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Tips to Help You Design an Effective Infographic for Your Blog

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Tips to Help You Design an Effective Infographic for Your Blog

Online sharing is constantly evolving and changing, and the more you can do to make sure your blog is keeping up with the trends, the better. More and more of us are making the transition to a life lived plugged into all the requisite social media outlets, and if you want to be running a blog that’s firing on all eight cylinders and really reaching the audience that you hope to be reaching, then it’s a smart idea to know the ways that your audience wants to be reached and communicated with. Knowing how the Internet wants to share and what it wants to share is something of an art, as well as a science — the most popular content is constantly being created and recreated, but trends always show up and take hold for a while, to the point where they often become something of an industry standard, at least for the time being. The infographic is one of the most popular ways to share online right now, combining easy-to-grasp imagery with timely and relevant information. We’ll talk about how to design the most effective infographics so you can make sure your blog’s publishing the most shareable content on the web.

1. Be Timely. One of the most important aspect of any good infographic is that it’s very much a product of the moment. Content on the web is more or less here today, gone tomorrow, so you’ve got to make sure that the subject matter you pick for your infographic is going to be something about which people are truly interested, otherwise nobody’s going to share.

2. Do Your Research. No one is interested in information that you can come up with right off the top of your head. Any good infographic is going to require that you do some research and come up with some information that’s going to be of significant value or entertainment to your audience. Unless you have something original to say, nobody will be interested in hearing it at all.

Tips-to-Help-You-Design-an-Effective-Infographic-for-Your-Blog1 Tips to Help You Design an Effective Infographic for Your Blog

3. Tell a Story. Data is only that until you can package it in a way that causes your audience to truly connect with it. Find the story that’s embedded within your data, as this is an idea at the heart of just about any marketing campaign. Tell your audience a story so they have something onto which they can truly latch on.

4. Solve Problems. Come up with that narrative by figuring out which problem you’re going to solve via the information you’ve got on your infographic. How are you going to help the people who read it? Not only will this inform the content, but in terms of design, it’ll also inform the way your infographic is laid out — by identifying your audience, you can select a visual language that will appeal to them best.

5. Refine Your Visual Approach. This concept actually applies to just about every aspect of your infographic — make sure all of them agree in terms of the visual approach you take. Any infographics agency or graphic design firm will tell you that the best design is “invisible” — but it should be very intentionally chosen by you. Hopefully you’re able to come up with a design that blends with and supports your subject matter seamlessly.

Using social media as your blogs secret weapon

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Using social media as your blogs secret weapon

We all know about Facebook & Twitter but just how many of us have latched on to the fact they can help our brand awareness?

Since its foundation in 2006, Twitter has just got bigger and bigger and is now rivaling social media heavyweight Facebook in popularity steaks. It is roughly estimated that there are over 270 million monthly active users just on Twitter – that’s a lot of people.

Nowadays, to keep up with the vast competition from other sites, it is vital for bloggers to have a social media presence. This is where more and more people are going as their daily source of news and reading material.

 

If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. By all means, make your brand have a presence on as many social media platforms as possible, after all, you do want people to be able to discover you and become a regular reader. But for now, we’re going to focus on Facebook and Twitter.

Having an FB page and a Twitter account are very much like the modern-day equivalent to a mailing list or newsletter. It keeps all your audience in one-handy places and lets you connect with them directly. Within seconds, you can let them know about your latest post.

We have carefully thought of and come up with five tips that will help transform your blogs’ Twitter or Facebook account into your powerful, superweapon to drive extra traffic your way.

Not only can you use these accounts to remind your audience of your postings but you can also interact with them. You can find out what interests them by reading through their tweets. Do enough research and you may find a trend amongst your readers – inspiration for your next article! If they are interested in something, write about it and cater to their needs.

Using-social-media-as-your-blogs-secret-weapon Using social media as your blogs secret weapon

Now we have made accounts we need to make sure we are using them properly. Yes, it takes a bit more than just posting a link to your article.

TIP 1: Consider your post on your page/account to be a short advertisement for your article. Make it short, snappy and interesting – otherwise, the reader will just get bored and scroll right past you. Maybe use an interesting, eye-catching quote from the post? Or reference something relevant to the article? Think outside the box of just linking back and writing the subject.

