5 Tips on Keeping Your Online Experience a Good One

Online Security Welcome to 2015! Let’s start the year off right! Many people are aware of the hacking scandal at Sony. Even large corporations can become vulnerable. But while hacking might become more commonplace, why make it easy for someone to make your life miserable? Google published some online safety tips this week so I thought I would share these with you adding some notes where appropriate. Some of these are common sense but as I have learned over the years, common sense is not so common… Here are 5 tips on keeping your online experience a good one.

1. Passwords

Passwords are the first line of defense against cyber criminals. It’s crucial to pick strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts and it is good practice to update your passwords regularly.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have taken on a client who has a password that is the word ‘password’ or something like ‘1234567’. These are the most common passwords (even today) and you are most likely going to get hacked! It’s really not that hard to get creative. Choose passwords that contain numbers, letters, capitals and special characters. Also remember NOT to use the same password for every account! One trick is to think of a phrase that only you know, and take the first letter of each word to compose your password adding capitals and maybe a special character at the end.  Remember to write your passwords down and keep them in a safe place.

2. Computers in Public Places

When using public computers like in a cybercafe or library, remember that you may still be signed into any services you’ve been using even after you close the browser. So when using a public computer, be sure to sign out by clicking on your account photo or email address in the top right corner and selecting ‘Sign Out’

I take it one step further. If i have to use a public computer (which doesn’t happen often), when I have logged out and am ready to leave, I ensure that I delete the browsing history on that computer. Take a few moments to learn how to do this on multiple browsers. This is one extra step but it will help cover your tracks.  Also, avoid accessing things like online banking when using these public computers or free wi-fi in public venues.

3. Locking Devices

You wouldn’t go out for the day and leave your front door wide open, right? The same principle applies to the devices you use. You should always lock your screen when you finish using your computer, laptop or phone. For added security, you should also set your device to automatically lock when it goes to sleep. This is especially important for phones or tablets, which are more likely to get misplaced and discovered by people you don’t want to access your information, and home computers that are in shared spaces.

I recently heard of an app that is available for your phone called Theft Alerts. It is a simple idea that could be useful: If Lookout detects suspicious behavior on your smartphone, it will automatically use the device’s front-facing camera to snap a picture of the supposed perpetrator and email it to you, along with his or her location. How cool is that?

4. Keep your Browser and Operating System up to Date

Most operating systems and software will notify you when it’s time to upgrade – don’t ignore these messages and update as soon as you can. Old versions of software can sometimes have security problems that criminals can use to more easily get to your data. Google’s Chrome browser automatically updates to the latest version every time you start it up, so you can get the most up-to-date security protection without any extra work.

If you’ve noticed that your system is running slower, you might be infected with Malware. There are products out there to help you remove them. Check out this website with a list of AV Vendors.  The most important thing is to keep your antivirus software updated and ensure you put your system through a complete scan at least  once a week.

5. Downloading Software

Some programs bundle malware as part of their installation process. Before you start a download, there are a few simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of downloading malware along with the software you want.

‘Free’ software sites are often the worst culprit especially font sites. Another is that famous popup that says they will scan your computer for viruses for FREE. Don’t believe them!  If your computer does not have scanning software to pre-scan your download, check the reputation of the company whose software you want to download. Do an online search and review them. When in doubt, simply don’t do it!

Last but not least, using your Facebook or Twitter account login credentials has become quite popular for several applications out there. Please be careful when using these passwords for multiple accounts and change your passwords often using the suggestions above.

While hacking might still happen, hopefully these tips will help you stay safe on the net. I welcome your feedback! You can connect with me by phone or email, leave a comment right here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,

Joanne

Changes Coming to Facebook Business Page Newsfeed

Facebook NewsfeedFacebook recently announced some changes coming to the newsfeed for Facebook business pages. These changes will begin rolling out in January. Facebook has been surveying its members and analyzing content to determine what members want to see showing up in their newsfeed. The surveys show that there are come consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional. They are:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

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Stop Horsing Around and Get Professional Business Support

6176889_sBusiness getting a little ‘rocky‘? Relationships becoming ‘unseated‘? Too many details to ‘rustle‘ with? Maybe it’s time to stop horsing around and get some professional business support.

