Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

How to Utilize Technology to Grow Your Small Business

Friday, April 29th, 2016

technology for small business growth

All business owners begin their venture with a focus on growth.

With the rapid advances in technology, new and effective opportunities are opening up for businesses to quicken their progress. Small businesses, nowadays, are increasingly tapping into the many resources that technology has rendered accessible. This is because, technology can provide a competitive advantage to businesses worldwide.

Technology brings forth innovation. These innovations have the potential to empower businesses and help them stand out from among the competition. However, it is crucial to devise strategies that can optimize the usage of these technologies in order for these to be effective for your business.

Let’s take a look at how you can utilize the boon of technology to your business’s advantage.

Using Technology for Small Business Growth

Utilize the Power of the Cloud

For businesses worldwide, ‘Cloud’ is the buzzword. Cloud is a global network of online servers that allows you to carry out a number of business activities over the Internet. Most of us are already using the cloud to conduct our online banking transactions. In fact, you are already using the cloud as we speak, to read this article. The primary appeal of the cloud lies with the fact that you can manage your business operations from anywhere, any device and any time.

The benefits of the cloud are immense. Shifting your business to the cloud not only eases the workload but also increases productivity and coordination, facilitates mobility and reduces expenditure. Additionally, the multiple backups reduce the chances of loss of important data significantly.

With businesses migrating to the cloud, business clouds have evolved to accommodate the requirements. However, many businesses feel that safety is a concern while shifting to the cloud. Therefore, it is always wise to take proper precautions to keep your data secure.

Harness the Potential of Social Media

The number of active social media users has been found to be a whopping 2.307 billion. This number is expected to grow to 2.55 billion by 2018. That’s where your business’s expected traffic is. Therefore, you need to tap into the realm of social media to attract customers for your business.

The first step is to build a compelling social media presence for your business to increase visibility. The next step is to utilize these platforms as marketing campaigns. On social media, you can:

  • promote your services and products
  • provide personalized offers and deals to your consumers based on their online behavior
  • build channels with influencers
  • engage your customers through various activities like quizzes, contests etc.
  • enable buying options directly from social media platforms
  • gather customer feedback

That being said, it is important to keep in mind that most social media users access these platforms through their smartphones and tablets. Ensure that your website’s design is responsive to facilitate a seamless experience for your customers.

Leverage the Scope of WiFi

The scope of WiFi usage in businesses has expanded recently owing to the scores of benefits it provides. Nowadays, everyone wishes to stay connected wherever they go. Therefore, offering free WiFi to your customers can prove to be an effective marketing tool.

Providing free WiFi to your customers opens up the opportunity to build quality networks and accumulate valuable data regarding your clients’ online behavior. This can help you devise effective and customized strategies to promote the services and/or products that your business provides. Increased client satisfaction could mean further customer acquisition prospects for your business and, consequently, increased profit.

The right strategies to harness the power of WiFi can help you expand your business in no time.

Keep Track of Your Progress

The reach of technology has penetrated the domain of monitoring a business’s growth and productivity. Scores of business productivity software are available in the market that can track progress during each stage of attaining a goal. Numerous technology tools can help boosting the performance by identifying what doesn’t work and providing the right reinforcement to keep things up and running.

You can also monitor business performance by using tools to analyze the metrics in real time and make tweaks accordingly. You can utilize these reports to devise foolproof strategies.

Technology for small business growth is booming. It is important to be aware of the tools and the latest trends that can benefit your business and invest in the right tech-implementation techniques to optimize your benefits.

Cloud Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Utilize Technology to Grow Your Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends


Periscope Adds New Feature, New Video Streaming Service Announced

Friday, April 29th, 2016


Fans of livestreaming have received some welcome news. Not only has Periscope started testing a new doodle feature, but a new platform is beginning to gain traction as well, giving live streamers even more options.

Read on for more small business headlines like these in our weekly Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Social Media

Periscope Tests New Doodle Feature on Your Live Stream

Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming video app, is now testing a new Periscope Sketching feature that allows users to draw and doodle on top of live-streamed video.

Launch Your Own Movie Channel With Video Streaming

YouTube’s got some new competition. Social video streaming company Unreel Entertainment has launched a new platform called, which provides all the tools businesses may need to instantly launch their unique, rich online video hubs. Not only that, they can monetize the content they create.


Ace Those Summer Hires with Best Practices from ADP

Summer is just around the corner. And for many businesses, that means there’s an opportunity to hire seasonal help. Division Vice President and General Manager of HR Solutions for ADP, Aldor Delp, has some insights to share with small businesses about making the most of your summer hires. Below are some top tips for summer hire best practices.

