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How To: Managing your social media with your Mac

When you first start off you’ll want OS X to be working in favor.  Go to the Apple Menu, that’s the symbol in the upper left corner shaped like an apple.  Under System Preferences, click on Mail, Contacts & Calendars.  From there, you can add various e-mails and social media accounts.  Now every time there’s an update your Mac will make a ding and alert you.

That’s freebie.  However, more advance social media efforts require either a dedicated social media employee or a few products.

If you want to manage your LinkedIn, Google+, more all at once then HootSuite might be for you.   There’s a free version that allows you to do things like auto-publish posts. Basically, the service allows you to interact with all your social media accounts all at once from one screen.  Further, if you want to pay $10 a month you can get tracking statistics, learning tools, and vanity URLs just for you.

Should you crave something a little more exclusive to Macs, then you may want to check out Alfred.  Alfred is a way to launch apps without lifting your hands from the keyboard.  It’s a more comprehensive version of Spotlight.  Theme, codify, and exemplify your work flow.  Alfred is a tool that lets you hit hard, hit quick, and hit often without spending a lot of time.

Social media in a nut shell is the ability for one person to connect to a lot of people in various spheres.  In business it serves a dual purpose of maintaining customers and attracting new ones.  The easier it is for you to do that, the quicker you can return to getting down to business.

How to Get the Most of Out of Mountain Lion Contacts

Apple’s new OS, Mountain Lion, has been out for a while now.  One feature you probably use a lot is Contacts.  There are a few features you should know about in order to get the most out of this program.

Being in Sync

Mountain Lion’s Contact app allows you to sync all your contacts with your favorite web services.  Sync your contacts list with your Facebook and Google contacts.  Now all the people know can be codified and organized into one screen.

Put a Face to that Name

Now, you can click and drag an image into the Contacts and attach to someone’s information.  A meeting is a lot easier when you know who’s who.  If you don’t want to use actual pictures, the standard OS images like the parrot and penguin can be used.  If those don’t float your boat, you can click on the camera icon and take a picture of what you want with your webcam.

Did We Say Sync Already?

If you upload your Facebook and Google contacts information, you can also connect directly to those services through Contacts.  By clicking on headings on contact cards, you can see recent posts and updates.  It’s a good way to using just one program to deal with many.  You can even see their Twitter Feed.  If we live in the world of Too Much Information, at least Mountain Lion’s Contacts app helps us wade through it quicker.

 

 

Three Tips for a Smooth Hackathon

Hackathons are periods of time allocated for employees to shed their normal work load in order to focus on anything that has to do with the business.  So that idea that you’ve always wanted to implement, but never had the work time to do, a hackathon is the answer.  This period that you give your employees can be used to innovate and improve your practices.  Here are some tips to make sure it goes smoothly and productively.

  1. Organize.  In the weeks leading up to the hackathon, create a Google doc and share it with everyone.  In it, everyone places down their ideas that they think they will improve the business.  Not everyone will have ideas, but that’s okay.  Everyone can, however, contribute.  They can see what other people have in mind and lend a hand.  You, as an employer, can see everyone’s ideas and allocate resources appropriately.
  2. Set limits.  By setting strict limits in terms of time and resources, you will encourage your hackathoners to keep their focus and create achievable projects.
  3. Follow up.  Have a meeting within a few weeks of the hackathon’s conclusion.  That way people can share their achievements.  It can also be a good chance to plant the seeds for the next hackathon project.

We wish you the best of luck with your hackathon.

What is G+?

G+, we hear a lot about it.  Mostly, it’s about how Google Plus is Google’s answer to Facebook.  If it is, it’s a weak answer.  It has a few features like creating circles in which you can place your contacts so you can control who sees what in your profile.  Google claims that there are 150 million active users on G+; that pales in comparison to Facebook’s 800 million.  So Google’s answer is no good. That means it’s time to redefine the question.  Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social business answers the question: What is G+?

