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February 5th, 2016

2016_Feb4_Browsers_BEver since its initial release back in 2008, Chrome has been one of the most popular and widely used browsers in the world. Its speed and performance are top notch when compared to other browsers available in the market. As with other browsers, however, Chrome can be slow at times due to some of its features and extensions. Here, we’ve listed some handy tricks to help speed up your Chrome and enhance your browsing experience.

Disable extensions

Extensions are basically small programs that you can download from the Chrome Web Store to add more features and functionality to your Chrome. While certain extensions are very useful (like AdBlock and Evernote) if you have too many installed, Chrome’s speed may suffer from processing all of these extensions at once.

Most extensions will show on Chrome’s address bar, and you can quickly uninstall them by right-clicking on the button and selecting “Uninstall”. You can also navigate to the hamburger icon on the toolbar, select “More tools” and then “Extensions”. From there you’ll find a list of extensions that may have been inadvertently installed by a user. Simply uncheck the “Enabled” box for the ones you don’t need.

Disable plugins

When you first install Google Chrome, some unnecessary plugins are also installed and enabled by default. Over the course of your web browsing session, you may even add more plugins to Chrome without knowing. As with extensions, you can disable plugins that are not in use. Simply type chrome:plugins into the address bar and press Enter. Note that plugins can only be disabled, not uninstalled. We recommend you keep the Adobe Flash Player plugin enabled, since many websites today use Flash to display menus and videos.

Clear browsing data

Chrome has a cache database that collects URLs of the websites you’ve visited, your download history, and cookies. While the purpose of this feature is to speed up your computer by caching data instead of loading it again every time, sometimes the browsing history can get bloated with hundreds and thousands of websites you’ve previously visited. Luckily there’s a quick fix: enter chrome://history in the address bar and hit Enter. Select “Clear browsing data” and select the items you wish to delete and choose a time range from the drop-down list. Click “Clear browsing data” again to remove the selected data.

Use the Clean up Tool

In some cases the speed of your Chrome may be affected by the software installed on your computer. Google has released its very own application that will scan and remove any software that may conflict with Chrome. You can check out the Chrome Cleanup Tool here. All you need to do is download and run the application, and sit back while the program scans your PC. The app is very helpful if you’ve tried the above tips but your Chrome continues to be sluggish.

Web browsers are indispensable tools for your business. You and your employees use them everyday to check emails, research information, get work done, manage social media accounts, and more. If the browser you’re using is not performing up to your expectations, contact us today and we’ll get to the root of the problem and fix it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
February 5th, 2016

2016Feb6_BusinessContinuity_BPower outages, disasters and other disruptions happen. And thousands of businesses around the globe are affected by them every year, with lost profits ranging into the millions, if not billions. So how can your business protect itself and stay open when the unexpected strikes? Here are five common business continuity strategies that many companies rely on.

Backup your data, applications and servers

Today, companies are more dependent than ever on IT and their business data. If these critical components suddenly become inaccessible, can your business stay open? For most business owners, the simple answer is no. This is why backing up these elements is vital to your business’s success. Backing them up ensures they can be restored quickly in the event of a disaster, security breach, or damage to IT equipment.

Obviously, to ensure the accessibility of your IT, you need to backup all your data, applications and servers regularly. The keyword here being “regularly”. While in the past most businesses would do this on-site and with tape backups, today more and more businesses are using the cloud. Some of the prime reasons for backing up to the cloud are as follows:

  • Affordability
  • Backups can be automated, therefore saving you time
  • Cloud providers usually backup your data to multiple locations (so if one of their facilities goes down, your backup is still safe at another site)
  • Backups can be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s at an employee’s home or at an alternate office
  • If you need to use it, backups can be restored quickly

Virtualize servers and desktops

When you virtualize your servers or desktops, they can be used at any location - be it at your workplace, home, or a coffee shop in the Bahamas. In terms of business continuity, this is useful in case your main office suddenly becomes unusable due to a disaster such as a flood, a break-in, or if you’re simply unable to get there because of hostile weather conditions.

