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July 25th, 2014

VoIP_July21_BModern communication methods are quickly moving away from the traditional phone networks and favoring network based strategies that allow communication via the Internet. If you do some research into different solutions available you will generally hear about two major options: VoIP and Unified Communications.

What is VoIP?

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a modern communication method that enables voice communication over a business's network connection. With many VoIP solutions you are able to use the same phones you do on traditional networks. You just need a small adapter that turns your voice into a digital signature that travels on top of data on your network.

VoIP is common these days because many businesses have high bandwidth Internet connections that can support it, and many solutions offer considerable cost savings compared to traditional phone lines.

What is Unified Communications?

The other main modern communication solution many business owners come across is Unified Communications (UC). This is a group of modern real-time and non-real-time communication services that provide businesses with a consistent user-interface and experience across multiple devices and platforms.

Many UC solutions include:

  • Internet telephony (VoIP)
  • Instant messaging
  • Video conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • Call control
  • Speech recognition
  • Email
  • Voicemail
  • SMS
These solutions are often delivered via a number of programs that can be combined to look the same and interact with other systems.

One of the best examples of UC in use is the idea of a customer calling to ask a question about one of your products. They unfortunately call after business hours and decide to leave a voicemail message. After they hang up, software that powers the phone system translates the message into digital form and emails it to your marketing team. Your marketing manager receives the message, in email form, on their mobile device and is then able to call the client back.

This scenario likely happens using three different systems - voicemail, email, and VoIP - and three different programs. The thing is, these programs are all 'unified', so they work as one unit.

What's the difference between the two?

The biggest difference between the two communication concepts is the scope. Many VoIP solutions focus just on Internet-based calling, while UC focuses on company-wide communication. More times than not, the voice part of UC is powered by a VoIP platform.

That being said, many VoIP solutions offer some form of UC features like voicemail, instant messaging, and video calls.

Which option is best for my business?

This is a question businesses often ask us, and the answer is that it really depends on your company and your current situation. If you already have a traditional phone system in place in your office, and are looking just to cut your phone bills then a VoIP solution may be the best solution.

One of the biggest downsides of a UC solution is that it can require a fairly large investment; certainly larger than VoIP. If your business is operating on narrow margins you probably won't be able to implement a full UC solution all at once, instead having to implement it in steps.

Our best recommendation is that before you consider either, give us a call to learn more our solutions and how we can help your business get the right type of communication that will work for your business and budget.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
July 2nd, 2014

SocialMedia_June30_BThere are numerous social networks a company can join, but if they are looking to connect to other businesses, colleagues or potential hires the network of choice should be LinkedIn. This powerful network is designed for professionals and offers many benefits that other networks, like Facebook and Twitter, don't or are not able to. As a result, many business owners attempt to build a profile that will work well for them on LinkedIn. The question many ask however is how to go about achieving this.

In this article we will go over eight important steps you need to take in order to build the perfect LinkedIn profile. In fact, we came across a great infographic on Link Humans that could be a big help when following these steps. We strongly suggest you take a look at this when building your profile.

Step 1: Establish your profile

While you don't have to join LinkedIn, it is a good idea if you are looking to connect with other business owners and colleagues through a more professional, business style networking oriented social network. If you do want to connect at this level, the absolute first thing you need to do is to create a profile. This can be done by:
  1. Going to LinkedIn's website (linkedin.com).
  2. Clicking on Join Today.
  3. Entering the relevant information on the following page. We recommend using the name the majority of your customers and clients know you by and your work email address. Personal email addresses are fine if you don't want to fully represent your company.
  4. Selecting Join LinkedIn.
If you use your Facebook account for business, you can also sign up using your Facebook account. Just follow steps 1. and 2. above and click Sign Up with Facebook. You will be asked to log into your account (if don't already have Facebook open in another tab on your browser) then approve the account access rights. Once you've done this you should see your basic profile pop up.

Step 2: Select an appropriate picture

LinkedIn is a work-related network, and to that end you will need to present the right corporate image; this means uploading a professional profile photo. This image should clearly show your face and be cropped to show mainly your head and upper body. The background should be clear or unobtrusive, allowing you to be the main focus.

If you don't have any professional head shots, it might be a good idea to get some taken. Most photographers can snap a few for you, and will be able to provide you with information about how to pose and dress for the shots.

