mobile

Getting Rid Of Spam Cell Phone Calls

I swear if one more person calls to offer me $500,000 for my business, I’m going to scream.

It used to be as cell phone owners, we were free from telemarketing calls. Now none of us are immune.

What can you do to make your phone a telemarketer free refuge? (Non-profits are still allowed to call you, my college certainly does.) Here are a few things you can do.

Download a call blocking app.

It didn’t occur to me an app could do this until one of my friends mentioned it. I have one on my phone and it actually says ‘Spam’ on it when I go to answer!

Here are the call blocker apps for Android and here are the call blocker apps for iPhone. Try the free ones but honestly, to get your life back it’s probably worth a couple bucks.

Ask to be placed on the ‘Do Not Call” list…. or wait until the end of the recording to take yourself off it.

So if you get a real live human on the other end of the line, you can be asked to put on their do not call list. You can also add yourself to the main government list here: https://www.donotcall.gov/

What about robocalls? If you wait until the end of the pitch, you’ll hear a brief “… or press 2 to be placed on our do not call list”. I actually did this about ten times and seem to have gotten a lot less calls.

(Kassie Note: I recently received an automated phone call from a telemarketer about credit cards, and there was no “do not call list” prompt after staying on the line. So I pressed “1” to go through the “talk to a representative” motion, and just asked the person I got on the line to take me off the list. After said representative declared “You are obviously unhappy with your current credit provider” I think he realized his mistake and took me off the list. In other words, it may take a few extra minutes but you can usually find a workaround).

Send spam calls directly to voicemail.

This doesn’t exactly solve the issue but will cut down significantly on your annoyance. Most phones will allow you to send people not in your contacts list directly to voicemail.

Get Google Voice.

We recently switched to Google Voice for Anchorspace calls and it has been great. Voicemails are transcribed, and I get an email when I miss a call. I even get to have a sweet cordless phone on my desk to answer calls (P.S. you can also have these go to your cell phone; I just like that mine don’t). Much like Google is good at filtering email, it’s pretty good at filtering voice spam, too.

Escalate to your phone carrier or the FCC.

Most phone carriers have a process you can go through to get rid of unlawful calls; Verizon’s is here. Remember chances are if you’re getting harassed by a person or company, others are as well. If you aren’t the kind of person who complains on your own behalf, complain for those other people.

The FCC also has a way for you to complain about harassing calls (well, all harassing communications really): https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Maybe it’s never occurred to you that you can stop annoying calls to your cell phone, but think about it: if you even save yourself fifteen minutes a week, that’s fifteen minutes you could be doing something else. Take back your time, and your phone.

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Prisma & Co: The Business Application

Last week, I shared some of the new and exciting apps that have emerged recently. In the conclusion of that post, I recommended trying out one or all of them just for fun. While the fun factor still stands, this week we’re going to explore some ways that one of these apps can be used in business marketing.

Facebook 360

Unfortunately, you can’t upload a Facebook 360 image to a business page yet on Facebook, just personal profiles. However, if you’re really hoping to upload one of these, you can upload it to your personal profile, make that particular post public, and share it as your business. It’s a lot of extra steps for now, but we’re guessing businesses will be able to upload 360 images in the near future.

Prisma

There aren’t many examples of businesses incorporating Prisma in their marketing at the moment, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out. One idea is using it to spruce up a “regular” picture of your business (which is what we did below with Anchorspace).

Original

Original

Prisma Edited

Prisma Edited

Another idea is taking a featured image for one of your blog posts and making it into something interesting (there’s a new Abstract filter that seems pretty fun). Basically, when an app like this is in it’s infancy, you have a wide creative range- go ahead and see what you can create!

Boomerang

Boomerang came out almost a year ago, and it’s still being used consistently by businesses as part of their marketing. As one of Instagram’s satellite apps, it’s easy to share content on social media platforms (Instagram and Facebook) that you likely already have a presence on. It’s also easy to use- all you do is download the app, hold down a button to record a video, and save. Easy shareability and use are important characteristics for marketing apps and encouraging people to adapt a new social media platform in general.

