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Business Evolution

Figuring out how to effectively utilize social media within your business can be a tricky task. On the one hand, it’s critical for marketing. On the other, it can be a major time suck. You'll have to walk a fine line of utilizing the main players like Facebook and Instagram, alongside other lesser-known social-related platforms to evolve your business and increase communication and productivity amongst employees and clients. We're not going to spend time in this blog giving you a large how-to of using each of these platforms, but we will get you started down the right path with the correct technology.  

 

Customer Service 

While nothing can replace a human voice, sometimes, utilizing social technology can massively improve your customer service. Start with simple tools like the Facebook Messenger autoresponder. Whenever someone messages you on Facebook, they immediately receive a response acknowledging their message in addition to expectations for further interaction. This allows you to be continually responsive-without constantly sitting on Facebook.  

 

If you’re ready to take it a step further, consider specific customer service profiles on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll need to be able to clearly track customers’ complaints and rants, but quickly showing up in response on these social profiles will make a big difference. Check out how these companies do Twitter support very well.  

 

Finally, consider a chat mechanism on your website. A whole generation of customers is rising that much prefers chatting online to getting on the phone. You don’t have to constantly manage this service. You can either set office hours or outsource to a third party to start and triage conversations.  

 

Utilizing these techniques, your office manager and customer service team can get off the phone and answer questions through a social platform while they are working on other items creating greater efficiency. 

 

Communication 

Communication between employees can also be enhanced with social platforms. For example, Microsoft Office 365 offers Teams, software for messaging, video conferencing, calls, and screen sharing. Instead of walking all the way to someone’s office or trying to multitask while waiting for answers, you can type in a name and send a message to anyone in the company. It cuts time in half; you get quick on the spot response or support.  When employees are working remotely, they can still communicate effectively with anyone in the office utilizing a screen share and video to make their message clear. Something like this will also allow you to eliminate other video conferencing software for a more complete, all-in-one solution saving time, training, and money. Your IT company can point you in the right direction when it comes to implementing software like this.  

 

Morale 

Finally, social media, social tools, and social platforms are all shown to increase morale within a business. They are allowing employees to streamline their jobs without the stress and hassle of attempting to collaborate with different people via email or an office visit. It also shows them that you trust them to use these things on work time and not abuse the privilege. Taking a small break to check Facebook or network with a client makes a surprising difference in the workplace. Do some research and find out what would work best for your business.  

Social Media Use Policy

Everywhere you turn today you will find social media. People taking selfies at the grocery store, responding to Instagram while walking down the street and of course checking Facebook while clocked-in at work. What do you do when social media use gets out of hand in the workplace? It can seem like a never-ending battle with employees, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  

 

Before you go any further, draft up a social media use policy. This will save you headaches and possible litigation. Employees can agree to it and follow it or they can find work elsewhere. Sounds harsh, I know, but your business's reputation is not worth Mary’s selfie. Don’t get me wrong, the policy doesn’t have to be rigid and forceful. Your employees are adults and can handle responsibility. Similar to a job description, policies allow for clarification and accountability, which is great for both employer and employee.  

 

To create a social media use policy, start by splitting the policy between company official accounts and personal accounts. For company official accounts, clearly articulate your brand as well as how you want it perceived, so that the message is consistent across all platforms, no matter who posts or comments. Talk about confidentiality and what company info can or cannot be shared. This can be similar to the non-disclosure you had your employees sign when they got hired.  

 

For personal accounts, explain what they’re allowed to divulge about the company. For example, posting identifiable client information without the client’s permission is a major no-no. Badmouthing the customers is clearly out, as well as complaints about employees or managers that should be brought to HR. Basically, the employee is responsible for what is posted and should be cognizant of who may be reading.  For anyone that uses their personal account for company business (i.e. connecting with customers or sharing marketing materials), set clear expectations of what can and should be listed on their account. For example, it’s an employee’s prerogative to have a side-gig as an underwear model on the weekend; but perhaps it’s not the best idea to have that individual representing your company using social media pages filled with scantily clad photos. You probably have other more conservative options, or you can encourage that employee to develop different social media accounts to represent your company.  

