Browsing articles in "General"

Online Safety for Kids & Teens on the Internet (and Facebook): Do You Really Know What Your Kids Are Doing Online???

Feb 12, 2012   //   by kim   //   Family, General, Internet Safety, Kids, Lifestyle, Social Media  //  No Comments

As a parent of pre-teens and teens, it is often hard to find that balance between being overprotective (aka “smothering”) and too permissive.  We know that most kids between the ages of 10 – 18 are spending A LOT of time online… whether we know it and/or allow it. The facts and figures just don’t lie. Even if we don’t allow it in our own homes, chances are at least one (if not “most”) of their friends’ parents do… Therefore, we can’t really keep our kids totally removed from this new ‘world’ (with a whole lot of new dangers)–no matter how hard we try.

On the other hand, do we want to be ‘that parent’–the one that the ‘other parents’ complain about? You know… the parent whose house those ‘other kids‘ (usually belonging to the parents described in the above paragraph) run to in order to get online and update their facebook status?  On the account their parents don’t even know exists?

Well, I am going to admit it here and now… I am that ‘other parent’.  But… before you are tempted to write me off as some liberal lunatic ruining my kids and really, the entire future of the world as we know it, please allow me a moment to explain…

First, I don’t ever knowingly allow a child whose parents have forbidden facebook to access the site from my house. I ask before a kid comes over. Really. And I honor that parent’s wishes.

After all, just because I allow my kids to be corrupted by the potential evils of Social Media doesn’t mean I will override your decision to protect your kids from them.

With my own kids, however, social media – facebook, specifically – is not taboo.

Obviously, Facebook and the entire spectrum of social media is what provides about 75% of the income my family enjoys. Therefore, I know the platform to a greater extent than the majority of the population. I know the ins-and-outs of the system and I also know all the privacy guards that can be put into place.  I also have a few of my own tricks up my sleeve to keep my kids in check. And they were aware of these the moment I allowed them to create their accounts.

For example, I created my kids’ user names and passwords and they are never allowed to be changed while they live under my roof. Surprisingly, as this rule was set from the very beginning, it has not ever been questioned or argued.  It is 100% accepted and my kids actually expect that I will log in and check their accounts sometimes as often as every day – even at times when they are “chatting” (instant messaging; a parent’s nightmare most of the time) with others online.  (If you aren’t aware, the same “user” can be logged in to Facebook on different computers at the same time. Thus, if your child is “chatting”, you can log in and observe the conversation in real time.)

I also send updates and notifications of everything my kids do while in Facebook (including chats) to their email address. An email address mind you, that I also have added to my own personal Outlook.  Do I read them all? No. Do I frequently scan them? Yes. In fact, once a week or more, I will spend an hour or so actually searching for specific words in these posts.  Most of the time, however, I don’t even mention to the kids what I read unless it needs immediate attention. While I am raising them, I do believe this is my business. But I also don’t have to rub their true lack of privacy in their face unless it is something that really sets off warning bells.

Now, many of you are probably thinking… that sounds like way too much work. Some of you are also probably thinking I am doing way too much – sticking my nose way too much – into my kids’ business. Others of you are likely thinking I am not doing it enough. Trust me, I have heard both sides.

But here’s the thing…. Facebook – the way I monitor it – has given me much more insight and knowledge about what is going on in my kids’ lives – and in their heads – than my parents ever had of mine. I know their friends to an extent my parents couldn’t have imagined. And while I won’t say that I use these things as total determinants of who my kids can spend time with (sometimes kids act one way online when I KNOW them to be totally different ‘in real life’) – I know with who and when to be on my guard.

If you are one of those parents who doesn’t want their kids on Facebook, am I telling you you’re wrong? Absolutely not. If you are a parent who lets your kids spend time on the social networks and you don’t monitor it like I do, am I saying you’re irresponsible? Absolutely not. My job requires me to be on Facebook – an reading email non-stop – much of the day anyway.  It’s not really an inconvenience to me to perform these few extra steps to monitor their account and ensure if they are doing or saying things I don’t agree with – or even if they are being a victim or oblivious instigator of cyber-bullying – I know it right away.

But I also just added a tool that is going to take care of all these issues – alleviate every single concern I might have lingering – regarding my kids’ use of social media like Facebook. It is a tool I wish I thought of because I don’t think I will ever live without it until my kids are graduated and off to college.  It is a tool that I honestly believe every parent should have on their home computer.  And it is less than $20 a month.