“Google+ is just an upgrade to Google,” Gundotra told Mashable.  He goes on to explain that G+ is just another way to connect to things that you care about. It’s supposed to serve as a bridge from the search engine and services like Google hangout.  From an IT consulting perspective, another question has to be asked: Where’s the money? Gundotra explains.

“We think the right time to show an ad is when you are at the moment of commercial intent. When I’m doing a house remodel, and I’m looking for a microwave oven, then I see Bradley’s +1 on a GE appliance, that means a lot more to me.”

That’s a very important distinction between G+ and Facebook.  Facebook seems have the tendency to spam ads.  I see ads and invites to groups that have nothing to do with me.  The overwhelming number of advertisements that have little relevance are easier to tune out.  However, since Facebook has the user number edge, it’s pressing the Law of Averages.  Someone somewhere will click on an ad. Google is definitely playing the long game.  It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. I’ll place my bets on the creation of private social networks.  But more on that next time.

BBC Investigates Facebook Ads

For many companies, Facebook fans are a much sought-after commodity. After all, plenty of people spend hours glued to the social media site, and having your business’s messages show up there makes you a part of their virtual community.

But an investigation by the BBC may make marketers think twice before buying Facebook ads asking people to “like” their pages. Graham Cluley of the security firm Sophos told the BBC that spammers and malware distributors create fake Facebook profiles capable of automatically hitting the little thumbs-up button on thousands of pages. By making all those connections, they build bigger communities of people to reach out to with their spam and scams, but they may also give businesses a false impression of how well their Facebook ads are working.

Facebook has revealed that 5 to 6 percent of its users, may be fake. That’s not a huge percentage, but it adds up to about 54 million profiles, and they may be disproportionately the ones that end up “liking” business pages.

To test how big the problem is, the BBC created a page for a fake business called VirtualBagel and bought ads designed to attract fans. In just a day, the investigation found VirtualBagel got 1,600 likes, “despite the fact that the page offered no products and no interesting content.” And, although the ads were aimed at the U.S., the U.K. and parts of the Middle East and Asia, almost all the likes came from profiles in India, Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines, and many of them appeared to be fake.

Facebook told the BBC that it doesn’t see a “wave of likes” coming from false users, but Cluley suggested the social media giant has reason to downplay the problem. After all, its biggest revenue source is ads.

So, what can you do to make sure your business page is getting real Facebook friends? Of course, posting interesting, useful content is a major part of any good social media strategy. It’s also a good idea to keep track of the statistics that Facebook provides, and to use other tools like Google Analytics to see if Facebook fans are becoming customers.

Beyond that, different kinds of companies will have different strategies that fit them best, so an IT consulting firm can help you figure out your own best practices.

Touching Facebook

They say that there’s no such thing as bad press.  Well, those guys weren’t around to see Facebook’s stock flounder and the brokers pull their hair out.  Many investors feel that Facebook is aloof.  It’s value too intangible.  The only major asset that Facebook totes around is the data is has on its users.  Knowledge might be power, but it doesn’t always equal money.   So what does Facebook has that has value that we can touch?

Currently:

To house the 590 million users’ data plus all the ads and such, Facebook is estimated to have 60 thousand servers.  That pales in comparison to the estimated one million servers that Google has.  Facebook has also built a facility in Prineville Oregon.  That massive structure is one the greenest severs in the state with PUE rating of 1.15.  Facebook has even revealed the technical aspects of their servers.  You can see the specs here.

The Future:

Facebook has seemed to bank on transparency and cloud computing.  Unlike Google which plays its self-made server cards close to the chest.  We’ll have to see if this commitment to cloud and green technology will help Facebook in the future.

Getting Into Your Customers’ Pockets

Over the last few years it’s become inescapable. More and more people can’t seem to go for a half hour without pulling a phone out of their pocket and checking to see what’s new.

Practically every business wants to find a way to make their name show up on their customers’ little screens, but many are confused about how to do it. Do you need an app? A mobile optimized site? Must you tweet, or is Facebook enough?

