• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • Imagine a world where all manner of electrical and electronic devices are connected together via a wireless link -- that's the Internet of Everything. The installed base of active wireless connected devices will exceed 16 billion in 2014, that's about 20 percent more than in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research. Moreover, the number of devices will more than double from the current level, with 40.9 billion forecast for 2020.

    Imagine a world where all manner of electrical and electronic devices are connected together via a wireless link -- that's the Internet of Everything. The installed base of active wireless connected devices will exceed 16 billion in 2014, that's about 20 percent more than in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

    Moreover, the number of devices will more than double from the current level, with 40.9 billion forecast for 2020.

    "The driving force behind the surge in connections is that usual buzzword suspect, the Internet of Things (IoT)," said Aapo Markkanen, principal analyst at ABI Research.

    If we look at this year’s installed base, smartphones, tablets, PCs, and other hub devices still represent 44 percent of the active total, but by the end of 2020 their share is likely to drop to 32 percent.

    In other words, 75 percent of the growth between today and the end of the decade will come from non-hub devices -- such as wireless sensor nodes and accessories.

    From every technology supplier's strategic point of view, the critical question is how this plethora of IoT devices will ultimately be connected to each other and the Internet.

    Until recently, the choices that product OEMs have faced have been fairly straightforward, with cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and others all generally addressing their relative comfort zones.

    Going forward, they will be in an increasing competition with each other, so for the suppliers the strategic stakes are getting much higher.

    ABI says that the recently introduced Thread protocol, spearheaded by Nest Labs, is the clearest example of this convergence. It is not only setting the bar higher for ZigBee in the 802.15.4 space, but also piling up pressure on Bluetooth suppliers to enable mesh networking.

    In the meantime, the LTE-MTC and LTE-M initiatives may well expand the market for cellular M2M, while start-ups like Electric Imp and Spark could do the same for Wi-Fi.

    And finally, we also shouldn't ignore what’s going on with passive, proximity-based connectivity offered by RFID and NFC. For example, Thinfilm's plans with printed electronics warrant attention.

    internet of everything / shutterstock

     

    Content marketing is an interesting industry because it’s people like you — marketers, social media admins, etc. — who speak for and lead the business. How did you learn about the importance and later decline of Google Authorship? From authoritative authors on sites like this who monitor the ins and outs of online marketing trends.

    We’ve all had slow days, we’ve all been overwhelmed, we’ve all felt left behind by the next big thing — this is why it’s crucial for content marketers to stay absolutely positive and enthused about what they do.

    Like any job, a few lax moments in the brain department and we start seeing negative returns. This is deadly for social media marketing, especially when every share, like and comment builds upon one another. How, then, do we stay inspired doing the same thing day in and day out?

    1. Read & Research

    Content marketing is an interesting industry because it’s people like you — marketers, social media admins, etc. — who speak for and lead the business. How did you learn about the importance and later decline of Google Authorship? From authoritative authors on sites like this who monitor the ins and outs of online marketing trends.

    If you ever feel like your strategy or copy isn’t up to par, look at what other people are doing. It doesn’t have to be the best thing ever, either, since the best ideas are often derived from seeing too many bad ones.

    Personally, I like to open a series of browser tabs first thing in the morning and skim through the headlines (which is very 21st century of me, I know). Sites like Copyblogger, Search Engine Journal and even Content Marketing Institute are outlets where experts go to discuss the latest of the industry, share studies and try new ideas. Why? Because they want readers, are interested in sharing their findings and know they are an important part of the industry.

    When the time comes, I like to take what I learned, apply it, and later blog about the process or method and explain how it applies to my own niche. It’s like taking notes in class and copying them down at a later time to reinforce what you’ve learned.

    2. Blind Experimentation

    There are two camps in content marketing: The analytics who live for numbers and those who believe in the strength of original, powerful content. There are crossovers, of course, though I definitely fall into the second camp.

    Do I see the benefits of posting Tweets at certain times of the day on certain days of the week that are 70 characters long and include one link, three hashtags and a mention? Yes. Do I market like this? Not always.