This tool is the leader in web-based scanning and analysis of children’s social networking activities. Our technology goes deep beneath the social network surface and sees what parents can’t; helping you identify, understand and protect your children from potentially dangerous, harassing or embarrassing social media exchanges. It is also is easy-to-use and takes just a few minutes to activate. Simply set up your customer account online , then login to your account to register your child’s social networking accounts and let the tool do the rest. This powerful technology lets you stay in touch with your child’s activities, analyze the people they’re in contact with, and know when you need to get more deeply involved.

Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Scans and analyzes your child’s social network 24/7.
  • Provides instant alerts and prioritizes risks that most parents wouldn’t have the time or knowledge to discover.
  • Features an easy-to-read monitoring report, updated in real time.
  • Is invisible to your child and their friends, allowing you to trust and verify your child’s activity without embarrassment.
  • Empowers and enables you to teach your children responsible behavior and awareness of their social interactions online.

Does this tool take the place of active parenting when your kids are using Social Media? No. Will it help you with that active parenting by making monitoring easier and faster? Yes. Absolutely. Does it give me additional piece of mind? You bet. The name of this product is Social Shield and I highly endorse it.

The price of Social Shield? $19.99. The price of really knowing what my kids are doing online – and who they are doing it with…. Priceless.

To Learn More About Social Shield, visit www.fhtmus.com/kimbrooksv

***I want to make it clear that I am a rep for Social Shield but I would NOT be if I didn’t believe in – and use – the product or service myself. You will need my rep ID to access additional information and to register for Social Shield. That number is 4207074

 

 

 

Facebook Fan Pages for Your Image, Brand, or Business – Quick and Easy Tips

KB2Intuit Facebook Fan PageWhether you like it not, Facebook is where it is today.  This is not only true for individuals.  For public officials, brands, and/or businesses, it has become THE place to attract new potential customers and stay top-of-mind with your current fan base.  In fact, that’s why Facebook “Pages” have come to be known as “Fan Pages” by many.

See, here’s the thing… Facebook is currently the 2nd most visited site on the web (www.Alexa.com) and if anyone tells you this is declining, they’re wrong.

In the last 3 months, Facebook’s page views have actually increased 50% (Alexa; July 25, 2011).

Facebook Alexa page view statsThus, Facebook is not going anywhere – at least not anywhere downhill – any time soon.

It is no doubt marketing and brand-building are instrumental to increasing revenue. It’s not complicated.  People need to know you are “in business” in order for you to get business.  This applies whether you are selling a product or service or just “yourself” (in the case of public officials, bands, brands, etc.).  Thus, one of the keys to marketing and brand-building must always be getting in front of as many people possible.  And while there are numerous ways to do this, the easiest way, is to find where the traffic already is and put yourself (or your business/brand) in front of it.

In this manner, “Social Media Marketing” – as Facebook and its other contemporaries such as Twitter, Stumbleupon, Youtube, etc. have come to be collectively known – is really no different than traditional marketing (although, the message you will disseminate through these platforms is vastly different, that’s a whole different subject we’ll cover later).

Think about it this way… if you wanted to put up a billboard in town advertising your brand or business, and money was no object, you would want it at the busiest intersection you could find, in the area where you could get exposure to the largest share of your market (potential customers) in the quickest amount of time.

Facebook is this online, high-traffic, “intersection” and the cool thing? It doesn’t cost you anything at all (or very little in the event you need to hire someone like us to create your fan page) to get your own “billboard” there!

We gave you a couple of facts about Facebook’s “web traffic” above but any quick, simple, search you can do on your own can prove a thousand times over that this is the busiest “intersection” on the web where you can position yourself, your business, or your brand, for FREE! Most people today have a Facebook page and if they don’t, they are in a very small minority.  Thus, since that is where many, many, many people online are (and are spending much of their time online) , that is where you, your business, and/or your brand need to be as well in order to get in front of those people.  And if you are not there yet, you need to get there fast!

This applies not only in the case of finding new customers, but also in staying “top of mind” for your current customers—continually staying in front of them and providing some sort of value that makes them want to keep coming back.

After all, we all know that making more money is really simple…

More New Customers + More Return Customers = More Money!

Now, maybe you’re wondering… is a Facebook “Page” different than an individual profile page and are there advantages to having a Page that you don’t get with a profile?

Well, the short answer is…there isn’t much difference at all but there are MANY advantages of owning/operating a “Page” for businesses—advantages that can be MEGA-IMPORTANT.  Here’s just a few of them:

  • Pages are public.  They are “crawled” by the Search Engines (like Google) and thus, can be found in the Search Engines.  Yet, because they are “public”, they can be viewed by anyone – regardless of whether they are connected to you in/through Facebook and/or are even a Facebook member!
  • Updates to pages appear in the timeline of everyone who is a fan.  This means you not only get exposure to your fans, you get exposure to their friends/connections as well.
  • Content delivery from your website/blog/RSS feed can be automatically fed into your page giving your customers/fans/followers a reason to come back and interact with you – and/or your company/brand – regularly (keeping you top of mind).

