Why Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Should Go Digital Through Social Media

With the advent of the internet and tech mobility, the way small and medium-sized business penetrate the market has become easier. However, it has also made competition fiercer. Nevertheless, there are many ways through which you can still stand out from your competitors, such as going digital using social media. So, how can this strategy help your business in particular?

It improves your business’s exposure.

An important starting point in marketing your business is increasing brand exposure and awareness. By having a consistent social media campaign, you can assure your business is achieving this goal, and then build up a channel for future engagement.

It increases traffic to your site and generates more leads.

Remember that more social mention would mean more engagement and more business. It increases traffic to your website, creating fresh opportunities to generate customer support and helping you in becoming a leader in your niche.

Aside from getting more traffic, social media can also help you generate more leads. Once people are aware of your business, they want to learn more about it.

It grows business partnerships.

Once you are engaged in social media networks, you are likely to find partnership opportunities, which you can leverage to start undertaking integrated marketing campaigns. This will set the ball rolling on branching out and creating new strategies for sales and co-promotions for a larger and more diverse base of audience.

It enhances brand loyalty.

Keeping customers for repeat purchases is important to your success. A highly valuable skill, you can do it properly through social media, which has all the tools and techniques available for you to reach customers fast and keep them happy with great service. To keep increasing your clientele, you should keep them connected, and you resolve issues actively if there is any. Simply put, if you are committed to the long haul, use social media to keep your customer base growing strongly and consistently.

It improves your site’s search rankings.

There are many ways to increase search ranking, but one of the best is engaging in higher social media activity. By doing so, you can keep your site climbing the ladder on usability and engagement. To ensure continued results, just keep your tabs on fresh, unique and relevant content.

Aside from these, establishing a social media presence will enhance your market insight and will allow you to gain thought leadership. As your efforts mature to fruition, social media will give you a platform to unlock new opportunities in important areas, such as customer engagement, partnerships, content marketing and product development. With these, you will always have a fresh perspective about your industry.

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Game of Thrones – The Mad Queen

Daenerys Targaryen, the daughter of the slain mad king, knows what it likes to be constantly in danger since she was a baby. Growing up along an abusive brother, she endured all sorts of pain and humiliation for one specific goal – that she will claim the Iron Throne one day.

Some spoilers ahead, be warned, but mostly are just “wild guess“.

Game of Throne’s season 8 episode 4, “The Last of the Starks” seemed to be the breaking point for Dany, who is left with just a few allies.

She lost two dragons, learned that Jon Snow is a potential competitor to the Iron Throne, Sansa doesn’t like her, the North don’t want her, Ghost doesn’t like her either probably because she prefers dragons over dire wolves.

Sir Jorah Mormont her dear friend is dead, the Dothrakis are gone, the Unsullied left with probably a few hundred men, and bff Missandei was executed at the behest of a more fitting “Mad Queen” Cersei.

These misfortunes could be enough to send the strongest, most moral person down to depression, or, seek vengeance and do violent acts.

We know she’s capable of harming people. Her tendencies to make violent decisions, like the torching of the Tarlys worries Varys.

So with just 2 episodes left of the series, #GOT may probably take this path which many fans have suspected all along – that Daenerys Targaryen will take her true form – the Mad Queen and burn King’s Landing to the ground with her remaining dragon, Drogon.

Such madness would then necessitates to have her killed – and I got 3 queen slayer candidates:

Varys (if she won’t kill her first), the Kingslayer Jaime Lannister, or Jon Snow aka Aegon Targaryen.

So then we’re left with the last 2 of the Targaryens – Jon and Tyrion.

Photo credits: Game of Thrones, HBO

Why Hacked Email Accounts Are So Dangerous

Have you ever received a suspicious email from someone you know? It’s more common than most of us might imagine. That’s because when a hacker steals their victim’s email account, they use it to create more victims by sending out spam messages to users on the stolen account’s address book. It’s a major invasion of privacy, not to mention dangerous.

These messages frequently contain links to fake or “phishing” websites, which will be designed to resemble real websites but exist solely to either infect visitors with malware or pose as a location for people to “log in,” thereby unwittingly handing over their account info.