Similar to GIF for business, Boomerang’s business application creates a way to visually grab your customer’s attention. It creates something eyecatching that will grab people’s attention as they scroll through their Instagram feed. As this article points out, “GIFs could potentially be the next emoji,” and although Boomerang videos technically aren’t GIFs, it’s not a huge leap. Boomerangs are easier to make from scratch than GIFs, as mentioned before, all you do is press a button. The one downside: to record on Boomerang you have to be within the app itself (meaning you can’t prerecord on your phone’s camera and reformat), which can make it hard to capture spontaneous footage.

What should you share? 

One of the trickier parts of Boomerang can be finding out what to share. Some ideas include your a fun shot of your storefront/office/physical location:

Happy Friday! By @stuporfluous

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Show off a product:

Squad up! ???? by @usabasketball & @easymoneysniper

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Or show off your goofy side:

Just rolling by ? with @xantheb

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Since Boomerang videos are on an infinite loop, using video with some action or movement typically works best. A common Boomerang example is the blowing bubblegum loop. Reaction clips (think like a mime-exaggerated, dramatic expressions), jumping and throwing are also pretty common. It’s fun to do trial and error with, too- you never know when you’ll strike gold!

If you’re more interested in showing quick demonstrations or tours, Hyperlapse is probably a better Instagram satellite app. This creates a time-lapse video (or a sped up video) that’s longer than the 1 second Boomerang and doesn’t loop back and forth. Although it might not be the best for in-depth presentations, Hyperlapse can create a teaser video that creates interest and brings people to your website or store for more information/fact gathering.

As I said last week, Boomerang is a fun, easy to use app, and can bring an element of fun to your business marketing.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Non-Profits And Live Video

This month’s upcoming email newsletter is going to be all about live video. Click here to subscribe if you want to learn more!

As non-profits increasingly use video to tell their story (or have individuals try to tell another story as in the Planned Parenthood controversy), live video is going to play an increasingly important role.

Live videos have a couple things going for them:

  1. They are not expected to be highly edited or scripted, meaning production takes less time.
  2. They are transparent, as the people in live videos are not only off the cuff but responding to online or real life commenters as the comments are made.

Live Video For Donors

So I’ll admit it, I couldn’t find any non-profits using Periscope to solicit donations. There are certainly ideas out there of how it could work but no compelling example.

Sometimes though, innovation starts in the business world. And while you may be thinking that you could broadcast a live event or founder question and answer or someone/something your donations have helped, you may be thinking “Building goodwill makes sense, but where does the money come in?”

This:

cash-me

Since people are watching from their phone, they are also paying from their phone. Services like Cash.me were the missing link for me to ‘get it’ in terms of how people can make actual money on Periscope. So why couldn’t someone, live watching you rescue a whale or give a child a pair of shoes, send you money while watching your non-profit doing real work in real time?

Live Video For Colleagues

It’s, of course, easy for non-profits to go right to the donors as a first audience. As a money grubbing capitalist (something I say mostly jokingly), it is certainly where my mind goes first!

But lots of non-profits work with other organizations or have an occasion to get colleagues together. It made me think of how the City of Vancouver, despite being large, can have citizens involved in it’s initiatives via live video on Periscope. They used Twitter to talk about it:

twitter-periscope

They used Instagram to talk about it:

instagram-periscope-vancover

And I’m sure they used other social media to talk about it. If you missed talking about it and wanted to, I dare say it was your fault. 🙂 So Periscope could be used to get all your colleagues in the ‘same room’ in a way that’s both easier for everyone.

Live Video For Who You Serve

As a non-profit, you also have a group of people who benefit from your work. And while we saved this important group for last, I am sure you can also see opportunities with educating those you serve about the work you’re doing with them so you can do it better.

The Mayo Clinic has a lot of informational videos (I missed the live #colonoscopy- ‘bum’mer). They get major points for educational content and hashtag usage.

mayo-clinic-periscope

Interestingly, they videotape their radio show as well, showing how you can have the same content be in multiple formats to ensure it reaches a large audience.

