Automate & Secure Your Home with Nest Devices

Automate & Secure Your Home with Nest Devices

nest_default_share_iconI’m a sucker for shiny new tech objects. There, I said it.

But I’ve resisted the need and the lure of most “internet of things” things like thermostats,cameras, doorbells  and more. Until now, that is.

A few weeks ago I received a bundle of Nest devices including the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Cam, and the Nest Smoke + CO Alarm from Verizon Wireless as I’m a part of the #VZWBUZZ team. I was immediately impressed with the devices and in just a few minutes I had all three of them configured and installed in their place in my home.

I will take a few moments to discuss all three devices and my experiences with them and how they might be right for your lifestyle.

Nest Thermostat

2016-05-08 08.30.38I’ve had a programmable thermostat in my home for several years now. Living in North Dakota the heater is running all winner as the temperatures plunge to below 0°, and the AC runs all summer as we climb to 90°+. So being able to control when each of these items should run and for how long can be a huge money saver. In fact, I saw a $30 decrease in both heating and cooling seasons by installing the programmable thermostat.

So when I opened the Nest Learning Thermostat box and read the documentation on how it can be either told when to run at certain temperatures, or LEARN when you’re home and adjust the internal climate as necessary, I was intrigued.

Installing the device into the wall was easy with included instructions, so don’t be turned off by that. It came with a large cover plate that covered any blemishes left on the wall by previous thermostats and the device itself simply snaps in place.

Connecting to the thermostat from the downloadable Android/iOS app is as simple as snapping a photo of a QR code with your camera and entering a few numbers. From here you connect to your wireless network, configure a few other items, and snap the thermostat in place to control your heater or AC unit.

It’s really that easy. And now the device starts learning when you go to sleep, when you wake up, when you leave and come home from work, and many other features that help keep your home, and you, as comfortable as possible.

For more information on the Nest Learning Thermostat, check out this page at Verizon.com.

Nest Cam

2016-05-08 13.27.57Since I work at home, the Nest Cam is probably the product I was least excited about. However, now that I installed it and have it sitting on my wi-fi network, I can honestly say it’s nice to have.

As with the Thermostat, programming and configuring was done on the app using the QR code and camera. It resides on a coffee table pointed at the main window, entrance door from outside, and other entrance area from the kitchen.

I was able to set up zones on the app that can either notify, or not notify me of sound or motion inside of those zones. This was a big deal since my dogs are constantly moving about the house.

The best part of the camera is that I can tell it to turn off when someone with the app installed is home. This keeps me from getting tons of notifications of motion when my wife is home, and her from getting them when I’m at home working.

When you’re away from home you are notified by either email or on the app, your choice, as to any sound or motion that triggers the camera. You are then able to watch on the app or browser to see AND hear what’s happening inside your home. And check this out, there’s even a speaker in the camera so if you see something correctable by your voice like a pet misbehaving you can say something that’s heard in your home and hear the response.

All in all, the setup and configuration of the Nest Cam took about ten minutes. Allow more time if you’re going to mount on the wall and have to get power to it.

Visit Verizon.com for more information on the Nest Cam.

Nest Fire + CO Alarm

Check out the Verizon.com page for more information on the Nest Cam
2016-05-08 15.26.27My smoke detectors in the house are hardwired with battery backup. However, they are close to 15 years old and were in desperate need of replacement.

So when I was able to test this device I was excited. Configuration and setup was again, five minutes with the app, the QR code and a bit of info like wi-fi password. Installing the base and hanging it took maybe ten minutes, so easily within 30 minutes if you read and follow instructions (I’ve never been good at that…). The alarm tested during setup and it is LOUD, so make sure you let everyone know you’re testing. The app displays your alarm(s) and provides a status.

Because of the location status, I am going to be purchasing two more alarms for the other floors of my home and replacing them as well. Knowing via the app where smoke or CO gas has been detected is great information for putting that fire out or determining an exit of the building.

