Tag Archives: Business Tips

Learn the Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Today’s entrepreneurs need to have a handle on Social Media Marketing if they want to generate buzz about their brand and raise their bottom line. By harnessing the power of web content and Social Media Marketing, entrepreneurs can elevate both their web audience and client base in a substantial way. Of course, starting your Social Media Marketing strategy from scratch can be quite a challenge. To get off to a great start, you really need to fully comprehend the fundamentals of Social Media Marketing. From making the most of your content’s quality, to increasing your online points of entry, putting these fundamentals to use will help you build a foundation that will serve your clients, your brand, and your bottom line.


Your success with Social Media Marketing depends on more listening and less talking. Always read your audience’s online content and join in their conversations in order to learn what’s of vital importance to them. You need to listen in order to create and inspire the conversations that add value their lives, both on and off line.



It’s crucial to focus on your niche; don’t be a jack-of all trades. Your Social Media Marketing strategy must be focused in order to be successful. Don’t try to be all things to all people.


The quality of you connections is more important than the quantity. Only high-quality followers will read, share and talk about your web content.


Social Media Marketing success won’t happen for you overnight. You will need to commit to Social Media Marketing for the long haul in order for it to generate substantial results.


When you create quality web content, your audience will share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and their blogs. The sharing is the key, as it creates more entry points where new potential customers can find you.


You need to spend time finding the influential people in your market who are interested in their niche and have their own quality audiences. These are the people you need to build relationships with. Prove to them that you are a reliable, unique source of information on your niche.


Don’t append all your time online promoting your product. This may sound counter intuitive, but the truth is, you need to spend less time promoting your product or service, and more time adding value to the online conversation about your niche.


Give credit where credit is due, and don’t ignore people that reach out to you online. Remember, Social Media Marketing is all about building relationships.


With Social Media Marketing, you need to be constantly available to your audience. Don’t just publish content sporadically. You need to consistently publish content and participate in online conversations.


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Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Your Website

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

A well designed website is a vital ingredient to every business. It’s crucial to avoid designing a website that takes way too long to load, has poor accessibility, doesn’t load correctly, is too cluttered, or even too sparse. If one of your visitors leaves your website within eight seconds, it’s time to fix something on your site pronto. Here are some key suggestions as to where you should start:

Speed up your site

When your website fails to grab someone’s attention and compel them to order one of your products or services or even add their email to your mailing list, it may be time for you to check and see your problem is a home page that take too long to load. It’s possible that large resolution images or animated Flash Files may be slowing you down. Try viewing your site over a slower Internet connection or use an online speed test to check your site’s speed.

Use Keywords on Your Pages

Remember, the goal of search engines is to provide relevant results according to the terms that people are using for their searches. This means you need to provide the most relevant, high-quality information that your audience is looking for out on the Internet. One way to do this is to bold the keywords in your headlines and in the “bodies” of your web page content. However, here’s no need to bold all your keywords. In fact, although it’s important to have proper keyword density, you should avoid “keyword stuffing.” Keyword stuffing is when you overload the content or your webpage’s meta tags of the web page with every possible keyword or phrase that relates to the site in many different forms. For example, a bad meta description for our a paper site would read as follows: “paper, copy paper, printer paper, laser printer paper, Xerox paper, typing paper.” Note that this example has only keywords, with no sentence structure. If your site contains an unnaturally high density of one single keyword, your site will actually drop in search engine rankings.

Use Image Tags

Another way to improve your traffic is through the use of optimized graphics in order to get listed in the Google Images’ database. When you build your website, be sure to use Image Tags and Alt Image Tags to code all of your images. And name your image files with popular, relevant, descriptive keywords.

Update Your Website Dates

When your website has the current date, it’s letting visitors known that it’s fresh and current. Search engines take this into consideration when they crawl through your site as well. Always update your website dates on a regular basis.