TIP 2: Use hashtags for Tweets and trending topics for Facebook. This will help people who don’t follow you, discover you. For example, if you write about rabbits and use #rabbit – someone eventually will come across it resulting in the possibility of another reader.

TIP 3: Mention influential/known brands and users – that are relevant to your article or site. This could spark a discussion that will extend the reach of people who see the posts. You can also use this tip towards users who follow you. Personally thank them if they shared your article on their account or mention a particularly good comment they made on your site.

TIP 4: Be a little bit cheeky. Ask for your followers to retweet or share your post. Sometimes it will pay off more than just hoping they will share it around. Ask politely and friendly and if they like the post, they may feel even more inclined to.

TIP 5: Get creative! Be inspired by video, music, images, memes. Use them to your advantage. By including content, you will make your article stand out that little bit more. Someone who might have otherwise scrolled past a text-only post may have their attention nabbed your way just for using that one video.

Practicing these tips in a non-intrusive and respectable manner could very much help you in becoming a blog-force to be reckoned with and make sure you have a healthy web presence. It is important to remember to not spam your followers with constant posts otherwise they will get bored and lose interest in you. Time these tips well, and you’ll be onto blogging gold.

Five steps to outsourcing your business IT functions to the cloud

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Five steps to outsourcing your business IT functions to the cloud

Outsourcing business IT operations to the cloud is a hot topic for companies at present. Many voices are extolling its virtues, with key benefits from cost reduction and increased business flexibility highlighted alongside the improved technological reliability associated with virtualized environments.

Michel Robert, managing director, Claranet, states: “There is also, however, a current of concern coursing through IT departments, as questions are raised about the service levels, security and increased reliance on networks that an outsourced IT infrastructure will necessitate. So what practical steps should you take if you are considering outsourcing parts of your IT infrastructure from in-house physical servers to a remote, cloud environment? There are five key steps that a business should consider when putting together a business plan for moving to an outsourced cloud.”

Step 1: Discover what your IT infrastructure consists of, and what it’s doing:

Michel continued: “The first step in determining if outsourcing your IT infrastructure is right for your business is to conduct a thorough assessment of your existing infrastructure and applications. As with all stages of this five-step process, this procedure is most effective when conducted with the help of a qualified service provider. It is crucial that they have proven expertise in identifying what IT components and functions are suited to cloud provision and which are not, and that they can execute a successful migration strategy.”

The fact is that some applications – such as network file sharing and phone switches – are not always ideally suited to a cloud or virtualized environment because they require either very high bandwidth or very low latency, or both. Compliance issues can also complicate, or negate the possibility, of moving some parts of a business’s IT infrastructure to an outsourced cloud environment. For example, the customer database of a financial institution, or an online retailer’s credit card transaction processing, is subject to regulations from the FSA and the credit card industry’s PCI-DSS rules, and as such the method of outsourcing these types of applications or functions needs careful consideration.

outsourcing-your-business Five steps to outsourcing your business IT functions to the cloud

Step 2: Weigh up current costs vs. future-benefits

“The next step is to compare the current state of your IT resources with what you would need to support the business’s plans, reduce maintenance costs, improve business process efficiency, and so on. We’ve found that, in almost all cases of outsourcing to the cloud, businesses that reduce their IT estate and centralise servers in a third-party data centre still have ample processing power and storage to realize these kinds of ambitions,” continued Michel.

“You then need to determine what your current spend on IT is. This is essential to building a business case for outsourcing your migration to the cloud. Unfortunately, this is not always a straightforward process; it requires a comprehensive picture of your IT infrastructure, which takes into account costs for managing the entire IT estate. This should include costs for power consumption by servers, time spent on maintenance, hardware upkeep, and refreshes, hardware disposal in accordance with WEEE and multiple data protection regulations, plus the additional expenditure of licensing operating systems,” he added.

It often takes people by surprise when they learn that the total power cost for fifteen servers, for example, can be around £6,000-£7,000 per year – largely because this spend is usually hidden in the facilities budget. This means that your project team will need to work closely with finance and facilities, as well as other areas of the business, to get an accurate picture of current costs.

Step 3: Look beyond the numbers

“It’s important to note here that the benefits of cloud are not limited to cost reduction alone. There may also be an opportunity to improve your business’s continuity strategy and disaster recovery plan. For instance, an added benefit of a managed cloud environment is that it can also make your IT services remotely accessible. Additionally, internal servers may not be housed in areas with appropriate cooling and power redundancy. Such qualitative benefits should also be considered in the project’s business case for migration.”

