Facebook has new features for your brand

It seems like Facebook has been announcing a lot of changes lately.  For busy small business owners this can be a prescription for paranoia, since it’s hard to keep up with all these changes and quickly analyze how they affect your brand’s page.  However, the Facebook team seems to be working at keeping it clean and simple, with new metrics that help you understand your page’s impact.

The latest changes come as part of Facebook’s new Insight tools, which indicates a shift in Facebook’s  emphasis towards sharing and engagement. Until now there hasn’t really been a way for brands to measure the impact and reach their content and fan pages have. The latest updates will give brands a much better measurement of engagement over the previous offerings. Read More

Livescribe Echo Smartpen is the coolest business tool

For the last week I’ve been using a Livescibe Echo smartpen, and I flat-out love it.  When Livescribe gave me their 8gb version to demo, I have to admit I was dubious at first; I spend a lot of time banging away on a keyboard, and I was pretty sure that the pen and the pad were going the way of the dodo.  Man, was I wrong.

First, the basics: the Echo smartpen digitally captures your handwritten and audio notes, the combination of which is a ‘pencast’.  Basically, when you tap the “record” area of the specially printed paper, everything that you write (and the sounds associated with it) are recorded.  You can transfer files from the pen and share your recorded notes with others, and you can also tap any section of your notes and hear what was recorded when you were writing the note.  Livescribe makes it incredibly easy to share your pencasts with others as it automatically hooks up to your email, Google Docs, Evernote, Facebook, Mobile (iPhone and iPad) and/or MyLivescribe (an online storage space for pencasts). Read More

Quisitive Saves You Embarrassment, Lawyer Fees

Shakespeare wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”.  Nothing could be further from the truth in business.  Naming and slogans are some of the most important aspects of branding.  People do not ask for a facial tissue, they ask for a Kleenex, rather than an adhesive bandage one might ask for a Band-Aid.  When companies want to distance themselves from a product that has tanked, they change the name, when they want to be associated with something great they adopt it’s name or naming convention.  Take for instance the letter ‘i’ in front of a product name, mimicking the iPod, accessories for the device often are named with an ‘i’, for example iDock or iClock.  Recently at the company where I work, we did some market research and found that some small changes to our name would greatly improve how our product was received by our potential customers.

Before now when the time came to name or rename a brand the only way to make sure that you were not using a name that was already associated with another brand or product was to pour over thousands of pages of patent records, or even worse, pay an expensive attorney to do so.  Why pay a lawyer to do what your iPad can do for five bucks with Quisitive?  Thіѕ awesome app allows users tο screen аnd search аll οf thе trademark аnd patent filings іn thе United States, аll frοm thеir iOS device.  Fοr thе entrepreneur or marketing professional οn thе gο, thіѕ is a critical tool tο add tο your kit.  If you think that this would be useful to you give іt a download аnd lеt υѕ know what you think іn thе comments.

Square Mobile Payment System Adds Key New Features

In my opinion, the easiest way for a small business owner to accept credit card transactions is via the Square service/credit card reader. Their is no merchant account needed, the transaction fees are very competitive, and you can easily swipe credit cards using the Square credit card reader that attaches to your iPhone or Android device via the headphone jack.

Square has stepped up its game and now makes the actual credit card experience better by making the transaction process faster. It has improved the transaction speed by eliminating a number of screens that slowed the process down. According to Square, an entire transaction can now be done in approximately four seconds. Read More

Google+ Wants Your Small Business

A couple of weeks ago, SmallBizGoMobile writer Nick Muntean wrote a piece outlining reasons why he thought the new social networking site Google+ is Not Yet Ready for Business. Maybe Google read his piece, because recently, the company has rolled out its plans to let businesses create Google+ profiles, similar to a LinkedIn or Facebook Page.

Google is planning to run a small beta experiment within + with a select group of businesses that will enable them to create a business profile and try out tools and features aimed at productivity and further sharing news and information about the business/brand. Google product manager Christian Oestlien announced on YouTube that the Google+ business profiles will include “things like rich analytics and the ability to connect that identity to other parts of Google that businesses might use on a daily basis like AdWords.”

So imagine if you already use Google Apps for Business. The ability to share your documents, email conversations, calendar events and other Apps data/content with individual users or all of your businesses Google+ Circles may push Google even higher up on your “One stop shop for ALL your business needs” list. Furthermore, a Google+ profile may be even more valuable than your LinkedIn or Facebook business profile due to the possibility that more than just sharing information and connecting with other users may be happening over on your businesses Google+ profile.

Currently, that’s all speculation due to the fact that the Google+ for business beta hasn’t rolled out yet. But you can’t help but wonder: Will a Google+ personal, profession or business profile be worth the trouble of adding yet another social networking site to the list of stuff you have to manage? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Tablets are all about Mobile Productivity

As a techie who bought both the iPad and the iPad 2, I get this question often: “Why do I need a tablet device?” The quick answer is “you don’t.” Tablets, just like any other business tool, are merely aids to help you get things done, but not a necessity. Now a better question for a person to ask me (Certified Tablet Advocate) is “What benefit do you get from using a Tablet?”

Tablets are all about mobile productivity. Laptops and even NetBooks are pretty fast and portable these days. So to whip your laptop out of your bag, turn it on, wait for it to boot, and wait for it to connect to a WiFi signal; or whip out your own MiFi device or connect to your hotspot feature built into your phone is getting…faster? Or you can grab your tablet – chances are it’s already on and connected, and you are off to doing whatever you need to do in half the time.

Now don’t get me wrong, tablets are no where near completely replacing a laptop. There are still some tasks that need raw computing power to accomplish; but, tablets are changing the way we do business in general. The advancements in web and mobile apps/services, cloud computing/storage, and networking/communication/collaboration practices are all starting to make it very easy to handle a great deal of tasks with just an internet connection.