You can add an image to your profile by:

  1. Logging into your profile.
  2. Hovering over Profile which is located in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Clicking on Edit Profile followed by the camera icon at the top of your profile.
  4. Pressing Change photo and then selecting the image you would like to use as your profile picture from a file on your hard drive.
  5. Ticking Save to set your picture.
The reason a good picture is more important than on other networks is because it has been proven that profiles with professional looking pictures are easier to find and also enhance the potential that other members will want to connect or even recognize you.

Step 3: Fill in your basic information

Once you have a great picture set on your profile go back to the editing screen and add your basic information. This includes your name, role, location, and company. Also, click on the Edit Contact Info tab to the right-hand side of your basic information section. Add as much contact info as you feel comfortable with; we recommend your email address and company website at the very least.

Step 4: Determine who your main audience will be

Before you begin to fill in your profile, you should take time to determine what the purpose of this profile will be. Will it be used to find new colleagues? Or will it be used to connect and communicate with your colleagues? Or, will it used to find prospective clients? Each reason will determine what information you should include in your profile along with the relevant keywords.

For example, if you would like to find new employees you can tailor your profile to show what you do in your job and what makes it so great. You can then also come up with more relevant keywords to use in your content. For example, using the words 'career' and 'job' and including in your summary information about who you are looking for will definitely attract prospective hires. However, this profile likely won't attract colleagues or clients.

Don't feel that you have to limit yourself to one set function however. For example, there are many crossover terms that both clients and prospective employees will search for. So, if you want to use your LinkedIn profile for more than one reason, take some extra time and try to figure out which keywords and ideas you think will work well. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can always edit everything at any time. So, if you want to switch your audience, you can easily do so by simply editing parts of your profile and changing keywords.

Step 5: Write a solid summary

The summary of your LinkedIn profile is a place where you highlight who you are. Take time to craft this so that you can showcase what you do and your main strengths. Be sure to use relevant industry and position specific keywords and terminology that you believe your audience will be searching for, as this language will make your profile easier to find in searches.

The key here is to write a summary that not only explains what you do and your experience, but showcases who you are. Use active language like 'I', 'my', and 'me', and be sure to include a way for people who don't have a LinkedIn profile to contact you - usually an email, link to your website or a phone number.

Step 6: Add your past and present positions

Once your summary is finished, you should move onto your current and past positions. This section should reflect your resume and highlight the experience you are talking about in your summary. It would be helpful to try and work in some of the keywords you used in the summary or identified earlier in order to really make your experience really stand out.

Chances are you aren't looking for work, so you can deviate a little from your resume here, and highlight what you do best, or how you can help your audience best. Feel free to leave out points that may not be 100% relevant or interesting e.g., how many people you manage, sales goals, etc.

Step 7: Start connecting

Once your profile is mostly complete with experience and a summary, you can start looking for people to connect with. Start by searching for people that you know or work with on a regular basis and inviting them to connect.

Next, join a few groups that are related to your position and industry. These can be found by hovering your mouse over Interests which is located in the menu bar near the top of the window. Select Groups from the menu that drops down and then select Find a group from the right-hand side of the page that opens. Some groups are private and will require you to ask to join them, but don't be afraid of sending in your request.

Once you have joined some groups and started to make connections be sure to be active on the network. It will help to join in on conversations held in your groups and post content on a regular basis. And, if you meet new clients or people don't be afraid of looking them up on LinkedIn and asking to connect with them!

Step 8: Work on your awards and recommendations

Finally, start recommending people that you know. You can do this by going to a colleague's profile and scrolling down to their Skills and Endorsements section. Find skills that you know they possess and press the + Endorse button beside the skill. Most people will also do this for you as well.

If you have won awards in the past, be sure to include these as well, especially if they are relevant to your intended audience. Just be sure to pick the awards that really highlight your skills, as an Employee of the Month award may not be the most relevant.

From here it's really just a matter of tinkering with your profile on a regular basis. Be sure to be active and ensure that your profile really reflects who you are. Doing this will create a stand-up profile you can be proud of.

