Tag Archives: DreamSpinner Communications

Time Management: Gain New Customers in Less Time on Twitter, Facebook

By Gail Z. Martin

The biggest key to productivity on social media is keeping your top goal firmly in mind and approaching your online time with an action-list.  Go onto Facebook or Twitter with one to three tasks that can be accomplished in 10 to 30 minutes, and keep your mind on business while you’re there.  By using this “power surge” process, you accomplish more in less time and avoid distractions during working hours.

What can you do in such a short time?  You can invite people to become your friend or “like” your page, ask a question or make a comment to someone who is already a friend or who has liked your page, post a quote or short tip, or check out what top speakers and experts are posting on their sites.  You can post a link to a helpful article, or set up a Facebook ad.  Shoot a quick video with your smartphone and post it to YouTube. Take a photo and add it to Pinterest. You’ll be amazed what you can get done in a short period of time when you keep your activity focused on achieving your top goal and reaching your ideal audience.

 Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin

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Online Marketing: Simple Twitter Strategies to Turn Followers into Paying Customers

By Gail Z. Martin

If you’re a person of few words, you’ll admire the elegance of the idea behind Twitter; each post is just 140 characters.  That’s about two sentences to get your idea across.  What can you do in two sentences?  You’d be surprised.

Twitter is a great place to share links to valuable content (you can shorten them to preserve more of your character limit by using a problem like Bitly.com or TinyURL.com): videos, interesting articles on other sites, blog posts, audio, or downloads.  Find an article of interest to your audience?  Share the link, and then tweet a few thoughts and ask a question to get a conversation going.

What else can you talk about in 140 characters?  Recommend a business book and say how it influenced you.  If you were at an event and saw a speaker who talked about something useful for your readers, Tweet about it!  You could even include a link to the event Web site, speaker’s home page, or to a video or blog post related to the event.  Or, share a motivational quote, comment on a business-related topic that is in the news, or let readers know if you have an upcoming promotion or special event.

As with Facebook, you can reward the people who follow your page with periodic links to free downloadable material of value to their business, or give them sneak previews of special prices before you post the specials on your Web site.  People who follow you can ask you questions, either publically or privately, so you’ll want to monitor these so you can answer promptly. (Several of the dashboards make this easier.)

Twitter is also a great way to give live updates from the business-related events you attend.  If you’re at a conference, either as a speaker or an attendee, send periodic tweets about what you’ve liked, what insights you’ve gained, what well-known experts you’ve heard or met, and other information that gives your followers a you-were-there feeling.

Whenever you use a keyword in your tweets (such as the name of an event, a book, a celebrity/authority or product), make it searchable by putting # in front of it.  For example, if you are talking about the book Think And Grow Rich, you would tweet #ThinkAndGrowRich.  That way your tweet will show up if anyone searches on the name of the book.  You can also see what topics are popular by searching Twitters Trending Topics.  Chiming in on a hot topic (if it relates to your business) can draw attention to your Twitter page, and help you gain more readers.

Promote your Twitter page, and make sure you let people know what’s in it for them to follow you.  Tell them what kind of helpful content you post, and if you provide discounts or coupons, let them know.  You can also have your Twitter feed automatically update your other online pages, such as your LinkedIn page or Web site, by using the RSS (Really Simple Syndication).  LinkedIn has a free RSS application, and your Web designer can add it easily to your home page.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin

 

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Content Marketing: 6 Easy Ways to Get More Customers With Facebook

By Gail Z. Martin

#1 Content is essential for attracting and keeping readers.  Ask questions that are business-related, provide tips and post links to interesting and helpful videos, articles and blogs, even to content that you didn’t create but that your audience would appreciate.  Repurpose articles and answers into Frequently Asked Questions and use other information you’ve written into short, helpful one-paragraph snippets of content.

#2 Try to keep a conversational tone.  Don’t use a hard sell, and don’t constantly promote.  Instead, draw your readers in with open-ended questions and try to get them into a dialog.  Facebook users want to connect with the person behind the business, so keep the conversation “business casual”, as you would at a networking luncheon.  That means that it’s OK to talk a little bit about superficial personal subjects, such as your pets, vacation highlights, sports teams, etc.  Always make sure that the information you share shows you in an ethical, trustworthy light.  Be human, but also be professional!  You can also reward those who “like” your page with occasional special discounts and coupons.