And some of you may be interested in a feature that allows a user to stop a fire alarm for up to 15 minutes in the event that the home fills with smoke from a burned cooking experience, electronic project, or other reason.

Visit Verizon.com for more information on the Nest Smoke + CO Alarm.

2016-05-06 15.33.39These Nest devices are a wonderful way to start the home security and automation process. They leverage the power of Google and tap into our reliance on mobile technology, which makes the process easier to manage and more powerful.

If you would like to cut your home’s heating and cooling costs, see your home when you’re gone, or know if your home is experiencing an emergency regardless of where you are, the Nest products are an easy way to get started. And I can’t wait to see what they think of next!

And, if you want to see how these devices work together, check out this wonderful post on the Nest website!

AND, if you’re really creative and want to get more out of your Nest Bundle devices, connect them to other “internet of things” devices and other mobile apps using hundreds of IFTTT (If Then Then That) recipes. Find out more about these by clicking on the links below.

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon (#ad). No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, we meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#VZWBuzz #ad

 

 

 

 

Learn Your Smartphone Features This Spring

Learn Your Smartphone Features This Spring

Untitled designBy now the odds are good that you either own a smartphone or are considering one. Or maybe it could be that your husband or kids have joined the smartphone ranks recently. And while these devices are amazingly powerful computers in our pockets and purses, most users don’t understand how to use all of the features of smartphones.

Well, getting outside and doing some fun activities are a perfect opportunity to use these awesome smartphone features and to learn some new ones.

NOTE : Using some of these functions will utilize your data plan, so be care and keep track of your data use if that is a concern.

Camera

One of the best features of today’s smartphones is the fact we have a wonderful digital camera that shoots both photos and video at the ready at all times. My new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has one of the best mobile cameras available! As you’re out biking, hiking, or just playing in the sun, many photo ops will present themselves. Take a few moments to document beautiful, fun, or out of the ordinary things that mean something to you, or could be shared with others via email, text messages, or social media. There are more advanced apps available for taking and editing photos like Snapseed, so play around with them and start taking some fun photos.

Don’t forget to back these items up by using cloud services like Dropbox, Google Photos or others.

GPS, Location and Weather Services

Need to track an outdoor adventure or find new places to explore? Your smartphone has amazing location services at your fingertips. Google Maps is a default, but don’t forget to look for specific apps for your activity. I like to use Maverick for hunting/fishing, but there are city-specific apps that show trails and parks, apps for hikers that track altitude and others that will document trail progress.

And don’t forget the weather apps. Having weather data widgets Morecast and apps like Radarscrope can provide up-to-date radar, temp, wind and other weather data that can make starting, or stopping, your adventure on time a little easier.

Music and Other Media

Remember the days of having to cart a large boombox and a case full of cassette tapes to the beach or tennis court in order to have some entertainment while having fun outdoors? Not anymore! Now all you need is a smartphone and some headphones to have access to almost any song ever recorded. Throw in a bluetooth speaker and you can share this entertainment to the group. If your device supports it, you can store music on external memory, or use a streaming service like Spotify, Pandora or even Sirius XM if you’re a subscriber.

On the video side, keep yourself entertained with apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO. There’s no excuse for being bored with access to your smartphone!

Social Media

In the last five years social media has captured over half of the adults in the US. We love to share photos, videos, news articles and random thoughts with anyone who may want to listen. So why not share where you are, what you’re doing, and who you are with in real time using your smartphone? Get out that camera, share locations, and let your friends feel jealous about you taking that kayak out today. Some of the more popular social media sharing sites are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

And don’t forget about sharing video in these sites using Facebook Live, Vine, Periscope and others.

The list of apps that allow you to share experiences with friends and family is endless. There are apps that help you with construction and remodel projects, travel, outdoor activities, and much, much more. Really, I think you would be surprised how many apps can help you have fun or document your adventures.

