, are saving money by allowing employees to use their own devices – such as tablets or smartphones – at work.

Data visualization has currently reached a lower price point and may be useful for data-intensive businesses, i.e. those that do high-volume Internet sales.

Easy mobile payment allows small businesses, and even microbusinesses, to take credit and debit card payments in settings that might have been cash-only in the past, i.e. arts and crafts fairs, mobile kiosks and homes.

4-G wireless cellular devices receive service that’s similar to the robust, plugged-in Web access that can be found in the office. Now, small business owners can browse the internet quicker. Additionally, all major phone carriers will be offering it.

Geo-coding converts a street address to equivalent geographic coordinates. Geo-coding creates the maps that local businesses often display on their websites.

Hybrid cloud is a combination of private intranet-based applications and public applications housed on a server by a cloud vendor. Small businesses might want to have both in case their customers have sensitive data and if small business owners want to avoid hiring internal IT staff to install and configure applications.

iOS and Android operated devices are gaining popularity among businesses, particularly small to mid-sized business owner. Given Apple’s focus on updating its operating systems to be more secure and manageable, the iPhone established a foothold in the enterprise space, opening the door for exploring uses for the iPad and Android-powered devices. Increasingly widespread adoption of various mobile technologies will allow small business executives on the go to access online information and multimedia content, and even have videoconferences with partners and customers in remote locations.

Jobcasting involves using podcasts to advertise open positions at a company..

Knowledge management tools are the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. This insight can help businesses foster innovation by encouraging the free flow of ideas, improve customer service by streamlining response time and boost revenues by getting products and services to market faster.

Location-based mobile and Internet marketing is particularly effective for small businesses that want to reach out to customers in real time to offer discounts, promotions and invitations to events when the customer is in the vicinity of their establishment.

Multimedia marketing and communications will involve video being integrated into consumer electronics, digital and Internet-based television, mobile computing and social software. Increasingly, small business owners will need to use create content using video. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2012, more than 25 percent of the content that workers see in a day will be dominated by pictures, video or audio.

Network appliances allow small businesses to use one piece of hardware that can encompass phone servers, document servers, e-mail servers, firewalls and routers.

On-the-go videoconferencing is now possible for businesses of all sizes to connect via smart phones and tablets with built-in video cameras and video-calling features.

Predictive financial modeling tools are being developed that can alert small businesses if they are at risk of losing money.

QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes that small businesses can embed into advertising and direct mail pieces. The codes link potential customers to a website, allow them to call your business or offer them a vCard when they scan the code with a smartphone.

Redundancy of data, documents and applications are facilitated by having cloud- and PC-based tools side by side.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a practice by which small businesses can drive more traffic to their websites. Strategic keyword, tagging and coding techniques are becoming more sophisticated and may require the advice of an outside consultant.

Pull Quote.pngTouch-controlled work tools, inspired by Apple products, now include products that streamline small businesses’ daily operations, like printers and desk-top PCs, and that allow more interaction with customers via less-expensive touch-screen point-of-sale kiosks.

Unified communications is a relatively new term that refers to using a single interface for various types of communications. For example, small businesses can use a UC system to view their voice, text and e-mail messages all in one inbox.

Voice-activated software is improving in quality and reliability and allows small business users to navigate a computer and create documents more quickly than they could with a keyboard.

Web-based office software offer cloud-based word processing, spreadsheet and other applications that increase work product efficiency and allow backup and sharing in real time from anywhere.

Xtranets, also known as extranets, are growing in sophistication to allow secure outside access to internal intranets for the purpose of information sharing and ecommerce.

YouTube continues to be a fast and cost-effective forum for small businesses to post online videos as a means of advertising, marketing and communicating with customers.

Z-Wave is a wireless mesh networking technology that allows business owners to manage and control lighting, appliances, HVAC and security systems in their establishments even when they are offsite.

3 Ways to Use Video Marketing to Promote Your Small Business

SBOC Team on Oct 21, 2011 9:07:25 AM

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Social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube, can be a viable platform to reach your targeted audiences. Companies – large and small – that aren’t creating and sharing digital content are missing an opportunity to communicate and build relationships with a mass consumer market.

You may want to consider adding video content to your social media marketing strategy as another way to capitalize on these opportunities. Video marketing does not necessarily require expensive equipment and high-production values. With affordable video cameras and easy-to-use software, video has become accessible for small businesses.

The number people who watch online videos is staggering – most web users watch 186 videos a month, according to digital marketing research firm comScore. Posting your video on YouTube will give you access to the channel’s 20 million monthly visitors.