# 3 Promote your Facebook Business Page at every opportunity.  Put a “badge” (Facebook can generate this for free) showing your Business Page icon on your business Web page.  Add the address for your Business Page to your business cards, signage, invoices, handouts and all marketing material (Facebook makes it easy to create a short, readable page address).  Where your Web site is a one-way conversation (you speaking to your customers), view your Facebook page as the opportunity to learn from having a two-way conversation with your prospects and buyers.

#4 Facebook also offers the ability to place ads that show up on the profiles of other Facebook users who fit the demographic description you provide.  You set the budget and the duration for the ads, and a campaign costing just a few hundred dollars can lead to hundreds of thousands of impressions and hundreds of clicks.  This is a great way to drive traffic to your Business Page or to your company’s Web page.

#5 Facebook has tightened up its rules for allowing contests, but that doesn’t mean that contests are out of reach for small businesses.  PinpointSocial.com specializes in template-driven, do-it-yourself Facebook campaigns that comply with Facebook’s rules but are easy and affordable for small businesses to run.  Used in conjunction with Facebook ads, this is a great way to increase the “likes” for your page, essentially increasing your Facebook opt-in.  Constant Contact has also added a social media tool that creates Facebook landing pages using templates, with the advantage that the tool also integrates with Constant Contact’s impressive email marketing capabilities.

#6 You can also add value to your Facebook Business Page through extra add-on applications within Facebook.  For example, one app allows your blog to automatically post to your Facebook page (RSS), increasing your productivity by getting additional exposure for each blog post.  The same is also possible for your Twitter or podcast feed.  For companies that sell on eBay, Facebook has an app that interfaces with your eBay site.  Apps change frequently, so be sure to look for the ones that would be right for your business.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin

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PROMOTIONAL TOOLS ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

By Gail Z. Martin

Growing your business productively means understanding all of the tools available to you.  Just as smart phones and tablet PCs have redefined productivity on the go, social media has redefined how people communicate, and more specifically, how consumers want to communicate with businesses.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the three major social media platforms.  It’s worth taking some time to look at how Facebook and Twitter can help promote your company while boosting your productivity.

Facebook basics for business

Facebook now has over one billion users.  While Facebook was originally designed as a recreational place to connect with friends, businesses were quick to see the potential.  In fact, businesses have embraced Facebook faster than the Facebook architecture has adapted, leaving Facebook often scrambling to catch up to how its subscribers want to use the site.

Being present on social media for a company today is much like being present on the Web: you are judged negatively if you’re not there.  Just as many consumers would not consider a company to be a “real” business without a Web site, so many purchasers look for a Facebook presence to see if you are “real.”  What matters is that consumers have decided that they want to have a two-way conversation with the companies they patronize, and firms that abstain from being part of the dialog do so at their peril.

At the very least, you need to have a Facebook Business Page.  As Facebook has adapted to the needs of business users, these Business Pages have become easier to create and use.  Facebook wants businesses to promote from a Business Page and not from a personal profile.  Ignoring this rule can get your page deleted from Facebook.

A Business Page works a little differently from a personal profile page in that a Business Page can’t “friend” individual users.  Instead, users are invited to “like” the page and thereby opt-in to receive automatic updates whenever the page adds new information.

Today’s consumers value a connection through Facebook because they want to be able to express their opinions, ask questions, and feel as though they are being heard.  They want to do business with people, not faceless corporations.  Companies that learn to listen can reap valuable benefits, from uncovering (and being able to fix) customer service issues to discovering competitive advantages when a rival firm has dropped the ball, to new product ideas from the suggestions of loyal purchasers.

When you create your Business Page, make sure both your logo and your photo are prominently displayed.  People need to find you as a business, but they want to connect with you as the person behind the business.  Fill in the Information section, making sure your content is all about the benefit you provide to your customers and what you do for them (not just a laundry list of products and services).  Include your other Web sites, links to blogs and podcasts and business contact information so your Facebook fans can find you on the Internet.

