The Limitations of Facebook in the Real World

facebook can do computersI thought we would share with you a couple of things that happened that made us question the power and real-life value of Facebook. 
 
First of all we came across an article that surprised us a little.  The article said that youngsters are using Facebook less than they have in the past. Like many people we thought that this social media platform and living online were set to take over the world.  I believed that the site was becoming more popular than ever.  Of course the article may have been the result of some research or a survey, but it caught my attention.
 
It makes you think that maybe Facebook has reached its saturation point and youngsters are finding new ways of socialising.  Let’s hope that it is offline instead of another social media site.  
 
Secondly, we knew someone who was chair for a residents meeting on a housing estate.  Formal letters had been sent out to residents and they expected around 20 people to attend the meeting.   I decided to use the residents group Facebook page and braved a status update declaring details of the meeting, I waited for any backlash that may have come my way.
 
The day before the meeting I had a call from one of the residents stating that news of the meeting had spread to other resident groups on Facebook 
I turned up at the meeting to find the person who was managing the location had heard on Facebook that 150 people would be stomping down to the meeting with all kinds of gripes. Yikes!
 
We ended up with 6 people in attendance and each pair came from the same household, so there were only 3 households represented at the meeting. 
Our conclusion for Facebook was that it had created a false world.  It was interesting to see how people had vented their concerns on Facebook, but did not take part in any offline action.
 
For me, it re-iterates the limitations and dangers of Facebook and other social media platforms.  They can spiral off and have little relevance to the issues at hand.
 
We know that social media platforms are a good way for communicating quickly and efficiently, they allow people to speak freely.  However, there is a downside to this, a false world can be created with expectation, so much so that the momentum can apply a far greater force that in can in reality.  It could be that the youngsters of today and instinctively sensing this. 
 
I guess the answer might be to realise the limitations and manage them correctly.
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Yorkshire Bank Survey Reveals SME Attitudes Towards Growth

economic growth can do computersThe Yorkshire Bank has released the results of a survey that was carried out in the West Midlands. The survey showed the attitude of SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprise) towards business development and growth. SMEs are important to the economy and it was interesting to see what their plans are for development and growth.

The majority of business will accept any work that is handed to them on a plate. However, there are businesses that may refuse the work , due to the work not being part of their industry, they cannot manage the work effectively or perhaps the terms of payment are not quite right. These businesses that show integrity and they won’t accept work to do for the sake of being paid.

It gets more interesting when work is gained. Some businesses will take on the work and actively work hard to complete the job in hand. Their energy will be spent on marketing, advertising and development. They will do their utmost to get more work and ultimately put profits on the books and in the bank.
Other businesses will do no advertising, seek no work and do nothing for growth and development.

There could be many reasons for this, such as, they are happy with the work they are doing and leave it up to word of mouth to provide a slow trickle of new business, they may not want the hassle that arrives with new business, or they don’t want to waste money on advertising that doesn’t work.

This shows the different views on development and growth. Now let’s take a look at some of the stats from the Yorkshire Bank survey. They make an interesting observation about SMEs in the West Midlands.

1. Over a fifth of SMEs in the West Midlands do not want growth

It is amazing how many businesses don’t want growth, they just get on with things the way they are. They may have the luxury of not having to worry about growth or it may be that they just don’t want it. Some small family businesses are a prime example of this.

2. Two thirds of SMEs think that professional advice is important hand therefore they establish yearly at least

It is interesting to know that nearly half of these SMEs are professional businesses such as lawyers and accountants. They would want to make sure that their business was running correct and legal.

It is also interesting that when it comes to gaining new business, owners will seek advice for maintaining what they have rather than being pro-active in marketing to get new business. Sometimes this is the right approach to ensure your business is running effectively. On the other hand, depending on circumstances, a business may think about what they don’t yet have and how they can gain those things.

3. 93% of Businesses are looking to actively invest for the future

This suggests that there is a clear intention of expecting great results in the future. But, with only a fifth of businesses wanting to seek work for growth this might show that the intention of the majority is to keep what they have rather than expand.