Grab your phone, and even your tablet, and get outside. Start taking photos, sharing adventures, and learning how to use all these great features on your tech. There’s plenty of demos and tutorials on YouTube and other resources. Then, when it comes to taking a photo of a wedding, sharing that video of your child singing at a school play, or finding a secret hiking spot on your next vacation, you’ll be a seasoned pro!

Have a tip you’d like to share with others about learning your phone’s features? Send it to me on Twitter @BeBizzy or leave them in the comment section below!

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon (#ad). No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, we meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#VZWBuzz

 

Customizing Your Android Smartphone Screens

Customizing Your Android Smartphone Screens

settingsAndroid smartphones are wonderful devices. The ways you can communicate with friends, family, co-workers and clients are almost limitless. Text messaging, instant message, social media, news sites, and yes, even phone calls are all just a finger press away. Add some calendar apps, weather widgets, productivity tools, media programs, a camera and news readers and you have a full-blown computer in your pocket or purse.

So why are you still using that default home screen background and ringtone? Your device has so many ways to customize the experience based on personal or business criteria, making the smartphone a much more powerful way to manage your life.

Below are some tips to make your phone, well, yours. Make it easier to get at apps, data, contacts and more with just a few minutes of customizing. Enjoy!

Launcher

The launcher is the look, feel and function of the whole operating system. It controls how many icons you can add to a page, how large the widgets can be, what shortcuts you have on the dock at the bottom of the screen and more. The default launcher installed by your mobile company is pretty good, but did you know that by adding free or really cheap launchers you can extend the capabilities and function of the launcher? My favorite launcher app is Nova Launcher. I use the $4.99 version to get a few extra features, but the free one works pretty well. This little program will allow changes to :

  • Number of vertical and horizonal apps allowed in the grid. Great for tablets that have WAY more real estate.
  • Icon and folder size and the label layout.
  • Whether or not the Google Search Bar is present and how it looks.
  • How the App Drawer (where all of your installed apps are located) looks including scrolling direction and type, color, , animation and much more
  • Custom gestures and other inputs.
  • The ability to back up your desktop layout and import it into a differernt phone/tablet. This is HUGE is you’re transferring to a new device.

Try out the Nova Launcher or one of the many other launcher programs at the Google Play Store.

Folders

One of the limitations of the iOS platform used on iPhones and iPads is the inability of having an icon located in more than one place. That is NOT an issue with Android, so if you want an application link in a “Tools” folder, and also in a “Financial” folder, you have this option. Creating folders on your home screen, or just about anywhere else, is very simple.

  1. Drag an applcation shortcut on top of another icon. The system will hesitate for a moment and then drop the icon into a newly created folder along with the original appllication.
  2. Repeat this process for all of your applications until the folder is filled with your desired apps.
  3. Click on the folder once to open, then click on “Unnamed Folder” at the bottom and give your folder a name that identifies the types of apps contained like “Contacts,”  “Tools,” or “Social.”

I create multiple folders on multiple pages so I can get at business or personal specific information quickly.

Widgets

Widgets are an awesome way to bring some additional functionality to the Android environment. They are essentially ways to display app data on a particular screen in a way that makes it available at a glance or directly get to the app data. Some examples of widgets are weather data, email accounts, news and tasks.

  1. Widgets can be added anywhere there’s room and is done simply by clicking and holding anywhere on an open area of screen, opening the widget option.
  2. Click “Widgets” and select the information you’d like to add to the page like your weather app, or email.
  3. Drag the widget to the location of the page and release. If it fits, you will usually see some options to configure the layout, color, update times, etc for the data.

And below are a few of my favorites:

  • MoreCast – Great weather app that has several widgets to display current weather data and forecasts.
  • TypeMail – I have four email accounts on my phone so having unread counts or easily viewable widgets makes it easy to get to each account without opening several apps.
  • GTasks – I use Google Tasks to manage my several businesses and personal tasks. GTasks keeps them separate, but combines if I need.
  • Month – Have multiple Google Calendars on your device? Month combilnes them into one easy-to-view calendar widget.