If you already have a profile page, Facebook wants you to use it primarily for personal/recreational content.  However, it’s OK to talk about business some of the time, just as you would in real life.  Also, with a profile you can invite people to “like” your Business Page, and suggest that your “friends” also visit your Business Page.  Just keep your profile mostly personal, to remain compliant with Facebook’s Terms of Service.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin

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23 Online Office Essentials For Your Smart Phone

By Gail Z. Martin

            When you’re working on the go, many of the helpful tools you take for granted in your office aren’t at hand.  Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Appzilla, Appzilla2 and Apzilla 3 are the Swiss Army knives of the app world.  Appzilla comes with 90 mini apps, and Appzilla2 has 120, including a book lamp, checklist, countdown timer, area code look-up, alarm clock, currency converter, date calculator, flashlight, and links to nine Google apps.  Sure, Appzilla also has fun things like a metronome, moon calculator and Morse code generator, but those can be a momentary distraction when you’re stuck in an airport.

Need a dictionary?  Try the Dictionary! app or the Dictionary.com app and have the English language at your fingertips. The Dictionary.com app even includes a thesaurus, or you can grab FreeSaurus on iTunes.

Looking for a phone number?  Before you pay for a 411 look-up, try the WhitePagesMobile app.  Use it to search for either businesses or people, and get maps or directions.  YPMobile gives you the Yellow Pages business directory, plus ratings and event information.

Want to translate a phrase into Chinese or Serbian?  The FreeTranslator app will help you with the important short sentences necessary to get by when you’re traveling.  Can’t remember the source of a quote?  Quotationary probably has what you’re looking for.  Need to know where in the world you are?  Try World Atlas HD for maps and useful details about every country on the globe.  Struggling with a metric conversion question?  Convertbot has the answer.  Not sure when your package will arrive?  DeliveryStatus will get an answer for you.  Need a mirror to see if the lettuce from your salad at lunch is still in your teeth?  The Mirror app turns your smart phone into, yep, a mirror that you won’t lose in your desk drawer.

If you miss your filing drawer back at the office, try FilesToGo, a Cloud-based filing system that gives you access when you’re traveling.  No need to juggle loose printouts on the plane: GoodReader can translate a PDF file into an iPad-friendly format so you can read it from your touchscreen.  Bento is an app that works like a virtual clipboard/database/desktop organizer for either the iPad or iPhone.

When you’d rather speak than use a keyboard, you’ve got several great options.  DragonDictation’s app (and program for the PC)  lets you speak into your smart phone and activate your email or your text messages.  To use your phone to take dictation or just record a message to send later, try Say It & Mail It Pro Recorder or QuickVoice2TextEmail.

Keep track of your time while you’re on the road with TimeMaster + Billing—it’s even got a billing module.  Take your pick: Timewerks, TimeLogger or iTimeSheetLite can also help you manage and monetize your time.  They differ in capabilities, so pick the one that works best for you.

If there’s still anything you’re missing from your bricks-and-mortar office, a quick search on iTunes or Android app store will probably turn up several contenders to help you create your home away from home.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order this book here https://amzn.com/1601632266

 

 

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10 Mobile Apps for Business You Can’t Live Without

By Gail Z. Martin

Whether you’re a true road warrior or you just seem to be on the go all the time, mobile apps from your tablet PC or smart phone can make your life much more productive.  Even better: many great apps are free, and others are very inexpensive, so productivity seems sweeter than ever.

What are the basics you need to get work done when you’re not in the office?  At a minimum, you need some good ways to take notes, work on or read documents, store and retrieve files, and access the tools you usually have close at hand in an office or on your laptop.  Fortunately, there are apps for all these needs, and on your smart phone or tablet PC, they’re truly at your fingertips.

Smart phones and tablet PCs are desirable because they’re smaller and lighter than a laptop and easier to carry around.  But that same portability comes with a price: they can’t carry all of the files stored so conveniently on your laptop.  Good news: an ever-increasing array of apps bridge that gap between laptop and mobile device, making it easier than ever to work on the go.

Quick note taking is essential to keep your thoughts organized, especially when you’re constantly in motion.  iPhones and iPads come with a basic Notes app, which while not perfect, is quite suitable for the kinds of things you’d jot on a cocktail napkin.  While it doesn’t sync with other apps and it doesn’t have any security beyond that of your phone’s keypad, Notes is perfect for jotting down something you don’t want to forget and assuring that you won’t lose the scrap of paper you wrote it on.  Not perfect, but it’s free, and there’s a lot of basic function that goes a long way.

Evernote, which I’ve discussed earlier in the book, also has a mobile app.  So if you love it on your other devices, you can bring it along in your pocket with your phone or tablet PC.  A few other note taking apps include Awesome Note, WriteRoom, Simplenote and RememberTheMilk make it easy to jot down what you need to remember, and come with varying additional capabilities, such as being able to sync to other devices or store data in the Cloud.

