At some point in our lives, chances are, we’ve all used the services provided by a URL shortener. They’re a great tool to utilize, especially when posting content to a micro-blogging platform like Twitter where every single character counts! Now it may seem that a URL shortener can’t really get much better, but a new startup called Bre.ad is seeking to change that mindset.
Bre.ad is, as expected, a URL shortener. It shortens links, has the ability to sync to Twitter and Facebook and it provides link analytics. What makes this new startup so unique is that it helps users promote brands, interests and charities through a full-page interface. The difference becomes apparent when you click on the Bre.ad link. You aren’t taken directly to the content, but instead, are re-directed to a webpage that was created by the person who originally shortened the link. These pages display messages left by the person who created them as well as 720 pixel by 300 pixel billboards. The user stays on the page for five seconds before being re-directed to the link he/she originally clicked on.
These pages are delightfully referred to as “Toasts” and they can be used to promote anything from a personal Twitter account, to a charity that you support. As a user, you can upload multiple “Toasts” and when you generate Bre.ad links, they will be chosen from at random.
Bre.ad founder Alan Chan believes that people are always willing to promote causes whether they’re personal or business related so his goal was to find a simple, classy way for them to display their passion. While Bre.ad hasn’t gone public yet, its Beta version will be launched in the next few weeks. In the meantime, Lady Gaga, North Face and many other brands already have Toast pages. The site even features an explore option that lets you see which brands, causes and profiles are the most popular.
It’s difficult to judge public reaction to Bre.ad as it’s yet to be released. The service was designed not to feel like advertising but users could avoid clicking on Bre.ad links because they know they’ll be forced to watch an ad. It’ll be interesting to see if people adopt the technology with open arms and if users can find creative ways to convey their messages through “Toasts”. Who knew URL shorteners had so much to offer?!
It’s no secret that Youtube has become a seriously powerful online search engine when it comes to music videos, news stories, cute babies, funny cats and everything in between. We’ve compiled is a list of 10 tips for small businesses that are interested in utilizing Youtube as part of their social media strategy.
1) Customize Your Channel
Having a channel on Youtube is like having a page on Facebook, it needs to be branded! Take the extra time to customize the colours so they compliment your brand, experiment with adding graphics and really make your channel stand out.
2) Utilize Subtitles
Since March 2010, Youtube has provided users with the option to add auto-captioning to their videos. By providing subtitles, you’re allowing the hearing impaired all around the world to engage with your content, something that most companies ignore.
3) Beware Of Annotations
Have you ever watched a video and been annoyed by text appearing over top of the footage? If you have, you’re definitely not alone. Don’t be tempted to go down this route as annotations are very unprofessional and tend to be a big distraction to viewers. You want to grab people’s attention and make a great impression but relying on irrelevant text to do that is not the best strategy.
4) Remove Offensive Comments
While everyone knows you should never delete negative comments from your social media pages, offensive comments can be a tough judgement call. You can’t actually stop people from leaving unfriendly comments on your videos or your channel but you do have the power to remove spammy or offensive remarks. If the comment is negative or critical in nature, it should be left alone, especially if it’s relevant. If the comment uses offensive language, racial slurs or is completely saturated in spam, removal is recommended. Keep in mind you always have the option to moderate comments before they are posted live so this may be a better solution in terms of managing your reputation.
5) Engage With The Youtube Community
Some people forget that Youtube is a social site so it’s important to explore other users’ channels and content. You can favourite videos that you like and are applicable to your business and even make suitable Youtube friends. If you’d prefer to stay away from associating with other individuals or companies, try searching for content or channels that are relative to your local area or a good cause that your company supports. Aside from being social, it’s also important to stay up to date on Youtube’s own news as the site goes though some fairly major changes from time to time and is always adding new features.
6) Organize Your Content
It’s tempting to avoid organization, especially on Youtube, but making sure your content is viewer friendly is the most important part. Group together related videos, or stash older content in time-related folders. It’s also important to keep in mind that Youtube offers the ability to embed entire playlists into external sites such as blogs or personal webpages so always keep that feature in mind when organizing content.