Looking to learn more about LinkedIn and how to use it for your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
June 26th, 2014

VoIP_June23_BTechnological advancement has played a huge role in helping businesses increase productivity and save money. One such tool is Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), which moves phone communications to a network connection, allowing you to access communication services from anywhere. Though VoIP is quickly gaining popularity, many businesses are still on the sidelines, doubtful whether VoIP is right for them. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about VoIP to help decide if it’s the right system for your business.

Quality improvement

Since its inception, the quality of VoIP service has come a long way. Today’s VoIP services allow you to make and receive calls using standard phones. Sound quality has improved tremendously, to the point where many businesses have abandoned traditional phone systems in favor of VoIP.

Reduction of telecommunications costs

Operating costs for the majority of VoIP service providers are significantly lower than traditional phone companies. This allows VoIP providers to charge customers - you - much less than their competitors, both in calling rates and monthly fees. With VoIP, businesses no longer have to maintain separate networks for phones and data which also helps save money.

And while some businesses do pay their current phone company extra for features like call holding, call display, and call forwarding, most VoIP providers include these features in their product, meaning you don’t have to pay extra for the features you need.

Easy to set up

With most VoIP connections, there’s no need to install switching boards or phone connections. Some systems can be installed easily by downloading an app to your computer, while others might require that you install an adaptor that converts voice signals into digital signals using your existing phones. These adaptors are small and in most cases all you have to do is plug the phone’s cable in before plugging the adaptor into an Internet connection socket.

More than just voice calls

Many VoIP programs also allow for chat capabilities, video calls, video conferencing, and even screen sharing. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see if your employees are available through presence technology, as well as giving them more ways to stay connected.

Highly flexible phone systems

VoIP systems allow you to do far more than is possible with traditional phone technology. You can:
  • Take your phone system with you: As long as you have access to a broadband connection you can use your VoIP system anywhere.
  • Talk on your laptop: Many VoIP systems include telephone software that enables you to send and receive calls using a headphone unit connected to your computer. This helps eliminate the risk of you missing an urgent call when you’re on your laptop.
  • Receive voicemail and faxes via email: Many VoIP services allow you to have voicemail and faxes forwarded to your email inbox. You then receive all your messages in one place, and your voicemail and faxes can be easily archived or forwarded.
  • Have virtual phone numbers: Your phone number can have any available area code, meaning you can have a business based in one place but can have a phone number with a different area code; advantageous if your business has, or wants, customers in specific areas.
  • Increase productivity: Many VoIP phone numbers can be configured to simultaneously ring on multiple devices, such as your cell and landline phones. This eliminates time-consuming phone tag. According to a recent survey conducted by Sage Research, the increased productivity enabled by Internet telephony added up to 3.9 hours per week, per employee.
No matter what industry you operate in, VoIP is a surprisingly flexible, affordable, and continuously evolving technology. Interested in implementing a VoIP system into your company? Contact us today to see what we have to offer and how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
June 3rd, 2014

SocialMedia_June02_BWhile many of us have a profile on at least one social media site and likely have for a handful of years now, we are seeing businesses joining these platforms in an ever increasing number. Many business owners create a corporate profile in order to interact with customers and conduct marketing. One of the more popular ways to market your business through social media is through social PPC.

Define social PPC

Businesses who advertise through social media have a number of ways they can get their ads and content seen on this platform. The most popular is based on one of the Internet's oldest marketing schemes: Pay-per-Click, or PPC.

In a broad sense, PPC is the act of paying an advertiser or website to place ads at strategic locations. Placing these ads is usually free, or comes with a nominal fee, but when a user clicks on the ad and goes to the destination site, the owner of the ad pays the advertiser or site a small fee.

In relation to social media, social PPC is simply ads which are placed on the social networks. For example, you can pay Facebook to place an ad on the right-hand bar of certain user's News Feeds. If they click on the ad, Facebook will then charge you a set amount for that click.

Where social PPC differs from other types of PPC, more specifically search PPC - paying search engines to display your ads - is that it is more display oriented. With search PPC, you pay the engine to show your ad when specific search keywords are entered. With social PPC, you pay the site to display your ad regardless of what the user is looking at.

3 Common misconceptions about social PPC

While this process is becoming more popular with businesses, especially those who have integrated social media into their marketing plans, there are some common misconceptions that seem to be floating around.