Pages is very good, basic app for reading and writing documents.  Documents you create in Pages can be emailed in RTF or Word format, and you can email yourself (small) documents in those formats and edit using Pages.  While I find it cumbersome to type documents of any length with the on-screen keyboard or a phone or tablet PC, when you pair Pages with a wireless keyboard, the result is pretty efficient.

For those who want to access their Microsoft Office files from their iPad or iPhone, Quickoffice® Pro HD bridges the gap between Microsoft and Apple.  There’s also a scaled down version, Quickoffice Connect Suite.  With Quickoffice, you can open a Word document, access a PowerPoint presentation, or edit, save and share other types of Office-based files.  Office2 HD is a similar program, offering a few more capabilities for word processing than some of the more basic apps.  Documents To Go® Premium Office Suite not only handles Word and PowerPoint, but it will also access Excel spreadsheets, and it syncs with storage programs including Dropbox, SugarSync and Box.net.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order here: https://amzn.com/1601632266

 

 

 

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Three Things You Should Know About Access-Anywhere Software

By Gail Z. Martin

            Being able to access your software from anywhere on any device can be a real lifesaver when you’re on the road.  Programs that live on web servers that you can access via the Internet are what Cloud Computing is all about, and it’s the key to using your smart phone and tablet PC to get more done when you’re on the go.

But if your programs don’t live on your computer hard drive, how safe are you from hackers and viruses?

If the idea of having your valuable and proprietary data residing in the Cloud worries you, there are steps you can take to set your mind at ease.

First, make sure that you understand the individual service provider’s privacy policies, terms of use, and recommended methods for safeguarding the security and integrity of your data.

Secondly, always back up essential information.  This can mean creating a print-out, saving a Web-based document as a file or a screen shot, or copying essential information to your hard drive or an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) storage site.  An FTP site allows you to store and share documents or files that are too large for regular email.  Yes, FTP sites are also Cloud computing sites—a good example is www.4shared.com, but there are many similar sites.

Third, be certain to safeguard your password.  Realize that when you share access to your Cloud computing sites with an administrative assistant or colleague, they may gain access to your billing and credit card information unless the site allows for different levels of access.  Some Cloud computing sites offer a group membership, so that you can provide access to several employees or partners while keeping your own account information private. Other programs make it possible to designate an “administrator” who can access everything except the billing/payment information.  If you must share your password with an assistant, keep track of which passwords have been shared and be sure to change your password if your relationship with the assistant ends.

Cloud computing programs can boost your productivity by giving you access to powerful software without the hassle of downloads and updates.  You save time, reduce the in-house needs for online storage, and reduce your dependence on hired computer professionals.  Just think–no more losing part of a day as your IT consultant tinkers with the settings to make sure a newly downloaded program doesn’t wreck your network!

Small businesses and solo professionals also benefit by gaining access to valuable online services and software which would be prohibitively expensive to license on an individual basis, and which would require significant investment in servers and personnel to install and manage in-house.

For big productivity gains and lower costs, get into the Cloud!

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order this book at https://amzn.com/1601632266

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4 Easy Ways to Make Sure You Never Forget An Important File Again

By Gail Z. Martin

When you’re on the go, it’s difficult to bring all your files with you.  Carrying a laptop can be difficult when traveling through airports, and taking your computer with you puts you at risk for theft and damage.  Printouts are cumbersome, offer data security risks, and provide only a static snapshot.

To address these problems, Cloud computing programs make it possible for users to access their computers remotely and store files in secure storage sites that can be accessed on the go.  For users who rely on instant, mobile access to stored data but don’t want to lug their laptops everywhere they go, these programs offer portability, security and easy access.

GoToMyPC enables subscribers to securely access their computer back at the office while they’re on the road.  If you’ve ever had an “oops” moment of panic as you realized that you left the folder or the flash drive you needed for your out-of-office presentation back on your desk, you can appreciate the appeal.

GoToMyPC is compatible with both Microsoft and Apple computers, and can also be accessed from an iPad. The service offers access to files, email, applications and network resources via a secure, encrypted connection.

Other virtual access programs include LogMeIn.com, PCAnywhere.com and Anyplace-Control.com.