4. Existing Support

Around 50% of businesses thought that there was enough support from the public and private sector and help support. I thought this was high, as you presume that businesses do not think that there is support around them and there is little hope of help. In fact, they do know and it might be a case of not knowing how to seek out the right advice and apply it to their business situation effectively.

In reality, we believe that most businesses want to grow, in any capacity, and there is help out there; it’s applying that help that causes nightmares.
The answer is to get advice that suits your business, good solid advice that makes sense for your business and is easy to understand.

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Lessons from a Christmas Card Ritual

christmas card cando computersWe read an interesting article on the BBC news website about ten common dilemmas for sending Christmas cards at that time of year.  The article raises interesting points about this annual custom, including buying in bulk, sending duplicate cards to people who are bound to see them and sending a round robin letter that includes an update on how life is going.  
 
The informative article also talks about the cost of sending Christmas cards.  The cost of postage has risen from £1.52 in 2011 to £1.62 in 2012.  According to the article the sending and writing of Christmas cards has become outdated.
 
The Greeting  Card Association says that £15 million is made for charities solely on the sale of Christmas Cards. 
 
This large and prosperous market will attract private or business enterprise  onto the bandwagon at that time of year.
 
Having personal address and access to the virtual mail service can produce a dilemma.  Will an electronic greeting card delivered by email suffice?  On the other hand, will sending the customary Christmas card through the offline postal service be the card that is expected?   Or both?
 
It is also customary to give a Christmas card with a present.  Receiving a gift without a card just doesn’t seem right somehow.  Another dilemma appears.
 
Do we add a handwritten card or just the card with its own Christmas message, which is usually a standard greeting?
 
Finally, there is the issue of recycling.  The Greeting Card Association assures us that 90% of Christmas cards are made from sustainably farmed trees.
 
However, what about the other 10% and how do we recycle them.  Over 952 million non-multi pack single Christmas cards were sold in 2012. That’s many cards to be recycled. 
 
The article had us thinking about contacting family, friends and businesses, not just at Christmas time but also throughout the year.  Here are some pointers we produced.
 
1. Collecting contact information is a simple task and should be done regularly when an opportunity arises.   The information should be  an address including the correct postal code, a telephone number, mobile number, email address and website address.  These details can easily be added into a data base for future reference.
 
2. Using a combination of email and the postal service gives you the best of both worlds.  Cards can be sent out with a website address where information can be found: perhaps a video message or written text message for example.  Email can be used for sending information via text or a video or audio message.  
 
3. Adding that personal touch to your communications is a great way to give a little special something.  Hand written messages, gifts or auto -response will mean a lot more with that special added touch. 
 
4. Regular Newsletters are a good way of informing people about the events and activities of a business or personal life.  The modern Newsletter would include a video link and images along with useful information to benefit the reader.   
 
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Free Google Business Page for Local Business

google business can do computersGoogle Places for Local Business was first launched in 2009 and it replaced the Google Local Business Centre, although now all now under Google Business. The idea for Google Places was to have a place (website) for every business in the world that would hold relevant information. Many businesses are still unaware that this free service exists.

Google Places for Local Business is a free service offering an online presence for businesses worldwide. It can link with a Google+ account that is a form of social networking; this in turn increases the visibility of the business site on the internet.

Google has collected details of business worldwide and they are listed. Your business may already be on that list, but if it isn’t you can always set up your own Google Places for Local Business website. It isn’t difficult and it doesn’t matter if you already have websites on the internet. All you need is a Google+ account.

It is possible to check and see if Google Places has already given your business a free website by doing a Google search. For example, try typing in ‘Restaurants in London just as I have typed it. When the list of restaurants appears, you will see the descriptions of them. If you see Google+ page or Google Review under the description then that means there is a Google page for that particular hairdressing business.

If you click on the Google + or Google review under the description of the restauarnts you will see information about them, this will include contact details, a map, and if there are photos you will see them too. It is worth noting that Google Places usually come to the top of the search list.
You will need a Google account before claiming your free Google Places website.

Here are five important steps you have to take to claim your free website on Google Business.