Naturally, some of those emails contain good old fashion infected files. As most of us live busy lives, downloading a file sent by a friend isn’t usually something we’d consider suspicious. But that’s exactly where it can start.

So how big is the problem and what can we do about it? Read on to find out.

The Infamous iCloud “Hack” and Phishing

If you recall 2014, you may remember reading about famous celebrities being “hacked” and having hundreds of their nude photos leaked onto the rest of the internet. Apple, apparently, was implicated in the incident because iCloud was where these photos were leaked.

But that’s only the face of the story. In reality, the iCloud “hacks” were actually the result of phishing emails targeted at celebrities. They exclaimed that there was a problem with their account and that they needed to submit their usernames and passwords. Amazingly, it worked.

Once the victims willingly handed over their logins, it was only a matter of time before their private information was exposed. Fortunately, this is one of the easier types of “hacks” to avoid in the email sphere.

Read any email that asks for information carefully: remember that companies never will ask for your username and password via email because they already have it! If you click a link in an email to visit a “login” page, check the URL address at the top of the page. It should be an exact match for the site. Facebook.com isn’t and will never be Facebook.login.com.

This brings up an important point about URLs; the part directly before the .com, .edu, .gov, or .net part is the actual host page. For instance:

  • com vs Google.search.com
  • google.com vs. google.scholar.com

The first one in each point above is still a part of “google.com,” whereas the second in each point come from an entirely different page. Learn to spot the differences; it can help avoid phishing.

Public WiFi Hacks

Another place people frequently get hacked is while using public, unsecured WiFi connections. They go to check their email and in the meantime, someone else connected to the network is infiltrating their device and stealing information.

The cost can get high quickly; stolen email accounts contain a laundry list of personal information about both the victim and people they know. Emails may contain information about other accounts, names, addresses, and proprietary information in the case of business emails. Considering the cost of identity theft—frequently in the thousands of dollars for individuals, not to mention the damage to credit—prevention is invaluable.

The best way to keep unsafe connections from being a source of hacks is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that encrypts your connection regardless of the source and allows you to surf the net without concern of your data being taken midstream. It does this by connecting you to a remote server—the medium between you and the rest of the net—so that you’re safe from attack and anonymous to boot.

The difficulty is finding the right provider, as there are many. This VPN review by Secure Thoughts is a good way to get started. In general, it’s best to seek a service that offers unlimited bandwidth and good customer service.

The Enemy Within; Outdated Software

So far, we’ve looked at how email accounts can be lost as a result of phishing attacks and unsafe internet connections, but there’s another vulnerability that puts just as much at risk.

Outdated apps and software present major security risks as vulnerabilities within old versions can be exploited by hackers to get into your systems and accounts. On the bright side, this is also the easiest problem to fix; just install updates! Automatic updates are rarely a bad thing, although you may need to ensure you have the data to spare for them (or just use WiFi with your now VPN secured connection).

The Consequences Are Dire

No matter how an email account ends up compromised—even if it’s because the password was old, reused, or just weak—the results can end up the same. Putting aside the obvious identity theft issues, reputation is another area that a lost email account can really become painful.

Whether the hacked account is your fault or not, it doesn’t change the perception that recipients of your tainted emails may have of you after the fact. Business contacts are less likely to trust you and contacts will likely screen your future emails more carefully.

Keep in mind that hacked accounts often end up hacked a second time later on. Clever hackers may leave themselves a backdoor into your account or set up forwarding of your mail to intercept future communications.

So don’t let it happen; be on the offensive and look for threats actively. Use the above tools to your advantage so you don’t end up on the wrong side of a hacked email account. And share that information with your friends; be on the lookout for suspicious emails that may indicate someone on your contacts was hacked.

We’re all in this together; will you be ready? Tell us what your strategy will be in the comments!

About the Author: Cassie is a cybersecurity blogger and technology specialist. With the increase in cybercrime, she finds herself increasingly busy writing tips and guides on how to avoid becoming the next victim.

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7 reasons why your small business should start selling online

Planning to start a small business? Surely, your business idea is amazing but, a business does not just run on pixie dust or magic. A lot of planning and decision making is involved, one of which is “where you should start your business?”