Step 4: Optimise your network for cloud

Michel added: “It goes without saying that without a network there is no cloud service, and yet the network is often an afterthought in outsourcing projects. If the network isn’t optimized for cloud services, then application performance will be marred and in some cases, organizations may have to contend with disruptive downtime,”

“In general, network optimization and moving to the cloud will almost always involve increasing bandwidth and introducing Quality of Service, which will necessitate an increase in a business’s spend on connectivity. This usually isn’t a deal-breaker thanks to huge reductions in the price of connectivity and improvement to service quality. Overall, the importance of the network to the outsourced cloud means that a cloud service provider with equal expertise in networking can help keep costs down and can offer added value to a project.

Step 5: Know your provider

If after consideration of the above steps you are committed to outsourcing to a cloud service, you must choose your provider carefully.

“There are several methods of identifying the right partner. Firstly, check out their references: what caliber of clients do they serve, and have these cloud deployments proved successful? Speak to their references and find out first-hand if the vendor is living up to its promises,”

“Secondly, check the certifications: Microsoft Partner – Gold Hosting and a VM Enterprise or Premier Status are key; these are the highest industry accolades and are indicative of the knowledge, skills and commitment levels a vendor offers to help you implement technology solutions. It is also advisable to go in and see the vendor’s data center in action. Not only will this enable you to assess the professionalism and security of the environment, but crucially it gives you a chance to talk to the engineers who would be running your platform, and establish whether you can foster a trusting relationship with the vendor who can, if suitable, assist your business’s move to the cloud,” continued Michel.

Lastly, pay special attention to the provider’s service level agreement(s) (SLA). It should guarantee things that are meaningful to overall business objectives, not just technical requirements. The cloud has huge potential, but there are varying levels of service. Outsourcing to a managed cloud isn’t a panacea for all IT ills; it is simply a means to help businesses get more of what they need from their IT function.

“Ultimately, by selecting an experienced vendor able to manage your IT infrastructure effectively, you will be able to focus clearly on your business whilst the service provider manages, supports and monitors your virtualised infrastructure to ensure system availability and efficiency. And, as stated, a cloud provider that has networking expertise as well, will help to ensure the network element of the cloud service is optimized,” concluded Michel.

If content is King, then connectivity is Queen

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If content is King, then connectivity is Queen

Will Pitt from Geo writes:If you were one of the 20 million people in the UK who watched Usain Bolt achieve the seemingly impossible on the evening of Sunday 5th August, or one of the 8 million who watched via the BBC website, (the more remarkable of the two statistics in my view, given that the previous record for viewing live content via the BBC website was 5.7m), you will be assured of a statement as old as television itself: Content is King. All 9.63 glorious seconds of it.

Two recent conferences in London, The Future of Entertainment and The Future of Broadcasting, suggested, however, that Content may not be the only occupant of the (broadcasting) palace. People are consuming content in very different ways to how they used to and the expectation levels amongst the Whatever/Wherever/Whenever crowd is rising. The invasion of Connected TVs into our homes (if you don’t know what they are, you’ll soon find out, trust me…) will add to the demand to have content seamlessly streamed, no matter its source. Personally, I think it’s entirely reasonable to expect a seamless flow of content to the device if access to it is offered. We should be very demanding of our network providers. We wouldn’t, after all, accept an intermittent flow of electricity to our TVs or computers, now would we?

content-is-King If content is King, then connectivity is Queen

This leads me to conclude that, if Content is King then, increasingly, Connectivity is Queen and their propinquity needs to be acknowledged and supported.

Accompanying the up-take in the diversity of viewing devices is the fact that people expect high picture quality too. Not so long ago, HD was the exception, not the norm. I’m not so sure now. Maybe the 24 x simultaneous High Definition feeds provided via the red button as part of the Games coverage has changed things. Beijing offered 1 x World Feed of their Games in full HD and everyone went “ooooOOOOoooo!” and that was only 4 years ago. HDTV is about to be capped, too, by Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV).