7) Don’t Ignore Tags
As well as many other social sites, Youtube’s content is organized on a tag word basis. This is an important facet that many users and businesses fail to recognize. A tag word system works on the basis of logic; what words will people type in to find your product? On the other hand, there are no limits as to how far you take the tag words so if you’re offering a cat food product you can use words like “kitty”, “cat” and “kitten” because you really never know for sure what people will type in. Youtube also offers about 15 categories to classify your content. Try to choose the most relevant but don’t be afraid to experiment if your content falls into more than one category.
8) Promote Your Channel
Don’t always assume that any interested viewers will come to you or automatically know you have a presence on Youtube. Utilize your other social media platforms as well as any external websites or blogs to promote and share your content. Keep in mind that linking social accounts can also help in terms of ensuring that your content is published across as many platforms as possible. There is also an embedding option that allows other users to showcase your video on their own external sites. This is always a benefit to you because the more views you get, the better!
9) Don’t Be Scared Of Analytics
There are many free analytic tools offered directly through Youtube. The information they provide should never be overlooked as they give valuable insight into view stats, demographics, community and most importantly, discovery data which shows you how users found your videos.
10) Stay Active
Don’t mindlessly create content for the sake of staying updated, but realize that its important to stay active. Even if you have no new content to post, continue to respond to comments or friend requests and work on building up a database of favourite videos. If Youtube is a platform you’re very interested in utilizing, don’t let your enthusiasm dwindle after the first few weeks because it’s important to remain active. Come up with a schedule that works best for you and try pre-planning your content for videos so it’s easier to stay organized and up-to date.
Lately it seems like QR codes are everywhere, even in Windsor! We’ve seen Bozii Restaurant use one as a window decal in the front of their shop to share information with passers-by, we’ve seen Workforce Windsor-Essex use them on their business cards and even we’ve used them, attached to pumpkins to promote our launch last fall. There’s no doubt that QR codes are changing the way we share information. They are a great asset to businesses and are fun for consumers with smart phones but what about all the QR code stories that never seem to make it into mainstream news? If you’re looking for some inspiration, look no further!
QR Code Tattoo
So you’ve gone out to the bar with your friends. You start talking to a few people and suddenly you’re being asked for your phone number. Not to worry! Just hike up your shirt and have them scan your personal QR code tattoo.
QR Code Made Of Sand
There are some decent beaches in this area and once the weather warms up it’s not uncommon to find many people out exploring areas such as Point Pelee. But when’s the last time you walked along the water and stumbled across a QR code made of sand?! Apparently in Tokyo, its no big deal.
QR Codes On Shoes
North American shoe retailer John Fluevog, has taken QR codes to mainstream retail and they’ve done a great job! They’ve placed QR codes on the insoles of their new shoes and when you scan them, they link directly to a video which shows consumers how the shoe was made! Talk about providing real value with a QR code!
QR Code Hotel
In Dubai, Project Code, a hotel that will look like a massive QR code, is well underway. The photo below will show you what the hotel will look like when it’s complete. Although it’s extremely impressive, the purpose is unclear and is most likely purely for design. Whether or not it will be scannable remains a mystery, but either way, you can’t ignore how cool it is!
QR Code T-shirts
Who doesn’t love meeting new people? Imagine talking a walk downtown in your customized QR code t-shirt and allowing strangers to scan your code and be added to your Facebook friend list. An interesting Facebook app/QR code mashup allows you to do just that!
It seems like the process of networking has changed a lot over the past few years with the development of new technology. Gone are the days of filing business cards and keeping business contacts on blocked social media profiles. Things have changed and the wide world of mobile apps has a lot to do with it. We’re using our smartphones to make our lives easier in every aspect so why not use them when we make new connections? Take a look at our top three mobile apps to help push your networking practices into the 21st century.
Described as the “ultimate networking app,” Hashable offers a unique user experience that takes it roots from the check-in craze. Sure, all your friends are checking in to restaurants and TV shows, but have you ever considered the concept of checking in with a person? Luckily for us, Hashable has! As a user you can track your meetings, calls and other events either privately or publicly which makes it easier for you to remember who you spoke with and why. You can type in another persons email address or Twitter username to exchange contact information directly with them and you can even expand your network by watching who your friends connect with.