1. Starting small is the way to go

As with most strategies in business, when starting something new you often want to test the waters before jumping in full scale. Many companies who are trying social PPC for the first time will often start with one or two campaigns running at the same time. While this may work for small businesses with an unproven profile, those with an established profile and marketing strategy may want to try running 3-5 campaigns at the same time.

The reason for this strategy is that it can help spread out the overall views, along with enhancing the quality of information and results. For example, you can easily compare and establish what is working when you have more than two alternatives to compare.

2. You need to be active on the services you target

Despite what some people in charge of marketing believe, you don't need to be active on a social network in order to be able to use social PPC features. Many networks, like Twitter, simply require that you have an account in order to be able to use the ad features.

If you do want to use the ad features of different social networks, you should be sure to at least have a fully completed profile. This includes address, name, location, and business info. Of course, if you want to enhance the success of your initiative, an active profile will help but it is not necessary.

The best example of this is if you want to use the promoted post feature in Facebook. You will need to have content in order to actually use this feature successfully and the more content and followers you have, the higher the chances of what you promote being seen.

3. You MUST be using Facebook Ads

Facebook is the most popular social media platform, and many businesses already have a Facebook Page. But many feel that in order to maximize the potential of their Page, they need to be advertising using Facebook Ads.

Sure, it can help to use this service, but it isn't the only one out there. You do have other options, including different platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. To really get the most out of a social PPC campaign you should try different platforms anyway. For example, if you want to target other business customers try using LinkedIn, which is where this target group may be more likely to be found than through Facebook.

Looking to learn more about social PPC or using social media in your company? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 30th, 2014

voip_May26_BVoIP solutions are a great way to save costs and increase productivity, especially when it comes to remote and mobile workers. With business trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), companies have been forced to expand their remote communication capabilities in order to hold their own against competitors. While many companies have VoIP solutions in the office, they may be struggling to extend this to offsite or mobile employees.

To benefit from the positives that VoIP can bring to businesses it is necessary that VoIP works with the reality of your business needs. When it comes to catering for out-of-office workers, there are a variety of ways you can help expand the mobility of your VoIP services.

1. Look into Unified Communications

If your employees are able to bring their own personal mobile device to work, your IT administrators likely rely heavily on users complying with your company’s policies. It is up to you to establish good security and compliance measures in order to meet the needs of both your customers and employees.

A solid solution is to look into Unified Communications (UC), which integrates real-time communication services such as instant messaging, telephony, data sharing, and video conferencing. In other words, UC helps bridge the gap between VoIP and other computer-related communication technologies, as well as help control presence, a status indicator that conveys willingness to communicate and single number reach.

2. Employ easy to use apps

Believe it or not, most top-rated business apps began as user-focused tools to help people find data more independently. Some of these apps have transformed into more customized tools to keep focus on specific business needs. The one problem with this is that satisfying these needs often sacrifices overall usability. If your employees are struggling to use the mobile version of your VoIP solution, then they likely won't.

What this can lead to, especially when a mobile solution is required, is use of unauthorized apps. The problem then is that this can lead to an increased security risk. To avoid this, try implementing an app or tool that is easy to use, easy to navigate and easy to manage.

3. Work with an experienced solution manager

When looking to expand existing VoIP solutions, or implement new ones, it can be tough to actually manage the solution and ensure that it works when you need it to. One of the best ways to achieve this is to work with an IT partner like us. The perk to outsourcing management of a solution to us is that you can have us get your apps and solution set up and then take over administration of your mobile services once his is established.

4. Cloud support

Having on-premise equipment and support for your VoIP solution is a good idea. However, the problem here is your existing IT team may not be ready for the challenge of providing cloud-based mobile app or voice support. We recommend you go for a hosted VoIP solution, which delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service but where the equipment is based at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates the cost of on-premise gear, maintenance costs, and overall management, while increasing the overall effectiveness of your mobile solution.

Expanding VoIP mobile capabilities can enhance business productivity by effectively keeping both your customers and employees in contact with your business more easily. If you’re interested in learning more about VoIP solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
May 6th, 2014

SocialMedia_May06_BWhen it comes to marketing, there are a wide variety of strategies a business can employ, with one of the most potent being content marketing. This is the act of creating your own branded content and sharing it on different mediums. When this is successful, a business can benefit from an expanded market share and customer base. The question then focuses on how to achieve successful content marketing.

