Friday, March 23, 2018

POLL: What Social Media Platform Do You Find Most Effective for Marketing?

There’s been a lot of news this week about the transparency of Facebook and what it’s doing with the data it collects.

The news may or may not impact your impression of the site. If it’s not been much of a benefit to your small business, you may see it as one more reason to stay away. However, if Facebook has been a boon to your company and brand’s reputation, you may be worried about the less-than-positive headlines — or not.

Of course, this isn’t the only social media site on the planet right now. There are dozens, really, though only a few more than a handful get a lot of attention.

In this week’s poll question for our small business readers, we want to know what social media site has been best for marketing your company, brand, services or products.

Maybe it is Facebook. That wouldn’t be a surprise, after all. Despite the negative rap it’s getting right now (and a never-ending stream of criticism, in general), there’s no denying it’s a great site for a lot of small businesses.

Still, for some it’s not so effective. They prefer other sites like LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube or even upstart Gab.

Let us know by answering this week’s poll question what social media site is best for marketing your small business. Share some stories about why it is in the Comments section below.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "POLL: What Social Media Platform Do You Find Most Effective for Marketing?" was first published on Small Business Trends

POLL: What Social Media Platform Do You Find Most Effective for Marketing?

In the News: More Tech Advances from Google, Salesfloor Target Small Businesses

As small businesses continue to integrate more technology into their operations, new retail trends are being established. This week, Google launched Shopping Actions to increase sales for online retailers, and Salesfloor also announced a new platform for small retailers.

On the point of sale side, TrueRating and Poynt have partnered up to bring the physical and digital world seamlessly together. And BarDog is giving bars and restaurants a better way to keep track of their spirits.

These are just some of the products and services highlighted this week. You can take a look at the rest of this week’s small business news and information roundup below.

Retail Trends

Google Launches Shopping Actions Tool To Increase Sales for Online Retailers

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has announced a program called Shopping Actions for retailers, which it says has resulted in the shopping basket size of their customers increasing by 30 percent. Google Shopping Actions With this program, consumers can use voice shopping and get a universal cart when they shop across platforms and devices.

Salesfloor Launches Platform for Small Independent Retail Stores

Salesfloor has launched a new version of its app for small and medium-sized retailers to connect store associates and customers. The app brings them together using email, social media, messaging apps, text messaging and online Storefronts.

BarDog Launches New Mobile Liquor Inventory App for Restaurants and Pubs

One of the challenges of running a bar is conducting an inventory. This is because the inventory is fluid (pun intended) and very hard to keep track of if you are not on top of things. The new liquor inventory app from BarDog Technologies looks to simplify the process by matching the content of your shelf directly to the app, making it easier to track.


15% of Americans Working Side Hustle to Start Their Own Business

There are more Americans working a side hustle today than at any point over the last 20 years. But why are we working ourselves so hard? Side Hustle Stats A new survey from of nearly 1,000 Americans who are currently working a side hustle found the main motivating factor is cash. Whether it’s a side business or a second job, 65.

Las Vegas is the Top City where Baby Boomers are Looking for Work at Small Businesses

If you think the edge your small business requires can be found by hiring a millennial, think again. You may find more experience will right the ship. You can find this with Baby Boomers. And says Baby Boomers are actively looking to work for a small business all across the country. Indeed scoured its site of job listings and user profiles to find the top cities in the U.S.


How Did a Small Business Score a Deal with the New York Yankees?

If you’re a small business plugging away, landing a big promotional contract might seem like a long shot. However, that’s just what Retro Fitness did. The growing fitness franchise recently landed a multi-year partnership as the New York Yankees Official Fitness Center.

Marketing Tips

45% of Small Businesses Use Pay Per Click Advertising, Survey Says

Did you know even if you don’t have a website your small business can benefit from search engine optimization? A new survey conducted by Clutch reveals only 45 percent of small businesses run Pay-Per-Click campaigns. And when they do, 86 percent of them pair it with SEO.