You’ll need to weigh the convenience of remote access against the possibility, however slim, that even the most secure data connections can (at least theoretically), be compromised.  If you travel frequently and have ever had a deal compromised by a missing file, the benefits may be well worth the risk to you.  This is especially true for one-person companies who lack the home office staff to email or overnight a forgotten document.

If you’re in a business where a security breech would be catastrophic, it’s probably worth the price to confer with your Information Technology consultant to explore options.  While the remote access programs themselves may be secure, there are inherent security risks to using public access computers, such as those in hotels, libraries and office supply stores.  Only you can decide whether the risks outweigh the convenience.  If you’re not sure how to assess the risks, talk to your IT consultant.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order this book at https://amzn.com/1601632266

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11 Important Reasons to Move to The Big Storage Unit In The Sky

By Gail Z. Martin

No, this isn’t about the afterlife.  It’s about how you can store files someplace that never runs out of room, and back up your important data in a safe place outside your home or office.

Corporations store their data backup in salt mines and high security off-site locations.  That’s a little extreme (and expensive) for most small businesses, but the need for secure storage and backup isn’t limited to large corporations.  A flood, fire or natural disaster could wipe out your computer and your locally-stored flash drives and portable hard drives.  Frequent back-ups to a storage location reduce your risk of a catastrophic data loss.

Storage capacity is another challenge for many users.  While storage costs have decreased tremendously, making terabytes of capacity reasonably priced, some users rapidly exceed their on-site storage capability.

Fortunately, Cloud computing offers alternatives for both data security and data storage.

Carbonite, Mozy, MyOtherDrive, iBackup, Dropbox, GoogleDocs, GoDaddy, Sugarsync, ElephantDrive, LiveDrive, MyPCBackup and other sites offer Cloud-based data backup and storage capabilities.  Most sites provide automated back-up, making it less likely that you’ll forget to update files.  In addition, files stored on the Cloud can be accessed from any location, giving you portability.

When looking into Cloud-based data storage, remember that you’re entrusting your sensitive files to a third party.  Here are some questions to consider as you weigh your alternatives.

  • What happens to my data if the provider is sold, merged or goes out of business?
  • How does the provider assure site security?
  • What precautions are taken against hackers?
  • How does the provider do its own back-up to assure my data is safe if the provider has a catastrophic event at their location?
  • What do other users say about the ease of use, security and customer support?

Cloud-based storage and back-up can be valuable and affordable services.  Having your files saved from just one on-site disaster could well be worth the investment in monthly fees.  As always, be sure to check out provider options to find the service that is the best fit for your business.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order this book at https://amzn.com/1601632266

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4 Simple Ways You Can Be in Two (or More) Places at Once

By Gail Z. Martin

Sure, you’d love to rule the web with a gazillion fans, friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.  You know you should be posting more frequently; if not once a day, at least several times a week.  But who has time?

Fortunately for you, there are a growing number of social media productivity tools available to help you organize your online activity, making it easier for you to get more done in less time.  Most of these sites enable you to post once and have your messages go to numerous social media sites, and a few of them have additional handy bells and whistles to help you manage your online life more efficiently.

“Dashboard” programs provide all-in-one-place control, much like the console of a car or airplane.  Programs like HootSuite, Social Oomph, Ping and TweetDeck make it possible for you to plan your social media campaigns and load content in advance.

One of the central benefits of a dashboard program is the “set it and forget it” feature; the ability to enter content into the dashboard and schedule blog posts, Facebook updates and Twitter tweets to go out over a period of time.  While pre-scheduled content is no substitute for live conversations, dashboard programs fill the very real need of making sure that busy people maintain a baseline, consistent level of content without large gaps.  You can always pop in online to add updates, post photos or jump into conversations in addition to your pre-scheduled content, but you won’t get to Thursday and realize you haven’t posted or tweeted all week.

A caveat: many dashboard programs post content with a source credit that says “from API”, meaning that it has been automatically posted.  Some social media users and search engines view pre-scheduled content as less desirable than live-posted information, regardless of the quality of the actual information itself.  This means that to keep your friends, fans and followers happy and to raise your social media score with ranking programs like Klout and Alexa, keep a good balance of live posts and pre-scheduled posts.  On the other hand, realize that pre-scheduled content is better than no content. Followers, search engines and ranking programs also take a dim view of prolonged absences. I maintain that if the best you can do during a busy period is pre-scheduled content, being present on a consistent basis far outweighs the alternatives.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Martin.  Order this book at https://amzn.com/1601632266

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