Posts Tagged ‘service’

Communicating Face-to-Face? There’s an App for That

April 9th, 2014, No Comments, be the first ».

Technology for video-based applications has improved greatly in recent years.

Most people agree that face-to-face communication is ideal. Tone, gestures, facial expressions, vocal inflections and environment influence the meanings of our words to such an extent that to compensate for their absence within emails and texts, we’ve become accustomed to using emoticons, superfluous punctuation and other types of written emphasis to make our meanings clear.

But sometimes face-to-face communication between clients, employees or colleagues isn’t possible. Your colleagues or clients may live on the other side of the country. Or you may be attending a conference, wanting to share a message with friends and colleagues back home.

Thankfully, there are several applications and programs available that can help you communicate without losing connotation in the process. Here are some of the more popular video-based applications to explore:

FaceTime

Apple’s device-to-device video call app makes this list because it’s easy to use, adds no additional charges to your plan (barring data overages) and comes ready-to-use with every iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone (v. 4.0 and up). FaceTime operates the same way a regular phone call does: dial a number, wait for the other person to pick up, and you are quickly connected in sight and sound via the built-in cameras and VoIP in your devices.

Using FaceTime is just like having a conversation face-to-face, besides the fact that you are holding your device. The drawbacks are that both parties must own the appropriate Apple products and in most cases, must be connected to a Wi-Fi network, but with both becoming more ubiquitous, FaceTime is a convenient way to stay in sight and in touch.

If you prefer Android to Apple, or do not own a FaceTime-compatible device, a free app called Tango allows nearly anyone to talk face-to-phone. Tango’s features include video calls, video voicemails, games with a built-in competitor and group video messaging. Users can also incorporate themed animations into their messages or calls.

Skype

Launched in 2003 as a free alternative to long-distance telephone carriers, this VoIP now offers short messaging services (SMS, or instant messaging), file sharing and low-cost computer-to-landline (or mobile line) services, in addition to the still-gratis computer-to-computer call service. Sign up for an account, set up your webcam and microphone, and you’re ready to connect by voice and video with this service. Businesses and nonprofits especially enjoy the group conferencing and file sharing aspect of Skype.

Google Talk

The search engine behemoth offers two versions of its instant communication software. The first is a Web-based plug-in that operates through your browser when you are logged into Gmail, iGoogle or orkut (another Google-owned social network, popular outside the U.S.). The second is a PC-only software program that operates from your hard drive. Both programs offer instant messaging, video streams of the people you chat with (BYOW: Bring Your Own Webcam), and VoIP phone service (BYOM: Bring Your Own Microphone.)

In addition, you can transfer files through the software version of Google Talk. If you already use Gmail, Google conveniently loads your Gmail contacts into Google Talk, making it easy to instantly connect with friends and colleagues. Both are free.

Adobe Connect

More than a simple video chat program, this comprehensive software suite allows your team to set up virtual meeting rooms, share and update files in real time, watch streaming video and speak over VoIP. You can use Adobe Connect for team meetings, webinars, training sessions, client presentations and project brainstorming sessions.

Adobe Connect also allows hosts in multiple separate locations to lead a video meeting simultaneously. SSL encryption is available to ensure third parties cannot hack into private meetings or presentations. There is a somewhat significant cost for Adobe Connect that depends on usage type, volume and payment plan; however, the tech support, attendee tracking options and mobile capabilities may make the price tag well worth the expense.

There are plenty of other video applications available in addition to the ones listed here. There is no “right” or “perfect” program. Test a couple out and see what works for you. You may find these tools to be indispensable assets to your daily interactions.

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By Kelly Donovan

Kelly Donovan is the team leader for online marketing at Naylor, LLC.

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Social Media: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

February 25th, 2014, Comments Off.
Pace yourself, train consistently and don’t be afraid to ask others for help.

At the end of October, I ran my first marathon. Running long distances to train for a marathon gives you plenty of time to think about life, work, food…and social media. As I crisscrossed Atlanta by foot, it struck me how similar managing a social media account and preparing for a marathon are. Here are the main points:

1. Social is not a platform or channel. It’s a shared experience.

Your online community members come to your group, tweet at your account, or comment on your Instagram photos not out of routine or obligation, but because they want to be entertained, informed and connected. They want to feel like they are part of something important, purposeful and long term. They want the experience of communing with others who have the same values and goals. They know that somewhere out there, someone else is going through the same experience they are, and those people can help them work more effectively, discover better practices or simply listen to their concerns. Social media is an extended experience, not a box to be checked off once.

Likewise, marathon running is a shared experience. I told everyone I was running a marathon for a few reasons: to hold myself accountable, to ferret out training advice and to find a sympathetic ear when I was exhausted during weeks of running 30+ miles. I could have pounded the pavement one morning for 26.2 miles and checked it off my bucket list. But the real goal of running a marathon is to learn something from your training, the course and others who have run it before you. The real distance includes the commitment to train, training, the race itself and post-race recovery—an experience much longer than 26.2 miles.

2. You do not own your social media channel. Your fans do.

Any social media manager who has made a faux pas with an ill-timed or non-politically correct tweet and experienced the backlash from it knows this tenet well. You may have set up a social media account, and you might moderate comments and shared links, but your community really owns the account. Your fans are the ones who collectively give it character and guide its discussions. And that’s how it should be. Shared experiences should be driven by a majority.

So embrace it. If your community wants to talk about minutiae, let them. Research some external resources that will enrich the discussion. If they want to share photos of their latest projects, establish a new album or photo stream that makes it easier to do so. If they’ve hijacked your hashtag, accept that it has a new meaning. Then pay attention and learn from what they tell you through that new motif. Create and maintain a hospitable environment, and while your community might not always agree with you, they’ll still let you listen to their conversation.

I didn’t own my marathon experience. I and the 979 other runners entered in the race would not have been able to run if a team of race officials and volunteers hadn’t mapped the course, set up the online registration, marked the course with cones, contracted with the city police to direct traffic around us as we ran, set out and offered up water and gels, or designed a smoothly flowing finish line area. The cheer zones and other spectators lining the course kept me running when my legs ached and my feet were crying for relief.

Your social media pages wouldn’t be the hub of captivity that they are (or that you want them to be) without a team of members, industry professionals and other interested parties providing commentary, photos, videos, links and camaraderie. You may have established the page, but it is your constituents who keep it running (no pun intended) along.

3. If you can crowdsource content for your social media channel, do it. Your fans will tell you exactly what they want to see and talk about while giving you content.

You could say I crowdsourced my training plan and marathon prep. I researched training plans, nutrition, marathon clothing advice and sleep advice online. I asked running friends about their past marathon experiences. These sites and friends told me exactly what to eat, how much to run and other things to expect. They were more informative than any one book or magazine could have been.

Similarly, crowdsource your online conversations and comments. Pose some questions and let others pick up the conversation. Let others post their photos and links to your page and bring a different point of view to the page (yes, this means make your account public, open up your Facebook wall to anyone, and take the passwords off your Flickr account). The chance that someone will post something negative is small compared to the chance that your channel will turn into a hub for informal, fun networking and idea exchanges.

Social media management isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. It takes continuous training, focus and a dedication to becoming faster, stronger and better equipped. But you aren’t in it alone. Your community is there for you the same way other runners and spectators were there for me during my training and 26.2 miles.

What steps can you take to start becoming a crowdsourced social media hero?

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By Kelly Donovan

Kelly Donovan is the team leader for online marketing at Naylor, LLC.

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