Ten Ways to Avoid becoming the Office Doormat

Business tips from the Ascentive team

Anyone who’s ever had a job at a big company has probably felt disrespected and undervalued at some point. But for those of think of themselves as the office doormats of the world, disrespect and a lack of appreciation are daily facts of life. But it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Here are ten ways to avoid becoming an office doormat.

Have a Career Plan

First off, you need to have a career plan. A plan helps you to take a proactive staff toward your career and work environment, and provides you with a measure. Whenever you’re asked to do something that is not in line with that plan seek and alternative.

Never be an Accessory to the Crime
Most office doormats are at least partly responsible for their doormat status. Identify the reasons you’ve become a so you can start changing those behaviors as soon as possible.

Learn to Say No
It’s okay to say no at the workplace. You’re not helping anyone by taking on work that you can’t handle. Simply say that you plate is full with commitments.

Don’t Enable Coworkers’ Bad Behaviors
If your colleagues have gotten away with taking advantage of you in the past, they will do so again. Always be ‘too busy’ to get their coffee, and be ‘on a deadline’ so you can’t do their work for them.

Command Respect
Remember to politely speak up in your workplace to demand respect.

Have the Tough Conversations
Always have the tough conversations, even if you need prepare yourself by writing a script and practicing ahead of time. For example, if you’re underpaid, make an appointment with your boss to discuss the situation, and bring research that shows salary ranges for employees in your job.

Communicate on Your Boss’s Level
When talking to your manager, be sure to sandwich constructive feedback between positive statements. For example: “I enjoy working with you a great deal. But recently when I brought in my new client and you asked me to leave the meeting to make copies, I felt demeaned.” End the conversation with “Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I do really enjoy my job.”

Take Credit for What You Do
Always take credit for what you do, if not vocally at meetings, then through status reports.

Friday Recap
Finally, review your workweek on Friday in order to figure out what changes you need to make in your work environment. Don’t wait until some drama goes down in the office.

Polish Your Resume
Periodically update your resume. There’s always a chance that your job may be a no win situation, and you should be looking for a new job as soon as possible.

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New case study reveals that Training can reduce your Vulnerability to Cybercrime

Internet safety tips from the Ascentive team

New statistics published by Internet Security Awareness Training (ISAT) firm KnowBe4 indicate that formal training can substantially reduce an organization’s vulnerability to cybercrime. The findings, which are based on a case study of three KnowBe4 clients, revealed that between 26% and 45% of employees at those companies were susceptible to phishing emails. Implementation of ISAT immediately reduced that percentage by 75%; with subsequent 4-week phishing testing resulting in a close to zero phishing response rate across all three companies.

“As cyberheists continue to make headlines, it’s become clear that Small and Medium Enterprise underestimate the prevalence of cybercrime and the ability of cybercriminals to hack into their networks and bank accounts,” said Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO of KnowBe4. “Many executives erroneously assume that their IT departments and antivirus software will identify and block any cyberheist attempts. The fact of the matter is though, that all it takes is one employee clicking on a phishing email gives the bad guys a backdoor to your network. Cybercriminals use that weak link (employees) to bypass your antivirus software and gain full access to your systems. Our research has proven that Internet Security Awareness Training can close that hole; but organizations need to take the initiative to implement a formal, company-wide program.”

KnowBe4’s recent client case study showed that between a quarter to a half of employees were phish-prone before receiving Internet security training. If a cybercriminal had targeted any of those companies prior to their implementation of ISAT, there could have been serious implications. The initial test involved sending a simulated phishing email to employees before the first ISAT session to see how many would fall for a phishing attempt. The results were alarming; KnowBe4’s phishing statistics revealed an average 36.67% click rate among the three companies:

•   Company A (28 users):  45%

•   Company B (95 users):  39%

•   Company C (76 users):  26%

Following the preliminary free phishing security test, KnowBe4 conducted company-wide training. After that 30-minute on-line training, a series of five different simulated phishing emails were sent to users. The emails and the order in which they were sent varied by company; and the simulated phishing attacks encompassed a number of different topics, which ranged from bank account unauthorized access alerts, to Twitter notifications, to requests that appeared to be sent from the companies’ own IT departments. After the first email in the post-training test campaign, Company A’s Phish-prone percentage dropped to 28%, while Company B and Company C had a 0% click rate; resulting in an average of 9.33% across the three organizations. That represents an immediate overall 74.55% reduction in phishing susceptibility after the first training session.