One of the great things about Hashable is it allows you to connect and network on the go through your smartphone so if you make a connection in an unexpected place, you don’t have to worry about not having a stack of business cards on you. What Hashable focuses on is tracking your strongest relationships and in a world so heavily dependant on constant communication, this free app makes the stress of networking and keeping in touch less of a burden.
Have you ever lost an important business card and in turn, an important contact? If you answered yes then this app is definitely for you! CardMunch allows you to take a photo of a business card and it then pulls important information like the name, phone number, email, website, and address, and creates a new contact on your phone in seconds so you’ll always have that contact’s information no matter where you go. Business card enthusiasts can leave their binders at home because this app will save you a lot of storage space! With a simple flip of your phone you can also view all the business cards you’ve snapped photos of in a beautiful rolodex style.
If you’re a fond user of Linkedin, you’ll be happy to know that CardMunch is owned by Linkedin so scanning a contact’s business card and adding them to Linkedin through the app is only a one-click process. As a user you’ll also have the option to use the search function if you’re looking for someone but can’t quite remember his/her name. As for storage, CardMunch can either add your contacts to your iPhone address book or create a separate CardMunch address book to keep you more organized; the choice is yours. On top of all these features is peace of mind. CardMunch automatically backs up all the contacts you’ve added through the app on your web account so you can log in anytime, anywhere, and retrieve lost data.
I think the best part about this app is that it’s completely free! As networking professionals, we’re always looking for tools to make mundane tasks easier and to integrate social media into our every day lives so CardMunch is definitely worth it!
Networking online can be a difficult process. It’s never easy to find the right people in the right place and as a business person you never want to scare them away with a sales pitch. The folks at Quora must have asked themselves, “Why doesn’t the internet have a place where professionals of any ranking can ask business questions and participate in conversation?” After some intense brainstorming and planning, Quora was born! As a networking professional, using your skills online is important and Quora helps connect you to a vast array of people including CEO’s of major North American companies and even business enthusiasts who just want a place to connect and talk.
Using your knowledge on a specific subject to help another business person in need, is better than any hard sale tactic that would typically drive them away. What Quora does is give you an opportunity to show others what you’re made of and have intelligent discussions about topics that are near and dear to you. As a user you can ask or answer any questions you want, you can follow topics that interest you, communicate through messages, add connections and create a biography. You can log in via the website or through the free app for your smartphone. This is one social network you can’t afford to miss out on!
Create a company profile
Take the time to set up a profile for your business on Linkedin. It’s a simple process that will give you a presence on the social network. When users search your company name or make generic searches within your industry, your page will be available. In addition, you can add your company name to your page as a current job and it will link back to the profile so if any of your connections are interested in learning more, they don’t need to leave the website. As long as you already have a personal page on Linked in, you qualify to create a company profile.
Get Your Employees Involved
Chances are at least some of your employees have a presence on Linkedin. Encourage them to add the company name to their current job title and they’ll show up on the company profile as an employee. This can help your business gain credibility and gives your employees’ connections a chance to learn more.
Include the Linkedin Widget on Your Website
Take advantage of your presence across multiple platforms and use the Linkedin widget on your company blog or webpage. The widget allows visitors to interact with your content and re-post something they like to their own Linkedin connections therefore spreading the word about your business. The more people share your content, the more likely you are to attract new visitors.
Linkedin is more than just a profile page; it’s all about interaction with your connections and learning to network on a new platform. Groups are designed to attract niche users who enjoy discussing certain topics. For example, as a graphic designer, there are many groups you can join with other established graphic designers that act as a forum for questions and niche networking. You can also join groups based on your location or groups designated for a specific event. Participation in groups is a great way to generate leads without seeming pushy and it can help you establish a solid base of potential connections for the future. As a group member you can participate in any discussions as well as start your own so if you have a question you’ve been dying to get another experts opinion on, this is the perfect platform. You can also submit articles, search for jobs or even post your own job adds if you’re looking for new employees.
Say Active by Asking and Answering Questions
Linkedin Answers allows users to ask questions to other members or answer questions that have already been asked. Participating in an activity like this can really show others your expertise and knowledge on a certain subject which can help provide solid business leads from members who require your services. This area of the site also presents a great opportunity to learn more about your industry and stay up to date on the latest trends by gathering knowledge and insights from other members. If you answer enough questions where your answer is selected as the best, you will eventually earn the title of expert and an expert star will be added to your Linkedin profile. This can increase your exposure on the site and lets your connections know just how credible you are.