And these are just a few of the bigger advantages of a “Page” over a Facebook profile.

So, let’s talk about how to create a Facebook Fan Page.

You can get started by viewing our new page HERE.  Now, we know we don’t have many fans yet because we just changed our business name and thus, had to start a whole new page.  In fact, you can help us out a bit for providing you this FREE information by “liking” our page if you will. We’d really appreciate it.  Moving on…

It’s really easy to get started…

1) Create the page

  • If you don’t have a Facebook page or are creating the page for a brand/business you don’t wish to have associated with your personal facebook page:
    • Visit http://www.facebook.com. On the home page, do not enter any details or you will just be creating another regular facebook profile.  Instead, look under the place where you would sign up and click on, “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business.
    • On the next page, click on the category that best fits the page you want to create.
    • Fill in the details.
    • Facebook now offers the ability to create pages while in your private account but NOT have the page associated with your private account. So, you can also…
    • After you log in at http://www.facebook.com, go to http://www.facebook.com/pagesIn the top, right, corner, click on “Create Page”.  
    • On the next page, click on the category that best fits the page you want to create.
    • Fill in the details.

2) “Spruce Up” Your Page – There are many ways to make your page look visually appealing.  You should always have a profile image and fill in all the “Information”.  Basically, you want to give people a reason to “like” your page so that it appears in the timeline of all their friends and connections too!

  • Make it interactive – Facebook has a robust applications directory (http://www.facebook.com/apps/ ) that makes it very easy to add fun and engaging
    “apps” to your page that help to bring customers in – and back – to your page.  Especially appealing are iframe applications that let you have custom “Welcome” (landing) pages for either new or return viewers to customize your user’s visit and experience.  (*It’s not hard to create these on your own but we do specialize in custom Facebook Fan Pages with custom landing tabs/pages if you need assistance). If you have your own web developer/IT person on staff, it is not difficult to create your own Facebook applications either.  The obvious advantage with this is for branding purposes so that you get your name – and/or your company and/or brand’s name (and image) – out there to a much greater extent.  Especially if your app “goes viral”, this can be an awesome way to build your fan page – and fan base – quickly and effectively.
  • It’s important to make your page appear professional and attractive.  It should also match the branding of all your other marketing material and images “out there” in the public eye.  Also, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.  People in social media want “real” social interaction—hence the name “social media”.  They want conversation and they want to feel like a part of the brands/companies they follow.
  • Give your fans a reason to participate in your conversation and not just follow it.  Statistics prove that fans come back to a page more often when they are a part of the conversation happening there.  Thus, your status updates shouldn’t just spout facts and statements.  You can really use this as free – and very targeted – market research.  Ask questions about new products.  Even ask your fans’ opinions about ideas for future products/services you are thinking of launching.  You can even find already built apps and/or services that allow you to survey your fans and/or hold contests and sweepstakes.  Bottom line?  Put some thought and effort into figuring out what makes your fans want to become active on your page, do it, and do it frequently.
  • Make sure your page is connected with your website and other social media accounts in an automated manner that produces major results for very little time investment.  It is very easy to automate the process of having your blog and/or website’s RSS feed route directly to your fan page wall.  And from there, feed to twitter.  Similarly, you can have your Youtube account feed to facebook and then on to Twitter as well.  Even LinkedIn can be connected to a Facebook fan page and all of these “connections” serve to further increase exposure and help your business/brand gain a strong foothold in the online world.

To see what can be done (although, some of these have quite a bit of money invested in their development), you should visit a few of the top Facebook pages that are out there and see what they are doing.  While you may not be able to match their level of development – or even involvement – initially or all at once, it will give you an idea of your ultimate goal or general direction.

Some of our favorites are:

Starbucks : http://www.facebook.com/Starbucks

Red Bull : http://www.facebook.com/redbull

Redbox: http://www.facebook.com/redbox

Target: http://www.facebook.com/target

Tide: http://www.facebook.com/Tide

Once you have reviewed these, you can see what is possible.  And while you can learn to do most of these things yourself, we also offer a lot of this at affordable rates that are also “progressive” in that you can do a bit at a time as you can afford it.   Additionally, there are some templates out there available that can help you design your own pages but you will have to do some searching to find them.  You can find some at http://www.facebookpagetemplates.com/.