(In putting out these blog posts, I don’t want you to read this and think “Sigh, one more thing we have to do.” Instead, this is meant to inspire you to think “Oh, this would help us solve X issue” or “We’d do Y better with Periscope”.) Like everything online, Periscope is a tool in the giant hardware store that is the internet. And with that in mind, we’re working on a series of these posts about live video so stay tuned! In the meantime, are you brave enough for live video? Let us know!

This month’s latest email newsletter will be all about live video. Click here to subscribe to it!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Tech Thursday: Terrible or Not Terrible (Website Edition)

We turn our opinions about website behavior into a game show like extravaganza. There’s singing, laughing, knowledge-dropping, but we couldn’t get a creepy game-show host…

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Anonymous Social Networks 101

The internet began as an anonymous place. Chat rooms asked us ‘a/s/l’ and I’m sure I am not the only one who pretended to be a completely different age, sex, and location than I was. There was something about trying on a new identity.

As social networks using our real names came into play, it was harder to be anonymous. Your potential employer or your mom could be looking at what you just said or shared.

It was only a matter of time before the internet cycled back, recoiled from too much sharing. Apps and websites where you can be anonymous have come back into popularity.

We’ve previously blogged about YikYak but there are a couple of other anonymous sites to know about:

Whisper

So this network combines anonymous with location data. So you can share your secret thought and other people can like or comment… but you can also see other people’s secrets that are near you (1 mile radius, 5 mile radius, etc.) The secrets range from silly to serious:

whisperconfession1

whisperconfession2Something about having the image with the thought makes them stand out a bit, nice to read on a mobile device. And since this is an app, that makes sense.

 

Reddit

Reddit is a bit of a longer form social network with writing and links. You can see what’s trending overall by going to the homepage:

reddit-homepage
The more interesting part of Reddit though are the subreddits. For example, you can join a community about Game of Thrones (at www.reddit.com/r/gameofthrones) and discuss you interest in this show in detail with people all over the world.

Clearly works well if you are more verbose, or want to share a link and get comments on it.

Some people chose to have an active anonymous account while others use ‘throwaway’ accounts for a one time confession.

Anonymous social networks are similar to regular social networks:

  • Typically ordered by most recently updated content
  • Can participate on your phone only for some, others you can access on your computer too
  • You can like/heart/upvote things that you like to show support
  • You can leave comments for more detailed feedback.

Of course, sometimes anonymity brings out the worst in people in the way of cyberbullying but honestly, in these communities, I have found mostly support for my ideas too weird or dark to share on regular networks. (I know it’s sad but I used to be a little nervous to go on Reddit but, much like staying away from the seedy streets in your city, is a nice place for the most part of you don’t go searching for the bad stuff.)

As we figure out what is and isn’t acceptable to share with our real life friends on social media, I see the popularity of these sites growing. I personally love Reddit because there’s no real ads, no messaging, and I can just browse information… and contribute when I feel like. Personally I appreciate that because of the internet, there is a lid for every pot.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Google’s Algorithms as the Cast of “Mean Girls”

Google_Mean_Girls

You may have heard- Google is updating its algorithm at the end of the month (April 21, to be specific) to rank mobile friendly sites higher in search results. This was always vaguely the case, but no one could definitively figure out the amount of weight it carried. Which made me think, Google is the most popular girl in school who we all wait on to decree what’s important and what isn’t. We’ve been saying mobile friendly is cool for years now (hence the switch to responsive design only a couple years ago), but now that Google has declared that it’s definitely “in,” everyone is going to scramble to make sure their websites are compatible. Perhaps due to the excitement of using the stand desk all most of the day and Anchorspace opening to the public tomorrow, my brain decided that Google operates in very much the same way as Regina George. The rest of the Plastics are the algorithms that she has decided (in the past or present) are important. Get ready, because we’re about to crack open the internet’s Burn Book (well…sort of).

