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Could Facebook Ruin Your Business?

Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Nowhere could this idea be more true than on the Internet. With lightening-fast speed, one negative post about your company on Facebook or other social media site can travel to hundreds or thousands of potential customers or employees and ruin your reputation. On top of the humiliation of “losing face,” from negative online feed-back, you could lose customers, sales, and vendor relationships, too. The Un-Truth While some “company-bashing” comments might be warranted, here’s the worst part: some are completely untrue. Obviously, there’s no way to fact-check everything posted about your business. Most online comments about any business are actually just pure opinion. Think negative online opinions on Twitter or Facebook will just “blow over?” Not likely. Posting something online makes it available for anyone to copy and distribute instantly. So even if you delete the initial post, the same information may already be posted in 18 different places. Once something is online, it’s pretty much there to stay. How Your Reputation Could Be Tarnished There are four ways potentially damaging messages could be said about your company. 1. Competitors. It isn’t difficult to hide your true identity online. All your competition has to do is pose as an “average Joe” and pretend to be your customer. Then he can post negative reviews, damaging comments, or horrible customer experiences that never happened. In a matter of minutes, he can make your loyal customers have their doubts about continuing to do business with you and ward off potential new clients. When this happens to you, proving these comments are posted by your competition is no small feat. Even if you could prove who the culprit was, you wouldn’t be likely to nail him. Since social media is a relatively new phenomenon, there is very little case law available. What is available pertains more to employees’ social media activity than to your competitors. 2. Employees. Without intending to, employees could post or comment about confidential company information and put the business at enormous risk. Merely commenting on a project or a particular customer could cause the competition to steal business away, or could make the customer leave, upset that your employees are writing about their dealings with you for all the world to see. Then there’s the disgruntled employee. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 74% of employees say it’s easy to damage an employer’s reputation using social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.). Recently, a bank sued one of their ex-vice presidents after he posted confidential company documents online. Allegedly, the documents exposed illegal activities. The law suit requested the forceful removal of the documents. The bank lost the case, saying that the website and the ex–vice president had a First Amendment right to keep the documents online. In addition, the judge pointed out that taking down the documents would do little good, since they could have been copied and re-posted by other sites. 3. Employees’ “Friends” And Family. Turns out it’s not just employees you need to worry about…but their circle of friends and family, too. In a recent U.S. court case, a restauranteur was quoted in a newspaper article as saying that he treats his employees with “dignity and respect.” When the father of a former employee read this article online, he was not too happy. He left a comment that the company had been sexually harassing his daughter and that the owner condoned the behavior. The company looked for justice by suing the father for defamation, but the case got thrown out. The reason? The court sited these comments as opinion and not applicable to defamation laws. 4. Customers. Social media and other online chat has made it easier than ever for customers to let the world know about negative experiences with your company. Of course, the best thing to do is work diligently to keep your customers happy and avoid this issue altogether. But just one “minor” incident can send a bad vibe to all your prospects at the speed of light online. Though you can’t prevent customers or competition from posting whatever they want, you can have some control over what your employees do. How To Prevent Online Company Bashing First, make sure you have a computer use policy. In it, you can dictate what employees can and cannot do online and include a section on banning any conduct that could damage your company’s reputation. Second, monitor your employees’ activity online. Newer content filtering appliances allow business owners to keep an eye on where their employees are going and even what information they are posting online. FREE 2-HOUR SERVICE CALL HELPS YOU PROTECT YOUR REPUTATION During the month of April, we’re giving away 2 FREE hours of service to use as you wish. You can have us review or begin writing your computer use policy, help you develop a plan for monitoring negative online comments or review your firewall for other Internet threats. Don’t miss out! Call us for your 2 FREE hours today! 508-992-2541

Protect Your Kids Online For Under $30

Nearly 90% of 8-16 year olds have seen inappropriate images online. Most of them stumble upon it as a result of conducting research for their homework. With frightening numbers of pornography, child predators, and other harmful online risks, protecting your children’s online activity is a MUST. With the following 4 features, Net Nanny Parental Controls software by ContentWatch ($29 at www.hermanstreet.com) helps you do just that. 1. Blocks “Mature” Games. The software scans the online game for its ESRB ratings (like movie ratings, but for computer games). If the game isn’t kid-friendly, the computer blocks it. 2. Filters Facebook. Net Nanny can provide parents with a report on who their kids’ “friends” are, what pictures and videos they are looking at, and their Facebook Instant Message conversations. 3. Prevents Proxy Sites From Working. Content filters work by making a “blacklist” of sites that it won’t allow. If you tried to type in a blacklisted website address, you wouldn’t get very far. But there’s a sneaky way around this called a “Proxy Server.” Proxy Server web addresses are usually content neutral, so users can go there without flagging the blacklist system. Once in, your child can navigate to their original blacklisted site. Net Nanny prevents this by blocking both proxy server entries and the inappropriate website itself. 4. Keeps Parents Informed. If your child is trying to gain access to something you have blocked, Net Nanny sends you an e-mail alert.

