Gaining a Competitive advantage with Cloud Computing

 

Gaining an advantage with Cloud Computing

 

Cloud Computing is spoken about everywhere and movies are being made about it, small, medium and large businesses have embraced it and quite frankly it’s difficult to imagine using apps or technology without it! After cloud computing has been introduced, companies have reduced their costs, increased flexibility and capacity.

 

As an entrepreneur, you will look to maximize your IT return on investment as well as increase your company’s functionality. Companies have to process large amounts of data and the system you use needs to be reliable, economical and more importantly secure. That’s why more and more companies are choosing cloud computing to meet those demands.

 

What is cloud computing?

 

Essentially, cloud computing is a kind of computing which is hosted online via the Internet. Cloud computing has many different services. A cloud server can host Websites. All forms of data, emails and communication software can also be hosted within the cloud.

 

How can you as an entrepreneur use cloud computing?

 

Before you start using the cloud, you will need to make a few changes to  your company in terms of resources as well as strategy. There will need to be changes in the IT structure, information security, decisions on how and where the data will be stored, integrating the front and back end. After getting the environment ready, here’s how using the cloud can help your business.

Cloud Computing as an Entrepreneur

 

 

  1. Reduce your staffing requirements for IT: Cloud computing can save your business heaps of money by doing the services in house, reduced costs by external servers, plus you can use tools to help streamline productivity and reduce energy consumption costs.
  2. No physical equipment to maintain: cloud computing is not physical, therefore it makes things flexible and adjustable to the needs and size of your organization. The bandwidth can also be met because of the huge capacity of the cloud’s remote servers.
  3. Have more time to run your business: All entrepreneurs will tell you how long their days are and what even an hour or two worth of time will mean to them. Cloud computing can do just that. Instead of purchasing and installing expensive software yourself, your cloud service provider can do this for you in addition to scaling the operation structure leaving more time for you to run your business.
  4. Create and collaborate: Who doesn’t love a virtual team? If your team is working on a project and cant all be in the same location, you can use cloud computing to give access to the project for all or some of your employers. External contractors, vendors, suppliers can all have access to the same file too! Imagine saving on travel and time!
  5. Backup, file storage and sharing: As much as we love hoarding hard disk’s worth of data, why not store them in the cloud? You can access your files at anytime from any location using any computer. Dropbox is widely used by people and businesses alike to store their files and backup their data. So if any of your hard disks or computer were to crash. You’d have a back up ready to go!
  6. CRM at it’s best! Customers are our single most important element in a business and  we take time and effort to build and develop relationships with them. Setting up a customer relationship management software can be time consuming and expensive. As a small or medium sized company, you want a great way to store your customer’s details. Cloud based CRM can do that for you in half the cost with easy access.
  7. Storing, Sending and Editing large files: Have you tried to edit or download large excel sheets worth of data or tried to send photos that are absolutely gorgeous but are huge? That’s where Google Docs and Office 365 come in. They can send files and they have access to office suite where you can log in to from anywhere.
  8. Different industries can use them: One of the most important industries here in Australia is logistics. Even they can benefit from using Cloud computing. For example, you can make use of SAAS or Software as a Service provider that helps companies keep track of their trucks, drivers and deliveries. Cloud computing allows a company called Transics to offer reliable information in a way that optimizes costs in an industry that has high overhead cost.
  9. Disaster Recovery: Using cloud computing, having your employees work remotely can mean lower severity of an in house IT crisis. It can also resolve issues faster, meaning you don’t need to have complex plans for disaster recovery put in place.
  10. Automation: Most companies need to invest in IT support to maintain and update your storage and files. That can work out pretty expensive. Cloud computing has automatic updates saving you heaps of time and money

Cloud computing across operating systems

With so many benefits to using Cloud computing, even small businesses can start small without making any major changes and work your way up and make use of the changing trends to drive profitability.

We here at Social Pandora use Cloud Computing to store files, share files, work virtually and even back up all our client databases! We find it convenient and saves us heaps of money.

Check out 39 of the most important people in cloud computing and see what you can use for your business.