In a recent infographic published on LinkedIn, a number of interesting facts were highlighted about what the most successful content marketers have in common. Here are some of the findings from the infographic and the related reports it is based on.

What do successful content marketers have in common?

Regardless of the industry, the more successful content marketeers have the following four traits in common:
  1. They have a content marketing strategist - According to the statistics, almost 86% of the successful companies have a dedicated content marketing strategist.
  2. They have a strategy - While not 100% necessary, over 66% of successful companies have a content strategy and plan, or roadmap, that dictates what content is produced and when.
  3. They spend a lot more of their marketing budget - It can be tough to split any budget, but the more successful companies spend nearly 40% of their marketing budget on content marketing, as opposed to the least successful who only spend up to 16%.
  4. They find creating content far easier - This one is kind of silly at first glance - of course it follows that whatever you find easier you will be more successful at. However, if you hire a strategist who knows what they are doing, creating content will be easier, and more likely more successful.

How exactly are they successful?

From the figures from the infographic it is easy to see what the successful content marketers have in common, but the question we really should be asking is, "What makes them so successful?"

1. Use lots of social media

The main thrust of content marketing is to get the word out in as many ways as possible. Social media is the best and most versatile way to do this, and that's why over 87% of businesses use this platform. But for a truly successful strategy you need to use more than one site and in fact the most successful use seven sites at least to share their content.

This makes sense as the more platforms you use the higher the chance that your content will be viewed. So which platforms are the most popular? LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the three most popular but other platforms like YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ can also prove effective.

2. Diversify your content

In many cases diversification of services or ideas can be one of the best ways of driving a business forward. This is especially true with regard to content marketing, where the best marketeers use an average of 13 different tactics. In descending order, the five most popular tactics are:
  1. Social media
  2. Articles on your website
  3. e-newsletters
  4. Blogs
  5. In-person events
Some other tactics used include, publishing books, ebooks, and branded content tools.

While 13 may seem like a large amount, especially for small businesses, the message is clear: To be successful with content marketing, you should diversify and utilize a number of different tactics as possible.

3. Have specific goals for your campaigns

As with most aspects of business, you need a clear direction in order to be successful. Without a goal there is a good chance that your content initiatives will be somewhat aimless and lacking in overall effectiveness. There are a near endless number of targets businesses can set for their content initiatives. The three most common are:
  1. Raising brand awareness
  2. Lead generation
  3. Customer acquisition

4. It's not all digital

One interesting finding was that one of the most effective ways to drive a content marketing strategy was through face-to-face events. In fact, over 70% of content marketeers believe that these in-person approaches are effective.

What this indicates is that while digital strategies are useful, and can be a great way to reach a wide number of different customers, these can go hand-in-hand with traditional style marketing. As well as focusing on producing digital content you might want to integrate this with some good old fashioned physical collateral.

At the very least, you should be attending events that are relevant to your industry, as well as networking. By getting your name out in person, you can encourage other to connect to you on the Web where they can view your content on various platforms and interact with you online, increasing the overall effectiveness and reach of your content.

Looking to learn more about content marketing and how our various solutions can help you deliver? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 23rd, 2014

SocialMedia_Apr22_BLinkedIn allows professionals to connect with each other through common acquaintances called connections. It opens new doors for business and job opportunities. So your profile is very important as this is what tells employers and other users who you are. Customizing the URL of your LinkedIn profile can be done so you can choose the name you prefer, instead of having a random one.

Why customize your LinkedIn URL?

When you sign up for a LinkedIn account, there is a default URL set on your profile. It contains random letters and numbers that would be impossible for anyone but a savant to remember. The good news is that you can customize this URL and use something unique and memorable. Before going through the steps on how to do this, let’s first look at the reasons why it's a good idea to personalize your LinkedIn URL.
  • It’s easier to remember - This is one of the top reasons why you need to customize your URL. As we've said, the random line of letters and numbers you get on signing up can't really be remembered. So it you want to grow your connections and find more business or job opportunities, Having a more memorable URL is a very good idea. People can access your profile easily or recommend it to others if they remember it in the first place.
  • It can be used in your email signature and business cards - To increase your exposure even more, you may include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature and business cards. It would look unprofessional and, let's face it, slightly ridiculous if you print the default URL randomly onto a card. The name of your company or your personal moniker looks much more professional.
  • It’s more searchable online - LinkedIn profiles are not only searchable on the site itself. They also appear in the results when queries are made on search engines. You’ll have better chances of being found if part of your URL was searched.