Sometimes it’s difficult to draw the line between business and fun but when you’re interacting through Social Media, people don’t want to talk with a robot or a brand, they want to talk with a real person! Drop the act online and just be yourself, no bells and whistles! People will still respect you but chances are they’ll find it much easier to interact and find you much more approachable. Inject some personality into your tweets and updates for the New Year and see first hand why hiding behind a brand is much less rewarding than letting people know who you actually are.
Give Your Social Networks a Sense of Unity
It’s easy to see that everyone uses multiple social network to communicate with different people across the web, but users shouldn’t have to guess if they’re interacting with the same brand on a different network. Take the time to do some personal branding and ensure that your usernames match (as close as possible) across all platforms. This is basic Marketing and will help your brand stay cohesive across the web which in turn makes it easier for people to interact and find you on different networks. Don’t be afraid to add some pizazz to that generic background with some branding or make a custom avatar. It’s the small things that help you establish a unified presence where you need it most.
Never Stop Learning
Social media changes every single day with new platforms, updates and tools. Sometimes it can be frustrating to stay on top of what’s current and how best to reach your target market but the most important part when it comes to social media is to never stop exploring and never stop learning. Every day you can learn something new and one day you may come across something that could drastically improve your business online. Try to be patient when researching and always keep your goals in mind so when you’re sifting through webpages and blogs, you know what you’re looking for. Keeping an open mind is one of the best things you can do, it allows you to stay one step ahead of the competition and will give you the confidence to make important decisions for the future of your business.
Don’t be Afraid of Analytics
Creating social media pages may seem simple, but it’s tracking the analytics that really separates the small players from the big kahunas. After all, what’s the purpose of having a presence online if you can’t research where people are coming from, how they’re interacting and what they’re saying? It’s high time that the fear and denial surrounding user comments and brand perception were actually taken into account. It’s hard to accept criticism and as a business, you can’t look at it as a negative but rather a positive, that will help you address your users’ concern and ultimately improve your business!
Plan Your Social Campaigns
One mistake that many businesses make is failing to plan their campaigns. “Set it and forget it” is a bad state of mind when it comes to social media. If you expect your audience to do the hard work, you are sadly mistaken. Take some pride in your campaigns and set aside time to plan the launch of a viral video or Facebook campaign so when all is said and done, the stepping stones are in place for success. Marketing through social media is no different than marketing through traditional advertising mediums. Would you create a global television campaign and just sit back and see how it goes? Many people see social media as a low risk alternative that require less effort and less money when realistically, it’s a platform that requires serious dedication of time and effort. Take the time to plan out your actions and soon you’ll see that the ROI for social media is no joke.
Tis the season for travel (and unfortunately, airport lineups and flight delays). With people from all over the world scrambling to fly home for the holidays, travelling can quickly lose its appeal when a snowstorm delays your flight and you find yourself sleeping overnight in an airport using your luggage as a pillow. Luckily, if you’re the proud owner of a smart phone, you can use this helpful guide of apps to pass time between vending machine meals and make your temporary stay, a little less painful.
1. Skype (FREE) – There’s no better way to cheer up than calling a friend or family member and sharing a smile and some good conversation. It’s free to join and you can make calls to anyone in the world with a Skype account. You also have the option of calling landlines and cell phones for a small charge
2. Wi-Fi Finder 2.0.1 (FREE) – Interested in surfing the Internet aimlessly to burn some time? Chances are the answer is yes and luckily for you, this app will help you find a good connection nearby. You can download a complete directory of free Wi-Fi spots in the US and it even works without a data connection. Keep in mind this app works best in populated cities because that’s typically where you’re more likely to find free (and paid) Wi-Fi connections.
3. Word Lens ($5.00) – There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an airport where all the signs are in a language you don’t understand! Word Lens instantly translates printed words from one language to another, using your phone’s built in video camera, in real time! There are different language options to choose from so no matter where you find yourself during the holiday season, you’ll always be able to navigate efficiently.