Have a backup power supply

Power outages essentially zap all your employees productivity. No electricity means no work. And that means you’re paying them to do nothing. Having a backup power supply like a generator will ensure that when the electricity goes down, your employees can continue working. A good solution is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). When you have this, a power outage will not affect your employees ability to work. They can work seamlessly through it, as if nothing ever happened. Also, if you have a server room, the UPS will ensure your vital servers stay cool.

Utilize social media

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google +, most people are on at least one social network these days. And if there is any kind of weather-related disaster, social media is usually one of the first places customers, colleagues, staff and vendors will check to see the status of your business. This is because even if the phone lines or local power goes out, social media is usually accessible. So when it comes to business continuity, have at least one active social media account you use to keep your customers and followers informed.

Implement Unified Communications

Unified Communication (UC) can essentially create a virtualized communication infrastructure. That means instead of your communication tools - like phones, instant messaging, video calls - all being stored locally at your workplace, you can access them anywhere. So for whatever reason if your office is inaccessible, employees can still use your phones and other communication tools from their homes. What’s more, UC tools can route business calls to your employees smartphones. That means they’ll never miss an important call, even if they’re not in the office.

So there you have it, five tools to ensure your business operates continuously no matter what comes your way. If you’d like to implement business continuity technology in your business or develop a continuity plan, we’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 1st, 2016

2016Feb2_iPhone_BUnreliable browsers cause headaches. And in the case of the iPhone, the world’s most popular browser (Google Chrome) has been anything but reliable. With constant crashes, many Google Chrome fans have become frustrated and reluctantly switched to Safari. And if this is you, there’s some good news in store for you: Chrome has been updated and improved exponentially. We’ll share some of these improvements in this article, but before we do so, just why was Chrome constantly crashing in the first place?

The source of Chrome crashes

Since the word Google is synonymous with the Internet, it’s a bit head scratching as to why the browser ever had crashing issues to start with. The Internet is their specialty of course. But the truth is Google is not completely to blame. And for all the Apple fanatics out there, the real source of the problem may be a bit hard to swallow. Because really, Apple is mostly responsible for Chrome’s previous crashing problems. The reason is that Google is forced to rely on Apple’s renderer - which is technology that arranges the photos, text, buttons and other components that appear on your screen. Furthermore, Google cannot correct a bug and support new web technology on their own. Instead, they have to wait for Apple to do it. So what it all really comes down to is that Apple limits the choices of Google, and other outside parties, from having complete control over their browsers, hence the crashing problems.

So why is Chrome getting better on iPhone? And why now? It’s simple really. Apple has recently enhanced its browser software, which enables Google to make improvements.

How has Chrome for iPhone improved?

With the release of Chrome 48, Chrome has reduced crashes by 70 percent. Yes, you read that correctly...70 percent! Google tested the updated browser alongside Safari to ensure that it functioned at the same level. But that’s not all the improvements Google has made. In addition to this, Chrome now runs much faster and handles JavaScript just as well as Safari does. Beware, however, if you are still running iOS 8 or earlier editions of the iPhone’s operating system, these improvements do not apply. With that said, these updates to Chrome couldn’t have come at a better time. With the recent Safari crashing issues that have been affecting iPhone users across the globe, there is no better time to switch mobile browsers, especially if you’re a Chrome fan.

Looking for more iPhone news and tips? Have an iPhone or other IT related issues? Get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
January 29th, 2016

2016Jan29_Virtualization_BCompanies of all sizes are embracing virtualization as a way to cut IT expenses, enhance security, and increase operational efficiency. While the benefits of virtualization are self-evident, many people are still in the dark when it comes to the many different types of virtualization. Here, we’ll show you some of the most common virtualization methods and why they’re valuable for your business.

Application Virtualization

This is a process where applications get virtualized and are delivered from a server to the end user’s device, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. So instead of logging into their computers at work, users will be able to gain access to the application from virtually anywhere, provided an Internet connection is available. This type of virtualization is particularly popular for businesses that require the use of their applications on the go.

Desktop Virtualization

Similar to Application Virtualization mentioned above, desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical device and configured as a “virtual desktop infrastructure” (VDI). The major advantages of desktop virtualization is that users are able to access all their personal files and applications from any location and on any PC, meaning they can work from anywhere without the need to bring their work computer. It also lowers the cost of licensing for installing software on desktops and maintenance and patch management is very simple, since all of the virtual desktops are hosted at the same location.