My Experience With Transgender Bathroom Issues In the Workplace

What I am about to tell you is a true story of my experience as a business leader dealing with a transgender bathroom issue in the workplace.  It’s a challenging issue but one that, in many small business situations, can have a practical solution. Nothing in what I’m about to tell you involves breaking any confidences.  This was all public knowledge in our company.

Your Employees are Stressed Out About Their Financial Futures, Study Says

A vast majority of American workers are worried about their financial future, according to a new study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The latest Workplace Benefits Report has revealed that American workers’ stress about their finances has increased, while confidence in their financial futures has decreased.


New Santander Select Adds Bells and Whistles to Personal Banking

If you maintain a high balance for your personal banking, there’s a new program from Santander that might be of interest. The Santander Select program aims to provide a more personalized experience for clients with high balances.

Bank of America Reports Earnings Drop in Q1, Stock Dips

Bank of America has announced its first-quarter results and the outcome is not very positive. The multinational banking corporation has reported a 13 percent decline in first-quarter profit. On a positive note though loan growth and expense cuts have prompted investors to be hopeful about the future.


Virginia Governor Vetoed House Bill 18, Franchise Industry Fumes

As the battle continues between National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the International Franchise Association (IFA) — a battle that started in August last year — Virginia is still struggling to push back a major NLRB ruling that redefined how the relationship between a corporation and its franchisees is viewed.

Marketing Tips

Adaptive Medias Merges With AdSupply, Touts Anti-Adblocking Product

When one company acquires or merges with another, one of the goals is to improve its current product line while seamlessly integrating the solutions from the new organization. In the case of AdSupply, which is acquiring Adaptive Medias, the fit seems to be perfect.

Anchor Audio App Lets You Broadcast to Your Followers Via iPhone

Launched back in February 2016, the Anchor audio app introduced an exciting new medium to the world of social media – your own voice. That’s right. Using the Anchor audio app, you can record a short segment and then share it with the world. The world can then talk back, using recordings called replies.

Google Busting Publishers Using Clickjacking

Google has always been known to safeguard its applications to thwart anyone from using them for fraudulent activities. Recent developments in this regard have had Google defending its ad systems to prevent something known as clickjacking. What is Clickjacking? Clickjacking has emerged as a recent threat to cost-per-click display ads.

Google Home Service Ads Expand, Add Electricians and HVAC

After Google’s phenomenal success in connecting home services owners to local residents in the San Francisco Bay Area last year, it has now taken a new step in this direction to include Electricians and HVAC Services in its Google Home Service Ads Program.

Retail Trends

Millennials Want To Visit Your Store, Not Just Your Website

For retailers, PWC’s Total Retail 2016 study (PDF) has a wealth of useful information about shopper behavior. But one statistic stood out for me because it’s so surprising: Millennial customers actually shop at physical stores more — not less — than other generations. Of course, that’s not to say that Millennials don’t shop online.

Shopify Acquisition of Kit CRM Introduces Conversational Commerce

Shopify has just recently announced that it is all set to acquire Kit CRM, a virtual marketing assistant that leverages messaging to help businesses market their online stores. The acquisition of Kit CRM will will add yet another feather in the crown of conversational commerce.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: PeeqSee Offers an Interactive Social App

There’s no shortage of social media platforms for people to choose from these days. So it can be difficult to get one to stand out from the rest. That’s why PeeqSee focuses on creating an experience that’s truly interactive. Read more about the app in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What PeeqSee Does Provides a social media app and site with interactive content.


5 Startups Participate in Prestigious Constant Contact Innovation Program

Constant Contact recently announced the newest class of startups participating in its prestigious Small Business Innovation Program, an accelerator that supports entrepreneurs as they refine and grow their early-stage companies, and develop and solve issues for small business owners and nonprofits.

Technology Trends

Outbrain Launches Content Bots for Chat Platforms

The online content discovery platform Outbrain has launched Outbrain for Chat, a new service that will help online publishers to launch content bots or applications across leading Messaging platforms. You may not have heard of Outbrain yet, but you most likely have come across some of their work online.

43 Percent of Cyber Attacks Target Small Business

Cyber crime is on the rise and small businesses are increasingly becoming the target of hackers. New data from Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report shows that small businesses have become a big target for phishers. Last year, phishing campaigns targeted small businesses (PDF) 43 percent of the time.

Feds Urge You Uninstall QuickTime from Windows Computers Immediately

As much as we all love the digital world we currently live in, the issue of security is an annoyance we could all do without. One of the latest security risks was announced by the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) with an alert urging customers to uninstall QuickTime from Windows.