MailChimp Launches GDPR Compliance Tools for Small Businesses

The launch of MailChimp’s new tools for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance will make your life much easier when dealing with individuals or businesses in Europe. The GDPR rules apply to organizations based in the European Union as well as businesses that have customers and contacts there.


New Tracking Pages Feature from Shippo Lets You Update Customers on their Packages

The launch of Tracking Pages by Shippo is going to allow ecommerce retailers to provide customized tracking notifications for their customers. Post-purchase communication has become a critically important component of ecommerce.

Introducing Service Cloud Essentials: Bringing the No. 1 Support Solution to Small Businesses Everywhere

Ask any small business what’s important for growth, and they’re likely to tell you it’s connecting with customers. That’s why, at last fall’s Dreamforce, we launched Sales Cloud Essentials, an easy-to-use, intelligent sales app for small business teams, built on the world’s #1 CRM platform.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Gym Kidz, Inc. Offers Gymnastics Classes for All Kids

Children and aspiring athletes who are just starting out need a special environment in which to thrive. And so Gym Kidz, Inc. was created specifically to give kids and aspiring gymnasts a safe and fun place to learn and practice their craft. With a passionate owner, dedicated coaches and a loyal customer base, the brand has blossomed from a simple dream into a multi-location business.

Small Business Operations

New eBay AR Feature Finds Seller the Right Size Box for a Shipment

The new augmented reality (AR) powered feature from eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) is going to allow sellers to select the best USPS flat rate box for shipping items to their customers. eBay Augmented Reality Box Feature With this new tool, eBay sellers can virtually see if the item fits inside any USPS Flat Rate shipping box and get real-time calculation of shipping costs.

Social Media

Small Businesses Can Now Go Live on YouTube Right from their Desktops

If your small business wants to broadcast live on YouTube, you can now live stream without additional encoders or software on your desktop using Chrome. YouTube announced the new feature on the official YouTube Creator Blog. YouTube Makes Live Streaming Easier The process of live streaming has been simplified to just a couple of clicks, YouTube says.

90% Who Use Mobile Social Media Apps Check Facebook Daily, so Marketers Take Note

In surveying smartphone users to understand how they use social media, a recent survey found close to 90 percent use Facebook every day. The platform is a clear leader, with Instagram (also owned by Facebook) coming in second at 49 percent. Meanwhile, 48 percent of smartphone users reported using YouTube everyday , 32 percent in the case of Snapchat and 31 percent for Twitter.


This Native American Small Business Just Made History in the Construction Industry

Entrepreneurs should never be afraid to be the first to try something different or to come at problems from  a different direction. Tonto Rock Products LLC has made a success of it as the first Native American Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to be certified for sand and gravel manufacturing.


IRS Identifies the Top 12 Tax Scams for 2018

The IRS has released its annual compilation of the “Dirty Dozen” for 2018 highlighting the most common scams taxpayers will likely face as the tax season fast approaches. In announcing the list for 2018, the IRS highly encourages taxpayers to remain vigilant not only during tax season but throughout the year.

Technology Trends

Mondly AR Tool Makes it Easier to Learn Other Languages for Business

If you want to learn a new language for your small business endeavors, a new app from Mondly seeks to make things easier using augmented reality (AR). Here’s an overview of how the new MondlyAR works. Mondly App Augmented Reality Lessons Mondly says its new language learning app is the first to be powered by AR and chatbots with speech recognition.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "In the News: More Tech Advances from Google, Salesfloor Target Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends

In the News: More Tech Advances from Google, Salesfloor Target Small Businesses

David Parmenter of Adobe: AI Should Solve Real World Problems, Add Efficiency, and Uncover Better Answers

A great deal of conversations about artificial intelligence (AI) focus on exciting, eye-catching aspects of the technology.  But some of the most important and prevalent uses of it are the more mundane examples that are overlooked but helping millions of people everyday do routine tasks more effectively and efficiently.