Finding a suitable and affordable place might be a hard task to think of. So, why not start a business on the Internet. Here are 7 reasons why you should start selling online and grant your business an online presence.

1. Make use of the smartphone era

At this generation, it is safe to say almost everyone, if not everyone, owns a smartphone. From public transportation to restaurants, people are often on their phones, listening to music, playing games or even browsing through social media. Heck, You can even hail a taxi cab by a click on your smartphone.

By putting your business in the Internet, there is a higher potential for people with a smartphone or internet to come across your business. ‘Internet plus’ is growing in popularity and for good reasons, one of them is to maximize the trend of the smartphone culture.

2. Can be reached by more people

Easy enough to say, if more and more people are owning and using smartphones then more and more would be online. Since you are a very wise and innovative entrepreneur, you will harness this increasing market. The secret in expanding your business is to get more demand because more demand means more supply.

Imagine, anyone with an internet device with internet access can purchase your products, anytime, anywhere. Compare that with having a “physical” store with only passers-by as potential costumers. Additionally, people share almost about anything online, and that could be your business getting shared. Through friends of friends of friends of friends, your business is receiving attention in an Internet-wide scale.

3. Easy to manage

The beauty of online stores is that they are comparatively easier to manage. One person could get the job done. Setting up might come off as a bit tricky but there are a lot of online platforms that help set up your business online.

You receive orders then you deliver the items or services to costumers, and that’s the only thing you need to do when your e-business is fully operational. If you do not want to use these platforms, you can use social media as a start. That too wouldn’t be too difficult as most of us are very aware on how to navigate common social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

4. More Efficient

Costumers want efficiency, that is for sure. With an online business, efficiency wouldn’t be a problem. Take a traditional apparel shop versus an online clothing business.

For traditional apparel shops, the costumer would need to travel to reach the store, upon reaching the store they would have to rummage through all the rack of clothes or items that is in display. After finding the desired item, the costumer would need to ask for his/her size, which in many scenarios takes a hefty amount of time, if you’re lucky enough, you’d proceed to paying for the item, if not then “Back to rummaging!”.

As for online stores, the costumer can browse through a wide selection of clothes and other items, and all the info will be provided such as available sizes, color, designs and price. Then, the costumer could tap purchase. Voila! The transaction is done. It saves both yours and the customer’s time.

5. Convenience

Ebay and Amazon receives a tremendous amount of patronage from online shoppers and you might be wondering why. It is because of the conveniency brought about by the service. The purchase is just on the tip of their fingertips and once the order has been made, all the consumer have to do is wait for the deliveryman to knock on their door.

Not convinced yet? Take Uber as another example. We all know that hailing a cab can be difficult at times and if you really ran out of luck, it will be a stinky, petrol smelling cab. Uber revolutionises car-hailing. With its online interface, anyone can hire a private car to take them to their desired destination without shedding any sweat but with style and luxury.

Next time customers will be needing a product or a service, they’ll be thinking about your business. Convenience = more repeat business.

6. Cut cost

Let’s be realistic, you need money to run a business but that doesn’t mean that you need a lot. Owning a store means paying for fixed assets, paying for rents and bills and paying for human resources. With an online business, you can scrap all that and stay focused on using your revenue to improve and upsize your business.

Also, with this strategy, you can use cost plus pricing, keeping your products/services at its most affordable fee. Not only would this attract costumers but as well as financially meeting the needs of running the business with some money left on your piggy bank. You would be hitting your breakeven point in no time.

7. Good Learning experience

And most importantly, you get to learn, a lot! You get to learn and grasp about all the aspects you have to bear in mind when running a business. You get to learn from other enterprises on effective ways of running a business.

Lastly, you get to communicate with your costumers, constantly improving your methods and strategies by maintaining a good Peer-to-Peer communication. Everyday, you will learn new things, from the difficulties you face, negotiating with costumers , or making new connections and partnerships, an even make new friends along the way. There will always be a room to grow and learn.

The amount of learning and experience you get from putting your business online is unceasing and endless. This makes your time online worthwhile, and that includes the money you earn as well.

So what are you waiting for? I’ll be waiting on my smartphone for you business.

Shopping trolley on button of computer keyboard — Image by © Matthias Kulka/Corbis