New Priv by BlackBerry Apps Aimed at Small Businesses

Ever since BlackBerry joined forces with Google on the company’s latest phone — Priv by BlackBerry —  life has become considerably easier. That’s especially true for small business owners who use BlackBerry’s apps available on the Play Store to manage their businesses.

Is the Flyboard Air Real or Just A High Flying Stunt?

A new product has been sweeping the web since early April – and most aren’t even sure if it’s 100% legit. Zapata Racing, a French company, announced on April 8 that it has “achieved the dream of all men” in creating an alien-like hover board, which they have dubbed the ZR Flyboard Air. The hover board claims to be the result of four years of hard work and planning.

Image: Periscope

This article, “Periscope Adds New Feature, New Video Streaming Service Announced” was first published on Small Business Trends


Donald Trump on Small Business Issues (In His Own Words)

Friday, April 29th, 2016

where Donald Trump stands on Small Business

Businessman and presidential hopeful Donald Trump has talked a lot about business over the years but not that much about small business. Yet small business owners seem to be favoring him as the candidate who best represents their interests.

A Manta poll of 2,527 small business owners who plan to vote in the primaries found that 60 percent think Trump is the best Republican candidate for small business.

“Entrepreneurs relate to Donald Trump because, like him, we write our own narrative. We turn conflict into opportunity,” said Cherie Corso, owner of G2 Organics, in Manta’s report of its findings.

Where Donald Trump Stands on Small Business Issues

A survey of small businesses by Sage also found Trump to be the heir apparent when it comes to representing small businesses.

From these surveys, it’s clear that small business is casting its vote for Trump, but what are the candidate’s views on issues of concern to small business and entrepreneurs? Here is what he has to say, in his own words. Some of what he says come from position statements on his website and some from other sources.

It should be noted that Small Business Trends reached out to Mr. Trump’s campaign but did not receive a response.

Tax Reform

While not mentioning the tax burden faced by small business owners specifically, Trump’s attitude toward taxes in general will likely resonate with small business owners, as this recent Tweet attests:

Signing a recent tax return- isn’t this ridiculous?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2016

Though Trump’s statements on business are general applying to very large and very small companies — and all businesses in between, in a Position Statement on Tax Reform he explains:

“No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom-and-pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15 percent of their business income in taxes. This lower rate makes corporate inversions unnecessary by making America’s tax rate one of the best in the world.”

“This lower tax rate cannot be for big business alone; it needs to help the small businesses that are the true engine of our economy. Right now, freelancers, sole proprietors, unincorporated small businesses and pass-through entities are taxed at the high personal income tax rates.

“This treatment stifles small businesses. It also stifles tax reform because efforts to reduce loopholes and deductions available to the very rich and special interests end up hitting small businesses and job creators as well.

“The Trump plan addresses this challenge head on with a new business income tax rate within the personal income tax code that matches the 15 percent corporate tax rate to help these businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers grow and prosper.”


On the topic of healthcare, particularly the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Trump’s attitude also seems in sync with many small business owners. He tweets:

We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare – and nobody can do that like me. We will save $’s and have much better healthcare!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2016

“On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare,” Trump explains in a position statement on healthcare.

“We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”

“I would end Obamacare and replace it with something terrific, for far less money for the country and for the people,” Trump told

Regulations and Regulatory Reform

In the area of government regulation too, Trump seems to be in agreement with many small business owners that fewer regulations are better. Though again not speaking directly about small businesses, Trump explains in a quote carried by the Washington Times.

“Right now, government regulations cost us annually $1.75 trillion. They constitute a stealth tax that is larger than the amount the Internal Revenue Service collects every year from corporations and individuals combined. In just three years, Mr. Obama has added hugely to the annual regulatory bill.”

In a support document for the so-called Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, Trump is quoted as saying:

“I will sign the REINS Act should it reach my desk as President and more importantly I will work hard to get it passed. The monstrosity that is the Federal Government with its pages and pages of rules and regulations has been a disaster for the American economy and job growth. The REINS Act is one major step toward getting our government under control.”

U.S.-China Trade Relationship

When it comes to trade with China, small business owners are sometimes divided. While some small businesses are hurtg by overseas cmpetition others benefit from lower costs and outsourcing. So it becomes hard to sort out how Trump’s vision of a new trade relationship with China will impact small businesses in general. In a position statement on trade reform, Trump will only say:

“If you give American workers a level playing field, they will win. At its heart, this plan is a negotiating strategy to bring fairness to our trade with China. The results will be huge for American businesses and workers. Jobs and factories will stop moving offshore and instead stay here at home. The economy will boom. The steps outlined in this plan will make that a reality.