Have you used Cloud for your business ? How has it worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!

-Social Pandora

(Image source -Pixabay)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MAKING SOCIAL SELLING WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS

 

 

The hot new buzzword on everyone’s lips is Social Selling. The tool that today’s sales people are using to become the top performers in their firm as well as get new clients through the door.

 

With the use of Social media; the way we connect with people has changed. Using social media to do business, plan our everyday lives, stay in touch with friends, try out new restaurants has become a way of life for us. In fact social media merges word of mouth advertising, selling and marketing beautifully. Social media marketing is so powerful that you can’t afford to miss out!

 

Word of mouth marketing has always been around much before social media. Neighbours would buy similar stuff; friends would seek advice from others on what to buy, where to go for a service, what recipe to try, all over a game or over a fence at the backyard. Today, we do the same thing, except that we use tools for it and seek out reviews on a global level. Advertisers too now know how to sell to you and the vital role that friends play in influencing your decision.

 

What is social selling and how do you make it work for your business?

 Social Selling is making use of social media to make your sales more effective. It’s using warm, conversations that are both inviting and engaging with mutual benefits to the company and clients over cold calling, knocking on people’s doors and talking about what you do and who you are.

It generates insights and information into what customers want and what decisions they are influenced by before they buy. It also helps build relationships, make better strategic deals and grow the brand.

Making Social Selling work for your business:

 Sure, you have tried cold calling and noticed that there are more people who say “Thanks but we’re not interested” than those who say “Sure! sounds interesting, come on over!”

Here are some tactics you can use for your business:

  1. Using social media tools like Google Alerts, Tweet deck, Radian6 etc. can give you real time insight into what your customers are talking about. You can then understand their needs, unmet demands in the market and leverage that information and use it for your business.
  2. If your customers are not using social media, find out what’s being said about the industry in general. Check out some reviews and understand the customer’s point of view.
  3. Use social CRM tools that allows you to capture user’s Twitter profiles, contact details, details of a consumer or user-anything that is publicly available.
  4. Dig a little deeper: Understand whom you are selling to. Who are the key people involved to seal the deal? Who are their customers? What are the customers talking about? What is the level of engagement that they have? What contacts do your contacts have?

With so much information up your sleeve, you can now make a pitch that doesn’t always talk about ‘YOU’ but rather ‘THEM’. You can tell them how you can solve their issues and how you can help them. Doesn’t that sound better? It’s a serious competitive advantage!

 

  1. Make use of communities & blogs– read other people’s blogs, reviews, and any visual media they have shared and connect with them. You can also use LinkedIn to connect to vendors; participate in LinkedIn groups and find new prospects!
  2. Set up Social Media Monitoring tools like Radian6, Buzznumbers, and Google Alerts to get active updates on the industry, your customers and potential influencers.
  3. Create your own Blog and Social Media Channels: In order to be successful at social selling, you must have a strong brand yourself. The company you are selling and sourcing for must develop strong connections. You must also develop the knack of story telling and increasing your social influence score. Also include a ‘subscribe to the company blog or RSS feed’ icon on your website.
  4. Identify competitor moves: We all want to be ahead of the pack but finding an advantage amongst the various players in the market is challenging. If you were using traditional methods of sales and marketing, you’d know as soon as there is a new ad, press release or  product on the shelf! But now, you can anticipate your competitor’s moves by using social media monitoring tools. You can find that perfect opportunity to gain an edge over your competitors that you may have otherwise not known about!
  5. Prevent Customer Retaliation: By using these tools, you can avoid customer’s negative feedback by finding solutions to the problems they have mentioned. Doing a sentiment analysis will help you understand their emotions in regard to your product or service or your competitors products.

 

If you’re a stockist or distributor, you can understand which products to stock up on and which ones to drop. Imagine having all that shelf space for products that sell quicker!

With so many benefits to using social selling over traditional selling and cold calling, you can find opportunities everywhere! It’s time to embrace the new buzzword and make it work for you!

You can set up the tools and make it work for you and your sales team or you can give us a call and we can do it for you! You get all the information you need right in your inbox!