4. Apple iBooks (FREE – books vary in price) – With airline luggage costs soaring, it’s hard to bring along your favourite reading materials without sacrificing your first born child as payment. Now you can download some of your favourite books and read them right on your phone. iBooks organizes all your titles, allows you to bookmark and set notations. It’s a great way to catch up on your reading while on the go!
5. Postman ($2.99) – What better way to share your experience of being stranded in an airport? Create custom postcards with photos and text and share them through email, web, Twitter and Facebook! You customize everything right down to the font so there’s no doubt that this app is a great way to pass time and share some of your magical holiday moments captured while waiting at gate 7.
6. Airport Maps ($2.99) – Navigate around the airport more effectively with this app that shows you where to find food, a comfortable spot to sit, or a few stores to browse through while you’re waiting. It offers coverage of 61 major North American airports providing airport maps and even terminal maps so you can find what you’re looking for fast!
7. iChristmas Tree ($0.99) – Take some time from sleeping on an airport bench to celebrate the holiday season and decorate your very own Christmas tree right from your phone! Choose from many ornament options, decorate your tree, take a snapshot and share your creation with friends and family.
8. Angry Birds ($0.99) – Is it really necessary to type an explanation? In case you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, now would be a great time to try out the game the whole world is talking about! It’s simple, addictive, and highly time consuming. We recommend playing near an outlet since chances are, you’ll kill your battery before you snap out of the comatose state hours later.
9. Next Flight ($2.99) – Want to make sure you beat that annoying woman and her screaming child onto the next available flight? Use this app to plug in your origin, destination, and departure date for a list of available non-stop flights from more than 1200 carriers for the current and following day. You can find all the flight details you need without fighting to view an airport monitor. Avoiding chaos, priceless.
10. Christmas Sudoku ($0.99) – A popular game with a Christmas twist! This puzzle will have you starting tournaments with strangers while you wait for your flight. It gives you the option of playing with Christmas goodies or numbers and will definitely get you thinking! It’s a great way to pass time and exercise your brain for the holidays!
Have you ever wanted to pick up a newspaper that had articles you were actually interested in reading? Well perhaps a quick visit to paper.li is in order. Paper.li can arrange all the links you’ve shared on your twitter account into a beautifully organized, easy to read, newspaper-style format. You can create custom papers based on hashtags, lists or your entire Twitter account. You can also create a paper based on your Facebook account using the same premise.
Local culinary adventurers, Windsor Eats, have established their own foodie newspaper and share it with their followers on Twitter. The Windsor Eats Daily is comprised of interesting articles about food from all over the internet. Be sure to check them out @Windsoreats and say up to date with the latest trends and taste bud teasers!
If you’re not too fond of the content on your own pages, you can visit the website and search for your favourite twitter accounts to see if they have newspapers you can read. It’s a great way to keep up to date with all the people you follow, especially if you don’t have time to go through individual tweets on a daily basis. You can even search by topic to find some interesting new people and stories.
Newspapers based on lists are also a great way to focus on a certain topic. You can create custom lists on your Twitter account that allow you to group together certain people for whatever reason you choose. If you’re running a local bakery and your twitter account isn’t the most interesting thing on the planet, you can create a custom list from people you follow such as other bakeries/bakers and compile their tweets into a unique custom newspaper that focuses on what you do best, baking! The same premise applies to food, electronics, or any other niche Twitter category.
If you want a custom newspaper based on a certain topic like Lady Gaga’s meat dress (you never know!), you can group the related hash tags together to create a paper that includes different articles or opinions about her risky outfit. This would work for any topic on Twitter and the opportunities are abundant.
These custom newspapers are a unique way to share information especially across a platform that’s so bogged down with updates every 5 seconds. It can be hard to keep up with recent tweets, especially if you follow a lot of people! Paper.li has created an interesting concept that merges traditional media (organized and structured), with social media (spontaneous and frequent) to create the perfect combination. Regardless of the medium, news will always be a static influence in our lives and it’s refreshing to see companies like Paper.li thinking outside of the box and developing a new process of sharing information online.
Social media is a great way to share information and build relationships online but did you know that it can also be a great resource for improving your health? There’s no questioning the growth of mobile apps in the past year but despite what many people think, there are applications that can do much more than turn your cell phone into a glow stick.