Pages

Still trying to cram all of your information or data on to one screen? Android will let you keep as many pages as you wish, move them around so you can access them on the left or right swipe of your thumb, and set your “home” page.

As stated before, I have four businesses on my phone that I keep track of. Each business has a “page” full of contacts, tasks, email and other widgets and shortcuts. This allows me to keep everything separate and if I need a client phone number I go to the business page, pull up the “Contact” folder and click on the contact to make the call, email or text. I also keep links to specific apps here, shortcuts to web pages, and even a quick way to get to my OneNote or Drive accounts so I can access files or take notes on a specific client.

Pages are also a great way to separate your media like music or podcasts, books, and games from work related or personal information, or just to create a news and social media page loaded with constantly changing info that doesn’t interfere with your main page functionality.

Ringtones

Early on the Android system provided a way to assign new ringtones, and eventually a way to assign ringtones to specific contacts.

This is incredibly handy if you want to keep business and personal contacts straight, or even to know when your daughter calls. Now, changing the default ringtone is pretty simple, but editing a contact with a specific ringtone can be a bit more difficult for inexperienced users, but essentially:

  1. Pull the contact up in “Contacts” and “Edit” the contact.
  2. Select “More” at the bottom of the contact and scroll down until you see “Ringtone”
  3. Select one of the pre-programmed ringtones, or “Add ringtone” at the bottom, which will allow you to search for songs or other ringtones and assign it to the contact.

As I said before, the Android operating system has a TON of ways to customize the experience exactly to your liking. Charge up that phone, create some pages, start adding shortcuts and widgets, and turn that computer in your hand into the device your friends and family will envy!

I have included some images below of my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge pages. Use them as inspiration if you need, or tell me how YOU customized your phone or tablet @BeBizzy on Twitter or in the comments below!

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon (#ad). No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, we meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#VZWBuzz

2016-03-30-20.01.57  2016-03-30-20.02.25  2016-03-30-20.02.18

 

 

Should I Buy A Laptop or Tablet?

Should I Buy A Laptop or Tablet?

macbook-924015_960_720A few years ago it was professed that the tablet was going to rapidly replace laptop and desktop computers as the device of choice for both businesses and consumers.

Late last year and earlier this year tablets were proclaimed dead by dozens of tech writers.

So who’s right?

Ummm… both?

Here’s the deal. Computers are content creation devices. Tablets are content consumption devices. Make sense?

Why Buy a Laptop?

Laptop_and_computersMost of us own or have used laptops are work or at home. They are wonderful devices that allow you to take work virtually anywhere, especially if you can get online through Wi-Fi connections or using a mobile hotspot (my Verizon hotspot has saved me MANY times). The main benefit of the laptop is that you can do almost anything on them, including basic business tasks like spreadsheets, word documents, web surfing and the like, as well as photo, video and audio editing, coding, database work and more.

And, if you’re willing to pay slightly higher than the price of decent tablets, you can load a laptop with tons of RAM, processor power and HDD space. Laptops are also fairly easy to connect multiple devices like external monitors, HDD’s and other memory, keyboards, speakers, wired networks and more. Weight and thickness has also come way down for most laptops, even those with larger screens.

If there’s one thing against laptops, it’s battery power. Some laptops run at a lower power to save battery, but you lose some of the processor power when that happens. Batteries can drain quickly during travel or when working remotely. More expensive laptops pack in a bit more power but that can add weight, and even heat, which takes away some of the portability features demanded by certain users.

Why Buy a Tablet?

ipadTablets are becoming very common for both business people and home users, but they do lack a bit of the power possessed by their laptop cousins.

First, let’s look at the consumer-level usefulness. Tablets are perfect for sitting down and listening to music, watching TV shows or movies on Netflix, listening to pocasts, reading magazines or playing games, surfing the web, reading emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… all the ways we consume content. If you are looking for something to do this, it’s hard to find a better technology than the iPad or Android tablets like the Samsung Note 10.1.