    I tend to stay away from precision because it cramps creativity. That said, it is helpful to test out some of these cookie-cutter marketing strategies and observe how they help your own campaign.

    Then there’s blind experimentation, something I enjoy doing more than writing about content marketing. Have you tried writing 200-word Facebook posts (like mini-blogs)? No…why not? You don’t need to wait for someone to come along with a case study to say, “It’s okay to try this idea.” Be a forerunner!

    Blind experimentation is fun, exciting and keeps you thinking.

    3. Change Targets

    Let’s pretend you market a contracting business. Honestly, how many articles can you write about remodels, kitchen countertops and light fixtures? Maybe 50? And when you start factoring in daily social media posts, you’ll likely burn out of original ideas within a few months. What then?

    There is one ingredient I’ve found that makes any post or article more memorable than others: Specificity.

    Writing to a general audience is boring and uncreative. You wouldn’t use the same stick-to-it script to sell homes to 20-somethings and retirees, would you? Of course not.

    Try shifting your focus and writing at someone specific. For the contractor marketer, why not spend a week exploring the perks of adding a basement bedroom for new families? Why not jump out of your routine and talk about amazing treehouses contractors have built for homeowners in the country? These ideas — while not entirely creative — give writers and marketers a starting point.

    And there you have it — three general ways for you to add a unique, fresh spin on your content marketing. Give it a try…you won’t be disappointed!

    In the early days of social media, branded marketing was mired in hackneyed and underhanded tactics meant to drive engagement. We've thankfully come a long way since those dark days, but there are still certain tactics that we need to put to rest. Five, in particular, continue to pock the face of social marketing.

    Marketing has, thankfully, evolved since the dark, early days of social media. Back then we were stumbling newborns, desperately crawling and clinging to anything that would get us those coveted likes and shares. Companies just weren’t sure how to market using this new media, and so many committed huge gaffs like hijacking trending tags or blasting updates every hour. Some lessons have, thankfully, sunk in, and most brands now know how to behave on social media. But in researching this article, I found a five hackneyed, tired tactics that are still being used, and that need to be put to rest.

    Let’s play a game…

    This is starting to die out, but some smaller businesses still use it so I feel it’s worth mentioning. Now, I don’t mean sweepstakes or contests or anything like that. Rather, I can’t stand games created as an obvious, last-ditch effort to create engagement – something like ‘Can you name a business that doesn’t use an A in its name?!’ Yes, I can. But what possible reason do I have for writing it in the comments? How does this have anything to do with your wider marketing strategy? A crummy game is not the way to boost visibility.

    Click-baiting

    I understand that people are split on click-baiting, and I do understand why news and article aggregators like Buzz Feed and UpWorthy do it. They are driving an audience to a light, simple, easy topic, and raking in the ad revenue. But, for most companies, click-baiting makes absolutely no sense. I know it's hard to drive traffic to company blogs or smaller articles, but writing everything under headers like ‘What our CEO says about fiscal solvency will change your life!’ is not the answer. Even if you do see a small uptick in traffic, people are going to catch on and stop clicking.

    Look at me!

    It is absolutely and perfectly acceptable to post pictures of your office and staff on your feeds – in fact, I recommend it. What’s not okay is polluting your feeds with nothing but these pictures. I think the problem lies in initial reaction, rather than vanity. A CEO will want to post the picture of an office party, and a bunch of people like, share, and comment. Then they say okay, well let’s post pictures of people working. Next it’s the CEO, hanging out in the office, or someone’s kids visiting. Eventually their social feeds are nothing but pictures of people looking exasperated and bored.

    Hashtag Overload

    #We #all #want #our #content #to #be #seen. But throwing a hashtag in front of every, single word of every, single update is not going to drive traffic. In fact, you are shooting yourself in the foot by using too many hashtags. Hashtags should be used, but sparingly, and only when relevant to the content or status you’re posting. Not only will this help up engagement, but your hashtag campaigns will be way easier to track, and you’ll start to make an impact on the larger social communities built around those tags.