Practical Applications of Artificial Intelligence

David Parmenter, Director of Data and Engineering for Adobe Document Cloud, shares with me how AI’s more practical applications provide a number of helpful examples of its growing impact on both our personal and professional lives.  David also offers up a few ideas of how small businesses can leverage the power of AI to add efficiencies and insights to their efforts.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.  To see the entire interview watch the video below, or click on the embedded SoundCloud player.

* * * * *

David Parmenter of Adobe: Practical Applications of Artificial Intelligence Should Solve Real World Problems, Add Efficiency, and Uncover Better AnswersSmall Business Trends: Why don’t you give us a little bit of your personal background?

David Parmenter:  I work for Adobe Document Cloud, and that’s really the group that focuses on knowledge workers within the company. This is Acrobat, this is Adobe Sign. It’s enterprise work flows, but it totally extends down into small business. Many of our customers are either small businesses or organizations, tight-knit organizations, within larger companies that really are like small businesses. My background is actually in big data, which I’m sure you covered five years ago.

Then actually prior to that, I had worked in speech recognition a pretty long time ago when that was first being commercially viable in the late 90s. Many of the techniques that we used then have been superseded by what we can do now, but it’s the same general feeling. One of the things about AI is these are systems that fail all the time, so it’s quite an interesting problem to work in because it’s like Ted Williams hit 400, that means he failed 60% of the time. It’s much the same with any of these systems that are built on top of probability.

Small Business Trends:  Let’s talk a little bit about the more maybe practical side of AI. We here a lot about the high flyer examples, but you look at it from a more pragmatic approach.

David Parmenter:  Our point of view for AI generally is that we want to solve real problems. If you’re using Photoshop and something takes a long time to do, we want to use AI to help speed that up. If you are a Creative Cloud customer, you’re getting a lot of AI features already. If you’re a Document Cloud customer, and you use our scan app, you’re already getting some of our Sensei features. Our AI is branded as Sensei, Adobe Sensei. These are basically features that just speed up work that you could have done some other way.

For example, it’s really easy to take a piece of paper from your doctor and take a picture of it and poof, it’s in the cloud. Then you can process it further. You could do this with a scanner, with a flatbed scanner, but we speed it up. Then because it’s a piece of paper, it might be kind of crumpled or look kind of weird. We fix all the imagery on it so that it looks like a flat piece of paper. That’s AI. It can be as simple as that. Believe me, it’s actually not that easy to do in the back office, but from a user’s point of view, you’re already getting an AI feature with something like that.

Small Business Trends:  Talk a little bit about the whole idea of how AI is going to impact the future of work.

David Parmenter:  I think in some ways AI is not different than high tech generally. High tech will let you do something more efficiently that you could do expensively before. A travel agency would be an example of something that is much, much easier to do now than it was 20 years ago. It also lets you do things that you just can’t do very easily at all.

For example, it would be really, really hard for you to go through all of your log data if you’re running a server, or through all of your customer calls if you’re running a call center, and spot trends. That would just be very, very inefficient. You’d ask your call center people or your ops people, “What’s going on?” They would put their finger in the air and say, “Well, I think this”, but the data could tell you these things. Those kind of workflows I think are accessible to anybody.

Small Business Trends: Let’s talk a little bit about the idea of where this fits in with small businesses.  I just participated in a survey, and they don’t think AI is for them. They think that it’s something for bigger enterprises, that it doesn’t really benefit the small guy, but where are you seeing AI fit in with small businesses?

David Parmenter:  First off, my message to your audience is you probably have a lot of data, and that data is really valuable. It’s of great interest to companies like mine, so don’t give it away, but on the other hand, don’t waste it. It’s sitting there, waiting to be used. I think that some small business people might say, “This isn’t for me. I’m not Facebook. I’m not Google. I’m not Adobe. I’m not Salesforce”, but I see it a little bit differently. I think there are ways to get in the game.

I’m not a small business owner, but for example, let’s imagine you wanted to have a support line, and a dedicated support staff is really not possible. On the other hand, you understand your domain pretty well. You could train up a chatbot, as an example. I just went to a conference and learned a lot about chatbots. These are real. These are happening now. That’s AI. A lot of times, people are like, “It’s great. I got the answer I wanted in no time at all.” That could be a win.