Hardware Virtualization

This is perhaps the most common type of virtualization today. Hardware virtualization is made possible by a virtual machine manager (VM) called the “hypervisor”. The hypervisor creates virtual versions of computers and operating systems and consolidates them into one large physical server, so that all the hardware resources can be utilized more efficiently. It also enables users to run different operating systems on the same machine at the same time.

Network Virtualization

Network virtualization is a method that combines all physical networking equipment into a single resource. It is the process of dividing bandwidth into multiple, independent channels, each of which can be assigned to servers and devices in real time. Businesses that would benefit from network virtualization are ones that have a large number of users and need to keep their systems up and running at all times. With the distributed channels, your network speed will increase dramatically, allowing you to deliver services and applications faster than ever before.

Storage Virtualization

This type of virtualization is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. Storage virtualization is handy when it comes to planning for disaster recovery, since the data stored on your virtual storage can be replicated and transferred to another location. By consolidating your storage into a centralized system, you can eliminate the hassles and costs of managing multiple storage devices.

Integrating virtualization into your business can be a complex and confusing process. Ideally you will enlist the help of experts to get the job done right. If you’re looking for top-quality and reliable virtualization solutions, why not get in touch with our professionals today. We’ll make your virtualization experience a quick and painless one.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 28th, 2016

2016Jan28_VoIPGeneral_BWhen a technology is released on the market that promises to cut the expense of your old technology in half, it certainly can raise some eyebrows. We all know, when a deal sounds too good to be true it usually is. So when it comes to VoIP, and its wild claims of radically reducing phone costs, what’s the catch? For many business owners who jumped into a VoIP system without a plan or chose the wrong service provider, there can be a big one. Here are a few common issues to be aware of when installing a VoIP system.

  1. Poor call quality
  2. Complicated and frustrating management of the VoIP system
  3. Negative on-hold experience for customers
You’re likely aware that a drop in call quality can tarnish the reputation of your business and result in a loss of profits. So obviously, issues like the three mentioned above may sound alarming. So does that mean that you should avoid installing a VoIP system altogether? Probably not. The thing is, VoIP isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is likely the future of telephony service for many businesses around the globe. Any technology that has the power to dramatically cut costs, such as VoIP, is here to stay. And as the service continues to evolve, it will become even more powerful and versatile.

In the meantime, what can you do to ensure your business doesn’t suffer any of these three problems? There are a couple of solutions.

Know what you want out of your VoIP phone solution

If your business handles hundreds of customer service calls a day, your telephony needs will be different than a business that is mainly using their phone system as a method for internal communication. This is why it’s important to know exactly what you want out of your VoIP phone solution. Do you want your employees using it to make sales calls? Do you want to use it to simply answer a few customer service calls a day and communicate between internal staff? Will you be holding video meetings on it? If you know what you want out of your VoIP system in advance, it sets you up to have a practical discussion of your needs with a VoIP provider. And that leads to our next point.

Find an experienced, trusted service provider

When it comes to VoIP, who you choose as your provider can make or break the success of your new phone system. It really is that big of a deal. The three problems listed above can all be avoided with an experienced VoIP provider installing and maintaining your system. They can let you know the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the technology, and give you realistic expectations of what you’ll get from the service. This ensures you aren’t let down and that you don’t suffer a bad telephony experience that irritates customers.

A trusted VoIP provider will have experience and has likely installed hundreds of VoIP systems. They can help you define a strategy that meets your business’s specific needs, provide recommendations on system design and management, and enable your business to get the superb call experience your customers expect. Additionally, the right VoIP provider will also provide training and support to ensure you understand how to use the system most effectively, and will be a quick phone call away to help you if problems bubble up.

And if you’ve already installed a VoIP system that’s turned buggy?

Although it’s better to consult with an experienced VoIP provider before your initial installation, it’s not too late to correct course. A trusted VoIP provider can help you resolve many of the issues you’re experiencing. Don’t settle for a VoIP system that hurts your business. You can make VoIP work for your business, and save thousands of dollars in the process.