Now let’s look at the business side. I’ve know plenty of people who have tried, and failed, at using their tablet to conduct their business. Most of the time it’s due to needing and/or wanting to do too much for the device to handle. Here’s what you’re NOT going to be easily able to do on your tablet. Code, create/edit spreadsheets, edit graphics, sound or movies, and connect easily to most business display systems such as projectors or televisions.

As far as where the tablets are awesome on the business side there are these aspects of business. Meeting notes, online presentations, multiple email accounts, tasks, project management, file viewing and sharing, and specific monitoring tools like Google Analytics.

So, it comes down to this. My wife surfs the web, reads her Nook, does social media like Facebook and Twitter, plays some games and looks at some coupons in her email. A tablet is perfect for her.

I create pivot tabled Excel sheets, monitor numerous email accounts, create graphics and manage websites, and share my screen during online meetings. When I leave the comfort of my office a laptop is often the weapon of choice. However, if I’m running out to meet with a bride or prospective client, view an online meeting, communicate via Skype or Hangouts, or even travel, I take my tablet.

What About the 2-In-Ones?

maxresdefaultThere’s a new class of device that’s beginning to grab some market share, especially on the Windows side of the arena, called 2-In-Ones. These devices offer a slightly stripped down version of the powerful laptop, throws in some extended battery and a smaller keyboard, a touch screen, and a few ports to extend the capabilities. I own an Asus that serves as one of these devices, and while the screen folds 360° to become a tablet (the keyboard shuts off and Windows changes to a tablet mode), I find the size and weight to be a bit of a challenge, However, there are new devices like the Surface Pro 4, the new Samsung Galaxy TabPro S (the first device I have gotten really excited about in a while), and even the iPad Pro 12.9″ and 9.7″ that are pushing this category towards being more useful.

So, Which One Should I Buy?

The bottom line is that you might want both, especially if you’re a business professional that goes out of the office for meetings or an executive that mostly needs to consume data instead of create it.

If you’re ever going to need to work with graphics, audio, video or even large, complete spreadsheets, it’s hard to bet against the Windows or Mac laptop. Sometimes you just need the extra power.

But if you’re mostly going to be consuming information from websites, Webex meetings, documents or other media, I would recommend the tablet.

Final Things to Consider

One more thing to consider on both of these devices is your connection. The tablet is there to consume media and web traffic. Getting it attached to your cellular plan as an LTE device is a great thing if you’re going to be working in areas void of available Wi-Fi. These can include the great outdoors, some restaurants, and even on the road. But the reality is that most people, both business and general consumers, will have access to Wi-Fi much of the time.

Our homes, at airports and hotels, places of business, and even many bars and restaurants have connections available to users. Just make sure you are using protective measures such as not sending financial or other critical business data over these connections unencrypted or otherwise protected.

If you have questions or comments on tablets and laptops, please leave them in the comment section below or shoot them at me on Twitter @BeBizzy.

Then, leave the technical stuff to us!

 

Mobile Friendly Sites SEO Rank Increased

Mobile Friendly Sites SEO Rank Increased

SEO_DiceGoogle recently announced that in May 2016 mobile friendly sites will get a bit of a boost in SEO rankings. This could turn into a long-winded explanation on how to increase your site’s SEO or make the site mobile friendly, but really it comes down to this.

Mobile use of search and the rest of the web is on the increase. ComSCORE has stated that internet users on desktop was equaled and then passed by mobile users in 2014. So it makes sense that search giant Google would start to take mobile-ready sites into account on search engine results, especially to mobile users.

Checking your basic mobile readiness is simple. Go to this website (http://ow.ly/ZFyRr ) and enter your URL. If you’re ready, you should see a message telling you the good news. You will even see a screenshot of how the site is viewed on mobile. If not, you should get some tips on what needs to be changed.

Some of these fixes are pretty easy like text sizes and spacing and images. But, if you use Flash, a layout that does not conform to mobile viewing, non-breakable tables, or custom programming that is not viewable on phones or tablets the change becomes more difficult, and frankly, costly.