An example of an AI system that everybody uses today and they don’t even think about it is spam detection. Everybody has a spam detection feature or some kind of fraud detection. You need that. That’s an AI feature that can get you in the game. The next generation beyond that would be what we call in my field anomaly detection. This is, for example, when you find out that your sales are about to dip and you don’t know why, you can measure your sales, but you could also look at the data behind the sales and say, “Well, what were the store visits like? What were our ad impressions like?” There might be secondary things that are hard to relay, but they could be telling you that you’re about to have an event, either that it’s a good one or a bad one. This is a classic anomaly detection field. This is the kind of thing that a data scientist can do now if they have access to the data.

Small Business Trends:  How far away are we from AI not being a nice to have but being an absolute must have?

David Parmenter:  I don’t think it’s going to be like there’s this day where everything’s AI. It’s not going to be like Skynet or Terminator 4. I think what will happen is it will grow up around us. I saw a great quote the other day, Brent, where somebody said, “When something starts working, it stops being AI.” I really like this because nobody thinks of spam filtering as being AI, but in fact, that’s how it started. I think what you’re going to see is stuff that works. I think the average person in the audience, I imagine, is really watching their pennies. They don’t want to throw money out the window, and so they’re going to look for things that work. They’re going to find out from their peers, “Oh that worked.” That’s how you’re going to see it being adopted. There will be a period in the future …

I guess, Brent, if I had to answer your question, I would say the day you described is pretty far out, let’s say 20 years, but it’s going to start. It’s going to get bigger and bigger as we go.

Small Business Trends:  How do we start getting small businesses to realize the impact that AI could have on their businesses?

David Parmenter:  I think the average small business, I’m guessing because I don’t work in the field, is going to likely be working with a vendor. The vendor is going to make all kinds of outlandish promises, and I’m sure you’ve seen this over and over again. I’m not here to make any promises at all on behalf of my company. I think what you’re going to see is vendors are going to say, “You have this problem, and we have a solution.” My advice is focus on a real problem, not a toy problem. A really great way to pose the question to yourself is, “If I only knew X, I could do Y”, whatever it is. If in fact you don’t know how to get the answer to X, ask the vendor, “Could you answer this question for me?” If the answer is yes, then that’s a good time to begin the conversation.

Small Business Trends:  How is Document Cloud employing AI to help these businesses be more efficient and effective?

David Parmenter:  I think that there’s several different answers. The short term answer is that we have AI features built into our Sensei, into our Adobe Scan app, which you can get in the app store for free right now. They’re pretty slick. Give that a try. Then the other answer I would say is you need to come back to me later this summer.

Small Business Trends:  Oh. There’s some news that you can’t talk about now.

David Parmenter:  That’s correct.

Small Business Trends:  Okay. For folks to be able to do that, where can they go to learn more about what Adobe is doing on Document Cloud?

David Parmenter:  They should come to, and they can look up the Document Cloud. You’ll see quite a bit of information about what we do now and what the problem space that we’re in, which is really for knowledge workers of all stripes. The other thing I recommend people do is continue to track Adobe Sensei and look for our corporate pronouncements across the entire, future suite. We’re making a series of really bold announcements pretty much every month in terms of the kind of things that Adobe is tackling with its Sensei brand.

This article, "David Parmenter of Adobe: AI Should Solve Real World Problems, Add Efficiency, and Uncover Better Answers" was first published on Small Business Trends

David Parmenter of Adobe: AI Should Solve Real World Problems, Add Efficiency, and Uncover Better Answers

There Are 168 Million Active Buyers on eBay Right Now (INFOGRAPHIC)

eBay Statistics: There Are 168 Million Active Buyers on eBay Right Now (INFOGRAPHIC)

In 2017, 6.7 million sellers on eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) sold products in 190 markets around the world, and for small businesses, the platform has become a great source of revenue. If you don’t know about eBay, a new infographic appropriately titled, “All You Need to Know About eBay” by looks to bring you up to speed.