What it all amounts to, of course, is a significant increase in the demand for bandwidth. Those involved in the contribution or distribution of content need to think very carefully about how they procure bandwidth if they are to keep their cost base under control. We’ve thought about how Geo, as a network operator, could address this market so that those charged with moving content around the place have the flexibility to expand their use of bandwidth whilst keeping their costs down. This is our ‘dedicated fibre’ model, where every customer has optic fibre strands dedicated only to them. That’s why our tag-line is ‘Own Your Network’. It’s quite different to the ‘usual’ telco model, which aims to bundle different client’s wavelengths together wherever possible. Dedicated fibre has other benefits too, such as a significant increase in reliability (due to there being less ‘hands’ on each route), and a much higher level of security, because there are no common parts to your network.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch and let your network become your crowning achievement.

TOP 7 WAYS TO USE QR CODES IN YOUR BUSINESS

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QR CODES

The use of QR codes has really taken off since the introduction of the Smartphone, making it easier for people to access business information without having to spend time manually entering it.

For those not familiar with QR codes, the QR code is a type of scanning code that can be read on mobile devices with a camera installed, and a QR code reader.

 

There are a number of great QR code readers available totally free on the iTunes store for the iPhone.

The way the QR code works is very simple:

You simply go to a website such as http://qrcode.kaywa.com
or search Google for ‘QR Code Generator”, and you will find sites that allow you to generate and download a QR code for free for your needs.

QR Codes can be set up to share your contact details, web address, physical business location or even links to your Twitter or Facebook pages.

But what many people are slowly learning is that QR codes can play a very important role in the marketing and promotion of your business, and there are ways many people may not have yet thought of.

Here are my top 7 ways QR Codes can be used:

Business Cards

Probably the most obvious way a QR code can be used is adding it to your business card, allowing people to simply scan your card to either add your contact detail to their contacts on their phone or just to access your website.

QR-CODES TOP 7 WAYS TO USE QR CODES IN YOUR BUSINESS

Real Estate
Real Estates are the perfect market to use QR codes, yet not many have caught on to this yet.

Most real estates have their properties listed online on their own website, or even a larger real estate directory such as RealEstate.com.au but unless you are visiting the website you don’t really know which properties are available, and the larger directories you might need to scroll for pages until you find the right property.

QR codes can make this much easier. For instance, if the Agent created a QR code for each of his properties and added them to his press ads o or flyers people can simply scan it and their phone can show them where the property is on the website or even on a Google Map.
Or better still, the Agent could add the QR code to his property signage and as people drive past to view the property they can scan the QR code, providing them with information of the property, even the inspection times and the Agent’s contact details, or just set it up to instantly phone the Agent!

Restaurants, Cafes & Hotels

Restaurants and Cafe’s can print a QR code on their menus, Napkins or drink coasters, which can provide the customer with access to their menu online, or just their contact details.
You could also set it up to link directly to their Facebook page, making it easy to share and like the establishment.

Markets

Even the small local markets can benefit from QR codes! Say for instance you are selling a necklace at the markets and the person loves it but may not have the money on them. Rather than lose a sale, you could have a QR code set up for the product so the buyer can scan it, taking them to your online store or even just to send you an email of interest on that particular product, allowing them to purchase it at a later time.

Social Media

Just about everyone now has a Facebook or Twitter account, but the only problem with social media sites such as Twitter or Youtube is that they have a static background that cannot be clicked. If you are receiving heavy traffic then this background area is prime marketing space. Adding a QR code can turn your static page into an active
link to your website, latest specials, etc.

An example of how this can work can be viewed here:
http://www.twitter.com/innercityhotels

Add your QR code to your Facebook profile page can do the same for you.

Press Advertising

Traditional press advertising is dead in terms of tracing its effectiveness. You really don’t know how many people even look at your ad or make a call to action if they did read it.

But if you were to add a QR code to your advertisement, especially a special offer, you could send the viewer to a specific page on your website which you can easily track through your website statistics, and monitor the success of your campaign easily.
This is also a handy way to grow your mailing list of subscribers, as you could easily direct them to an online form from their mobile device, capturing their details for future marketing.

Affiliate Marketing
If you sell other people’s products online you can ramp up your sales using QR codes, by adding them to anything…whether it is any of the things mentioned above, or to brochures, thirst, websites etc.

for instance, if you were an affiliate of iTunes or the App store, you can create the link to go directly to your affiliate link and then direct them automatically to the link in the iTunes store. You make a sale directly from the link! How easy is that!
This is just a few handy ways to use the QR code, but I am sure you can think of a bunch more once you start embracing them!