So if you can conduct a team/client meeting using apps like Webex, network with associates or colleagues over Yammer, create and send official documents or invoices with Documents To Go, organize and sync files with Dropbox, manage business accounts and finances with Kashoo, and get paid faster with Square…with just access to the internet and a tablet device; going through the process of hoping on a traditional computer in many cases is just not necessary in this new age of computing…And don’t even get me started on the cool ways businesses are using tablets to display their artwork, check guests in at hotels and restaurants, entertain patients at medical offices, etcetera.

In conclusion, you have to do what’s best for your business. A tablet may not be in the immediate fiscal budget; but the productivity and mobility advantages are real and getting more evident as more companies and consumers start to “buy in” to the whole mobile computing era that our society is QUICKLY moving into.

– Terrance Gaines, C.T.A.

Mobile Apps Key to Small Business Operations, says AT&T

Hot off the presses, a new survey from AT&T shows that small businesses (defined here as organizations with between 2-50 employees) are increasingly dependent on mobile technology in their day-to-day operations. According to the survey, 75% of small businesses now use mobile apps for their business “to save time, increase productivity and reduce costs.” Nearly half (49%) of all small businesses are now utilizing GPS/Navigation and mapping apps, making it the largest category of mobile applications currently being used.

What Other Kinds of Apps?

A variety of other apps are making inroads into small businesses as well.  The top app categories include social media marketing, document management, location-based services, time management, expense tracking software, and programs that accept credit or debit card payments in the field.

State of Social Media & Facebook

While social media apps are being utilized by a smaller proportion of companies (26%), a significant number (41%) are now using a Facebook page to promote themselves.

Small businesses feel that Facebook provides an easy and affordable way to promote their businesses., and many feel that it is the best way to communicate with their customers. Certainly, Facebook offers several unique options for businesses, from the low cost of set-up (free), to the ability to directly interact with individual customers, something that websites simply cannot offer. As well, a full 37% have noticed an increase in traffic to their websites, and 29% an increase in phone calls thanks to their Facebook pages.

Post continues after the jump.

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AT&T Premier WP7 Phone and Car-kit for One Cent

Great Deal on Windows Phone 7 device with Extras

It can’t get any cheaper more monetarily advantageous for you and your business than a shiny new Windows Phone 7 mobile device and a car kit for one penny.

…Yeah, you heard me correctly

For a limited time, AT&T Premier is offering business customers (large and small alike) or individuals a sweet deal on an LG Quantum, running the new WP7 OS AND and a free car kit for the low-low price of one penny, provided you meet eligibility requirements (see legal mumbo-jumbo here).

The LG Quantum is loaded with features that will ensure your ears stay low to the ground all while not taking up every waking moment of your life. Features include:

– View video, applications, and the Web on a vivid 3.5” wVGA touch screen

– Fire off text messages and email with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard

– Multitask quickly via a 1 GHz processor and 16 GB user memory

If you’re an on-the-go business owner, you will appreciate the fact that the offer also includes a free car-kit that will enable you to keep your hands on “10 and 2” while ensuring your clients that everything is running as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

To get in on this deal, all you need to do is meet the eligibility requirements and sign up for a 1 to 2yr contract (voice & data) with AT&T Premier and you will be running your business hands-free while other so called “fast movers” are tied to their desktops/laptops.

For more information and to sign up, check out the AT&T Premier for your Business website.

Google Apps Adds More Services To Expand Its Reach

Starting today, Google Apps administrators can enable the complete array of Google services, including Google Voice, Reader, Maps and more. Before, Google Apps users were could only use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and GTalk/chat. Now that Google has added these additional services, you can sign in to services using your Google Apps account, and not have to use your basic Google account (yes, they’re different).

This also means that if you belong to an team, organization, or company that uses Google Apps, admins can customize and even brand how team members/employees see and use Google Apps. Admins for example can control what group uses what services. Drivers can be restricted to Google Maps for directions, writers and bloggers can be given access to Blogger & Reader. Everybody in the office can now have their own Google Voice number, et cetera.

I just posted yesterday how Google is making documents editable on the go. Now this story about Google making more services available for even more users. from Android smartphones to Google TV, to Google Fiber – you name it, Google has it. Looks like Google is positioning itself to be Skynet a one-stop shop for all your personal, entertainment, and business, needs.

Relieve Stress with the Office Harmony App

Some of the reasons behind starting a small business (besides making money) is to get out of the day-to-day grind, and to have more control over your schedule and your life. Fact of the matter is, most people end up working HARDER at their own business than they ever did punching a clock at ACME, Incorporated. Working harder at a small business, especially in the beginning can be due to wearing all the hats of the business. From secretary administrative assistant to IT, to customer service, to marketing, to finance – You do it all!

Sometimes trying to juggle all of your business tasks can leave you a little stressed. Well, if you’re a fan of mobile apps and your day-to-day business tasks get the best of you from time to time…there’s an app for that too! The app is called Office Harmony and its purpose is to help you understand and lower your stress.

From stress assessment questions that help you recognize and understand where your stress is specifically coming from, to office yoga videos that give you quick and easy yoga techniques that can be done at your desk, to soothing meditation exercises that help your relax your mind, to weekly stress tips that help you remember to cool out; this app has it all!

The app includes images of desk yoga exercises, and other exercises you can do without exerting any sweat (because nobody likes yellow arm pits on your nice shirt/blouse during your presentation), and also actual videos of exercises, all without being connected to the internet. That means you don’t have to worry about your mobile network messing with zen-like focus.

So relax, take and deep breath, and just step away for a second if your small business tasks get to be too overwhelming. If that doesn’t work, download the Office Harmony app for $1.99 for your iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.