For more than two decades, eBay has been the most visible online auction platform for selling new, used and unusual products. Today, 81 percent of the items being sold are brand new, and businesses make up the bulk of the transactions taking place on the platform.

And these businesses are, for the most part, small companies looking to expand their ecommerce operations beyond their website or other channels. The data on the 16best infographic includes valuable information on key metrics about how eBay operates.

What You Need to Know About eBay From the Seller’s Point of View

There are 25 million sellers with over 1.1 billion live listings. This number is not set in stone as it is always changing. These sellers are looking to get the attention of 168 million active buyers who spend an average of 6 minutes, 10 seconds on the site.

So What is Being Sold and Who is Buying It?

Looking at what is being sold, you can determine how your small business will fare on eBay. According to the infographic, 432,000 collectible items are sold every single day. And increasingly mobile is the device of choice to carry out the transactions. The daily tally of items sold via mobile in the US includes 360 cars, 12,343 pairs of ladies shoes, 8,640 ladies handbags and 2,160 tablets.

The eBay demographic is made up of 57 percent males and 47 percent females, and of these 35-49-year-olds make up the largest group at 32 percent. The next largest segment is 50-64-year-olds at 29 percent, followed by 25-34-year-olds at 18 percent, 18-24-year-olds at 14 percent, and seniors 65 and older at seven percent.


What eBay offers small businesses is a popular platform with great opportunities for increasing ecommerce revenue. Everything from a $168 million yacht to William Shatner’s kidney stone has been sold on the platform. So it is fair to say you can find your niche by providing great customer service and offering your customers quality products. (Though maybe stay away from kidney stones!)

More eBay Statistics

You can take a look at more interesting information about eBay in the infographic below.

eBay Statistics: There Are 168 Million Active Buyers on eBay Right Now (INFOGRAPHIC)


This article, "There Are 168 Million Active Buyers on eBay Right Now (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends

There Are 168 Million Active Buyers on eBay Right Now (INFOGRAPHIC)

YouTube Director Onsite Will Help Small Businesses Create Video Ads

YouTube Director Onsite Will Help Small Businesses Create Video Ads

If the cost of having a professional create your video ads on YouTube is a deal breaker, YouTube Director onsite is offering this service for free — well, sort of.

YouTube Director Onsite

The stipulation is you have to commit to spending a minimum of $350 in advertising on YouTube through Google AdWords — so not really so free, right? However, if you already use this ad service, you are getting the video service for free. And according to YouTube, it can run you anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 if you were to pay an independent video producer instead.

For small businesses, YouTube Director onsite could be a game changer. If you don’t have the time or skill sets to create your video ad to post on YouTube, you can now have a professional do it for you. With this offer, you will be set up with an expert who will film and edit a 30-second professional YouTube video to promote your small business.

Nicky Rettke, Group Product Manager at YouTube, writes in Google’s official Keyword blog, “By running video ads on YouTube, you’ll reach potential customers when they watch or search for videos –and you’ll only pay when they engage with your video. With TrueView for action, our new direct response video ad format announced last week, you’ll be able to customize a call-to-action to drive the outcome that’s most important to your business, like leads or referrals.”

Making Your Video

When you are ready to make your video, the filmmaker you are assigned to will help you plan your video and create a script. Once you are on the same page, he or she will come to shoot your video, and will deliver the finished product, fully edited in 7-10 days.

With the video in hand, a Google advertising expert will help you reach your business’s target audience.

To recap: you deliver professional grade content at the cost of $350 in advertising on YouTube through Google AdWords.

The service is now available in more than 170 cities across the US.

Image: YouTube

This article, "YouTube Director Onsite Will Help Small Businesses Create Video Ads" was first published on Small Business Trends

YouTube Director Onsite Will Help Small Businesses Create Video Ads

Want More Productive Employees? 4 Ways Agile Methodologies Can Help

4 Ways Agile Methodologies Increase Employee Productivity

Boosting employee productivity has been a top concern of almost every company for decades. New methodologies have offered a number of solutions, but too many organizations are lagging in implementing them.