The first step to a healthy lifestyle is setting goals. It seems easy but many times these goals can fall short in hours, days or months. What seems realistic at the time may not be possible when put to the test in real life scenarios. It’s one thing to say you’ll start every morning with a healthy breakfast but when you remember what a whirlwind the morning can be as you race around getting the kids ready for school, it can fade away quickly as you find yourself in the McDonald’s drive through.
Life can be hectic and if you find yourself on the go a lot, the app Restaurant Nutrition will make it a lot easier to stick to your goals. What you will find within this app is plenty of nutritional information from your favourite fast food joints and family restaurants. Information such as sodium content, fat and calories are broken down for each item and compared to your maximum daily intake so you can figure out just how big of a deal that extra hash brown will be. Personally, I use this app religiously. I find that it actually alters my decisions so as I read through the content in some of the sandwiches at Wendy’s, I change my mind and opt for Subway instead. It’s a great tool to have in your pocket as many restaurants can’t seem to grasp the fact that they need to post their nutritional information publicly now.
Add Some Spunk!
Sometimes not meeting your goals can be directly related to boredom and lack of creativity in the kitchen. Eating out often has an exciting appeal; always going somewhere different, trying new flavours and new cultural dishes. If you’re preparing the same boring meals over and over again at home, it’s no wonder your taste buds have wandered! 160,000 Recipes – Big Oven gives you plenty of recipe options across different categories. The best part about this app is that it gives you the option to enter what ingredients you have on hand and it will automatically produce a list of recipes that you can use based on what is available to you. It’s a great way to try something new without going to the grocery store armed with a list of ingredients you’ve never heard of before. Plus, this app provides access to food buying and handling tips and comments about specific recipes so you know how best to handle the chicken for your quesadillas and what other people thought of the recipe. Spicing up your cooking regime doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are thousands of great recipe apps available so you’re bound to find limitless inspiration wherever you look.
Stretch It Out
It’s one thing to have your nutritional needs down pat, but when it comes to exercise, it can be very difficult to squeeze some physical activity into our every day routines. Working in an office is never a pleasant experience for your body. You get back pain from the chair you sit in for up to 8 hours straight every single day, you get a sore neck and wrists from typing or working on a computer for long hours at a time, you get stiff joints from lack of movement and migraines from the poor lighting and the constant office chatter. Luckily for all of our office comrades, there is hope, and it goes by the name of iStretch. This app provides office yoga exercise videos that allow you to stretch out and work muscles that become tense throughout the day because of repetitive movement or immobility. Five minutes of iStretch videos every day will have you relieving lower back pain, neck stiffness, shoulder tension and wrist, arm and leg soreness. Not to mention it will also allow you to burn fat, increase your blood flow, eliminate headaches, and reduce stress. Working long hours every day in an uncomfortable environment can have serious side effects on your body! By keeping up with stretches during the day you can drastically improve your mood and your well-being all from the convenience of your office chair!
Track Your Progress
Once you have nutritious eating and exercise working on your favour, weight loss will undoubtedly follow. Sometimes it’s difficult to track progress without spending hours in Excel creating a complicated chart or diagram and that’s where apps like Weightbot come in handy. You can use this app to enter your weight daily and see your trends get plotted on a graph so you can set goals, watch your progress and view interesting analytical data about your weight changes. No need to calculate anything complicated just customize your graph type and view and watch as the app tracks your progress for you.
Ditch The Stress
Many medical studies have linked stress to weight gain and other ailments but sadly enough, stress is a part of our lives whether we like it or not. It’s impossible to remove stress completely, but there are ways to counter its effects and clear your mind of the clutter that weighs you down on a daily basis. Relax is an app that is designed to utilize the audio and visual power of the iPhone and provide you with multiple relaxing destinations to choose from. You pick from the options (night in paradise, campfire, under the sea etc) and simply relax as the audio and video transport you to a stress-free zone. It makes for a great escape during your busy day!
Utilizing a device such as the iPhone and its vast array of applications to help you set health-related goals is easier than ever. Find which apps work best for your lifestyle and offer the features you consider most important. Tracking, measuring and staying positive are a lot easier when you have the appropriate tools at your finger tips so don’t be afraid to harness the power of the iPhone and become the healthy person you’ve always wanted to be.