“When Donald J. Trump is president, China will be on notice that America is back in the global leadership business and that their days of currency manipulation and cheating are over. We will cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete.”


A nation WITHOUT BORDERS is not a nation at all. We must have a wall. The rule of law matters. Jeb daf.  — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2015

While the tweet above may sound great, immigration is an area where some small business owners may differ with Trump. Like tech startups, some smal businesses are beginning to count on a global talent pool from which to recruit, especially for freelancers. So it’s unclear how Trump’s policies might affect them. In a position statement on immigration, Trump says:

“When politicians talk about ‘immigration reform’ they mean amnesty, cheap labor and open borders. The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties.

“Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first — not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change.

“In the year 2015, with 92 million Americans outside the workforce and incomes collapsing, we need companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed. Petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office, not USCIS.”

In a talking points memo, he adds:

“I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

For more on where Donald Trump stands on small business issues and policies regarding small business, we recommend that you visit the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council website.

Trump Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Donald Trump on Small Business Issues (In His Own Words)” was first published on Small Business Trends


Ciara Viehweg of Facebook: Over 1.5 Million Small Businesses Posted Videos in the Last Month

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Small businesses are leveraging Facebook more and more to engage their customers and prospects. A growing number of SMBs are posting videos on Facebook, and millions of them are advertising on the platform. And small businesses are investing more in Instagram’s advertising platform as well, which leverages Facebook’s targeting tools to help them connect with the right prospective audience.

With next being National Small Business Week, Facebook is holding a small business event in Atlanta, GA. We caught up with Ciara Viehweg of Facebook as she shares with us how small businesses are leveraging Facebook’s platform to build deeper relationships with customers and prospects to grow their businesses. Ciara, who is part of Facebook’s SMB Community Engagement Team, also shares a few tools SMBs can use to get the most out of Facebook’s platform from a customer engagement perspective.

* * * * *

Ciara Viehweg of FacebookSmall Business Trends: Before we start talking about the cool event Facebook is going to be doing in my home town, Atlanta, maybe you can give us a little bit of your personal background.

Ciara Viehweg: I’ve been at Facebook for the last year and a half, which has been incredibly exciting. Both of my parents were small business owners, so I’m very passionate about working with small businesses and I absolutely love to get to speak to small businesses all the time. I’m originally from San Francisco so I haven’t moved too far at all. I’m still based in San Francisco today.

Small Business Trends: How many small businesses are using Facebook today?

Ciara Viehweg: We’re actually seeing really incredible momentum with small businesses using Facebook. There’s already 50 million businesses who have Facebook pages and 3 million of them are advertising on Facebook. What we’re really hearing from small businesses is that they’re on there because it works; it’s incredibly easy to use; and it’s mobile, which is where the world is today.

Small Business Trends: That’s a lot of small businesses. Does that provide Facebook with some interesting insights about what’s going on in general when it comes to small business today?

Ciara Viehweg: I would say there are three major trends that we’ve been seeing with small businesses using Facebook. The first is mobile; businesses are telling us there is no better place than Facebook and Instagram to reach their customers because it is a mobile-friendly platform and people are spending more time on their mobile devices. The mobile world is here and if businesses are not mobile-friendly, then they’re not where their customers are. 1 out of 5 mobile minutes are being spent on Facebook and Instagram so it’s so important for small businesses to be where their customers are, which is why so many of them are really leveraging Facebook to reach their customers.

The other really interesting thing about mobile is that it’s not just their customers who are using mobile devices. We’re actually seeing a lot of small businesses using mobile devices to reach their customers. There is over a third of active advertisers who are exclusively advertising using just their mobile device, which is a really cool trend to see.

I would say the other really cool trend we’re seeing is video. Businesses are telling us they absolutely love video because it’s providing them a really cool and unique way to show behind the scenes what’s going on in their business; invite their customers into their actual stores to see what’s going on. There are over a million and a half of small businesses that posted videos in the last month alone, which is really exciting.

I would say that maybe the third trend we’re seeing is Instagram. Some people don’t know that Instagram is part of Facebook. Small businesses have always been a really important part of the Instagram community. It’s where people go to get inspired and discover new things, including businesses. Now what we’re hearing is that they are pumped to be using Instagram advertising, which also leverages Facebook targeting, so it’s a really unique combination of using this great, visual platform and using Facebook targeting to find their exact customers on Instagram.

Small Business Trends: Are there some underutilized tools that SMBs could really be taking advantage of that they just don’t seem to be doing right now?