How to customize the URL of your LinkedIn profile

Before customizing the URL of your LinkedIn profile, it’s best to ensure that all vital information is posted since it serves as your online resume. Think of the name that you wish to use in your URL. It must be composed of 3 to 30 numbers or letters. Special characters and spaces are not accepted.
  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account.
  2. Hover your mouse on “Profile”, which can be found on the top part of the screen, then click “edit profile”.
  3. Look below your photo and you’ll see your profile’s URL. Click the “edit” link next to it.
  4. Under “Your public profile URL” on the lower right side of the window, click the “customize your public profile URL” link.
  5. Enter your preferred URL name in the field.
  6. Click “Set Custom URL”.
That’s how you customize your LinkedIn URL. For instance, if you entered “SamJones”, your URL will be “http://www.linkedin.com/in/SamJones”. LinkedIn URL can only be customized up to three times within six months. If you’ve changed it three times in less than six months, you must wait for the said period to pass before you can change your URL again.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 9th, 2014

SocialMedia_April07_BAre you searching for tools that can help you create striking visuals for your social media campaign? Let’s admit it, not everyone is a Photoshop expert, and for many of us, it can be really challenging and perhaps even intimidating to use. Furthermore, the cost of a program or designer may be out of your budget. Luckily, there are other options that could really help.

In this day and age where compelling visuals are possible online, it is extremely important to learn how to create attractive visuals to aid your social media marketing campaigns. You at least need a working knowledge of how to enhance your photos and make them more attention-grabbing. There are a number of free or highly affordable tools out there that can help you do just that.

PIXLR - This advanced photo editor works like Photoshop, only it is easier to use and therefore ideal for beginners. You can create images from scratch or perform advanced image editing. Using fairly simple tools can maximize the potential of images. For quick editing, there’s PIXLR EXPRESS or PIXLR O-MATIC, which are free to use. Visit the PIXLR website to learn more and start use these programs.

PicMonkey’s Online Photo Editor - This photo editor can transform ordinary images into fantastic photographs in just a few clicks. Select the image that you want to modify and add special effects such as fancy text, or simply crop and re-size. The photos edited using PicMonkey can be uploaded on Facebook and other social media platforms. PicMonkey is free to use so you can just go to the website and start editing away. For added frames and special effects there’s a premium version you can upgrade to for USD $33.33 per year.

LiveLuvCreate - This website can be used without any charge and offers a variety of design layouts and graphics. Using this platform you can edit your own images and there are also a ton of images created by users on its library that can help give you inspiration. Among the tools available are borders, filters, and photo effects, as well as fonts, colours, and styles. Visit the website to set up an account and start editing your images today.

Canva - If you want to create your Facebook cover photos from scratch, or if you want to design some blog images, this is a free application that might prove useful. This tool is very convenient and can be used to create business cards, invitations, posters, and presentations. Visit the website today to start creating your own visuals.

Quozio - If you are into quotes, Quozio lets you upload famous and favorite quotes, visualize them, and then share them on your social network. Simply enter an interesting quote and then select a background image. Instead of simply posting what’s on your mind, you can make a quote more attractive and appealing by transforming it into a visual using this free app. Visit the site today to visualize your next quote.

Whether you are posting on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, your content cannot come alive without the use of quality graphics and images. If Photoshop does not work for you, these other tools are ideal substitutes for creating appealing graphics for a variety of social media platforms.

Make sure to share your own list of top photo tools for everyone to see! And, if you would like to learn more about leveraging social media in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 3rd, 2014

VoIP_March31_BThe landline phone provided by the telephone company used to be the only option companies had with regard to communications. With the advance of technology and the popularity of the increased use of the Internet, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, was introduced. It has since become increasingly popular, with the majority of larger and many small companies now using this communication method. To determine if you should adopt VoIP in your business, learning about its benefits can help you in making your decision.

More affordable communication costs

Using VoIP services like users communicate to other users either for free or at drastically lower call rates than regular providers, as long as they are connected to the Internet.