Do your potential or current customers need to view your website on mobile? Now is the time to plan on making the migration to a responsive design to ensure your website works on all devices. Protect your earned search engine ranking, or possibly move up by getting your site mobile ready! Contact BeBizzy Consulting today to see how you can make sure you’re ready for the mobile web.

Then, leave the technical stuff to us.

 

Demographics of Social Media Users

Demographics of Social Media Users

media-998990_960_720Still think this whole internet marketing fad will blow over and there’s no need to consider it when spending your advertising dollars? Maybe you’re hoping that marketing budget containing only TV and newspaper will carry the day?

Well, here’s some food for thought. According to an article from the PEW Research Center, 72% of adult internet users are on Facebook. That’s 62% of the ENTIRE adult population in the US. LinkedIn, widely considered to be the place to conduct business on the internet is visited by 22% of the entire adult population in the US. Twitter is 20%, Instagram is 24%, and even Pinterest is 26%!

Some other interesting statistics are:

  • 15% of internet users read or comment in discussion forums such as Reddit. Men are more likely than women.
  • Pinterest & Instgram have doubled their usage since 2012.
  • 91% of Facebook users access the system at least weekly.
  • Instagram weekly use is 76%, Twitter is 59%, and LinkedIn is 52%.

Some of these numbers sound small, but when you consider there are 325 million people in the United States, and 88% of them have internet access, the numbers are quite staggering. As you can see, social media is where your customers are. Smartphones and tablets make the mobile web and social apps easy to access anytime, anywhere. Is your website easily visible by mobile devices? Are you advertising your goods or services to these social users in a way that’s easily shared?

Are your competitors?

Get a head start on your local or national competitors by developing your responsive website, doing some basic online account maintenance, and marketing your business online. If you need some help, contact BeBizzy Consulting and we would be happy to sit down and discuss your online presence and see where we can help.

The, leave the technical stuff to us.

Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge Review

samsungs7_curveThe. Perfect. Phone.

I’ve read and listened to several reviews of the S7 in the last few days and that’s the general feeling I’ve gotten from them. And now that I finally have my hands on one, I totally agree!

I’ve moved to this phone from the Samsung Note 5, and those of you that know me know I am a huge fan of that platform. I don’t use the S-Pen as much as I should on the phone, but I love the large form factor and feel of the phone.

But the S7, and especially the S7 Edge which I have, is close in size when compared to the Note 5 and the battery is exactly the same size so there will be some adjustment to a smaller phone, but it hopefully will be minimal.

The S7 also has what’s been called the best mobile screen available with its 5.1″ Super AMOLED screen. My favorite feature is the return of the micro-SD card. I’m a DJ and love to have music on my phone as a backup in case my external HDD fails at an event. The S7 now supports micro-SD cards up to 200GB, so my 128GB card should not be a problem!

And the stock camera app is FAST. The camera is a step down in mega-pixels to 12 from 16 but should be adequate. Grabbing moving objects like pets was no issue, with little or no blur. And the low-light capture feature is amazing. I’m excited to test in low-light wedding venues in the coming months.

Throw in a 3000mAH battery on the S7, and a huge 3600mAH battery on the S7 Edge, and you have a pretty close to perfect phone. Oh, did I mention both phones are water resistant?

For a more complete list of specs, check out the full list at the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy S7 page at Verizon Wireless. The S7 Edge specs are here.

Then, follow me on Twitter @BeBizzy to let me know what you think or to see some of the awesome photos I will take with the Samsung Galaxy S7.  I can’t wait!

Samsung S7 and S7 Edge Review from The Verge

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon (#ad). No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, we meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#VZWBuzz

 

Marketing Your Business Online

Marketing Your Business Online

contentiskingAs a business owner it’s tough to decide where the marketing budget goes. That is especially true for small businesses in a market like Bismarck, Mandan, or one of the many other small cities in North Dakota.