 

For both personal and company accounts, outline the potential consequences for not following these guidelines. Ensure these are clear and concise to avoid loopholes that can be quickly manipulated. 

  

Perhaps even more importantly, spell out clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Figure out who will have access to the company’s social media.  You can harness the power of social media for your benefit if you play it smart. Your marketing team will need it, well, to market. Sales can keep in touch with prospects or members easily and it gives all parties confirmation that you care. Beyond that, you may want to give your receptionist or office manager access in order to help with customer service on different platforms. Clearly articulate expectations for each role so that you don’t end up with customer service professionals trying to market, and marketing selling things that the service team can’t deliver. With clear roles, you’ll also know when each team member will jump in to field an interaction from a customer or prospect without overwhelming them or leaving them hanging. 

 

As you develop your policy, keep a few things in mind. Don’t discourage use, and ensure the language of the document sounds positive. Employees will get upset with a big change to their routine, particularly if they perceive it as restrictive or negative. Also, be transparent on why you’re creating a policy. Let them know if productivity has been negatively affected through social media use, and be clear with them about the potential security risks you are trying to avoid. Finally, explain how a policy keeps everyone honest and accountable. As long as you are transparent about the new policy, implementing it shouldn’t be a huge issue. If you have employees assist you drafting this document, that’s even better. They become part of the change and not steamrolled by it. 

Ma! Did you make a new FB account?

Have you ever received a Facebook friend request from your mom even though she is already a friend of yours on Facebook? So, you call her up to make sure she didn’t forget her password again and just create a new FB page. Then, right after that, “she” sends you a video link saying you’re in a YouTube video. You think, “Well dang! I didn’t think she even knew how to use Messenger.” As the confusion mounts, you realize, momma’s FB has been cloned in an effort to hack your account. Not today hackers! 

 

In this day and age of social media, there are two very specific ways hackers compromise your data. Cloning is the first. This is when someone makes a social media account by using someone else’s identity. You’ve all seen them — Mom is already your friend on FB, but now you’re receiving another friend request from her. The new page has one photo, no posts and a handful of mutual friends that fell for the fake profile. This within itself is not hacking. It’s incredibly easy to copy a photo and create a basic FB page with basic information. The idea behind cloning is to get you to think this is your friend or loved one so they can hack your information. Social engineering can come into play, asking mutual friends for money – saying you’ve been arrested. Another way is by having the clone account send malware to friends.  

 

This exact situation happens more often than not, but what does it have to do with your business? Mom may not work with you, but take her lesson as a valuable warning. When “funny business” happens on Facebook, a multitude of things could occur, compromising your business, clients and other important data you have stored. Imagine receiving a message on your company Facebook Messenger from a friend saying “you’re in a YouTube video.” The link is right there — you have the urge to click on it. It could be bad PR, right? So, you click it and instantly the malware takes over your computer. Passwords and logins are automatically stolen from you and in the hands of hackers. Not good! This could compromise payment methods or pertinent company information. This hacked info could turn into full-blown social engineering if you don’t pay attention. The worst part is that almost everyone on your friend list will get bombarded by a similar message creating a domino effect. It’s terrible to infect your loyal followers and you’ll see a lot unfollow you because of the inconvenience.  

 

Facebook is not the only platform to worry about. In fact, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have all fallen victim to hacks. One huge reason for this is because people don’t know better when it comes to security information. Social media is so easy to use that people often forget that information can be compromised. Careless clicking is another culprit. Aren’t you curious what your favorite coffee says about your personality? It’s quizzes and fun time wasters like this that allow hackers to access information. Simply clicking on these silly things opens your account to malware and in some cases ransomware. Users have reported being locked out of their accounts, accounts being deleted and some even being held for ransom until users paid the hacker. If you are using these platforms for business, you must be extra leery about what you are clicking on. It’s a terrible day when the content on your social media disappears over an avoidable breach.  

 

These things don’t have to happen to you as long as you are smart about your social media. Make sure that whoever is running it is well trained in cybersecurity. Also, ensure your passwords are strong and not easy to hack. Then go check on mom and give her a fast and efficient cybersecurity breakdown. This subject seems obvious, but the amount of people that get hacked each year as well as the amount of stolen data continues to grow. Hackers are also constantly looking for new ways to take information. Be vigilant and up to date on current trends. Protect your business from these sly social media mongers.  

Conserving Bandwidth without Inciting Mutiny

Warning: this will be a bit of a tricky topic because it’s impossible to talk about bandwidth conservation without words like limits, controls and monitoring. Let’s face it, in today’s workplace, employees have come to expect the complete freedom that comes from Wi-Fi and BYOD and are likely to balk at anything that hinders their “rights” to these services. We’ll focus on providing tips and logic that allow you to control bandwidth consumption, all while maintaining happy employees. 

Identify Your Largest Culprits 

If you’re like most offices, you’ve got that one guy. The one that is sitting there with 56 browser windows open, streaming music as well as that day’s big game, yammering on his work phone all while surfing the web on his Wi-Fi connected cell. Not only is this behavior obnoxious, it’s killing everyone else’s productivity. Start your bandwidth conservation with these individuals. Begin with a simple conversation. “Do you really need to have all of that going all at once?” If a conversation doesn’t work to both kill the usage — and frankly, get them back on task — you can move forward to more aggressive measures including website restrictions, a separate Wi-Fi network for all cell devices or a performance improvement plan for this individual.  

Implement Social Media Controls Wisely 

Social media can be extremely beneficial for your business by connecting customers, providing excellent marketing opportunities and opening a door for customer service. It becomes a problem when you have people sitting at their desks scrolling their feed, posting selfies, or going live to tell people about what they ate for breakfast rather than working. To solve this problem, we do not recommend killing access to all social media in your office. People will find a way around your controls. Instead, we recommend conservative protocols.  

First, have a conversation with your employees. Let them know that you understand their desire to connect with the outside world while at the office but that it can’t interfere with work expectations. That means personal live videos, bathroom breaks for a selfie photo session and constant comments on friend’s posts are out. An occasional birthday greeting or post is perfectly acceptable.  

If this doesn’t stick for the company as a whole (not just the occasional individual), you have to get a bit harsher. For example, limit access to social media to between the hours of 11-2 (a typical span for lunch breaks). Limit access to particular departments like sales, marketing, and customer service. Limit access to particular problem sites (e.g.,. if Instagram isn’t utilized in your company social media strategy, you may want to cut access entirely) 

Block the Right Websites 

Outside of social media, typical bandwidth sucking sites include YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix and any other streaming services. While you’re probably okay allowing music streaming (listening to music often brings people into hyper-focus), you’ll want to cut off access to most video streaming when you start to see bandwidth issues. Rather than get rid of everything cold turkey, consider putting a TV with access to all of these streaming services in the breakroom so that employees don’t feel deprived of their binge-watching, but are at least doing it in a constrained, appropriate environment.  

Backup and Update at Appropriate Times 

Data backup and systems updates are absolutely critical to business success, but you don’t necessarily have to do the heavy lifting during peak usage hours. Instead, schedule the major daily backup (not just incremental minute-to-minute changes) to run afterhours. Cluster your system updates to run all at once for all employees at night or on the weekend rather than whenever the employee sees a pop-up.   

Aggressive Security Protocols 

Malware and viruses are notorious for stealing bandwidth. Make sure you have the proper firewall and virus protection protocols in place to avoid having these piggybackers stealing your network power.  

Audit Your Bandwidth – Get What You’re Paying For 

Every year, we recommend running an audit of both your phone and bandwidth services to make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for. What do your upload and download speeds look like versus what you were promised? A master agent and MSP can help to make sure everything is in line.  

Bandwidth is a limited and extremely important asset. You don’t always have the option of buying more pipeline. Instead, implement these bandwidth conservation protocols to make sure your employees are always able to work at their maximum capacity.