1. Search For and Existing Listing

Do a search on your business as described above and don’t forget to add ‘ ‘ to the beginning and end of your company name. If you find your free Google Places page click to open it. You will see details about your company. At the bottom right you will see text asking ‘is this your business’, if it is you can click on the manage this page.

Follow the details given by Google Places. You will need to verify your business, this can be done over the phone or Google will send a postcard to your address with a pin number on it. This part is essential so that your business can be verified as belonging to you.

2. Can’t Find Your Company on the Google List

If your company does not appear on the Google listing then you will need to create your free Google Space. Go to www.google.com/business and follow the same procedure as step 1.

3. Once You Have Claimed Your Google Places Page

It’s time to create your business profile, this is an important part of your webpage, and it lets people know about you and your business. You can also add text, pictures and perhaps a video.

4. Keeping an Eye on your Google Places Page

Google provides a section on your Google page to show you how your free website is performing. A behind the scenes view of your website.

5. Regular Updates

It is important to keep your website updated and fresh. Adding new images, special offers and new text information can help keep visitors up to date with your business. If a website is not updated regular visitors won’t bother to look again.

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Twelve and a half Essential Factors for Website Design

12 half website design factors can do computersIn my experience, designing a website for a local business is different to other general websites. The basic design is the same but there will be unique changes and extras to enable the website to function properly for the particular business.

Whether you are tackling a website yourself or employing a website designer a tick list is essential to ensure that nothing is forgotten.

We have therefore created a list of twelve and a half essential factors for local businesses website design.

1. The Purpose

The purpose of your website needs to be clarified before starting any work on the design. This is important so that your website can work efficiently for your business. For example, you may want an impressive website with information about your products and services and details of your business. Will it be a website to encourage web-browsing users to pop in for something. On the other hand, will it be a website to encourage long-term and existing customers?

2. Your Website Name

The name of your business may look great in say a high street address but you may have to think about the internet address for your business. Using a genetic URL will help people locate your website easier when they search the internet. For example if your restaurant is called Food in Birmingham, you might consider a web address such as www.foodinbirmingham.co.uk or www.foodinbirmingham.com .

3. Hosting

Hosting a website used to be an expensive experience, but nowadays the prices have become more affordable. Care is required when selecting a hosting company; you need to ensure that they provide the services you require.

4. The Main Software Ingredient

Building a website used to be a complicated procedure. A knowledge of code and using a bespoke software was necessary. However, nowadays it is much easier. The use of templates and CSS-based systems are popular and easy to use. Beware of some online web site builders, as they can be restrictive for the original design and ongoing use.

5. Colour & Design

The colour and design of your website should match the logo and design of your business. It is important to keep the website design and logo as plain and simple as possible. Let your images and text impress your visitors.

6. Pictures & Images

They say that a picture paints a thousand words and this is very true when the phrase is used in context with the internet. Real-life images of products and services, happy customers and the interior of your business will speak volumes to users who visit the website.

7. Writing & Copy

Good copy plays an important part in selling your business services to website users. Well-written text that is short and to the point can help to show off the very best of your business. The layout of the website can be adapted to include snippets of information, quotes and headings.

8. Testimonials

Having a customer testimonials displayed on your website is essential in helping to gain new customers. It’s very much like an online word-of-mouth system and new users to your website may decide to come and sample your services after reading a good testimonial. Testimonials can be shown as a short quote or full paragraph. A picture and name will help to authenticate the testimony.

9. Menu & Services

Giving website user’s access to your menu and services is a good way of showing what your business has to offer. A quick download PDF file one way that a potential customer can view your details at their leisure.

10. Regular Updates

Keeping your website fresh with new content will help to keep website users interested in your business.

11. Customer Interaction

Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are being used by most businesses to interact with their customers. Customers can leave reviews, or post pictures on these sites. A link to your website on your profile or a link as part of your daily posts is an ideal way to help promote your business.

12. Video

Promotional videos are fast becoming the trend nowadays. A personal message or a special promotion from the business owner will enhance the website for its users.

Twelve & a half -The Stats

The code for stats can be easily added to your website. Using this information allows you to see what the statistics of your website are.

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