However, online marketing and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others are making it easier to reach targeted customers by using specific age, sex, location and other factors.

How much time and/or money should you be spending on your online marketing budget? A lot of that depends on your need to acquire new customers, the type of goods or services you are offering, and your abilities to put time or money towards a successful online campaign.

Today I’d like to cover some very, very, VERY basic guidelines for marketing your business online in search engines and social networking sites.

And don’t forget, BeBizzy Consulting can do all of this for you!
  • Overall – Find common elements like the same images, colors, and message on multiple locations. You should try to use the same logo, header images, colors and profile pictures on every site unless it’s absolutely impossible.
  • Google, Bing and other Search Engines – Claim your business! Most sites have a way for you to say you own a business and have some control over what’s shown here like hours of operation, location, photos and more.
  • Facebook – Create a page, not your personal feed. At some point you will want to share things that should’t be on that business page like baby photos, political opinions or borderline inappropriate content.
  • Twitter – Although limited in the amount of characters you can use, Twitter is a great way to 1) create backlinks to your content, and 2) reach a demographic that spends less time in Facebook
  • LinkedIn – A great vehicle if you’re selling B2B. Set up your business site and encourage you and your employees to set up personal profiles including your business and its services.
  • Your Website – Make sure it’s responsive or has a mobile version and/or app. More and more customers conduct a majority of their online lives on mobile devices, make sure you can reach them.

This is a lot of work, but if it’s done right and it’s done often enough an be a very effective acquisition tool for your business.

Below is an infographic that displays a few small business online marketing trends. Check them out then make some changes to your online presence. OR, contact BeBizzy Consulting and let’s discuss your internet marketing needs, then leave the technical stuff to us!

Online Marketing for Small Businesses #InfographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Why You Need a Responsive Website

Why You Need a Responsive Website

responsiveFor the last few years, whether I’ve been working for an advertising agency or now at BeBizzy Consulting, the main question is, “why do I need a new website?

The answers are numerous, but one stands out above all the rest… your site needs to be responsive.

By definition, responsive sites provide a similar experience to visitors regardless of the device or resolution on which they view the site. What that really means is that whether the users hits the site on their desktop or on their smarphone the information should be similar. Not exactly the same, as the screen sizes are vastly different, but similar.

The arguments to spend the money on responsive design are many, including:

  • Nearly 60% of American adults use a smartphone, and almost that same amount of internet traffic is performed by mobile devices. Your site needs to be viewed on these devices with a positive experience.
  • The smartphone is the new phone book. Every year we get a phone book delivered, but how many times do you look contact information up on your smartphone instead of dusting off a large, alphabetical listing? Responsive sites provide an easy way to get your contact information front and center on your page even to mobile users.
  • If B2B, more millenials are doing research on your companies and using mobile devices.
  • Huge difference in computer sizes. I use two 23″ monitors, some use a single 27″, and then there’s the mobile guy who uses a 12″ laptop. All need a similar experience.
  • Does your competition have a responsive site yet? If they do, they are getting leads from mobile users. If they do not, YOU can get a jump on them and get more leads.
  • If you are doing any sort of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) it’s much easier to optimize for one site than for two. Send everyone to the same page for the same information and focus marketing dollars instead of splitting and spending extra money to reach both audiences.
  • Google, who owns nearly 70% of the search market, states that responsive web design is an industry best practice.
  • And finally, nearly 75% of consumers bring their smartphone to the bathroom. Talk about a captive audience.

So on to the next question. How much will this cost?rwd

Not as much as you would think, with BeBizzy Consulting anyways. All of our development is built on the WordPress CRM system. The code is installed in our shared server environment, backed up nightly, secured and kept updated by some great software, and is incredibly easy to navigate and edit. Best of all, the themes we purchase and use are all responsive and have been tested on many devices across many browsers to ensure your potential clients are getting to you regardless of which device is used.