 *NOTE: Until you have 25 fans for your page, you will have a long, numerical, identifier URL. After you have 25 or more fans, you can go to http://www.facebook.com/usernames to assign a more user-friendly name to your page.

3) Now that your page is up, start inviting friends and again, give them a reason to share your page with others.  With a fan page, you can invite all of your friends at once.  Then, email your entire address book with your Facebook fan page information and ask them to email their friends.  Also, once you get fans, give them a reason to share it with their facebook connections as well.  And remember, when they interact on your page, it now appears in their timeline so all of their friends see it.  Then, when others in their timeline see it, if they comment and or “like”” that post or comment, it now appears in their timeline also.  And so on… and so on… and so on… Do you get the picture?  Facebook can be a never-ending stream of easy, free, exposure with just a little forethought, creativity, and very minimal effort.

So, without a doubt, if you are interested in promoting an individual (especially yourself), a brand, or a business, you really cannot afford to NOT have a Facebook page.  Especially considering how simple it is and free to at least get started, there are no ifs-ands-or-buts… about it.  Get out there and just do it now.   And then, don’t stop.  Don’t just let it sit there stagnant. Stay active, stay fresh, even get a little funky if you’re brave enough, and watch your image/brand/business thrive!

“Thank” the Recession?

Jun 20, 2011   //   by kim   //   Economy, General, Make More Money, New Revenue Streams, Publishing, Small Business, Startups  //  No Comments

Thank God for the recessionI just read a blog from one of my favorite sites – Crowdspring. The blog was titled “558,000 startups and small businesses. Why we should thank the recession.”

My first impression was – they were using this title to get eyeballs on their site. I couldn’t imagine any of us – especially startups and small businesses – would be “thanking” the recession any time soon.  Well, I was in for a big surprise.

The idea behind this article (but you should read it yourself HERE) is that the recession has forced people out of their comfort zones – and secure corporate jobs.  In their desperation, many turned to looking for a way to turn their passion into revenue.

As the author or that blog says:

You have a computer, right? A cell phone? A table at Starbucks? That minimal infrastructure is adequate for a huge number of new businesses and allows entrepreneurs to hang out their shingle quickly and cheaply, and to compete powerfully.

The end result being tons more small businesses (558,000 a day to be exact) entering the marketplace. Ultimately, the writer feels this will actually result in more job growth and stimulus to the economy.

See, 50% of all new businesses do fail in the first 5 years. However, those that do succeed often become solid and successful enough that they begin to hire others. My personal belief - based on the facts put forth by the author of this article – is that because many of these “new” business owners have lived through the pain and desperation of being jobless, and because many of them are coming from the hardest hit demographics (the “supposed to be retired” and African Americans), the ones that do succeed and are able to hire eventually will probably hire from their own demographic group. New businesses also need the services of other businesses (designers, accountants, web developers, printers, office supply providers, etc.l) and that further encourages economic growth as well.

Thus, this means we probably can “thank the recession” at some point down the line. It’s hard right now. But it’s always hard to be thankful for any “lesson” while you are in the throes of learning it.

So, what about you? Are you living your life ticked-off about the recession? Or are you looking for other opportunities and ways you can expand your business or knowledge into areas that are making money right now?

One idea…

If you own a business based on a specialty area, have you thought about writing a book to tell others how to “do it themselves”? This might seem counter-intuitive but I guarantee you, the people you help to save money now, will be your best customers in the future. When they come across something they can’t do, they’ll come to you because you were the one that helped them.

By writing a book, you also set yourself up as an expert,  You become the authority on the subject – getting your name “out there” – so that when other people have the chance to recommend someone with your knowledge or expterise to someone else who can’t “do it themeselves”, your name will be the one they come up with immediately.  Not to mention, writing a book using print on demand services is cheap and easy!   But we can help you with this too and it’s one of our favorite services we offer. We can even assist you with writing and editing the book if you need us. We have “ghostwritten” several books and have edited many as well.

Ultimately, once we get the title set up with the printer, we can also design a simple web page for you to sell your book or even add the sales page to your current site so that everything is automated! Imagine that! You just write the book and never have to carry inventory, pay for stock, or ship a single item. YES…that is REALLY how print-on-demand works!

That is just one idea for “surviving” during this recession! Contact us for a free consultation and we will give you many more based on your specific business or area of expertise!