    The Selfie

    Selfie-based marketing reeks of corporate pandering. I can just imagine a 40 year old executive, telling the boardroom that their teenage daughter takes selfies all the time, and how they should capitalize on that. It’s a desperate, obvious attempt to force people to engage with your brand, and even if it does increase chatter, it just looks tacky. Wheat Thins was actually dealt some heavy criticism for their own, arguably failed attempt to capitalize on the selfie. Selfies are meant to be fun, spontaneous ways to capture of a moment, but when you try to force branding into it, that spontaneity is lost and all you’re left with is a boring picture with an oversized box of crackers.

    Now, I know that there are marketers out there who will disagree with my list, and there are people who will be upset that I called out one of their favorite tools. Heck, I admit that I’ve used a couple of the above myself. But one of the coolest things about social marketing is how quickly it evolves, and I’m hoping that, as things change, the above five tactics will finally be put out to pasture. Trust me, we’ll all be better off without them.  

    More and more businesses are creating mobile-friendly websites with every passing day. Why? Because they have to! Today it is requisite that businesses - large, medium and small - have a mobile-friendly website and/or a mobile app. More than half of the total population in the United States owns a smart phone. And 73.4% of them used their smart phone to access the internet in 2013.
    More and more businesses are creating mobile-friendly websites with every passing day. Why? Because they have to! Today it is requisite that businesses - large, medium and small - have a mobile-friendly website and/or a mobile app. More than half of the total population in the United States owns a smart phone. And 73.4% of them used their smart phone to access the internet in 2013. By 2017, 90% of smart phone owners around the world will access information about your business on the internet via a mobile device (statista.com). So let's take a look at some of the reasons why your business' website needs to be mobile-friendly.
    • Access: Mobile-friendly websites allow potential customers to access your company’s information, products and services anytime, anywhere and at their own convenience. Accessibility is the key for your business to succeed.
    • Convenience: Mobile-friendly websites are convenient for mobile phone users, and especially so for smart phone users. Do the math: if your website is mobile-friendly, more people will access it which will increase click-through and conversion rates for your business. Nowadays people browse, shop, look for restaurant and hotel reviews and make reservations via their smart phones. Businesses with mobile-friendly websites will steadily progress because they will be seen and not avoided. Smart phone users will not squint to view your website when your competition provides them with one that is mobile-friendly.
    • Social Media is King: In July of 2013, 93 million users accessed the social network Facebook via browser on their smart phone. 70% of Facebook users in the United States now access that social channel via their smart phones - not on a desktop computer. Some 62% of respondents say Facebook is the most useful social network for researching small businesses before purchasing (godigitalmarketing.com). If smart phone users end up at your website via a link on your Facebook page, TripAdvisor, Twitter, etc., you better be darn sure your website is mobile-friendly.
    • Mobile SEO: Google has taken a strong stance on mobile SEO, announcing there will be demotions if your site is not mobile-friendly or is misconfigured when it comes to being mobile-friendly. Google said the demotion will only impact mobile, smart phone friendly, search results and only impact web pages that are not smart phone friendly or misconfigured when it comes to being smartphone friendly. No explanation needs to be offered here. If you don't rank in mobile search, you're out of business because your competition will be seen and you won't.
    • Sales: Mobile friendly business sites see more sales, a thicker bottom line. As of 4th quarter 2013, it was found that 34 percent of internet users worldwide used their mobile devices to research products or services they intended to purchase (statista.com). In 2013, U.S. B2C (Business to Consumer) e-commerce sales amounted to 58.5 billion US dollars and are projected to almost reach 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 (statista.com). So you need to ask yourself as a business owner, "Do I want to be a part of the trend?" The answer is a resonating, "YES!"
    • Mobile Internet is the New Internet: Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States in January, 2014. Apps made up 47% of Internet traffic and 8% of traffic came from mobile browsers, according to data from comScore. Although total Internet usage on mobile devices has previously exceeded that on PCs, this is the first time it's happened for app usage alone. The shift follows a free fall in PC sales, which suffered their worst decline in history in 2013.