If you need advice installing a new VoIP system or fixing your current one, don’t hesitate to call us. Our experts can provide you the consultation, support and service that enables your business to enjoy the costs savings and power of VoIP. Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
January 27th, 2016

2016Jan25_BusinessContinuity_BWhen and if disaster strikes, is your business going to continue to operate and cater to customers despite a possible long-term hardware failure or a network disruption? If you answer no or are not even sure what to do, you are part of a majority of business owners who have not considered disaster preparedness and the crucial role it plays in business survival. This post helps small or mid-sized businesses (SMBs) gain some understanding about Disaster Recovery (DR) and how important DR planning is today to protect against unexpected and costly downtime.

As we all know, unpredictability is a fact of life. The aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill in Texas and recent floods in South Carolina are a grim and unfortunate lesson for many overconfident business owners who think their companies are spared from the likelihood of cataclysmic weather, technological malfunctions, or human actions. A 2014 survey by the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council reveals just how many companies worldwide are at risk: 73 percent of SMBs are failing in terms of disaster readiness. What does this mean? It means that 3 out of 4 companies aren’t prepared to handle emergencies and save their businesses from a worse-case scenario.

If it’s not clear and compelling enough for a business owner like yourself to consider putting a well-conceived Disaster Recovery (DR) plan into place, perhaps it’s time to give it some thought. Doing so can save you years of business loss. Here is some useful information about what DR is all about and how it can ensure your business’s survival in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?

Disaster recovery is a plan for restoring and accessing your data in the event of a disaster that destroys part or all of a business’s resources. It is a key component involving many aspects of business operations that requires this information to function. The job of a DR plan is to ensure that whatever happens, your vital data can be recovered and mission-critical applications will be brought back online in the shortest possible time.

What kind of disasters are likely to happen?

Business disasters can either be natural, technological, or man-made. Natural types of disasters include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and even a pest infestation. On the other hand, technological and man-made disasters involve hazardous material spills, infrastructural or power failure, nuclear power plant meltdown or blast, chemical threat and biological weapons, cyber attacks, explosions, or acts of terrorism and civil unrest.

Why does your business need DR?

Regardless of industry or size, when an unforeseen event takes place and causes day-to-day operations to come to a halt, a company will need to recover as quickly as possible to ensure you will continue providing services to clients and customers. Downtime is one of the biggest IT expenses that any business can face. Based on 2015 disaster recovery statistics, downtime that lasts for one hour can cost small companies as much as $8,000, mid-size organizations $74,000, and $700,000 for large enterprises.

For SMBs particularly, any extended loss of productivity can lead to reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders, increased labor costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates, and so on. If major business disruptions are not anticipated and addressed today, it’s very possible that these negative consequences resulting from an unexpected disaster can have long-term implications that affect a company for years. By having a Disaster Recovery plan in place, a company can save itself from multiple risks including out of budget expenses, reputation loss, data loss, and the negative impact on clients and customers.

How do I create a DR strategy for my business?

Creating, implementing and maintaining a total business recovery plan is time-consuming but extremely important to ensure your business’s survival. Many organizations don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this process. If you would like to protect your company from unexpected disasters but need further guidance and information on how to get started, give us a call and our experts will be happy to discuss Disaster Recovery options and solutions with you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 27th, 2016

Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. That’s the sound of a beating heart, but it might as well be the sound your servers make. They more or less act as the heartbeat of your company and if they stop functioning, your business might as well be dead. Despite the importance servers have on operations, it’s amazing to see so many business owners neglect this vital component of their business. With this in mind, you should ask yourself these three server-related questions.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question to answer but there are two factors you will want to consider - age and performance. The useful life of a server tends to be around three years. After the third year, your support costs to maintain them will rise drastically. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as their health can’t always be guaranteed. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible downtime that you can’t predict.

Performance is another factor when it comes to servers. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and are costing a fortune to maintain. It’s important to do a cost benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet. There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. The first is that you don’t have to spend a bunch of money buying new equipment. The second is that virtualization is a scalable technology meaning you only pay for the space you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. You’ll have to ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others don’t see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short term fixes, not long term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Adding additional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four of five years of wear and tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for the non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase performance, get in touch with us today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 26th, 2016

2016Jan26_Office365_BLook inside many businesses these days and there is an Office 365 powering up its operations. Chances are, your business also makes use of this cloud platform. But do you know which apps will best boost your business’s productivity and which ones don't? And with one or two updates and new apps released quite so often, it makes app choices even more complicated. Worry no more. This article will help you maneuver the complicated decision-making on app downloads.