Supplemental training decreased the phishing response rates even further. The second email in the campaign netted only a 7.10% response rate from Company A, while Company B and Company C held steady at 0%. Following the third email in the series, Company A had joined Company B at 0% phishing susceptibility, while Company C had a 1% response rate. The fourth email in the campaign – a message that appeared to have been sent from the companies’ own IT departments – fooled some employees at Company A (3.5%) and Company B (10%), while Company C had no clicks. By the fifth email in the test campaign, all three companies had achieve a 0% Phish-prone rate; representing a full 100% reduction in susceptibility to phishing tactics.

Sjouwerman noted that the initial pre-testing phishing response rates are indicative of phishing susceptibility among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a whole, making these businesses especially vulnerable to cybercrime. “The media often tend to focus on high-profile cases, like the recent hacking incidents at Sony and Lockheed Martin. Cybercriminals target smaller companies and non-profits all the time; it’s just that those cases don’t always make national news. As a result, many SMEs have a false sense of security, thinking that nobody is going to bother going after them with so many larger, more successful targets out there. The reality is that cybercriminals know SMEs are less likely to have effective security measures in place – and they’ll go anywhere they can find an easy way in. We recently published a case study about an attempted $150,000 cyberheist at a Boston branch of the United Way. If someone at the charitable organization hadn’t been especially vigilant, those funds would be in the hands of overseas criminals instead of helping local citizens in need. My point is that cybercrime can – and does – happen everywhere. That’s why Internet security awareness training is so important.”

Build Trust and be a Successful Freelancer

Business tips from the Ascentive team

When it comes to being a successful freelancer, the most important thing you need to do is to inspire trust in your current and potential employers. Every interaction your have with employers can increase – or decrease – their trust in you. If you’re not careful, something as seemingly minor as taking too long to respond to an email can make you appear less dependable to an employer.

Being a freelancer who is responsive, pleasant, engaged, and meets expectations, is the key to acquiring more (and better paying) work. So how does one go about becoming a trustworthy freelancer? Start by following these principles:


Make Great First Impressions

Your first communications with potential employers are crucial in creating a high level of trust. Make every effort to appear intelligent, eager and on time. Always reread your email drafts aloud and use a spell-checker before you send them off. If you’re not communicating in your native language, make the extra effort to have a friend proofread your communications.

Don’t Lie about your Skillset

Always be honest about your skillset.  If you disappoint your employer when called upon to use your stated skills, you’ll never get a chance to demonstrate your real value. This is especially important when it comes to language skills.

Know the Big Picture

Always learn an employer’s business and their specific goals.  Employers trust freelancers who care about the big picture and understand their priorities.

Make your Deadlines

Without a doubt, there’s nothing’s more important than meeting your deadlines. In addition to hitting your dates, always be available for communication on the agreed days and times, and deliver the quality that you promised.

Document your Processes

Always document your process and record why you completed a task a certain way. This explains to your employer why you determined that process A was better than B and reinforces their trust in you.

Save your Employer Money

Anything you do that brings your contract work in under budget will help establish your integrity and your respect for the employer’s resources. That isn’t to say you should lower your own cost so much you can’t actually make a living; but if you have to make a choice that has a financial impact on your employer, try to choose the option that’s the least expensive.

Admit your mistakes and fix them

In the event that you’ve turned in your work and the employer isn’t happy, submit a second pass. Better yet, build a second pass into your delivery schedule on all major projects.

Follow up

Always check in with a quick email after you’ve delivered your work. This shows that you’re concerned with client satisfaction and will encourage them to hire you in the future.

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