Talk to us now and let us know how you can make social selling work for your business! What tools do you use?

Join us for the conversation on #socialpandora

 

 

 

Happiness quotient- The Art of doing less and gaining more

Achieving happiness by doing less and gaining more

(Image source: blog.bayt.com)

 

Our lives are so hectic and you think that your ‘To-do’ List is never ending; your workload is piling up, as are your chores at home.

 

How do people, other entrepreneurs, achieve so much in a single day, you work 10-14 hours while they work 8-10 hours productively; have time to pursue their interests and get 8 hours of sleep. Are you wondering how they do it? How do they achieve that work life balance that so many of us crave for?

 

Well, you’re not alone. Our team recently had a session on the single most important productivity hack- achieving more in a day in half the time!

 

Putting in long hours at work and then attempting to take some time off for yourself is sometimes hard if not impossible for some of us. You have to be careful of not pushing yourself to the brink of burning out.

So here are a few tips we think will help you:

One of the classic laws of physics is theLaw of Least Action’ that says (In a simplified form) that whatever the end goal is, nature takes the quickest, most efficient route to help accomplish it. Whatever is the least action needed to accomplish that goal is the amount of energy consumed. Which also says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (Source: Based on an excerpt by Deepak Chopra)

 

In other words, this law advises us to do less of the unimportant, the unnecessary stuff and more of the things that have the greatest advantage for us. Now you might say, but that’s what I’m already doing! While some of us might begin with the most important activity on our to-do list, during the day, we might either get distracted, overwhelmed with the workload or lose sight of what’s more important than the others.

 

So how do we go about doing that?

Information Overload 1.Define your time: Create a calendar showing the days of your meetings with others; days where you work on your own; days that can be made flexible and days that are off. Defining your days will help plan your activities and have greater control of the time spent on each activity. Plus it allows you to have the mental mindset required for the task at hand.

 

2. Focus: Use the Do LESS ‘ Attitude to ‘Do MOREof what is important. This means clearing the clutter of which activity is important and which ones can wait in your ‘To-Do’ list. Also prune the things that take up too much of your time, whether at home or at the office. Do you spend too much time planning? Or too much time on social media? Waiting in queue or on the phone a lot? Trim it down to the essentials.

 

3. Eliminate unnecessary steps: Delegate some activities or tasks; create a framework where you check your emails only 2-3 times a day and not every time a new one comes. Let people know that emails are not meant for urgent issues, have them call you instead. They can however, send you a follow up email later. Keep meetings short and mostly for decision making only unless there are more pressing matters to discuss. Also ensure that meetings always have an agenda and that all attendees of the meeting are informed a day in advance.

 

  1. Work with fewer distractions: If you’re spending time with the family or you’re on a break- do just that! Don’t use that time to complete unfinished work. And when you’re at work use the 80/20 rule to get most out of your day. That way you are focused when you need to be and you have a break spread across the day.

The 80/20 principle

(Image source http://www.photocrati.com)

5. Break down larger goals into smaller tasks: This makes it more manageable and increases your efficiency.

 

 

 Break your goals into smaller tasks

 

(Image source: http://rayedwards.com)

 

6. Have a positive outlook- Be aware of what you’re doing and don’t be discouraged if your task isn’t completed as yet. Don’t rush through them just to cross it off your list but do them with the intention of making it perfect. Love what you do because that adds to how you do the task and to what the outcome is.

Think, do, be positive

 

(Image source http://www.care2.com)

 

7. Say NO when necessary: It’s all well and good to be the best person for the job but sometimes you need to draw the line at doing everything. Don’t overload yourself and don’t do things that will detract you from your current objective. Before you know it, you will start hitting of targets in your to-do list!

 

8. Allow free communication across all levels at home and at work: Be open and honest. You’d be surprised at how much time you’re saving by not having misunderstandings, dissipating fights but rather focusing on the now.

 

9. Sleep well and eat healthy: You can’t give a 100% if you’re not a 100%. So be healthy to allow your body and mind to work in harmony.