Ciara Viehweg: I would say measurement is a huge thing that is sometimes underutilized by businesses. We know businesses have very limited time and money, and our goal is to be the best marketing minute and dollars that businesses spend. It’s really important for businesses to ensure that they’re using the page insight and ad insight tools that we do offer. They’re free products and services that give them such a wealth of information of who are the people who are interacting with their page; the actual ROI they’re receiving on their ad. We’re finding that the businesses that are really leveraging these insights and targeting on Facebook are the ones that are having the most success.

Small Business Trends: Could you talk a little bit about Facebook Chatbots and how would a small business be able to take advantage of that kind of capability?

Ciara Viehweg: Facebook Chatbots, I can say, are incredibly early. Right now we’re really focused on getting the experience right for people. We do think that Bots can help businesses and people find the things that they are really looking for and connect with businesses in meaningful ways. Again, it’s incredibly early so we’re really looking forward to seeing what happens with it.

Small Business Trends: One last thing around video, you talked about how it seems to be getting adopted in really rapid fire. Is Facebook Live driving that?

Ciara Viehweg: We’ve seen businesses are absolutely loving Facebook Live. I actually had a couple of businesses just emailing me the other day because they were just so excited to use it. They’re using Live to connect with their customers in authentic ways. I think they love Live because it gives them the ability to bring their customers literally into the store and show them what’s happening right there in that moment. There is a business called the Chef’s Roll that’s based out of San Diego, California, and they always do these chef competitions with these really famous chefs from all around the world. Now what they’re able to do is they turn on their Facebook Live and suddenly, their 92,000 fans who follow them on Facebook have the opportunity to tune in and watch the competition happening live. It allows the fans to root on their absolute favorite chefs from all around the world. It’s been an incredibly exciting journey. We’re really excited to see where Facebook Live goes. Again, it’s really early but businesses have been very excited about it and jumping on it right away.

Small Business Trends: Is there any advice you would like to give any small businesses about how they can get started using Facebook from a business perspective? I think there are still a lot of small businesses out there that are still trying to figure it out and haven’t made the jump yet.

Ciara Viehweg: The first place, I would say, is our Facebook for Business page. There are tons of videos; great articles; lots of success stories that you can sort by vertical to see what businesses like yours are having success on Facebook. It’s a great place to also get support and ask questions, if you do need help.

I would also say Facebook Blueprint. There are over 50 courses that you can take that teach you everything you need to know about marketing on Facebook and Instagram, and every single course is absolutely free. It’s all self-paced so it’s a really great resource for people who are just getting started or even wanting to take the next step and learn a little bit more about some of our advanced targeting tools.

Businesses are telling us that they are so excited about Instagram, so we also have an Instagram for Business page, a great resource to see some of the trends; to learn a little bit more about hashtag; get some support; and see what other businesses are doing well on Instagram.

Small Business Trends: Next week is National Small Business Week and you guys are coming to my town, Atlanta, to have a small business event. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that.

Ciara Viehweg: Small businesses are the bedrock of this economy and we thought what better way to celebrate them than during National Small Business Week. We’re finding that a lot of businesses we talk to don’t realize how many tools that exist on Facebook to succeed. The whole goal of this event is to really highlight a lot of these tools; put them at the forefront and give businesses the opportunity to interact with people from our team to learn more about these tools. For example, our Facebook Creative Shop Team will be there. They’ll be showing businesses how to find unique and easy ways to create really compelling content on Facebook and Instagram.

Our Facebook Blueprint Team will be there so that online eTutorial that I just spoke about, they’re going to be speaking to businesses and showing them how to take these learnings into their own hands and do them when they get home, as well as take courses right there at the event. Then, of course, we’re going to have Instagram there, which we’re very excited about. As I mentioned, businesses are so excited to get started with Instagram, so Instagram will be there to inspire and connect businesses and teach them more about how to use the power of visual storytelling to reach new customers on Instagram.

Small Business Trends: Where could people learn more about this event?

Ciara Viehweg: The event is actually sold out. But I would also say even if you can’t attend, using those resources that I talked about before is a great way to learn more about marketing; targeting; creating content on Facebook and Instagram.

This article, “Ciara Viehweg of Facebook: Over 1.5 Million Small Businesses Posted Videos in the Last Month” was first published on Small Business Trends


Launch Your Own Movie Channel With Video Streaming

Friday, April 29th, 2016 video streaming

YouTube’s got some new competition.

Social video streaming company Unreel Entertainment has launched a new platform called, which provides all the tools businesses may need to instantly launch their unique, rich online video hubs. Not only that, they can monetize the content they create.