How Agile Methodologies Increase Employee Productivity

Agile Methodologies can substantially improve worker productivity if it is properly integrated into your workforce. Here are the primary benefits.

1. Using Contractors to Cultivate a More Responsive Workforce

Contractors have always played an important role in many organizations. The biggest benefit they bring to the table is flexibility, which is a virtue that a growing number of companies are taking advantage of.

According to Jim Robinson, a leading field service analyst for Gartner, two out of five field service tasks will be conducted by contractors in 2020. Robinson says this trend is being implemented to cut costs and improve responsiveness:

“Field service organizations are under pressure to optimize costs and shorten lead times, prompting more experimentation with the use of an external workforce.”

2. Minimizing the Need for Revisions and Optimizations in the Later Stages of the Development Process

A number of project managers I have spoken with have made the same observation over the years. Too many teams fail to have a QA process in place during the early stages of the development process. As a result, the final solution doesn’t meet acceptable quality standards by the time it is finalized.

The Agile Methodology emphasizes the need to meet value metrics at every stage of the process. This minimizes the need to overhaul the entire project after a QA assessment at the end of the process. This lifts productivity by cutting waste throughout the process.

3. Emphasizing the Need for Collaboration

Take a look at the four elements of the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

There is a reason that the focus on individuals and interactions is first on the list. Teams are playing an increasingly important role in development.

In the 1990s, it wasn’t uncommon for a single, diva employee to set records on their own. The model has changed remarkably since then. In 2017 and beyond, companies must emphasize the need for team-building.

Agile Methodologies focus on finding new ways to integrate employees to foster greater productivity. Today this is done through integrated technology platforms that bring people in sync and therefore improving productivity significantly. A number of new scheduling technologies have made it easier for companies to forge more cohesive teams.

“Smart, agile workplaces have an unwavering focus on providing constant unification between people, information, and processes. Today’s success depends on connectedness and collaboration — that’s not news. An IBM study from more than five years ago alerted us to the fact that industry outperformers have extensive smart workplace practices in place. But what have we been doing with this knowledge since then? Is it still a trend after such a long time? It is time to catch up and deliver the experience that employees have been asking for: simple, smart, and stretchy.”

4. Minimizing Complexity by Reducing the Scope of Each Project

One of the main focuses of Agile is coordinating much smaller projects. There are a few benefits of this:

  • Reducing the ambiguity of a project, thereby minimizing the need for project managers to outline the objectives.
  • Minimizing complexity, which reduces the error rate.
  • Focusing on smaller teams, which minimizes the risk of oversights on the part of the project manager and client.

The ideal size of a project depends on the complexity and duration of the final development. However, smaller projects tend to be much easier to manage and leave less room for error, which helps team members be more productive.

Companies have deployed programs ranging from corporate social responsibility to working remotely in order to drive productivity, but nothing has been more effective than agile methodologies.

Have you implemented agile into your business?

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Want More Productive Employees? 4 Ways Agile Methodologies Can Help" was first published on Small Business Trends

Want More Productive Employees? 4 Ways Agile Methodologies Can Help

It May Be The Shortest Distance Between Two Points, But it’s Also Bad for Business

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop Business Cartoon

Lots of times when I do a graph cartoon it’s about what do the lines/bars do that I can express in a funny way. Do they look like something? Is there an extreme change? Is there another visual element I can impose?

But in the case of this cartoon, I challenged myself to come up with something for a graph that does absolutely nothing at all. I even made sure that the line and the bottom axis were perfectly parallel. The only element I added was lengthening the graph to drive that point home.

I like the gag, and I guess that their data is steadfastly comforting, but you just know something is gonna happen soon…

This article, "It May Be The Shortest Distance Between Two Points, But it’s Also Bad for Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

It May Be The Shortest Distance Between Two Points, But it’s Also Bad for Business