‘Not enough time’ is what I hear most often. Most solopreneurs discover they just don’t have the time or all the skills to deal with the everyday demands on their own. This can be especially true when it comes to keeping up with the ever changing world of technology. Before long, the relationship between them and their business, clients and prospects begins to suffer and so too, the bottom line. Many sadly, just don’t make it. If you are relating to this scenario, maybe it’s time to get serious about finding the right kind of support to move your business forward. Here are a few things to consider. Continue reading

Facebook Business Pages – Improved Metrics in 6 Tabs

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click image to enlarge

Facebook has been rolling out a new version of Metrics for Business pages. You may or may not have received this yet depending on what server you are on. Overall, business owners should find this version more intuitive and easier to understand.  The metrics have moved to a 6 tab format. Here is a summary of the 6 tab layout:

1. Overview

The Overview tab is a snapshot of the last 7 days of performance on your page, focusing on 3 core metrics; Page Likes, Post Reach and Engagement. You will probably notice a dramatic change in the Post reach over say, the last nine months. No doubt Facebook wants to highlight the dramatic drop in organic reach since they now accentuate the posts in the news feed for those who are purchasing ads. Most say that the organic reach on Facebook is now down to 1%. Continue reading

3 Strategies to Rebuilding Your Mailing List After CASL

Email MarketingIn my previous post, we talked about the impact CASL had on your small business mailing list. If you are like many people, you found that when you asked people to opt back in to your list, only 10-20% actually went through the process. This was no doubt a sobering realization that not everyone is ‘into you’ the way you might have hoped.  Being a glass half-full kinda person, I look at this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the type and quality of information you are putting out there. It’s also time to re-evaluate your tribe.  Who are the people who are invested in you and your business? And how do you attract more like them? Here are 3 strategies to help you rebuild your list.  Remember to spend your time focusing on the people who took the time to opt back in. They obviously find what you have to offer of value to them. Continue reading

Canadian Anti-Spam Laws Killed my List

Canadian Anti-Spam Laws CASLAs a Canadian business, you know that the new Canadian Anti-Spam law came into effect on July 1st.

I would like to say that I am frustrated with the way Canadian government continues to try and strangle our business owners. With the ‘do-not-call’ list (we’ve seen how well this works, NOT), fax/telecommunications laws, and now the anti-spam laws, it is making it very difficult for business owners to reach out to prospective clients and build their lists. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were able to inflict this pain on businesses outside our country being able to bombard us too.  I understand the reasoning behind it, but I question their ability to properly govern it. That being said… Continue reading

Virtually Yours, Joanne Burgess Relocating to Mt. Forest Ontario

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click image to enlarge

It has been my lifetime wish to have more property and live closer to Mother Nature as I have always been a country girl at heart. Being in a subdivision for me is too confining – with the constant barrage of noise; cars, buses, dogs barking, helicopters (we’re on the flight path to Southlake Hospital for critical care) and we even hear the PA system from the local public school. While we back onto a green space behind our home and have a good mix of birds, rabbit, chimpmunk, squirrel, skunk, raccoon and even the occasional fox, they are still drowned out many days with all the other surrounding noise. So, my wish is finally coming to fruition. With the kids grown and mostly gone, my husband and I are relocating to Mt. Forest, Ontario where my husband will tackle retirement! Careful honey, the job jar is already growing.. ;-)

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Gravy Train is Over for Free Organic Reach on Facebook

Facebook adsAs a Social Media Specialist supporting small, local businesses, I am the first person to say that in the past I was not an advocate of running Facebook ads. I always counseled my clients to take advantage of the free organic reach.  After all, who needs to spend money when you don’t have to? Well folks that gravy train is pretty much over.

Most of you have probably noticed a marked decline in your organic reach on Facebook. Some stats show it’s down to 1%.  With Facebook now being a public company, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders and the way they are going to make money is by ensuring you have to run ads to get your content out there to your target market. Continue reading

Canadian Anti-Spam Laws About to Get Much Tougher in 2014

Updated July 1, 2014
Canadian Anti Spam lawsAs most of you know, I expanded my services this year to include email marketing support so it would be remiss of me not to bring you up to speed on the changes that are happening to the anti-spam laws here in Canada this July 2014. These laws are about to get much tougher, carrying with them fines in the millions of dollars for those who violate them.

I know that there are many of you small business owners out there who currently have an email list/s that you currently market to. This list might be resident in places like Outlook or Gmail. Please know that you are currently in violation of the Canadian Anti-spam laws when you send out an email to this list/s as they do not conform to the laws. It is just that no one appears to be enforcing it – but that is about to change.

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2014 The Year of Change – 3 Ideas to Get You Started

Year of the HorseAs many of you know, 2014 in the Chinese calendar is the year of the Horse – the year of change!  What will you do differently in your business this year to meet your goals?  Here are 3 ideas to get you started.

1. Focus on Customer Service

I work with small, local business owners who often times struggle building their business. Do you feel that way too? As one prospect recently shared with me, “I had a great idea for a business, I just had no idea how it would consume me”. There are not enough hours in the day for the number of hats you need to wear as a business owner. So this year, make it a priority to focus on customer service. Love the heck out of your existing client base. That reinforces trust. People buy from people they know, like and trust. And those individuals/businesses will be the ones to send you referral business. Make sure that love is reflected in your website, your social media postings and blog and your marketing efforts in general too. Continue reading