As part of the launch, the company has announced a $1 million Creator Appreciation Fund for early adopters allowing them to receive 100 percent of the platform’s initial revenue up to $1 million. Video Streaming Features

When businesses create a free account on, they get a unified platform from where they can manage all content and distribute across platforms.

They also have the option of syncing content from YouTube or Facebook as well as uploading their exclusive content. To help businesses set their look and feel and meet distribution needs, offers several themes configurable with a variety of features.

Another feature of this platform is that super fans can interact with content creators by commenting within scenes, making highlight reels, creating GIFs/Memes and more.

But what’s most interesting about this platform is that it allows users to deploy their own streaming service across desktop, mobile and smart TV apps. Further, it lets them monetize their videos through advertising, subscriptions, merchandise sales, and paywalls, while keeping a majority of the revenue generated.

“ gives the power back to the creators by avoiding losing huge cuts of revenue from working with too many partners,” explains Krish Arvapally, Co-Founder and CTO. “With’s automated content aggregation from several video sources, full customization/branding, built-in monetization capabilities, fan-social engagement features, and merchandise integrations, creators can truly build their video home on the Internet and keep more money.”

Using For Video Streaming Monetization

Several startups today are giving businesses and content creators new options to monetize their videos without falling back on YouTube. Take Wochit, for example. The platform allows users to become video creators by simply using the Wochit video library.

Another popular platform is Kaltura, which gives publishers more control over how they want to monetize their content. Their “Out of the Box Video Portal” comes with some advanced integration options with other CMS platforms such as WordPress. It also supports calls to action, email registration forms and video overlays.

Founded in 2015, video streaming provides services for video creators. Headquartered in California, the company specializes in multi-channel network, video discovery, video tagging, video search and more.


This article, “Launch Your Own Movie Channel With Video Streaming” was first published on Small Business Trends


Think Outside the Box but Stay Inside the Lines

Friday, April 29th, 2016


Sometimes it takes a bit for a trend to appear in a cartoon. You see it going on all around you and you think “huh, that’s odd,” but it doesn’t cross the border into the cartoons side of the brain.
That’s what happened here. I think the coloring book craze had been going on for more than a year before I realized, “Hey, there’s a cartoon there!”
Better late than never though …

This article, “Think Outside the Box but Stay Inside the Lines” was first published on Small Business Trends


How to Optimize Contests in a Social Media Campaign

Friday, April 29th, 2016

social media contests

To be successful in a social media campaign, you need to have a mechanism for audience growth. Most of your tactics, such as posting new content regularly and engaging with your audience on a regular basis, will carry this effect to some degree, but if you’re interested in scaling your strategy up, or if your traditional methods have led you to a plateau, you’ll need something stronger to earn new followers.

One of the best ways to accomplish this are social media contests, which offer up a prize or reward in exchange for some audience participation. Contests are especially powerful because they have a tangible incentive, they include a natural means of engagement, and they’re highly shareable, thus making them highly visible and capable of yielding a strong ROI.

But how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your social media contests?

How To Optimize Social Media Contests

Step One: Choose the Right Function

Don’t let the generic term “contest” confuse you; there are actually a number of different types of contests you could use to support your brand. Some will work better for you than others, but each have advantages and disadvantages.

These are some of the most popular forms to choose from:

  • Like and share contests. Like and share contests are very simple; every person who likes or shares the post you make will be entered into a drawing to win the prize. This will encourage lots of participation, but at a fleeting level of engagement.
  • Purchase-based or offsite contests. This approach demands some external interaction, such as purchasing a product. It’s hard to motivate people to move past the barrier of a given social platform, but if you can succeed, you’ll earn direct revenue or conversions.
  • Simple user-submitted content. These include things like caption contests or basic trivia — engagement is higher, but still reasonable to encourage lots of participation.
  • Intensive user-submitted content. These include photo and video contests, or anything that demands higher skills or time investments. They’ll generate lower participation, but much more meaningful engagement and probably more visibility as well.

Once you’ve chosen a “shell” form, you can move on to the next step.

Step Two: Choose the Right Incentive

The best social media contests have something truly special to offer their audience. What you choose should depend on your demographics, as well as your company. For example, if you sell consumer products, you could simply offer one of your most popular items for free as a prize. If you sell subscription software, you could offer a few months of free use. If you don’t sell something most consumers would like, or if your products and services are too expensive to give away, you can try offering something like an Amazon gift card, or some other generic prize package. As for the value, that depends on how big you want to make your contest — the bigger the prize, the more engagement you’re liable to receive.