    So as you can see, there's a skyrocketing trend toward more and more people using their mobile devices to access the internet and your business' website. Once they arrive at your website, they won't want to struggle with a site if its unreadable, unnavigable or complicated. It is imperative that your mobile-friendly business website be simple, intuitive, fast-loading and easy to navigate. The desktop is fading in terms of marketing your business online. As a business owner you need to throw old notions out the window and adapt to the new realities of how people are using the internet to find out about you, what your business has to offer and why they should procure your products and/or services.

    Shane William contributed to this article.

     

    Cloud storage is a service which data is maintained, managed, and backed up “in the cloud”. It works just like the hard disk you have in your laptop – except that your data is better secured and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. In this post, we are going to take a closer look on this technology and check out (and compare) some of the most popular cloud storage services online. Enjoy!

    Cloud storage (some call it online storage) is a service which data is maintained, managed, and backed up “in the cloud”. It works just like the hard disk you have in your laptop – except that your data is better secured and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.

    In this post, we are going to take a closer look on this technology and check out (and compare) some of the most popular cloud storage services online. Enjoy!

     

    Three Main Types of Cloud Storage Models

    Generally there cloud storage services are categorized into three different models and quoting Tech Target’s article, here are the definitions for each:

    • Public Cloud Storage – provides a multi-tenant storage environment that’s most suitable for unstructured data.
    • Private Cloud – provides a dedicated environment protected behind an organization’s firewall. Private clouds are appropriate for users
    • Hybrid  Cloud – is a combination of the other two models that includes at least one private cloud and one public cloud infrastructure.

    How can Cloud Storage Help?

    There are endless ways to leverage the power of cloud storage services in your daily working/blogging/online marketing life. The following are two quick examples for your reference.

    To Secure Data in Your Devices

    Features that help (but not limited to): Automated backups, file sync
    data security

    Commonly most cloud storage services come with automated backup and file synchronization features where your data will be backed up to a pre-set destination at scheduled intervals. Typical intervals include daily, weekly, or even hourly. If a provider does not include automated backups, you should move on with your search; it’s the bare minimum that you should expect.)

    If you have multiple devices linked to your account, there’s a good chance you have some commonly used files; such as business documents, personal notes, and photos; which you’d like instantly accessible via a single folder. File sync makes this possible.

    To boost Flexibility and Productivity

    Features that help (but not limited to): Mobile app compatibility/ file versioning/file sharing
    flexibility

    Ever wonder how bloggers maintained their productivity while traveling around the world? Cloud storage is the answer.

    The ability to access and work on your data from different devices in different locations allows you to stay productive when you are outside. The world we live in is ever more on the go and for many bloggers; their work relies on not only PCs or laptops, but also tablets, smart phones, as well as other mobile devices (we love traveling around to see the world, don’t we?).

    With versioning, rather than backing up and replacing all the files every time, the cloud storage provider only backs up future changes to files and new files. The software detects files that haven’t been changed since the last backup, saving time on the data transfer. Another benefit is that, with file versioning, you have access to the previous versions of your documents since it backs up a copy every time it detects a change to a file.

    File Sharing is another “nice to have” feature that makes sharing data and documents oh so easy. We’re all familiar with applications that allow you to upload documents, then share them via a link or email; this feature is kind of like that, but even easier. A click of a button allows you to send large files – no more writing data to CDs or dealing with cumbersome emails.

    More on data storage in the cloud – is my data safe?

    The data storage process in the cloud is a simple, yet complex one.

    Essentially, it involves your files copying to an external location at scheduled intervals to keep a backup record of your content. Quality back-up providers will encrypt your data using at a minimum a 128-bit SSL encryption technology – this protects your data during the transfer process. Once your data transfers to the external location the provider will take additional measures to further protect your housed data; 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) or 448-bit Blowfish encryption are the industry standards.

    Many cloud storage providers then add an extra layer of protection via geo-redundant data centers, but this is a perk – not a given.

    Who is the Best Online Storage Service Provider?