When an enterprise purchases certain Microsoft Online services such as Office 365, there is usually a Microsoft Partner of Record that is linked to the enterprise account. One of those is MessageOps. According to Chris Pyle, CEO of MessageOps, based on the data and feedback that they have gathered from Office 365 customers, they have concluded that not all business owners understand the true power of Office 365 and know which apps are most useful. Below is the list of apps that are must-haves for the businesses of today:

1. Sway

Although still in its early stages, one app that is quickly becoming popular is Sway. This is a presentation program that is being used for website creation where users can fuse together text and media. This program, which is included in the Microsoft Office app arsenal, is widely gaining popularity among the business owners and employees who've taken it up.

2. OneDrive for Business

If you’re familiar with Dropbox, then you probably know how OneDrive for Business works. It is a single location where users can save, sync, and share their files anytime, anywhere. Some businesses use this together with Dropbox, which is a paid app. Businesses that do this essentially double their cost as they are already paying for the same functionality as OneDrive, an app that is already included in most Office 365 plans.

3. Skype for Business

Hard to believe but there are still a lot of enterprises who pay for additional meeting and communication solutions that they have already paid for with Skype for Business. This app, which is already included in many Office 365 plans, goes beyond meeting and call purposes. It can also let you know which of your contacts is currently online, and you can also launch communications from Word and Powerpoint. What’s more, your communication is kept safe with the use of encryption and authentication processes.

4. Office 365 Groups

This app is very much popular with enterprises that require sharing of ideas from a group working on a project. It provides for a single place where the group can share documents, communication, and notes. This is predicted to become a complete replacement for SharePoint team sites as it is more user-friendly, more manageable and can be set up easily, although it is just as functional as SharePoint.

5. Intranets

With the help of SharePoint Online, intranets are making a comeback. The SharePoint intranet not only enhances communication and collaboration in the office, but the end-result is an effective streamlining and organized storage of information.

Harness the power of the Office 365 in your business. We have experts on standby anticipating your every question and ready to help you with the setting up, maintenance and management of your IT infrastructure. Give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
January 25th, 2016

2016Jan20_Security_BWhen it comes to the online security of their business, many SMB owners consider it an afterthought. They think their business is too small to be of any concern to cyber criminals, and there’s good reason for this mentality. How often are security breaches to SMBs listed in the news? Rarely. In fact, you may not be able to think of a single one. But today, that’s about to change. A recent NY Times article documented the story a small business that was lucky to survive a ransomware attack.

Last holiday season, Rokenbok Education, a small, California-based toy company of seven employees realized its worse nightmare. During the busiest time of the sales year, the files in their database had become unusable, infected with malware. The hackers used ransomware, a malware designed to hold a business’s data hostage, to encrypt their files and demanded a payment to make them usable again. However, instead of paying the ransom, Rokenbok restructured their key system. To do this it took four days. That’s four days of downtime, lost sales, and confused customers who likely lost confidence in the integrity of their company. Luckily this did not put Rokenbok Education out of business. But many SMBs aren’t so fortunate, and are forced to close after such a security debacle.

So why do security breaches like this happen to SMBs?

There are many reasons, but a common one is that small and medium-sized businesses often focus on profits over security. And really, it’s hard to blame them. When you’re small, you want to grow your organization as quickly as possible. And you likely think that because you’re small, no one is going to attack you. However, nowadays hackers are on to this way of thinking. They know that SMBs don’t focus as much on security, which make them a perfect target. In fact, according to Timothy C. Francis, the enterprise lead for Cyber Insurance at Travelers, 60 percent of all online attacks in 2014 targeted SMBs.

So what can your business do to protect itself against online attacks? There are a range of options, but it’s best to start off with an audit of your current security system to see where the holes are. This audit should check areas of risk which include customer data, employee access, and assets such as servers, computers and all Internet-enable devices.