Step Three: Choose the Right Platform

Next, you’ll want to choose the right social media platforms on which to host your contest. You could feasibly opt for multiple platforms here, but try to choose one that specifically fits your contest type. For example, Instagram is a platform custom-made for taking and uploading photos; if you’re trying to run a user-submitted photo contest, Instagram may be a better platform than something like LinkedIn.

Step Four: Start Promoting and Diversify Your Approach

Start promoting your contest with at least one strong visual, and a concise, compelling headline that gets people to participate. You’ll want to promote your material in different ways as well, posting at different times of day and possibly mentioning your contest to your current customers over email or your preferred communication medium. If you’re invested in this contest, you may also consider promoting it with paid advertising for an extra boost.

Step Five: Repeat and Remind

Just as you would syndicate content to increase its visibility, you’ll want to syndicate your contest a handful of times to make sure your entire audience gets the opportunity to see and interact with it. Be sure to change up your visuals and your copy, both to AB test and figure out what approach works best, and to differentiate your material so your audiences won’t get tired of seeing the same thing crop up in their newsfeeds over and over. Try not to do this more than once a day, with more frequent posts as you get closer to your contest deadline.

Step Six: Show Off Your Winner(s)

Eventually, you’ll have a winner (or winners), and you can wrap up the competition. Be sure to publicly recognize the winner, and post a picture of them with your prize (if possible). This will generate some extra visibility for the contest at the last minute, prove that your company followed through on the deal, and will generate more interest in future contests that you choose to hold.

Social media contests aren’t for every brand, and following these steps isn’t a guarantee of success. Contests work best for brands that already have a decent following, or ones with a high propensity for going viral — such as ones that offer popular consumer products. Still, if you have a good angle for visibility and a good idea to support your intentions, there’s nothing stopping you from running fully-optimized, high-ROI social media contests for your brand.

Prizes Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Optimize Contests in a Social Media Campaign” was first published on Small Business Trends


Outbrain Launches Content Bots for Chat Platforms

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

outbrain for chat

The online content discovery platform Outbrain has launched Outbrain for Chat, a new service that will help online publishers to launch content bots or applications across leading Messaging platforms. You may not have heard of Outbrain yet, but you most likely have come across some of their work online.

Some of those alluring links that you come across at the bottom of websites like New York Post, Sky News, The Telegraph and CNN are powered by Outbrain and are tailored to attract individuals using Outbrain’s behavioral analytics.

Now Outbrain, which makes money by taking a revenue cut from third-party link providers, wants to do more than provide links to content that you might be interested in. The company is now, using content bots for chat platforms, helping publishers to send you their stories through popular messaging apps like Slack, Telegram, Kik, and Facebook Messenger.

What Outbrain for Chat Can Do

Outbrain for Chat combines access to a proprietary Editorial Chat Management System (ECMS) with its unique personalization power. This results in a unique interactive content experience that allows publishers to marry true content personalization with editorial programming.

As messaging evolves from simple peer-to-peer real-time communication into multiple communication platforms, Outbrain is paving the way by combining editorial controls with personalized recommendations within chat applications that result in seamless, smart and natural communication flow.

In an interview with Small Business Trends, John Legioco, the Executive Vice President and member of the founding team at Outbrain said: “Outbrain for Chat allows publishers to deliver personalized content, using their own unique voice, inside messaging applications. For example, a user can type “top stories” and receive a list of top stories from the publisher while in the messaging app or if a user is interested in learning more about the Chinese Grand Prix, they can simply message the publishers “F1” or “Chinese Grand Prix” and it will respond with the latest news or most relevant story about it.”

Outbrain For Chat Learns

Outbrain’s content bots are dynamic and learn over time, presenting users with the most interesting stories and latest news, based on the individual’s interest graph. Users have the option to read the articles within the messaging app or save for later, plus much more.

“As younger audiences spend more and more time on messaging apps, we’re helping publishers reach audiences on a personal level, everywhere they are,” Legioco said in an article. “Outbrain is betting big on the upcoming ‘Bot Revolution,’ where messaging apps collide with content — chat apps are now so much bigger than social networks, and will soon become the new browser for how people access information.”

Legioco says that messaging is the next frontier where audiences will spend their digital lives as content bots are replacing Web sites and apps while messaging apps are becoming the new browsers.

He also says Outbrain will not disclose information about commercials at this time as the company is more focused on collecting data (e.g. audience habits) that will further inform its platform and strategy.

Image: Outbrain

This article, “Outbrain Launches Content Bots for Chat Platforms” was first published on Small Business Trends


New Santander Select Adds Bells and Whistles to Personal Banking

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Santander Select Personal Banking

If you maintain a high balance for your personal banking, there’s a new program from Santander that might be of interest.