Other VoIP services let you use your existing phones that are connected to the Internet to enjoy unlimited calls for a lower price compared to the per minute charge of telephone companies. These service providers offer different packages to choose from, many of which might suit the size of your company, your business needs, and your budget.

More affordable hardware and software

If you are having second thoughts about using VoIP because you are concerned that the hardware and software used would cost you a fortune, fret not. The vast majority of VoIP systems require little to no installation and many can run using existing equipment.

When it comes to the hardware, companies that choose to use VoIP through a computer need a working sound card, which your computer probably already has, as well as a headset or microphone and speaker, whichever you prefer.

Other service providers may also require the use of VoIP phones. The price of these phones is also not that costly and in some cases these phones might be provided by the VoIP providers for a nominal monthly fee.

VoIP supports multiple calls at the same time

A regular phone line normally only lets you talk to one person at a time. VoIP allows multiple calls, including conference and group calls, which is an important advantage to many businesses. This makes it easier for employees, management, and business associates to collaborate with each other and to communicate with clients.

It’s also faster for clients to connect with customer support. As a result, their concerns can be handled and resolved faster, which in turn improves the customer experience and strengthens your business relationship with them.

VoIP offers more features that traditional systems

Aside from supporting multiple calls simultaneously, there are also several more features that you can enjoy from using VoIP. These features may vary from one particular service to another, but the most common features include:
  • Fax
  • Voicemail
  • Caller ID
  • Call waiting
  • Call forwarding
  • Call blocking
  • 411 directory
  • Last number redial
There are also advanced features that some service providers offer, including call transfer, return call, speed dialing, SMS, and area code selection. Many of these features come included in VoIP subscriptions, which help keep costs of add-ons low.

These are just some of the reasons why you might choose to switch to VoIP for your business communication. If you have further questions about VoIP, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our support team is always ready to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
March 6th, 2014

VoIP_Mar03_BIt’s widely known how the benefits of having a VoIP system greatly outweigh the costs or of simply not having one. Not only are you able to utilize the great variety of features that it offers, but the fees are also usually very manageable too. The only question many have regarding VoIP is, whether they are getting the best system.

Consider these tips when choosing a VoIP system and you'll stand a much better chance of ending up with the best one for your business:

The cheapest ones aren’t always the best

Just like bidding for projects, you need to be wary of those systems that offer full services at incredibly low prices. Don’t be tempted with how low the fee might be, as in the long run, you might end-up with a system you're not happy with. You don't want dissatisfied customers because they won't be able to reach you, or a system that's not a good fit for your business.

A good way of going about this is to test the service to see if the quality is in fact on a par with what you’re looking for. Another factor to consider is how seamlessly the new VoIP system will integrate with your business

Think about what your phone system’s key roles are

When you have a clear idea of the “what”, your “how”, “when” and “whom” will be a lot easier to determine. This is where you determine what kind of features you’ll need your VoIP system to have. Consider whether you need voicemail, auto-attendant or voicemail to email capabilities (among many others). Once you have a clear picture of what you need, you’ll have a better idea of which package or provider to obtain your VoIP system from.

Review different packages

There are many packages that are packed with features, making them seem incredibly appealing. Don’t get carried away with how seemingly amazing these packages are though. Instead, focus on what your business needs are and stay within the bounds of these demands. There is no point in having unlimited calls to Canada or other countries when your customers are based in the US, for example.

Look for excellent customer support with an almost zero downtime record

Regardless of how seemingly perfect and tailor-made your system is to your business, if you’re experiencing a lot of downtime from your provider it just isn’t going to work. You need to do a background check on your provider to make sure that their system has a near zero downtime.

Another factor to look into is their customer support. You’ll always encounter situations where you have a question about the system, such as a technical issue or maybe even to ask about upgrades. In cases like these, your provider must have an excellent customer service so you know that your questions and issues are going to be dealt with properly and quickly.

Work out what the real costs are

Don’t just think about the package that’s being sold, think about the equipment you’ll need and the manpower needed to get the system up and running. As your company grows, you’ll have to add more users to your system too. You have to think about the costs relating to upgrades and purchasing add-ons.

If you only consider the upfront payment and neglect the upgrades, maintenance, and any other factors of operating with a VoIP system, chances are you might end-up spending more than expected.

If you are looking for the perfect VoIP system, then we can help. Contact us now for our expert advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General