 

Keep Calm relax and enjoy

(Image source: keepcalm-o-matic)

 

10. Be open to change: Letting go of old, familiar ways is hard to do. But in today’s time of quick paced technological and lifestyle changes; you need to be open to adapting change into your life.

Go to our post to see why you need to adapt to changes.  https://socialpandora.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/adapt-and-soar-dont-adapt-and-get-left-behind/ 

So there you have it ! 10 easy tips to help you do more of what you love and have the perfect work-life balance.

 

What are your tips to have a perfect work life balance? let us know !

Putting the success back into your social media campaign! PART 2

 

(PART 2 CONTD…)

 

Every industry is different, so try being in the required range for your industry. All this does is to help gauge your scores.

 

Ford’s Global Head of Social Media –Scott Monty also suggests using a tiered point system in place rather than looking at how many likes you have. It’s a simple yet effective strategy to use. You can measure the response to your efforts on any social media channel you use.

 

Here’s how it works (Source: Socialmediaexaminer.com)

If you’re launching a product or a service, you want to generate a buzz about it on Facebook. You post an update to your page about your launch and get a few likes on it. The next day, post a different update, get likes on it and you begin to see people engaging with the post. Shares are more valuable than likes or comments because that update is moved to another page, which increases your reach.

 

At the beginning of your campaign, translate your objective into a numeric goal. Then, use the tiered point system to weight different types of engagement according to what is valuable to you.

 

For ex: (For Facebook)  -Likes- 1 point each

Comments- 5 points each

Shares- 10 points each

During the campaign, a quick sum of values will help you determine if your efforts are paying off. You can create similar systems for any of the social media channels.

 

4. Visibilities and Brand Perception:

 

 

visibility

 (Image via www.xeus.co.uk)

Social media monitoring tools will provide you data on your brand, your products to see who’s talking about you , how, why,where from? The key to getting good scores here is to add tonnes of value for your customers. Gradually build it up and then begin to sell and then measure. Building relationships with customers is vital, and this is the best way to get there.

 

How do your numbers compare to your expectations? How have you fared with respect to your industry?

 

5. Measure traffic to your website:

Link each social media channel to your website; then track which of them send the most and the best traffic to your site. Track URL shares, click conversions, what do they do once they’re on your site?

6. Audit, Adjust, Repeat:

Review your measurement program periodically. Always include benchmarks or competitor information so that your stakeholders will understand how well you have fared.

It also helps to include visual representations of your data to describe your readings better. Editing and improving your measurement program will help you rectify errors if any. Enter new metrics, you may have missed before and alter content that is needed to help achieve your goals.

 

And. That’s it! 6 super simple steps to show your stakeholders the money! Soon enough you will be raking in results! We hope this gives you ideas on how you can simply measure your social media campaigns and do so without all the expensive tools!

But, hey, if it’s a little too much to do in too little a time, give us a call! We’d do all the hard work for you!

Let us know how you go! What do you think? Can some of the above-mentioned strategies improve the effectiveness of your campaign?

 

-Social Pandora

Putting the success back into your social media campaign!

Putting the success back into your social media campaign!

2 Part series

 PART 1

 

Putting success back into your social media campaign

(Image via http://www.switch-magazine.net)

 

By now you’ve run a campaign or two across a few social media platforms and you are noticing people take note of your brand; what you have to offer and maybe even dropped by your office! While all these are great signs of progress; you still need to measure how well that progress has been. Measuring the campaign will tell you where you’ve been successful and where you can improve.

 

At the start, you would have set goals for your campaign, the number of followers, fans you want, the levels of engagement for your campaign etc. so when you measure your results, you will have two kinds of analytics –ongoing analytics and campaign focused analytics to focus on. Measuring the success of your social media campaign is not very different from you measuring the success of your marketing efforts. You will still see where your customers are from, how many times the ad or campaign on TV and social media was clicked; what do they like, socio- economic and cultural backgrounds etc.

 

As marketers, we are all on a mission to be better than our competitors, out-think others, deliver better products and services and track our efforts.