So what’s the next step? Well, contacting us would be the best, easiest next step towards determining if you need to complete the migration to a responsive site. There are definitely a few more items to be concerned about like current SEO efforts and other special coding that may exist. If you want to do some checking for yourself I would suggest making a list of competitors or businesses similar in other areas and checking their websites. If you’re seeing others already configured for responsive, you’re already behind. If not, it’s a chance to jump out front and potentially capture some market share.

Responsive web design is not new, nor will it be going anywhere soon. Designing a site that’s capable to be displayed on virtually any device and display similar information is huge in minimizing the cost of multiple SEO campaigns and managing several versions of one site. Contact BeBizzy Consulting and let’s see how we can move you towards that mobile-friendly website. You decide what you want on the site, then leave the technical stuff to us.

 

What is WordPress

What is WordPress

wordpress-logoYou need a website, right?

So to get one, you’ll need to do a little research online, find a company or agency that “does” them, pay a designer to create some page templates, pay a programmer to create the pages from the ground up, and wait months and months for all of this to get done… then make changes.

Or… you could use WordPress.

WordPress had its beginnings as an easy way to host a blog and if you knew a few technical things you could create a few pages to flesh out the rest of the site. But now, WordPress is the single largest tool used to create websites on the internet. In fact, around 26% of ALL OF THE SITES ON THE INTERNET are done on WordPress. Narrow that to sites that have content management systems, and that number jumps to nearly 60%.

So what does all of this mean? First the bad. It means that if you can hack WordPress sites you MAY have the ability to hack nearly 26% of the websites in the world. But that’s not entirely true. The vulnerable sites contain outdated code, pirated or compromised plugins, or free themes. They can also have pages that were designed custom and have not been updated or put through any security audits. And finally, they can be hosted on virtually any server that runs PHP and a few other things.

But don’t let lazy security issues keep you away from WordPress. First of all, ANY server or website that doesn’t have security enabled or updates performed at a regular basis is at risk. At BeBizzy Consulting we develop all of our websites using WordPress and use the following options to reduce the risk or compromise:

  • We have a tool called ManageWP installed on our computers, tablets and smartphones that allow us to update ALL of our sites several times per day.
  • The same tool informs us when SPAM comments are made on these sites AND allows us to clear them out with one keystroke as well as keep the sites databases clear of overhead data.
  • Another tool is loaded with all sites to check for malicious code on a regular schedule. If any is found an email is generated to BeBizzy so the files can be removed and/or repaired.
  • Yet another tool runs on every site and performs periodic scans on files AND notifies BeBizzy via email with every successful and unsuccessful login to the dashboard.
  • Themes are purchased through reliable, trusted sources and all photos are purchased through an iStockPhoto account.
  • The hosting account includes daily backups of the sites which are downloaded to local storage twice a month. This ensures that if something does emerge on one of the sites, strategic updates can replace the malicious files.

So as you can see, hosting a site where it can be monitored and updated on a regular basis is a huge benefit when using a powerful tool like WordPress. And speaking of power, check out these other features of the world’s largest CMS:

  • Themes make changing the look of your site as easy as copying some files and activating the new theme.
  • Blog posts and other pages can be created visually in an interface that’s as easy to use as Word or your email program.
  • Integrate your social media accounts into your site without hours and hours of coding.
  • Easily control who has access to what within your site and even within your admin dashboard.
  • Drag and drop your photos or other media onto the Media Library and it gets uploaded and easily shared.
  • Thousands of plugins have been developed to make shopping carts, booking calendars and  sharing available with very little coding.
  • Self-manage your SEO by either installing plugins or controlling your page descriptions, tags and other information right on the page or post.
  • Want visitors to comment on your page or post? It’s built in by default!
  • Easy integration of Google Analytics, Adsense and other tools to make reporting and analysis easier.

Still not sold that WordPress can house your website? Check out this list of world-class sites hosted on the WordPress platform.

So what are you waiting for? Contact BeBizzy Consulting today to talk about how we can bring your website, SEO and other technical visions to life. You know your business, leave the technical stuff to us.