A Storm of Money Coming to the Cloud

One way to tell if something is going to get bigger is to see how large companies are willing to invest in it.  These companies don’t care about fads; they are in for the long haul return on investment.  IBM and are together are increasing their cloud infrastructure by 4.5 billion dollars.

Salesforce is buying Exactarget for a 2.5 billion dollar price tag.  The move is thought to allow the company to have a deeper reach into ad revenue on social media sites.  One study cited claims that by 2017, marketing departments will spend more on technology than CIOs.

IBM on the other hand, is buying Softlayer.  Softlayer specializes in building in-house cloud servers.  This acquisition will help IBM shore up the gap in its current cloud service line-up.  Don’t think it’s worth it?  Well, IBM think it’s worth 2 billion dollars.

For more on cloud services click here.

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.

Tips for Creating a Social Business

There’s no doubt about it: marketing has gone social.  Customers are more apt than ever to start tweeting about their service.  So what are you going to do about it?


It’s likely you’ve either thought about or have already set up a Facebook account for your business.  However, many business owners fall into the trap of neglecting their social media accounts.  These accounts should be treated like another touchpoint for your business, like adding another customer service number that the whole world can see.

Keeping on top of updates like when you’re having a sale and responding to customer comments is essential.  Though it may add another hour to your day going through your social media outlets, it will create another layer to your marketing dynamic.


If you haven’t created a Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook account for your business yet, you should probably take a deep breath and think about it.  Although it takes a few minutes to set up, you must be willing to commit.  A poorly maintained social media outlet is like having an unkempt front entrance.

Lacking in time and resources to commit to a  social media campaign is a sure sign you quit while your ahead.


Should you chose to accept this task, you should invest in media monitoring apps.  For example, Radian6 is a paid services that gives you reports on your various social media outlets.  That way you can track and see what garners attention and what doesn’t.

Social Media is still in it’s infancy.  It seems like the Wild West where every business, large and small, are on the frontier.

As always, you can count on us in case you need an it services company to cover all your IT needs.

Keeping Up Appearances: Managing Your Online Reputation

It’s often an adage that you should always be on your best behavior when in public because you don’t know who is watching.  Sitting behind a computer, it’s easy to forget that your business’ online persona is out for the public to view…forever.

However, all the ways to protect your online reputation revolve around the principles of neutrality and politeness.

On social media, never get in any type of argument.  It’s always better to extend an olive branch rather than trying to put a snarky customer in their place.  Better to appear that you are a company that cares about customer concerns than an eloquent debater.

Off that point, although your business is local your online presence is more far reaching.  Expressing views that are not vital to business’ image is risky.  Perhaps expressing your values attracts customers, but it may alienate some.  It’s something to consider if you ever expanding your business into another area.  Anything put online, stays there.

And unlike Vegas, what’s on social media is very public.

The Generational Job Search Gap: Social Media

A new survey published by Millennial Branding shows interesting treads amongst baby boomers (48-67), Gen X (30-47), and Gen Y (18-29) in their attitudes when using social media in their job hunts. Perhaps the first point to come out when looking through the data is that old generations are using social media the most, mainly Linkedin.

Between Gen X and Gen Y, the main dividing line seems to be what they are looking for in a job.  Gen Y is looking for flexibility in companies, while Gen X wants job security and benefits.  To that end, Gen Y job seekers tend to use Google and Facebook over other generations.  Gen Y also leads the other generations in having personal websites used to garner employer hits.

When the job search fails, 37% of Gen Y and 35% of Gen X are returning to school.  A third plan to start their own businesses if they can’t find a job.

Now that all this data has been compiled, what does it mean to you?  If you are planning on hiring, what you highlight about your business on the web will attract different demographics.  Over 75% of all respondents say they use online job boards.  Also, the majority judge a company by looking at your website.  Keeping it clean and updated front-end will put your best foot forward and attract the best candidates.

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.

LinkedIn Password Breach

Six and a half million users of the ubiquitous business networking site LinkedIn have apparently had their passwords stolen.

Online security experts say site members should change their passwords right away.

As of this morning, PC World reported, only a minority of the passwords appeared to have actually been exposed. A file containing the 6.5 million security codes showed up on a Russian online forum, but the codes were “hashed”—meaning they’d been encrypted. However, according to PC World, the algorithm used allows hackers to decipher simple passwords fairly easily because it does not include “salting,” or the addition of random characters.

The uploaded file did not include usernames, but experts say that doesn’t mean that whoever stole the passwords does not have those as well.