Customer Service & Your Brand: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

Jun 20, 2011   //   by kim   //   Branding, Customer Service, General  //  No Comments

British Airways Poor Customer Service British Airways suffered a blow today and they probably don’t even know it yet…and they probably never will. I just read an article on the “Business In Blue Jeans” blog. The author of this article was giving tips about customer service primarily by illustrating through a personal story how British Airways did it wrong. She was just using this experience from her own life to emphasize the points in her article but what hit me so strongly was that there was a “story within a story” here.

The story did exactly what the author intended – pointed out all the many mistakes British Airways made in their customer service in dealing with her lost luggage. Their lost luggage and claims customer service processes definitely weren’t designed to be easy on the customer. In fact, it almost appeared as if they purposely made this process difficult so most people would just give up before the claim was ever paid out.

British Airways also didn’t have customer service emergency backup plans in place. If communication got lost or ended up at the bottom of a pile on one administrator’s desk, there didn’t seem to be any mechanisms for follow up on submitted claims and definitely no checks in balances in place to ensure that a claim made it through their internal processes successfully or even at all.

They certainly didn’t keep the customer informed and they didn’t respond and communicate quickly either. This woman went for over 3 months before hearing anything and it would have been longer had she not kept calling until she reached the CEO of British Airways. Then, it was another 2 months before she received her check.

Finally, they broke the “Golden Commandment of Customer Service” – go the extra step to satisfy your customers and apologize if necessary. In fact, when she did finally receive a check for her claim – 5 months after the incident – it was HALF of what she put on her claim form!

Obviously this was a great story to illustrate the author’s points. But what it illustrated to me even more was how one negative customer service experience could really damage a company’s reputation quickly. Many businesses seem to think, “...one unhappy person doesn’t matter that much.”

Oh how wrong they are! I wonder how many people – like me – read this British Airways unhappy customer‘s blog? And I read it because someone else read it and forwarded it to me since they knew I was always seeking marketing and business information to blog about myself. I also wonder how many people – like me – went on to blog about this story themselves? So, just counting the people I know about, that is three people who are unhappy with British Airways over this incident. I am sure there will be many, many, more who read the original author’s blog – and who read this blog – who will feel the same way.

What you can take from that is this… In these days of the pervasiveness of the Internet – these days of social communication and information that spreads like wildfire through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube - “just one person” is neverjust one person“. When you are operating a business or a brand, you must always treat every single customer like they have the biggest audience in the world and can make or break your business with one little blog post. Because…it just might be true.

Custom Software Development

Jun 6, 2011   //   by kim   //   General, Services  //  No Comments

In this day and age, businesses and companies are having to find ways to do more with less.  Key buzzwords are “increase productivity”, “decrease expenses/overhead”, and “maximize bottom line”.

Yes, there are many, many, many, software solutions – and software solutions providers – out there in the marketplace to help a commercial entity respond to this demand.  But what if… one size doesn’t always fit all?  What if you need a little of what this company or provider offers and a little of what another offers?  What if there isn’t one product or provider out there that meets all your specialized needs or desires?  Is it really smart or cost-effective to have to purchase multiple products or services just to get all the features you want or require to get all your specifications met?  Of course not…

At KB2Intuit, we realize that your needs and desires are not always the same as someone else’s and your needs and desires can’t always be met by an “out-of-the-box” solution..  We also realize your budget isn’t always the same as someone else’s either.

Of course, not every business-person or company has unlimited resources at their disposal to hire some big firm to create the exact software tool or platform you want or require.  But that doesn’t mean a custom software solution has to be out of reach for a business (or budget) of any size!

We have a software development team, led by CTO/Vice-President of Technology Keith Brooks – a fully-qualified, degreed, and MCSD-certified Software Engineer – that can assist you in creating the precise custom software application you desire, within your budget.  Keith personally oversees all requirements gathering, systems analysis, and architecture design proposals to give you the most “bang for your buck” possible.  In fact, whenever possible, Keith and will make recommendations of existing software components that can be woven together artfully by our team to provide exactly what you are desiring without the cost of complete customization.   This usually means you save BIG.   And when complete customization is necessary, Keith can often propose various options and scales of development which can be executed at a choice of price-points and/or in phases if budget allocation needs to be spread out for financial feasibility.

Most of our custom software development is web or “cloud”-based for ease of use and integration with current systems if desired.

The bottom line is that with KB2Intuit, “custom” meanscustom“…  We work with you closely and compassionately to ensure you get as much for your dollar as possible, as easily as possible, and as quickly as possible.  And of course, the initial consultation is always free!

Contact us today to request your complimentary analysis and custom software development quote. Stop wishing you had a software solution that did “…x,y,z,” allowing your business to be more efficient, more productive, and more profitable.  You can have it!  Your bottom line will thank you.  Yes… you can have your cake and eat it too!

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