    Just like web hosting services – I do not believe there is such thing as the “Best Cloud Storage Service”.  Each cloud storage provider has its own included features and protocols. So these “best” questions are always best answered with another question –

    “What are your needs?”

    Do you work on multiple devices – PCs, tablets, and smart phones? How secured you need the data to be (encryption level)? How big is your data size? Do you need to keep multiple versions of the same documents (versioning) as you modify it? How often do you need the data to be auto-backed up? These are some basic questions to ask.

    Deciding Factors

    Ultimately, here are the primary features you want to compare when picking up the right online storage service provider.

    • Storage size
    • Real-time changes upload
    • Backup flexibility (any folder backup)
    • Versioning
    • Auto sync files to special folders/devices
    • Customized synchronization across different devices
    • File access from various devices (iPad/iPhone/Blackberry/Kindle/etc)
    • File size limitation (send files of any size)
    • Folders sharing
    • Sync shared folders between users
    • Various platforms support (Windows XP/Vista/Mac OSX/etc)
    • API for third party apps integration
    • Security (encryption level)
    • Use friendliness (drag-n-drop features and so on).

    There are tons of data backup providers out there – far too many to introduce all here, but the following are some popular ones. I will briefly introduce each of these services here and attach a helpful comparison table at the bottom.

    Google Drive

    google drive

    Google Drive offers a convenient and affordable free option, providing 15GB of free cloud storage to users who link their Google account. However, as an added bonus, videos less than 15 minutes in length and under a certain resolution do not factor into that free space. Of course, being part of the Google family comes with nearly seamless integration to social media, Gmail, and more.

    Check out Google Drive

    OneDrive

    one driv

    Formerly known as SkyDrive, the updated OneDrive offers integration with other Microsoft services, such as email and social media. This service recently upgraded its free storage to 15GB for Microsoft email account holders, with additional free space available as reward perks for referrals and other activities. Additional space is also available for purchase; 100 GB runs $1.99, 200 GB $3.99, or 1 full TB for up to five members of the family for $9.99.

    Check out OneDrive

    Just Cloud

    justcloud

    Like the name implies, this is cloud storage. With three plans available at three different price points ($4.49, $4.95, or $6.95 per month), there is something for just about every budget. This provider offers numerous features, including a mobile app, multi-device backup option, automated backups, and more. Of course, the free accounts of course come with limits, so there are unlimited accounts available for a fee.

    Check out JustCloud

    Live Drive

    livedrive

    This provider offers numerous service plans, ranging from a $6 per month plan that includes unlimited space and anywhere access to your files to a Business plan intended for backing up data for full offices with multiple computers that includes multiple accounts, Web monitoring, free file restoration, file organization, military-grade encryption, and more for $37 or $125 per month (depending on level of service). There are two mid-grade plans as well.

    Check out Live Drive

    SugarSync

    sugarsync

    Sugar Sync offers numerous plans that range quite a bit in price and scope. The individual service is $7.49 per month and includes 60 GB of storage, while one of this provider’s main offerings, the Pro plan, comes in at $55 per month or $550 per year. That plan accommodates up to three users and includes 1,000 GB of storage. Just some of the convenient features that come with Sugar Sync include mobile access, multiple device flexible syncing, and disaster recovery.

    Check out Sugar Sync

    SOS Online Backup

    sos

    There are three plans with SOS, ranging from the Personal Cloud to the SOS Business account. The personal cloud is $3.61 per month and the Family cloud is $16.11 per month – discounts are available for one or two-year contracts. This provider promises unlimited storage and includes data archiving and versioning and mobile access to your files among its features.

    Check out SOS Online Backup

    My PC Backup

    mypcbackup

    Fully automated backups, free mobile and tablet apps, anywhere access to your files, and multiple device syncing are just a few of the features included with My PC Backup. Business plans start at $49.95 per month for 20 computers while there are not (seemingly) any upfront costs for individuals..