The Santander Select program aims to provide a more personalized experience for clients with high balances.

Chris Hsi, Director of customer strategy and cross-sell for Santander said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Santander Select was created in order to better serve our affluent clients who desire a more personal and specialized approach to meeting their financial goals, needs, and priorities. The program design ensures Santander can deliver the unique product and service needs of individual customers. The personalized nature of Select allows for bankers to build strong, long-term relationships with members, making their banking experience as seamless as possible.”

Santander Select Personal Banking Caters to Client

More specifically, the program provides clients with a personal banker who can cater the entire banking experience to each individual. They can even meet you at your home or office. There’s also a dedicated suite of Santander’s most valuable products and investment services available specifically to Santander Select Members.

To qualify, customers must meet the balance requirement of $250,000 in deposit and investment accounts. If you meet that requirement, you can open up a select account at any of Santander’s 34 Select branch locations, which are located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The Select program is aimed specifically at personal banking customers. So it’s not something you’d necessarily use for business accounts. However, it is a program that could appeal to busy entrepreneurs for their personal banking needs.

Santander Select Personal Banking Targets Entrepreneurs

Hsi explains, “Select is attractive to entrepreneurs because the foundation of the program is relationship-based.  Because Select bankers only serve Select members, bankers are able to enhance the customer experience in a variety of ways, such as traveling to a member’s home or office if necessary. This type of personal access and availability of bankers to entrepreneurs ensures that their banking experience is supportive of their lifestyle.”

Entrepreneurs are also likely to be in need of other types of banking or financial services. And since Santander Select is all about personalizing the experience to each customer, entrepreneurs who use the program can enjoy extra guidance and the ability to utilize a variety of different business and personal banking services that might be relevant.

Hsi says, “Select bankers work with their customers to fully understand their full financial situation. This comprehensive analysis allows Select Bankers to connect customers that may be business owners with specialists at the bank (i.e. Financial Consultants, Mortgage Officers, Small Business Managers) to solve for their specific personal or business needs.”

Santander Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “New Santander Select Adds Bells and Whistles to Personal Banking” was first published on Small Business Trends


43 Percent of Cyber Attacks Target Small Business

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Cyber Attacks Target Small Business

Cyber crime is on the rise and small businesses are increasingly becoming the target of hackers.

New data from Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report shows that small businesses have become a big target for phishers. Last year, phishing campaigns targeted small businesses (PDF) 43 percent of the time. That’s up 9 percent over 2014 and a stark contrast to the mere 18 percent of attacks that focused on small businesses in 2011.

Cyber Attacks Target Small Business

Symantec’s report shows that about 1 in 40 small businesses are at risk of being the victim of a cyber crime. That pales in comparison to the 1 in about 2 large businesses which are targeted every year — multiple times — with a cyber attack.

Still, the report indicates that hackers are indiscriminately choosing their victims. It’s not a matter of who they’re targeting but what they’re targeting … your money.

These phishing attacks target employees largely responsible for the finances of a small business. Malicious email messages sent to these employees that are opened could hijack an entire company’s financial information and gain access to funds and personal information.

Furthermore, Symantec also notes in its Internet Security Threat Report that ransomware attacks are also on the rise and targeting not only employees but any devices connected to a company’s hacked network. Symantec says it has instances on the record in 2015 of attacks on the Internet of Things, too. That includes attacks on smartphones, smart watches, and a smart television. In these attacks, there is a demand for some type of payment before a device may be freed by its attacker.

Digging a little deeper into the data from Symantec’s report reveals a 55 percent increase from 2014 to 2015 in the amount of spear-phishing campaigns that target employees of a business of any size. Symantec classifies small businesses as any with up to 250 employees.

Small Businesses Need To Prepare for Cyber Attacks

So, what should small business owners do with this information? Be prepared is the simple advice.

It’s clear that hackers will continue to target small businesses with phishing attacks. And since these attacks are targeting employees mostly, implementing a proper training and informational program on phishing schemes within your company is prudent. This type of training will hopefully help reduce the likelihood that an employee of yours will open a suspicious email by helping to better identify one.

Since cyber attacks target small business, it’s more likely your small business will become the target or victim of a phishing attack.  Develop a plan for dealing with such a situation. Consult with your IT team or an IT expert on a comprehensive plan for mitigating the impact of a phishing or other cyber attack against your company.

Finally, with the rise in attacks on devices connected to your company’s network, it’s best to limit the amount of those devices — employee smartphones and other IoT devices — you allow on it.

Chart: Small Business Trends

This article, “43 Percent of Cyber Attacks Target Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends