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Building a Viable Web Presence for Your Business

web presence business

In today’s digital age, any company that wants to succeed needs to have a robust online presence. A beneficial and robust web for your business can be a daunting task for small businesses, especially those that are too small to afford a marketing department. Here is how to build a viable web presence for your business.

Before tackling the world of online business, every entrepreneur should learn what the process of taking your business online involves.

Business Website Design

Your website exists to attract the attention of visitors and convert them into paying customers. Because of this, every element of the site must be chosen carefully. The home and internal pages should have a simple layout and be easy to navigate for first-time viewers.

Landing Pages

The landing page should not be overly filled with high-resolution photos or auto-playing videos. These elements can look impressive, but they can also take a long time to load.

Additionally, some people find animations and moving images distracting and annoying, making the landing page hard for them to read. Videos should instead be put on other pages, with links leading to them. Content management solutions are also available to speed up the loading of your website.

The landing page must be kept updated. If the company is running an advertising campaign or offering special products or promotions, the landing page needs to match that respective messaging. For example, if you own a dental practice running $99 teeth whitening ads on Facebook, then the page that they land on, after clicking that ad, should display that deal.

Photos

Poor quality stock photos can make a company look both cheap and unprofessional. Pay extra for high-quality stock photography, or capture your own.

Additionally, people tend to think emotionally before they think logically. It is, therefore, a good idea for website pictures to evoke emotions that make people want to buy the product or service being offered.

Testimonials

Most potential customers view testimonials as a significant factor in making their purchasing decisions. The best customer testimonials should be featured prominently on the company website. Video customer testimonials maybe even more effective.

Prospective customers should never be presented with long lists of choices. They tend to make people feel overwhelmed. A business website should only use shortlists of simple choices.

Any keywords that are used in company advertising should also be used on the company website. It makes the company easier to find online, and also makes it appear more professional.

Because most customers use some mobile device to get online, a business website should be optimized for mobile device users. Images and menus and such should be small enough not to require a lot of scrolling or resizing.

The website should be extensively tested before it is made public. Different people, who had nothing to do with creating the website, should try to use it. Delaying a launch to get the website working perfectly is better than rushing out a website with serious bugs.

When Building a Business Web Presence, the Blog Design Matters

The company blog is not a place to put advertising. Nothing will repel prospective customers faster than seeing that the company blog is nothing more than a platform for advertising. Blog readers want more than ads; they want a blog to have some kind of added value. This is an important part of modern online business.

The blog should give readers useful information, and even content that is meant just for fun. It should address topics that prospective customers care about. This will draw first-time readers to return over and over again, and draw them into exploring your site further.

The idea is to create a community centered around the blog.

Some of the blog posts can involve products and services that the company offers. However, this should always be done in the context of telling the customers a larger story, perhaps about how they can solve a common problem, or even something funny that happened.

Blogging is a long-term investment of time and effort.

It takes dedicated time to develop a large body of high quality, original content. It also can take time to develop trust with the blog readers. However, with some persistence, the company blog can become a major revenue booster.

Steady blog readership means a steady percentage of readers going from the blog to the company website and making purchases. Web content never sleeps; it is at work 24 hours a day, drawing in prospective customers and turning them into paying customers.

No programming skills are needed to start a company blog. There are a lot of free blog hosting sites online. They are usually easy to use, and it’s easy to link to them from the company website. A minimum of one article should be posted to the blog every month.

Setting Up Social Media for Your Business

Social media presence can also increase sales, blog readership, and web traffic, and even build up a pool of positive reviews.

Before your social media presence can be established, however, one or more sites must be selected for it. The various potential social media sites that are under consideration should be researched thoroughly.

Both individual and company profiles and pages should be read, particularly the comments. Every social media site has its own culture and set of customs.

Some kinds of behavior are considered acceptable there while others are not. The proper etiquette should be understood before anything is posted.

A business social media presence should have some depth to it.

There needs to be more information than can be found on the company website, something that can engage potential customers. This is the place to give the company something of a personal touch, something to make potential customers care. A business social media site is a place for the business to engage with people on a social level.

Who will manage our online presence?

There needs to be at least one person (maybe yourself) whose responsibility includes managing the company’s social media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. A company social media site is a place where customers will go to ask questions and make requests.

Engaging with these questions and complaints quickly and professionally will make the company look viable.

Commenters should be engaged on any reasonable topics they discuss. They should be given assistance and useful information even when it is not directly related to sales.

Questions should be asked when appropriate, to make the company seem friendly and interested. Every post should be examined carefully before it is made, to make sure that it does not accidentally offend anybody, or make the company seem foolish, unprofessional, or antagonistic.

Marketing Online

There are three primary strategies for advertising online: search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and content marketing. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a way to improve the company website’s search engine ranking in search engines such as Google.

Most users never look past the first page of results when looking for a place to shop. This means that it is important to get ranked on Page 1 for the keywords that matter to your bottom line. SEO is a critical long-term strategy for any business.

PPC or pay-per-click advertising uses keywords to determine which ads viewers see on search engine results pages. In other words, when people enter specific keywords, paid ads related to those keywords appear on the results page.

These ads are paid based on the number of people who click on them. It is a viable way to generate immediate sales if executed correctly. Setting up the ads is typically requires the services of a professional or agency to maximize ROI or return on investment.

That digital marketing company will optimize every facet of the campaign, including A/B testing and running experiments on different channels to find what converts the best. Jay Nanda has written about A/B testing in “A scientific approach to better digital marketing” for the company oshyn.

Content marketing involves creating quality online content that is designed to send traffic to the website.

Creating a site with quality online content that brings traffic to your site can involve blogging and events.

For example, an online hobby store could create a web resource about model making, including tips, pictures of popular or well-constructed models, instructions for painting, and even a model discussion forum.

The point of content marketing is to create a valuable online resource that anyone with that interest will want to use all the time. When descriptions of the products needed for the interest are mentioned, they can be company products that link back to the company’s product pages.

Content marketing tends to be a long-term strategy, as community building takes time. The significant advantage of this approach is that it requires little money and can be developed when convenient.

The internet is a critical tool for all modern businesses.

The process of getting a business online should be commenced sooner than later. Your competition may already have a 10-20 year head start on you, so be patient, it may take some time to build properly, but the rewards will be there for your business in the end.

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The 5 Fundamental Principles of Managing a Remote Team

managing remote team

In the wake of the corona crisis, remote workforces are booming. During the height of the pandemic, millions of workers set up home offices, in an abrupt shift to work online.

Now, as the first wave of the pandemic ebbs in many countries while hitting another crest in the US, it is becoming increasingly clear that remote teams are here to stay. In a recent poll, 77% of executives stated that they would be maintaining the current level of remote work, or even expanding it.

But, as many have discovered, managing a remote team poses a set of unique challenges. To meet them, new strategies and skills are necessary.

Considering that remote workforces will shape the business landscape in the long run, now is the time to focus on developing and employing them.

Here are five fundamental strategies that can help you to sustainably manage a remote team.

1 Set Expectations

When team members are working away from offices, the biggest productivity killer is a lack of structure. The first step in providing such a structure, and with it a solid basis for productivity, is to establish fixed expectations for every team member.

What do they need to do? Until when? When do they need to be reachable? Who do they report to? Who can they contact in the case of difficulties?

By answering these questions clearly, you establish a framework in which your remote team can thrive. Not only will each team member be aware of their own role and work requirements, but they will also know who to reach out to with what kind of issue. With the implementation of cloud computing, it has become easier to work from home.

A virtual agile environment is created through which you can monitor, edit, and even work together on a single platform. It not only reduces the overhead costs but also enhances the productivity and efficiency in a workforce.

Despite the technology, it will take some time for almost every individual in a workforce to adapt to such an environment. According to a renowned psychologist you tend to work in a more productive way only when the environment suits your work style.

2 – Schedule Check-Ins – And Stick to Them

With modern technology, holding virtual meetings is fast and easy like never before. However, holding too many meetings is a serious pitfall when it comes to managing remote teams.

Nobody wants to yawn their way through department-wide Zoom conferences that barely concern them. Especially since they could productively work on their individual assignments instead.

You can avoid this pitfall by scheduling fixed check-ins, sticking to the times that are set, and avoiding unnecessarily (video-)calling team members to see how they are doing.

The check-in schedule will take some initial tweaking in terms of frequency, scheduling, and gathering participants. Once set up, though, it provides temporal touch-points around which your team members can reliably structure their own activities.

Not constantly monitoring team members, or keeping them tied up in conferences, also demonstrates your trust in them and fosters independence.

Finally, you should invest time in finding the right tool for these check-ins, and team communication tools in general. Zoom may seem like the obvious choice for most teams, but there is a growing wealth of alternatives out there. Plus – many team collaboration platforms also include native (video-)calling functionalities.

With apps like zoom, google meet up, etc. you can always check in on your teammates. You can monitor the progress of a project by sharing your screens through these platforms. There is also this application called the Team Viewer which allows you to access your team’s desktop despite staying where you are.

This allows you to save time and helps you generate better results. A scheduled check-in should be set so that you are well updated on the work that is going on and can plan the next set of actions accordingly.

3 – Select the Right Team Collaboration Tool

Team collaboration tools are essential prerequisites for a distributed workforce. Depending on the platform, team managers and members can assign, schedule, and track tasks, message each other individually or in groups, make voice and video calls, share files, produce reports, and collaborate on documents.

Most also provide integrations with other popular business platforms.

Considering the wide variety of team collaboration tools currently available, and their varying features and capabilities, researching which tool best fits the needs of your team pays off in the long run.

Among the most popular collaboration tools currently available are Slack, which organizes workflows through discussion channels, Trello, a straightforward project management tool, and Basecamp, which targets bigger teams and supports entire companies. Asana is a choice if highly detailed reports are needed.

Depending on how big your team is, how varied its tasks, and which budget you are working with, you are sure to find the right fit for you.

With the ongoing global pandemic, it might be hard for some workforces to cope with the latest technology and thereby work on a specific platform. Workforces should give the employees the freedom to work on platforms in which they are comfortable with. This not only enhances the productivity of a team but also reduces the downtime to a considerable extent.

4 – Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Employees working from a home office often struggle to maintain a healthy balance between their private and business lives. If the office is only a few paces away from the bedroom, it is tempting to quickly check emails before going to sleep. And it is ever so much harder to relax on the couch in the evening when the latest sales figures are beckoning from the laptop on the desk in the corner.

One of the most important strategies for successfully managing a remote team, in the long run, is to ensure team members’ physical and mental health.

A crucial step in doing so is safeguarding personal time: Make clear that work times need to be adhered to with few set exceptions, and discourage work encroaching on their free time.

A simple, but very effective strategy is to set definitive limits on when team members need to be reachable. And actively encourage them to switch off work devices outside these times.

Managing the work balance while staying at home is quite difficult. You might be asked to work more than usual as you are at home. This should not be promoted. Just how previously a specific time was allotted for work, a similar procedure should be followed.

The employees should be asked to fix a specific time and during this time they should not indulge in any household chores. Likewise, they should not be disturbed when they have some leisure time. This way you can expect them to generate better results.

5 – Foster Team Spirit and Social Interaction

No chats at the water cooler, no gossip at the coffee cart, no shared lunch hour. Social relationships among team members suffer during remote work. To foster team spirit, and make collaboration run smoothly, provide your team with opportunities for social interactions, and encourage them.

Whether it’s a gossip/chat channel on Slack or a WhatsApp group for non-work topics (such as sharing pictures of pets and children, recipes, or weekend stories), setting up channels to exchange private tidbits will weld your team together. A friendly atmosphere should be created so that everyone feels free to express their thoughts,

Another great opportunity to boost team morale are events during which participants can let their hair down together, such as cocktail hour Zoom sessions.

Finally, teams also unite over more creative endeavors such as creating a shared playlist to listen to during work, discussing productivity strategies, or drawing up a common collection of recipes. The best way to motivate your team is by listening to everyone’s opinions and choosing the most suitable suggestion by taking everyone’s decision into account.

The Bottom Line

Until now, many businesses have worked with remote teams only to bridge the height of the pandemic, in the full expectation of going back to normal once it is over.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that remote work will only continue to gain in importance. This means that developing strategies to sustainably manage distributed teams is crucial.

With the right strategies based on the fundamental principles of managing remote teams, a distributed workforce becomes a solid business foundation, not just an emergency measure.

Only time will tell how employees will adapt to the current situation and how long it will take for them to generate specific results.

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Facial Recognition Technology – All You Need to Know

facial recognition

Today, we see data of all kinds — no matter if we can see it or not. The massive collection of data includes thousands of photos and videos available that provide the data set, which is necessary to make things work efficiently. Here is facial recognition technology, all you need to know.

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is a new revolution in the world of technology that makes it possible for authorized groups like government agencies and authorities to keep an eye over these records.

facial recognition

What is facial recognition technology?

It is a biometric technology that identifies distinguishable facial features of a person. On an individual level, it helps us to unlock our devices, or go through security at the airport, or purchase products at stores. 

The systems of facial recognition analyze the visual data where the images and videos are made by CCTV cameras. Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities in the software help in mapping the distinguishable facial features. It searches for patterns in the visual data and then compares all new images and videos with other data in facial recognition databases to recognize the Identity. 

Benefits of facial recognition technology

Facial recognition technology should be used proportionally and responsibly. It has the potential to do a lot more to improve the security in the future, be it street crime, or airport security technology can take security and operational efficiency to new heights.

These technologies can memorize the faces of persons of interest network of group members and those suspected of having a hand in violent crimes. 

Since facial recognition technology is a multidimensional concept, it comes with several benefits too. Some of these are –

Better public security

The enhancement in facial recognition technology now provides a better public security system. It makes it easier for authority to track down thieves, burglars, and trespassers.

The technology is capable of analyzing public CCTV camera networks. It is not limited to tracking down the criminals, but it can also make it easier to find the missing people.

The face recognition technology could also help stop and search on law-abiding citizens by taking out suspects among crowds.

An automatic time tracking system

Facial recognition technology simplifies time tracking, and there is no need to have continuous monitoring for the system. With automated systems, human error is usually at a low rate. 

Quick identity verification

With face recognition technology, companies can easily control access to facilities. The application of facial recognition technologies are not limited to physical security, but it also and compass cybersecurity as well. 

As it does not need any contact with the users, the current identity verification methods enable quick identification and verification. As a result of this, companies can also use face recognition technology in place of passwords to access the computers and systems.

Better attendance systems

Facial recognition systems are also used to enhance and improvise the existing attendance systems, which are outdated and unfit for modern needs. Since everyone has to pass the face-scanning devices to check in for work, the face recognition technology can actively work here and keep the records.

The process is fast and employees won’t have to prove their identities or use any other methods. In this way, these face recognition technologies can also make the attendance system more relevant as per the modern methods of how records are and maintained.

The better security system at stores

Retailers and business houses have been using face recognition for personalized service lately. With better security systems that come with facial recognition technology, retailers can easily identify the subject of interest. It prevents shop retailers from any possible loss. 

However, this still has some way to go to stop misidentification and differences, but there is a massive potential that technology holds here. It also helps in increasing customer loyalty since more efficient and personalized experiences are now possible.

Better banking systems

Despite the existing methods where banks use a one-time password to access accounts or to authorize transfers, biometric identification through facial recognition technology can make it much better.

With this, there are no passwords that are more prone to hacking. It can make the whole security system more secure. The benefits of facial recognition systems go beyond online and physical bank branches and ATMs can also use these technologies to deal with all the possible threats to the banking system. 

Saves labor costs

Apart from accurately tracking time and attendance without any error, facial recognition technology can also track down the exact number of hours an employee is working.

It can help your organization to save money and the management will not have to worry about time fraud or any such thing with a facial recognition time tracking system. Also, it can easily be programmed into your time and attendance system so it is easy to integrate as well.

Disadvantages of facial recognition technology

Just like its benefits, there are some serious threats that come with facial recognition systems. Let us shed some light on some of these serious concerns.

Impact on society.

It is a common belief that face recognition allows governments and authorities to undermine privacy rights.

In places where there is no personal freedom, governments have no limit to how they will use the technology as they see it.

There is always a possibility that they can and will keep an eye on their citizens. They can monitor all their activities about what they say, what do people do, or whom they meet.

In the case of democratic countries, the governments and parliament have the power to develop floors that can prevent the happening of such activities. Still, people are always concerned about their security and data privacy. 

Data privacy concerns

Data privacy is one of the most challenging setbacks of facial recognition as it includes billions of images and video files while scanning peoples’ identities. It also generates maps when the systems scan people’s faces. ALL personal data is then put at risk of being accessed by third-party if not stored properly, or hacked.

Ultimately, the data servers store the face recognition data through the cloud, which is quite vulnerable to hackers, just like other computer systems. 

Racial bias

Another major challenge of facial recognition technology is the possibility of racial differences.

One common misconception concerning face recognition is that it is quite ineffective when it comes to identifying people with different skin tones.

However, this is not something that happens frequently — yet facial recognition needs a data set with a considerable quantity of examples on people’s identification. 

Lack of regulatory framework

Most of the facial recognition systems operate without a legal or regulatory framework which puts it at a huge risk.

Most of the countries have no specific legislation to regulate the use of facial recognition technology. Though some of them are trying to change the existing systems, yet there is nothing like a constant framework that can guide and regulate the whole process of facial recognition.

Despite various rules and regulations concerning facial recognition, still, the governments around the world are yet to pass legislation concerning face recognition. It has a significant impact on the consistency framework related to its use and limits. 

Consequently, this absence of framework gives rise to abuse such as obtaining the personal data of users without their prior knowledge or consent and using them for inappropriate purposes.

Difficulties in the data processing

Since the security levels significantly improve with the facial recognition system, word of managing data processing systems, and storing it becomes much complicated.

The levels of facial recognition system require constant attention and tracking which becomes a tedious task to manage. And very often these systems are managed by low-level competence and low-security clearance individuals.

Violation of necessity and proportionality

An ideal surveillance system should be restricted to the purpose of serious crime instead of allowing unjustified interference into personal liberty and fundamental rights.

Facial recognition technology fails to comply with the same. It also discriminates and undermines the right to privacy because we can no longer do anything in public without the knowledgeable access of authorities.

Less reliable

Another significant threat of facial recognition is that it is less reliable when it comes to security concerns. Even the slightest changes in the camera angle of personal appearance cause errors, and there is no guarantee if the facial features are the same or not.

Even today, other biometric methods like fingerprint scans are much more reliable than facial recognition. Yet, there is always a possibility that the latest industry technologies can fix these issues in the meantime.

Image Credit: Amir SeilSepour; Pexels

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What’s Video Phishing and how do You Protect Yourself?

video phishing

In 2020, phishing is among the most common forms of cyberattacks on businesses and individuals alike. 56% of IT decision-makers state that phishing attacks are the top security threat they are facing, with 32% of hacks involving phishing. Here is video phishing and how you protect yourself.

Phishing is no longer limited to emails from Nigerian princes offering the recipients massive returns on investments.

Many phishing messages and websites have become sophisticated to the point that users are no longer able to recognize them without specific training. Google now blacklists an average of 50,000 websites for phishing every week.

On the upside, the ways that you can protect yourself from phishing attacks have evolved as well in recent years. They range from using up-to-date firewall software to using secure platforms such as cloud-based business phone services.

A new threat is looming on the horizon: video phishing.

Driven by technological advances, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, this new trend has the potential of causing catastrophic security breaches.

Keep reading to find out what video phishing is, what it looks like, and how you can protect yourself.

black iphone 7 on macbook pro

How does Video Phishing work?

Surprise! Elon Musk is interrupting your Zoom call.

Sounds fake? It is.

But it looks disturbingly real.

See the end of the document for embed.

The video above shows an application of Avatarify, a tool developed by a researcher to transform users into celebrities in real-time during Zoom or Skype calls. Its inventor, Ali Aliev, says that the program’s purpose was to have some fun during COVID-19 lockdown — by surprising friends during video conferences as Albert Einstein, Eminem, or the Mona Lisa.

The technology behind donning someone else’s animated face like a mask is called deepfaking.

Deepfakes are relatively new applications of machine learning tools. These tools generate realistic faces by analyzing thousands of videos and images of a target’s face and extracting patterns for common expressions and movements. Then, these patterns can be projected onto anyone, effectively morphing them into someone else.

You use the image of  Elon Musk. Or President Obama. In fact, a deep fake video of the former President calling his successor ‘a total and complete dips**t’ went viral back in 2018.

The implications of this technology for cybersecurity are wide-reaching and potentially disastrous.

Because instead of trolling your friends, or insulting President Trump via someone famous deepfakes — you won’t know if it’s friends being comical — or the dangerous, video phishing.

What are the Dangers of Video Phishing?

According to CNN, the majority of deepfake videos on the internet as of the end of 2019, were pornography. In total, 15,000 of such videos were counted. That might not sound like much, considering the vastness of the internet.

The reason for these rather limited numbers has been that generating convincing deepfakes takes a fair amount of computational power. Avatarify, for example, takes a high-level gaming PC to run properly.

But lower-quality applications have already been developed, such as a face-swapping app that got banned again fairly quickly.

It is only a question of time before deepfake technology becomes widely available. And widely used for cybercrime.

Some of these scams have already been recorded and you can find them on YouTube.

In one case, hackers used similar technology to deepfake the voices of CEOs and sent voicemail messages to executives. They succeeded in effecting a transfer of a mind-boggling $243,000.

In another case, three men were arrested in Israel for swindling a businessman out of $8 million by impersonating the French foreign minister.

Experts are already warning against other possible applications of deepfake videos for frauds to generate funds. One scenario, for example, is extortion. Hackers could threaten the release of a video containing content that can be damaging to a person’s or business’ reputation. Such content could range from straight-out pornography to the CEO of a company endorsing racist views.

As experiences have shown, that could be disastrous. For businesses, even the regular kind of ‘fake news’ can have catastrophic impacts on industry relationships, and even their stock market values.

“Those kinds of things can put a company out of business through reputation damage,� Chris Kennedy of the AI cyber-security platform AttackIQ said in a recent interview with Forbes. “We’re hitting the tipping point in which technology is taking advantage of the biggest human weakness, we’re over-trusting.�

How to Defend Yourself against Deepfake Video Phishing

Today, having a high cybersecurity standard is more important than ever. With online life proliferating during the COVID-19 crisis, scams and phishing attacks have flourished as well.

The good news in the case of phishing videos is that the technology, as of 2020, is still relatively new, and the case numbers relatively low. That means that individuals and businesses have time to prepare, and disseminate information to ward against such attacks.

Know the basic defense moves

As a most basic form of defense, extreme caution is advised if you receive an unsolicited video call, especially from someone famous or in a position of authority. Never trusting caller IDs, hanging up immediately, and not sharing any information on such calls is essential.

If you receive video messages that might be authentic, but you are uncertain about it, you can use software to determine if what you are facing is a deep fake. For example, companies such as Deeptrace offers software with the capacity to recognize AI-generated video content.

Apart from that, some low-tech solutions to protect against video phishing are having agreed-upon code words when communicating about sensitive information via video messaging, using a second communication channel to confirm information, or asking security questions that your interlocutor can only answer if they are the real deal.

Basically, pretend you’re in an old James Bond film. ‘In London, April’s a Spring month’ and all that.

Final Thoughts

Using AI to morph into someone else and extract sensitive information may still sound futuristic. But it is only a question of time until video phishing hits the mainstream.

As technology advances and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to copy the face and voice of people become widely available, the number of deepfake scams is set to go through the roof.

The best you can do, is to be aware, keep informed, and brace yourself. Keep safe.

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