Ongoing analytics are those that you will keep tracking over time. These are necessary to understand the trend; the peaks and pulses about your brand and that of the competition over a period of time. To do this, you need to set up brand tracking and check the results every now and then.

Campaign metrics will measure the results of your targeted marketing activities or campaigns. These can also vary from campaign to campaign and depend upon the goals you set.

To get the best possible results, you will need a combination of both

So without further ado; here’s a list of what you should be measuring

1.Measure your social media listening activities: If you aren’t listening as part of your campaign, you’re missing out on the conversations people are having about your brand. When you do listen you gain insights into your brand

How engaged are your target audience?

What customer support issues are they happy with?

What customer support need gap can be filled?

Are there any changes to your product or service you need to make?

Performance management?

 social media listening

(Image via www.leadformix.com)

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”– Stephen R.Covey

Use listening tools to understand how many people you’re helping through your campaign, are your fan followers increasing, etc. prioritize the points and use the information gathered to make changes to your business.

 

2. Measure Growths and Reach:

 

 

 

Measuring social media growth

                  (Image via http://www.marketingzen.com)

 

How healthy is your growth rate? Watch for a steady increase in the number of your fans, followers and subscribers. We also like to club growth, reach, volume, exposure under one metric- Awareness-how far is your message spreading?

3. Engagement: Are your followers interested in what you post? Do they comment? Interact? Maybe even poke, write an LOL? Well that’s great! It’s exactly what you need! It cannot get any easier really, just monitor the quick interactions to your channel- starting with how many likes, shares, +1’s, comments, retweets, mentions repins etc. Always set a target and then work your way up to measure the targets on a bi=weekly or monthly level. See how far your interactions increase, decrease or remain neutral. The idea is to keep increasing but also maintaining a good engagement level.

 

(PART 2 CONTD ..)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you need to know to be a successful entrepreneur

Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you “ – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

 

Mark Zucherberg, Richard Branson, Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel are all names you’ve heard of or even people who you’ve looked up to. Entrepreneurs come in different shapes and sizes, educational and economic backgrounds but there’s not many things that are common except for the passion, perseverance, never say die attitude and the ability to take risks that comes with the job.

In order to get to where they are, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ve faced hardships, made numerous mistakes, and tried various things before they perfected their business.

 

The difference between most entrepreneurs, you will notice is their attitude. Either to persevere or to give up when faced with adversity, to not let competition pull you down or shut shop when there are a few bad reviews. It takes a lot more to be a good entrepreneur.

 

What makes them successful?

 They:

  1. Figure out what they want to do; and take baby steps towards their goal
  2. Pause in-between steps to see how far they’ve come and reassess their next step. It’s more a routine of Act.Pause.Learn.Pause.Build.Pause.Repeat
  3. Deal with uncertainty and contingency by experience and not just theoretical plans that have been put in place.
  4. Put yourself out there and try new things and at some point you will figure out what you’re good at and stick to it.
  5. See over every detail of your business. It’s good to look at the big picture but also the smaller details. Especially the case when you’re just starting out.
  6. Never give up-No matter what! They’ll always be moments that bring you down, leave you faithless and competitors will try to cut you off. But, remember why you started your business and stick to it.
  7. Get out of your comfort zone– It’s important to stay scared in the beginning. Some call it staying hungry and some call it staying scared. Either way, the sentiment’s bottom line is the same. Which is to use it as an important motivator.  Go outside of your comfort zone, learn to survive, grow and evolve.
  8. Create what the market needs: This is an important thing you will find most entrepreneurs doing. There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas out there but not every idea is a lucrative business to pursue. If you begin with a current market need, you have a market that is already present with the people who need what you have.
  9. Don’t begin by thinking you will be rich and famous: Believe it or not, entrepreneurs don’t’ have money, success or fame as their goal but rather the by-product.  They begin by working on their product or service, perfecting it until they’re the best at it. The fame, fortune and success will follow on it’s own.
  10. Push yourself harder
  11.                   Learn to finance your business well: Begin with sufficient financing before you move on
  12.        Manage your time well: Remember that time is money
  13.               Learn to function as teams and play to everyone’s strengths
  14.                   Turn Obstacles into assets
  15.                 Learn to say ‘NO’ when the need arises. It’s essential to say no to some great ideas in order to get to the brilliant ones.