LinkedIn has said it’s looking into the reports. At 11:18 this morning, the company tweeted “Our team continues to investigate, but at this time, we’re still unable to confirm that any security breach has occurred. Stay tuned here.” However, many users are reporting that they’ve been able to find their own hashed passwords in the leaked file.

LinkedIn has a total of 150 million users worldwide, so ZDNet writer Zack Whittaker points out the breach appears so far to affect a small portion of the user base. However, Whittaker also notes that the breach could be a major blow to the site’s reputation.

The incident comes on the heels of a report that a LinkedIn calendar app on iOS operating systems sends information back to the company without explicit permission. LinkedIn responded that this is done only if users opt in and that the information sent is kept secure.

Facebook’s IPO and the Trouble with Free Media

As Facebook approached its initial public offering last week, observers couldn’t seem to decide whether the social media giant was a good investment. After the IPO, as the company’s stock price fell from its initial price, the debate continued.

To some people, the company’s decision to set its price at $38 a share looked like some serious overreach. After all, despite Facebook’s ubiquity in the lives of the computer-using public, it doesn’t generate anywhere near as much money as most high-profile tech companies. At Business Insider, Henry Blodget argues that the company is seriously overvalued, with a price 40 to 100 times its likely 2013 earnings, compared with multiples of 10 for Apple and 12 for Google.

But, at Seeking Alpha, Helix Investment Management makes the opposite case, contending that Apple and Google were more expensive when they went public. The post also argues that the simple fact that Facebook is making profits sets it apart from most social media companies. Still, even Helix qualifies its approval of Facebook’s stock, saying that investors will have to wait several years for any profit.

The fact that the stock didn’t “pop” with a brief price spike after the IPO has less to do with its actual worth than with its executives’ decision to set its price toward the high end of the price range they’d originally suggested. The fundamental value of the company will only emerge over time, and it’s going to depend on Facebook’s ability to make money from its users. It’s essentially the same problem that all social media, and all media in general, face.

Of course, Facebook, like most internet destinations, is free to users. And, as a popular adage has it, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” The resource Facebook can make money on is its vast stores of data about its members. So far, though, the money it makes on advertising isn’t terribly impressive. The question for the company is, how can it turn all that information into real money?

And, the question for potential investors is, is Facebook smart enough to figure out a good answer to that question?

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.

What Muppets Mean For Business Communication

In the latest twist in the saga of Greg Smith’s very public departure from Goldman Sachs Group, Reuters reports that the firm is now scouring the company’s internal email in search of the word “muppet.”

In his New York Times op-ed attacking his former employer, Smith alleged that his coworkers there fobbed off bad investments on clients and insulted their intelligence. In particular, he said the firm’s managing directors referred to their clients as muppets—British slang that refers not to Jim Henson’s creations but to stupid people.

The Reuters story reports that the company is reviewing Smith’s allegations, in part by scanning internal emails. That action should serve as a reminder for office workers that nothing they communicate electronically from the office is their private business.

By now, most employees are probably well aware that it’s inadvisable to send an application for a new job on office email or visit inappropriate websites on a company computer. Back in 2007, the American Management Association found that 66 percent of employers monitored their Internet connections and a full 28 percent had fired a worker for inappropriate email use.

But Goldman Sachs’ actions show that workers need to watch what they type even if they’re pretty sure their boss wouldn’t bat an eye at what they’re saying. If a company comes under scrutiny for any reason, there’s a good chance someone will dig into all interoffice communication. Sometimes, it’s an internal investigation like Goldman’s. Other times it’s a political thing—like the way reporters dug through the largely mundane emails from Sarah Palin’s time as governor of Alaska when they were released last year.

The biggest worry for most companies is that they’ll end up in some kind of legal dispute and have an aggressive lawyer wading through their internal emails. They may even get an IT: Azure/AWS consulting company to help pull out messages that the sender and recipient thought had been permanently deleted.

Even failing to archive old messages can be dangerous in a legal battle because it might suggest that the company was trying to hide something.

The question of what to keep out of official business communication can become even more complicated when employees use company laptops or smartphones, or even when they use their own mobile devices for work purposes. Social media also blurs lines since it can be easy to lose track of whether a Twitter handle is a work tool or a vehicle for personal expression.

As with most things, it’s always a good idea to be cautious. At most companies, the best practice is probably to use email for uncontroversial work topics. Off-topic conversation, jokes and—especially—rants about a situation that’s causing problems should be saved for the water cooler or the bar after work.

And if you feel an urge to call a client a muppet, it’s probably a good time to just bite your tongue. After all, that’s what Kermit would do.