After that, an obvious thing to do is to strengthen your passwords. While this has been said thousands of times over, many SMB owners do not take heed. Clay Calvert, the director of security at the Virginia-based firm MetroStar Systems, notes that hackers analyze how we create passwords and use big data analytics to crack them. “They have databases of passwords,” Calvert said. The best way to create a strong password is to make it long with a mix of characters. Password managers that encrypt your passwords can also help.

Aside from passwords, there are many other ways to boost your business’s security that include installing a firewall, keeping your antivirus up-to-date, and moving data over to the cloud (instead of storing it on company servers). Also, since many security attacks occur because an employee clicked on a malicious website or link, training your employees is a smart move. A good way to start this training is to create an employee manual that includes security guidelines they must follow. For ongoing training, you can keep them up-to-date on the latest security threats through email updates and regular meetings. Once you feel confident that your employees are up-to-speed and your security practices are updated, you can try hiring ethical hackers to test your systems and try to break through your security. This will let you know if there are any security holes you missed.

Calling in a security specialist

However, if all of this sounds far too much to bother with, consider outsourcing your security to a service provider that specializes in digital security. This can oftentimes save valuable time and money in the long run. Best of all, this can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a security specialist watching over your business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start with your business’s security, we’re happy to help perform a thorough audit and provide you the digital security solution you need to keep your business protected. Security worries don’t have to keep you up at night, and we can help you implement the measures that will protect your business from disastrous security problems.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 21st, 2016

2016Jan21_BusinessValue_BAre you confused on just how to measure the value of your company’s social media? Don’t worry about it because you are not alone. While there is a lot of information out there in regards to the subject, it is something that experts still don’t necessarily agree on. This has made it difficult for businesses, especially smaller ones, to gauge just what kind of value social media offers them. Here are a few pointers to help your SMB get a better idea of your social media’s value.

ocial media is important for your business and it can have a great deal of value for your company if utilized correctly. Of course measuring this value is an imperfect science. While we don’t have a magic formula to help you figure it out, we do have a few things for you to consider when it comes to estimating it for yourself.

Followers matter but…

...they are not the end all be all when it comes to your social media efforts. When social media first started, it was all about how many followers you had. In the eyes of consumers, more followers equaled more credibility. However, that sentiment is no longer a prevailing thought among consumers and the number of followers you have won’t make or break your organization.

However, having a lot of followers does still reflect well on your business and it also gives you an easy way to reach your target audience directly. This is where it becomes important to monitor things like average clicks, the number of clicks the page you shared got, and conversion rate - the number of people who clicked on your share that turned into a sale or lead. If you have 100,000 followers but don’t get clicks, then your social media doesn’t hold a whole lot of value. The next point comes in handy if you’re having trouble monitoring all of these.

Simplify the way you monitor social media

A lot of businesses make a simple mistake that convolutes the way they estimate the value of social media. That mistake is failing to create unique campaigns and contact points for each social media channel. Doing this can make it difficult to determine just what leads and sales are coming from which media. Here’s an example for you. Your business shares a link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a page on your website where people can download a free report. You get 150 people to download which is good but it can be hard to determine just where everyone came from to download the report unless you have advanced tools like Google Analytics at your disposal.

That’s why for every promotion or pitch page on your website that you share via social media, you should create a distinct URL for each one so you can easily monitor where people are coming from. This will help you understand what kind of value each of your social media channels has. You might also want to consider creating a separate phone number for each social media channel so that way when a person does call, you will know where they came from. This option is especially easy and cost effective to implement if you have a VoIP phone system in place.

Set social media goals

Without goals in place, it’s pretty hard to figure out the value of anything including social media. If you already have social media goals established, then these are probably the place to start in determining the value of your company’s social media. If goals have not been set up, you are going to want to create some and see if your company is able to reach these. That’s because the easiest way to determine if something has business value is to establish if it can help your company reach its goals. If you see that social media isn’t doing this, then you’ll need to reconfigure your strategy accordingly. If social media is adding value, then you will want to dig deeper using different tools to get a better idea of just what that value is.

If you aren’t using social media to add value to your business, then you are losing out. And if you aren’t utilising technology to assist in these efforts then you are really falling behind. Talk to our experts today to see how you can get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.