Proper Disposal of All Things Electronic

As much as you’d like to, it’s really not safe to just throw away old computers, network equipment, or any electronics like TV’s, cell phones, and DVD players. If disposed of improperly, these items contain toxic chemicals, like arsenic and mercury that can harm the environment. How do you dispose of these things properly? Check out these two tips: 1. Reuse. This is the most environmentally friendly of the disposal methods. Find another use for your old equipment. For example, you might be able to use an old PC as a firewall, run a basic program like an older voicemail system, or make it a toy for your kids or grandkids to beat up. 2. E-cycle. Some major retailers, like Best Buy and Dell, offer recycling programs for computers and home electronics. If it’s your cell phone you are looking to get rid of, you can find a local program by going to http://www.earth911.org/ or http://www.mygreenelectronics.org/

Could Buying A Computer Actually Increase Your Cash Flow?

Buying a new computer isn’t cheap. Sure, the computer itself is pretty inexpensive, but then you have to purchase software and peripherals. Before you know it, you’ve tied up at least $1,200 of your cash on the thing. Then there’s the labor to install it. If you’re not under an all-inclusive type of IT service plan, the labor could run you a few hundred dollars more. Of course, the situation worsens when you have more than one system to replace. What’s A Business Owner To Do? Until recently, if you needed a new computer right away, but didn’t want to tie up your cash, your only option was to lease it. Not anymore. The recent credit crunch took the option of leasing new equipment off the table for many businesses. This means that you either have to part with the cash, or forgo the new technology you need. “Hardware as a service,” otherwise known as “HaaS” is a new way business owners can gain financial benefits and peace of mind when purchasing computers, servers, and network equipment. Like businesses who lease their computer equipment, HaaS customers also pay monthly for their infrastructure. This allows them to keep more cash in their pocket and gives them the tax advantage of converting a typical capital expense into an operational expense. But unlike leasing, HaaS can also alleviate computer headaches in these 3 ways: 1) No More Expensive Surprise Upgrades. If your computers or server don’t meet the minimum hardware requirements when your line of business software releases an upgrade, you could be forced to lay out thousands of dollars that weren’t in your budget. With HaaS, your computers are automatically replaced with new ones every 3-4 years, ensuring compatibility with almost any software refresh. 2) Dealing With Warranties Are A Thing of The Past. With a HaaS program, you get your equipment AND the service included in the monthly cost. Anything that goes wrong with the computer (like the inevitable computer crash just days after your warranty expires), is the provider’s problem to resolve. Plus, since HaaS computers are replaced regularly by your provider, you don’t have to settle for refurbished parts or old computers for very long. 3) One Easy To Understand Invoice. Simpler is better. Instead of receiving different invoices for hardware and labor, a HaaS plan means you get one invoice for virtually all your IT needs, giving you a truer budget number for IT related expenses.Think of it like this: Purchasing your computers with a HaaS program is like having a condo. You get control of what goes in it, yet you don’t have to worry about maintenance, building code issues, or updating the façade. Plus all your services and amenities are included in just one monthly fee. Want new computers without the big upfront outlay of cash? Call us today to learn more about HaaS and find out if it’s right for you. 508-992-2541 or e-mail us at info@thinktechonline.com

Shiny New Gadget: Motorola Droid Phone

Here’s a quick run-down of the good, the bad, and the bottom line on this new phone. The good: Most users of the new Motorola Droid Phone really like its display screen; fans cite the phone’s large, crisp picture and vivid graphics. The phone also has a pretty fast Web browser, (reportedly much faster than that of the Blackberry), a Google Maps Navigation app, and better messaging and contact management. With Verizon as its carrier, the Droid has very reliable service. The bad: The QWERTY keyboard seems to be a bit awkward, especially if you don’t exactly have dainty hands. Some people dislike its weight, too, since it weighs a full ounce more than its closest competitor. Also, because the dialpad control is restricted to the home screen, driving and making a phone call is rather difficult. Not surprisingly, music and video capabilities are not as strong as the iPod’s. In addition, there’s no Bluetooth voice dialing. The bottom line: Overall, the Droid is a good smart phone with good service, useful Google maps, and a killer display screen. It’s a great touch-screen upgrade from the Blackberry and gives its competition a run for the money.

How To Get Your Employees To Cheerfully Put In MORE Hours

Who doesn’t want employees that are more productive in the workplace? Yet personal issues, illness and family obligations often prevent employees from coming in. That’s why so many employers are now enabling remote access to their network. Whether you call it “working from home,” or your “virtual office,” the idea is the same; your network is configured to give you and your staff the ability to work from some location other than the office. While most business owners and managers pulling 60 hour work-weeks love the idea of putting in some of those hours from the comfort of their home, they often fear that employees given the same luxury won’t be as productive. However, studies have shown that employees working from home are actually far more productive than those who are limited to working at the office. The biggest fear is that employees will goof off and not take their job seriously; however, that fear is on the decline as more and more businesses are pursuing this (23 million and growing to be exact!) While telecommuting will not work in every situation, there is no doubt that technology has made working from home extremely practical whether a few times a month or every week. As a matter of fact, offering work-from-home options can give you a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the best employees. Here are some additional benefits to allowing your people remote access: Employees who are sick can continue to work without infecting the office or losing an entire day of work.