Tag Archives: google

Google+ Tips for Businesses

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

If you are an entrepreneur, you know that Social Media plays a big part in marketing your business. Google+ has now opened itself to the public, but it is asking businesses to hold off on creating profiles until the search engine giant has released an upcoming set of features that will better support businesses. In the meantime, there are a few things you can try out with your personal accounts in order to get your feet wet and prepare your business for the eventual rollout:

Use Your Business’ Actual Name

No matter what, you’re going to want to stick with your businesses’ actual name when you create your Google+ page. Although you may want to acquire pages that have keywords that are related to your niche, this technique will likely be against Google+’s future policy. Just concentrate on making your Google+ business page your business’ home away from home, and a back link for search engine optimization.

Add Information to Your Pop-Up Window

You may have noticed that a pop-up window appears when you hover over your profile picture with your mouse. This window is an area that enables you to add information about your business, so be sure to fill it out.

Use Circles for Privacy & Security

Due to the Google+ sorting strategy, social connections through the portal are a bit more efficient than Facebook. Circles enable Google+ users to organize their connections into groups such as Family, Friends, and Work Colleagues, in order for users to decide which circles get access to which posts. Users can create a circle for any type of group they want and connect with whomever they want, including people outside of their normal group. This makes it much easier to control that has access to what information.

Use Private Posts for Brainstorming

Just like a blog, you can use Google+ to brainstorm posts without all your followers reading a work in progress, as Google+ offers the users the ability to disable sharing on posts. If you have posted something that you would like to keep private for now, click on the drop down menu are at the top right of the post and select “disable reshare.” This will also disable the “+mentions” in the comments of your post, even if you want to mention another Google+ user who has commented before you disabled the reshare.

Use Hangouts for Video Conferences

You may not have realized it, but Goggle+’s built-in multiple user video chat tool can also double as a conferencing platform. Instead of contacting people and then triggering a conversation on the phone or on Skype, you hang out in a room that displays you via camera stream. If no one is available to chat, you simply let the application run in the background while you continue your work.

Integrate your Other Apps

Finally, when your business is invited to have it’s own Google+ profile, you should integrate your other Google applications with it, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar.

Photo Credit


Best Free Phone Services on the Web

Business tips from the Ascentive team

Despite the birth of email and instant messenger, the phone is still an important part of business. People use the phone to connect with a voice they think they can trust that represents a particular product or service. But phone service doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg; here are the best free Phone Services on the web.

GoSIP:

Make free VoIP calls from your Web-enabled mobile phone through Wi-Fi with GoSIP’s free download.

Fring

Fring harnesses your phone’s SMS technology to deliver free VoIP calls wherever you are. It also lets you chat with friends on most major chat clients.

MOBIVOX:

Mobivox offers a free download that allows individuals to call anyone in the world, regardless of the phone they use.

FreeConferenceCall:

FreeConferenceCall offers accounts that can accommodate up to 96 users.

Free Audio Conferencing:

FAC provides free conference calls and offers toll-free conferencing for participants at 7.9 cents per minute.

RingCentral:

Offering a “complete internet fax service,” RingCentral’s free trial allows you to receive faxes as emails, to fax any MS Office file and to sign faxes electronically.

FaxDigits:

FaxDigits offers most of its services – a dedicated fax line, incoming faxes as PDFs, unlimited inbound faxes – for free. A premium services suite runs users $7.95 per month.

PamFax via Skype:

Although not quite free, some Skype plug-in developers have harnessed the power of Skype to send faxes to any fax machine in the world. Users pay in Skype credits per page with no monthly fees.

Facebook:

WalkieTalkie, Conference Calls and Chatterbox are just a few of the new applications Facebook offers. Facebook has also become a proving ground for VoIP-freeware development.

Ekiga:

Ekiga provides free VoIP for Linux enthusiasts.

GrandCentral:

Acquired by Google,  with GrandCentral one phone number makes all your phones ring.

JAHJAH:

JahJah  links two traditional phone lines together without downloads

KPhone:

KPhone is a Linux-based softphone project based on volunteer efforts.

MindSpring:

Earthlink’s free SIP phone download.

NadizPhone:

NadizPhone is a VoIP-enabled social networking site that allows free calls between members.

SightSpeed:

SighSpeed is an award-winning VPS that is free for personal use. Business plans start at $19.95 per month.

TelTel:

TelTel has a free download, but calls cost TelTel credits, which must be paid in $10 increments.

VoIP Discount:

VoIP Discount offers free VoIP calls, but only to trial members. After the trial period, users must buy credits, which gives them 120 “free days” of calling.

AIM Call Out:

Now that every major IM client has its own VoIM service, VoIM less about features and more about brand loyalty. For those still clinging to AOL, here’s yours.

Google Talk:

Finally, Google Talk is a freeware voice over Internet protocol VoIP client application offered by Google.

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Photo Credit


Google I/O 2011 Highlights

Highlights at this year’s Google extravaganza from the Ascentive team.   Held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco announced a ton of interesting tech developments on the horizon.  Here are a few of our favorites:

The Chromebook

Google first announced their nondescript Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook back in December of 2010 but the production version, now called Chromebook, was just announced at Google I/O 2011. The idea is the same as the original in that it’s basically a barebones computer that runs Google Chrome OS. In many ways the philosophy is a lot like Apple’s iPad in that the hardware takes a backseat to the user experience. Google is selling a Chrome interaction platform, not a traditional notebook. The Chromebook features built-in security, “all day battery”, and multiple connectivity methods that keep the hardware always connected. The production version now sports an unnamed Intel dual core CPU that should give it a much more polished feel than the CR-48 pilot program. External file storage now works, and unlike on the Cr-48, users can plug in a camera or SD card and the Chromebook will mount it automatically. The connectivity of Chromebooks allows users to always have access to their personal cloud. The file manager works in the browser like another tab, but features most modern file manager features, like specifying default apps for certain file types.