Once you decide it’s worthwhile to create a marketing video, you must then determine what you will be filming. The following are some examples of how you might use video to promote your small business:

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Product Demonstrations: These are short, demonstrational videos about how to use your product or how it might fit into a viewer’s lifestyle. They can be very effective in capturing customer attention for your company’s website and these types of videos are appealing because they are often easier to follow than a printed manual. Budget permitting, you can hire professional talent, but you don’t have to.

How-To Videos: Showing your customers how to do something new without directly promoting your product or service is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. For example, a hair salon can create videos about how to create simple up dos and a kitchen appliance company can give cooking demonstrations. If you post your how-to video on YouTube, be sure to use strategic key words, so your video can be found by customers who might be interested in your product. Also, do not forget to display your web address prominently on the video page in order to drive business back to your site.

Viral Marketing: Equip select, responsible customers with inexpensive video cameras and ask them to submit videos of themselves using your product in amusing ways. This type of word-of-mouth marketing is cost effective and can be more compelling to potential customers than a paid advertisement.

Here are some considerations to bear in mind if you’re considering using online video as part of your marketing mix:

Typically, online videos should be between 30 seconds to three minutes long and should encompass two or three message points.
Using an inexpensive camera with 320 x 400 pixels will work fine, particularly if you plan to post your video on YouTube.
Editing can be done with simple do-it-yourself software such as iMovie, Avid, Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro. Distribution can be handled through services like Ooyala and Wistia.
In addition to YouTube, investigate video hosting services like DailyMotion, MetaCafe, Vidler, and Vimeo or social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
When uploading videos, it’s best to adhere to a regular broadcast schedule – whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly – so your customers know what to expect.
If you want to quantify the impact of your video campaign, invest in analytics tools that allow you to see whether customers view the full video or only watch the first 30 seconds of it.

Online videos are easy and inexpensive tools for small business owners. So, don’t be shy; grab your video camera and show what your company is all about.

How to Create Interesting Twitter Content

Let’s face it, when you first come across Twitter, it seems a little strange. It definitely is a more challenging social media platform to grasp than Facebook or LinkedIn, and even when you get a handle on it, the question becomes: What should you tweet? Originally, Twitter got a bad rap as a platform where people would tweet the most mundane things – what they had for breakfast, where they were headed at that moment, that sort of thing. And while that may have been true previously, it is far less true today, especially for businesses that use Twitter.

To help understand how to use Twitter, and what to tweet, visualize the platform as a river – a continuous stream of tweets, links, information and conversations floating by. As such, your job is to make your tweets so interesting and valuable that they stand out in the ever-swelling river.

That means the content you tweet has to be not just OK or good – but great. It has to bring value to others. It is content your customers, viewers, friends, fans and followers would find interesting and useful. It is content that is fun, funny, intriguing, quirky or fascinating. It is an article that would help people in their own business, or a video that they would find appealing or a free e-book. With your ongoing stream of useful information, your followers will find you to be a valuable and worthwhile online addition to their busy day.

Example: One of my favorite tweeters is Guy Kawasaki. Guy’s Twitter handle tweets fascinating stuff all day long (Guy admittedly does not tweet it all himself, but that is not the point.) I often check out his tweets because there is always something interesting there – either something to help my business grow or something that is just, well, different. Here are a few recent ones:

10 TV medical conditions that are rare in real life
How iPhones are revolutionizing one restaurant company
10 surprising facts about Steve Jobs
The world of photo sharing [infographic]

So that is the basic idea. You can stand out in the continuous flow of information on the River Twitter by tweeting things that other people will find valuable in some way. It could be an industry tip or a success story or whatever, but it has to be what I call “great content.” Great content gets you followed and builds your brand. Great content impresses people and gets them to want to know you better.

Where do you find all of this great content? Here are a few places:

You: You can post interesting content on your blog or create videos and post on YouTube, etc.
Websites: As you surf around the Net, you can tweet those articles and pages that you find interesting. Industry sites are especially good for keeping people up to date in your line of business
Business sites: Sites like this one, or Business Insider, Smart Brief and USA TODAY Money all have great general business articles.
StumbledUpon and Alltop: With StumbledUpon, you sign up and indicate your topics of interest. The site then helps you stumble upon new sites about those things. Alltop is Guy Kawasaki’s site and is an online version of a magazine rack covering 900 subjects.

But note: Posting articles and other interesting content is only one thing you can and should post on Twitter. The other main idea is to engage your audience, and to do that, you should do more than just post articles. Consider some of these ideas:

Offer a freebie: Tweet the special of the day. People will sign up to follow you just to find out and get the daily deal.
Have a contest: Re-tweeting is the 21st century version of word-of-mouth advertising. By re-tweeting others tweets, you spread the love.

One last tip: When tweeting, keep the 80-20 Rule in mind, only for Twitter modify it like this: 80% of your tweets should be for your followers direct benefit, and only 20% should be about you and promoting your business.