 

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”—Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

 

 We hope that these 15 tips from successful entrepreneurs and business owners will help motivate you and give you  the ideas you need to keep surging ahead.

 

“Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” —Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder

There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” —Jason Fried, 37signals founder

What tips do you use for your business? Let us know!

-Social Pandora

 

How to be stress-free and Happy: The Pursuit of Happiness for Entrepreneurs

What makes a happy Entrepreneur (Image via startupstairway.co.uk)

Your business is up and running or you’ve been at it for a while now. But you have heaps on your mind, as is usual for an entrepreneur but apart from your world of customers, sales, budgets & reports, you need to take the time to live a happy and fulfilling life.

 

While building our own business and working with other entrepreneurs, we’ve learnt a few things along the way, which we thought we’d share with you.

what being an entrpreneur is like

 (Image via WeSEE)

  1. Be an active participant in multiple communities: Encouraging your team members or participating in communities yourself is great way to share, talk and learn multiple things. Not to mention it’s a great way to boost self-esteem and promote personal development.
  2. Have High levels of personal expression:  Have a voice and share your voice. Active discussions, expression of interest and involvement goes a long way. While expressing yourself, don’t forget to listen. 70% of most relationships- business or otherwise fails because one party doesn’t listen enough. So if you expect good lasting relationships you’ve got to listen and not just hear.
  3. Accept that there are no guarantees in business: While you do your best to ensure  that all bases are covered, there are times when things go wrong. Mistakes happen that are your fault, sometimes it’s the suppliers, or the delivery guy or the customers won’t pay you. The truth is that there really are no guarantees and you just have to accept it and move on. It’s better to deal with what you actually can change rather than what it beyond your control.
  4. Don’t be afraid of failure: You can never get anywhere if you’re too scared to start or if you’re scared that you will fail. If you spend time being scared of failing you’d end up being miserable. Failure is the stepping-stone to success and if you are a start up, it’s practically a rite of passage for you.
  5.  Silence the inner critic and remember that perfection is over rated: If you’re an entrepreneur, being a perfectionist comes naturally, but it really isn’t a smart thing o do. We’re always going to be faced with adversity; competitor’s success stories and you will end up comparing yourself to the others. So if you’re waiting for perfection, you’ll never get there. It isn’t about being perfect but actually about continuous improvement.
  6. Love what you do or else it’s all work and no fun: If you love what you do, you will always look for ways to do it better and you will be happy while you’re doing it. Any time that you spend on nurturing it and making it grow won’t seem all that daunting or seem like a mundane task.

Happy Entrepreneur

(Image via WeSEE)

7.Believe it or not; success is not the only goal: Define what success means to you, because most often it’s just about happiness. It’s mostly a personal choice but more often than not you’ll hear people say things like I’ll be happy when I buy a Porsche or a Ferrari, or I’ll be happy when I buy a house. You’ll be happy when you decide to be happy. And when you’re happy, you’re already successful! Well that’s how we see it anyway.

8.Take a break: As entrepreneurs, you will always have stress of your job to weigh you down, so take a few days off and relax. When you return you will have a new perspective on things.

9.    Keep at it: Money grows on the tree of persistence. There will be many times that we fall down but the important lesson to learn is that we pick ourselves up every single time. We grow, evolve& become better at what we do.

 10. Remember why you started the Business: When the going gets tough, it’s important to tap into that original passion that made you want to start the business in the first place. When the stress or the negativity begins to pull you under, just step back and get back that inspiration.

Never give up

 

We love the lessons by Richard Branson and Tim Ferris’s 4-hour workweek; we’ve known a lot of people who implement them in their everyday life.

 

We hope these 10 tips will help you as you DE-clutter your workweek and make it more stress-free.

 

Have a good day! We’ve got more great posts coming this week, what would you like to discuss? What topics are you curious about?

Let us know!

 

-Social Pandora