 

Fully offline Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs

With the launch of Chromebooks this summer, will release Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs with offline access. Google’s Sundar Pichai revealed at the conference that Google has internally been using offline versions of their three most popular apps for months now. In addition to this move, Google is no longer supporting Google Gears as Chrome gains many of the same features via HTML5. Pichai also noted that there are already hundreds of apps in the Chrome Web Store with offline access. And that includes almost every game in the store. This, on top of the built-in 3G connectivity is all vital to ensure the vitality of Chromebooks, Pichai noted.

 

Chrome Web Store goes International, 5% Flat Fee

The Chrome Web Store is going international to all of Chrome’s 160 Million users over the web, available in 41 languages around the world. In addition to this, there will be a 5 percent flat fee to use these app within Chrome, with developers keeping 95% of revenue.

Android Market Overhaul

The web version of Android Market now features a dozen new lists that showcase various applications, including ‘Trending’ and ‘Top Grossing’ lists. Android Market will start suggesting apps based on your previous downloads, and the Android team is taking a more active role in flagging the best apps. The client version of Market on Android devices is also getting an update that will include many new discovery features.


Google launches Relief Efforts to help Japan

From the Ascentive:

In reaction to the devastation caused by the recent earthquake in Japan, Google and Googlers worldwide have collaborated to perform a commendable job to improve information flow. Below are some of the tools created by Google to help with the rescue efforts:

Centralized information

Google’s Crisis Response page in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean organizes all of Google’s efforts, with links to emergency hotlines, Person Finder, blackout schedules, maps and links to relief organizations receiving donations. Google has also optimized this Crisis Response page to make it more readable for those who do not have smartphones.

Person Finder

Google’s Person Finder allows people to enter the names of those they’re looking for or have found. You can also search by entering mobile phone numbers to see if they match any listings. Person finder has also been optimized for non-smartphone usage. Google is also asking people in shelters to take photos of the handwritten lists of names of current residents and email them to Google for inclusion in a public Picasa Web Album.

Satellite images

The company is also working with satellite partners GeoEye and DigitalGlobe to provide frequent updates to imagery of the hardest-hit areas to first responders as well as the general public. You can view this imagery in this Google Earth KML, browse it online through Google Maps or look through their Picasa album of before-and-after images of such places as Minamisanriku and Kesennuma.

Mapping

Developments on the ground are viewable by looking at several maps that track changing developments such as mapped rolling blackouts for areas that are affected by power outages. Data provided by Honda allows viewers to see which roads have been recently passable on this map or on a recent user-made Google Earth mashup with new satellite imagery. Google is also constantly updating a master map in Japanese and English with other data such as epicenter locations and evacuation shelters, and has also published a partial list of shelters.

Translation

Google has released an early experimental version of Google Translate for Android to help non-Japanese speakers in affected areas, in addition to  Google Translate, which provides translations for Japanese and 56 other languages.

Donations

In addition to donating $250,000 to help the people of Japan recover, Google has posted a Crisis Response resource page to find opportunities to donate. When you donate to Japan relief efforts through Google Checkout, the company absorbs your processing fees—so 100% of your donation goes to the organizations.


How to Keep False Testimonials from Ruining Your Biz on Google Maps

You could argue that 2011 is the year of the troll. Not the monstrous troll of fairy tales, but of the internet. This type of troll is a bitter little bugger full of snark that waits around every corner of the Web to infect you with his bile. Now there are some regions of the internet where trolls might be appreciated… Celebrity Gossip sites, for example. But one of those regions where he is not appreciated by any measure is Google Maps.

A troll’s bogus testimonial on Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, MSN Live Maps, Yelp, and other online destinations is a serious matter to businesses and customers alike. The last thing a business owner wants is for a troll’s negative comment to taint a prospective customer’s first impression of their business. And a prospective customer looking for a great new place to eat or shop doesn’t need their choices swayed by someone who intends harm.

Many businesses, in fact, have complained about false reviews on their Google Places pages. in response, Google has stated in their support forum: “For any reviews that a user has left through Google Maps, simply choose ‘Flag as inappropriate’ with an explanation as to why this review violates our policies. Somebody will take a look at the user’s comments as well as your explanation.”

In addition to flagging, you can respond to a bad review. Verified Google Places Business owners can publicly respond to maps.google.com reviews on their Places page. Be sure to read Google’s guide before you respond to any reviews.

Whatever you do, do not pay any service to remove a bad review on Google Maps or any other online destination, as these removal services are actually scams that have sprung up over the past year.

Ultimately, the internet is a two-way street. Unlike broadcast advertising, advertising on the Internet is a conversation, and the best way to manage your image online is through what you say in the first place. Invest your efforts in communicating value and showing interest in your customers (for an example of positive give and take with customers, check us out on Twitter. ) This type of effort will trump the trolls every time, as you will generate a wealth of positive reviews that will smother any negative ones.

(I’d like to send a big thank you to @thejoeloflethal for the great suggestion for a post via our Twitter Account. Feel free to add your suggestions for future posts in the comments or via our Twitter and Facebook.)