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

click image to enlarge

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

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

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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Webinar & Newsletter (E-Blast) Support for Small Business Owners

e-blast and webinar supportHappy New Year everyone! I trust you all had a wonderful holiday season with friends and family and that you are ready to rock ‘n roll for a fabulous 2014.  This year will bring some exciting changes for my business too as I officially expand my offerings to include webinar and newsletter (e-blast) support for small business owners. I have had numerous inquiries about these services so it is a great time for me to stretch my  arms around this to offer an even more rounded marketing solution to all my client base. Continue reading

Turn Your Facebook Banner into a Facebook Ad

social media expert OntarioEvery now and then I come across a social media article that makes me go hmmmmm.  This one was worth sharing. In this case, Hugh Briss talks about changing your Facebook Banner  in such a way as to disguise it into an actual Facebook ad.  I would caution about doing this on a regular basis though as the social media channels are not about ‘buy my stuff’.  It’s ok to self promote some of the time (about 20%) but used judiciously, this idea can translate into an effective ad.

Whenever you change your Facebook banner, it shows up in your connections’ newsfeeds. That’s advertising, right? if you add a description/text along with the banner image change, that does not show up in the newsfeed.  Most people will just see the image and a few might click the ‘like’ button.  But, what if you had a call to action to go along with that banner? Where would you put it?

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3 Tips to Jazz up your Facebook Page for the Holiday Season

Facebook commerceIt’s approaching that time of year again.  Did you know people peruse sites like Facebook to look for great holiday gift ideas and special offers?  I posted this great infographic recently on my Facebook business page on people’s buying habits over the holidays.  Peer recommendations are a key influencer in the decision making process and Facebook leads the way in terms of where buyers get peer input. If you sell your products and services online, here are 3 tips to jazzing up your Facebook business page in preparation for the hoiidays. Continue reading

Are you Seeing Results in Your Social Media Activities?

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

You are a small business owner increasing the time you are spending in social media activities but are you seeing results?  I think most of you probably are but based on the results in the image to the left, it might appear not. Perhaps people are not using the right measurements or the people who designed this survey were not asking the right questions. Let’s revisit the role that social media plays in the sales funnel.

There are 5 stages to the sell cycle; awareness, knowledge, liking, preference and buy. It would be impossible to walk all buyers through this cycle in one social media marketing campaign. It takes a well thought out strategy and consistent execution in many marketing activities to address all stages effectively and to a positive result. The thing most people misunderstand is that Social Media is not intended to make people hit the ‘buy’ button. It is certainly part of the process but it is intended to help buyers get to know who they are buying from and trust the product/service they are buying. In essence, it helps you address the first three stages of the cycle and smooth the way to stage 4.

Ultimately, people will buy from people they know, like and trust. And Nielsen survey results show that people are more likely to make a purchase from a business that comes as a referral from a trusted circle of friends, family and key influencers (P. 19) which shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The question is, where are people getting this information from? For most, the answer comes from personal interactions, online searches (Google, blogs, social bookmark sites, etc.), and conversations in spaces like Facebook and other forums. So, while it might not appear that social media is not giving you ROI, it is very likely contributing to the overall buying decision. The problem is most business owners don’t ask their buyers how they found them and what criteria they used before making their decision.

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