    Check out MyPCBackup

    Dropbox

    dropbox

    Dropbox does give free storage, but for full backups, you’ll likely need to upgrade your service. It can be set up to automatically sync your files, though is not quite as robust in features as some of the other providers. That said, it is an easy solution that provides automatic syncing and anywhere access to your files.

    Check out Dropbox

    Carbonite

    carbonite

    Plans with this provider range from $59.99 per year for individuals to $799 per year for server plans. Features depend on the exact plan that you select, but some of the features available include free apps, US-based customer service available seven days a week, external hard drive backup, and more.

    Check out Carbonite

    Mozy

    mozy

    Mozy offers a plan for everyone, ranging from the individual user to full on corporate enterprises. With that, the features and costs highly vary, but most plans include file restoration, anywhere access, mobile sync and apps, and more.

    Check out Mozy

    Bitcasa

    bitcasa

    Bitcasa places a high emphasis on its privacy standards, though additional features include unlimited space (for the Infinite plan), drag and drop, anywhere access, and more. Plans range from free service which includes 20 GB of space to the Infinite Plan with unlimited space for $99 per month or $999 per year.

    Check out Bitcasa

    SpiderOak

    spider oak

    This provider offers a free plan that includes 2 GB of space, a Professional plan that includes 100 GB of space for $10 per month, or a variety of Business plans that range from $5 to $10 per user per month. Features include multi-device syncing, anywhere access, unlimited devices, file restoration, and more.

    Check out SpiderOak

    Backup Genie

    backup genie

    This backup service includes completely automated backups, mobile apps, 24/7 support, and high encryption standards. Business plans start at $35.94 or $71.94 per month, varying in the number of devices supported and allocated storage space.

    Check out Backup Genie

    Zip Cloud

    zip cloud

    This provider includes a healthy amount of features, such as unlimited devices, file encryption, drag and drop, geo-redundant storage, 24/7 support, full device restoration, and more. Business plans start at $35.94 or $71.94 per month, varying in the number of devices supported and allocated storage space.

    Check out Zip Cloud

    The Big Cloud Storage Comparison Chart

    Table #1: Google Drive, One Drive, Just Cloud, Live Drive, and Sugar Sync

    Cloud StorageG. DriveOne DriveJust CloudLive DriveSugarSync
    Max storage15 GB15 GB500 GB5 TB250 GB
    Max upload file size10 GB2 GBUnlimitedUnlimited300 MB
    File sync
    Real-time backup-
    Files versioning30 days 7 versions30 versions5 versions
    Public sharing
    Apple iOS/Android app
    Windows phone
    Monthly costFree, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.$5.95/moStarting at £11/moStarting at $7.49/mo
    Learn more/orderVisit siteVisit siteVisit siteVisit siteVisit site

    Table #2: SOS, My PC Backup, Drop Box, Carbonite, and Mozy

    Cloud StorageSOSMyPC BackupDrop BoxCarboniteMozy
    Max storageUnlimited15 GB500 GBUnlimited125 GB
    Max upload file sizeUnlimited2 GB10 GBUnlimitedUnlimited
    File sync
    Real-time backup-
    Files versioningUnlimited 30 days90 days30 days
    Public sharing
    Apple iOS/Android app
    Windows phone---
    PriceFree, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $9.99/mo.Starts at $5/moStarts at $10/mo
    Learn more/orderVisit site Visit siteVisit siteVisit siteVisit site

    Table #3: Bitcasa, Spider Oak, Zip Cloud, Backup Genie, and Crash Plan

    Cloud StorageBitcasaSpider OakZipCloudBackup GenieCrash Plan
    Max storage20 GBUnlimited100 GB100 GBUnlimited
    Max upload file sizeUnlimitedUnlimited5 GB5 GBUnlimited
    File sync
    Real-time backup-
    Files versioning----Unlimited
    Public sharing
    Apple iOS/Android app
    Windows phone--
    PriceFree, upgrade to 1,000 GB for $10/mo.$8.33/mo$35.94/mo$35.94/moStarts at $3.96/mo
    Learn more/orderVisit siteVisit siteVisit siteVisit siteVisit site