Google as Regina George. Like Regina, Google decides who comes and who goes, what’s in and what’s out, and we all clamor to meet it’s expectations. Ponytails once a week and pink on Wednesdays are the current expectations, but that could change at any moment. Below is a comprehensive infographic from Hubspot that details all of Google’s algorithm changes since 2003.

infographic google algorithm changes keyword seo

 

As you can see, there have been several updates to the algorithm every year, most go by without us noticing. Panda in 2011 and Penguin are considered the two largest updates based on the number of sites affected. Keep in mind that although your current method is doing well, this guarantees nothing about your site’s future performance. Regina can always change her mind and throw you under the bus.

Authorship as Gretchen Weiners. Google Authorship was declared dead in August ’14. As this article so eloquently says, “Google [Regina] has repeatedly demonstrated that nothing it creates is sacred or immortal.” Meaning, just because Gretchen/Authorship is “SUCH a good friend,” Regina/Google may still decide there are bigger fish to serve as your right hand man and then fry.

For those who implemented authorship on their website and gave it a lot of time and effort, the decision to pull authorship was a pretty big bummer. There were blog posts detailing the importance of integrating authorship, complete with how-to instructions for various software, so of course people thought “Hey, I should probably do this.” Remember the girl who bought  army pants and flip flops because she saw Regina George wearing army pants and flip flops? Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to cater to Google’s rules, but don’t get caught in the web of having all your eggs in one basket. As the chart above demonstrates, the things that Google considers important are a shifting territory, and you have to be prepared to make changes when the time inevitably comes. In other words, don’t rest on your website laurels. The rules, much like Gretchen Weiners’ popularity, are fleeting.

Sorry Gretchen.

Sorry Gretchen.

Mobile Friendly as Cady Heron. Mobile Friendly sites have been around for a bit now, and are a huge determining factor in the amount of time visitors will spend on your site (more statistics on mobile users in this blog post). Yet, some people weren’t entirely sure if having a mobile friendly site was “worth it” until Regina/Google decided “Cady/Mobile Friendly is IN.” Once Google officially pronounced mobile friendly as relevant, even those who had formerly been on the fence were buzzing about how cool and necessary mobile visitors are for websites.

Creating a mobile-friendly site will only become more important, so if you’re not already on the bandwagon, you’ll want to hop on soon.

Loyal friends are always good to have around. Or at least, people to help you with navigation.

Loyal friends are always good to have around. Or at least, people to help you with navigation.

 SEO as Karen. Obsessing over search engine optimization is about as rewarding as trying to teach Karen algebra. The theory of keyword stuffing to increase search engine rankings is pretty outdated (I mean, it was a good idea in the 90’s, but so were scrunchies and mom jeans). This quote from the aforementioned Hubspot article perfectly articulates the early life of SEO: “Ranking high in search results could be accomplished by essentially using a simple, two step procedure: Step 1, stuff your keyword phrase into your page/website as many times as possible. Step 2, get as many gosh darn inbound links as you possibly could.” In the Plastics, simplicity comes in the form of Karen, who doesn’t fully understand carbs or weather.

Keyword stuffing as a method of increasing search engine results for your website is old school (and not in a good way). But, if you’re really interested in keywords, consider instead using something like Google AdWords. Our friend Colin at Root Deeper Marketing is an AdWords guru, if you want to learn more about this type of service.

Facebook as Aaron Samuels. Google and Facebook have an on again/off again courtship. There are rumors that  having a Facebook account associated with your website increases your ranking in Google, but no one knows how serious this relationship is (and let’s face it, they’re probably both seeing other people). According to Matt Cutts of the Google webspam team, Facebook and Twitter do not necessarily factor into Google’s algorithm. In other words, Google is able to retrieve certain content on your Facebook or Twitter page, but it can’t sort out the number of page likes or posts. Being popular on Facebook does not mean being popular in Google search results.

All other search engines as Regina’s Mom. (This is purely for my own entertainment). Regina’s Mom is a lot like Bing or Yahoo. Sure, they’ve been around longer, but we all know who really runs the show.

BingYahooCoolMom

The internet, like high school, is tricky to navigate, unless you have the right information and the basic understanding that nothing is set in stone. Stay in the loop with internet related news (or, have someone in your circle keeping you up-to-date with this information), and you’ll do just fine. Also, I hope you enjoyed this comparison as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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