The answers to these questions will be different for every sort of business. Twitter is a fantastic tool for anyone hawking impulse buys. The food truck that tweets its location and daily specials has become a staple of many urban areas. Facebook is a great place to engage people in a conversation about a new product you’re selling, and many small businesses find Foursquare is an excellent way to build up customer loyalty. For many companies, the best bet may be to throw the same information up on multiple platforms since it doesn’t take much more time and may reach different audiences.

Where social media is free, getting an IT consulting firm to build you an app or a mobile-optimized website can get pricey. The businesses that have the most use for their own apps are those, like banks, that customers need to interact with frequently. Mobile sites can be helpful if your regular site has a lot of complicated information that could get confusing on a tiny screen.

In general, though, there are some easy ways to make sure your main website looks good on a smartphone. It’s important to make sure words are actually text, not part of a graphic, especially key information like your address and phone number. Avoid flash, since a majority of mobile devices won’t play it. The best way to figure out if your site works for mobile devices is to try it out. But don’t just use your own iPhone. Borrow a friend’s android phone, your sister’s iPad and whatever else you can get your hands on and check how good your site looks on them all.

Once you’ve got a decent mobile site, and a social media presence to drive traffic to it, you can be confident that everywhere your customers go, you’re riding along in their pockets.

Facebook’s Impending IPO

One of the most talked about companies right now is Facebook. Their impending IPO is set to raise five billion dollars in capital. The initial brokering lead has been hired out to Morgan Stanley which will market the stock to high end clients that aren’t in the finance field. These clients, doctors and lawyers, like brand recognition. So there is only marginal concern that Facebook will not raise its target of five billion dollars. However, there is a lot speculation about whether or not Facebook’s stock is a sound long term investment. Although there is no foolproof way of predicting the way a stock will perform, we can look at how similar companies have fared. Two companies that have attributes similar to Facebook that have gone through an IPO are Zynga and LinkedIn. Facebook should take a cue from the way these companies.

Zynga

Zynga is a gaming platform that partnered with Facebook. This company is the creator of such household names as Farmville…and Farmville. On December 16th, 2011, they had their initial public offering starting off at 10 dollars a share. Within 15 minutes of trading, the price had fallen to 9.50. In the past year, their stock value has fallen to as low as 7.97 dollars a share. However, at the time of this writing it was trading at 13.89 a share. It seems that at first, investors didn’t know what to make of this tech company and people fear what they don’t understand. Zynga’s many revenue streams come from the monetization of their games. Now, some might say that selling consumers a tractor in Farmville isn’t really, but it’s as real as an app sale for Apple. Zynga had a rocky start, but it seems to have stabilized.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, unlike Zynga, started its IPO at 45 dollars a share and ended the day at 94.25. It hasn’t been all champagne for LinkedIn. After an IPO there a locked-up period in which insiders, people who owned stock before the IPO, can’t sell their shares. When the 180 day period ended there was a selling frenzy. Stock value fell to 70 dollars a share. As of March 9th, 2010, LinkedIn was trading at 90.13.

Facebook

Facebook probably has one thing that sets it apart from LinkedIn or Zynga. They are valued at about 8.9 billion and 7 billion respectively. Facebook is said to be worth more than ten times that at 100 billion. With that much value comes a lot of scrutiny. In 2011, its total revenue was reported at 3.7 billion dollars. What kind of company is worth 27 times its yearly income? That question alone may cause its IPO to go the way of Zynga. On the other hand, Facebook reported that it has 2.2 billion dollar data center operation. The IT services alone for such facilities is staggering feat. Investors can see that that’s a lot of data, personal data. Is the data of 845 million users worth 100 billion dollars? Maybe. If investors feel that Facebook is on the level, their stock may soar. However, a significant amount of stock is held by insiders. For example, artist David Choe was given stock as payment for painting murals at the origin Facebook office. If all holds up, Choe’s shares could be worth 500 million dollars. Imagine 500 million in shares just dumped on the market along with all the other insiders all at once.

Facebook’s IPO may be a rock star or flop.  It has many expectations to meet.  LinkedIn and Zynga have shown two paths that Facebook may take depending on how investors perceive it.  Or if Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, is to be believed then it might all be up to chance.