Facebook Dislike Button Debate Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Facebook Dislike Button Debate Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Facebook Dislike Button Debate Rears Its Ugly Head Again - Web and BeyondThe Facebook Dislike button has been debated for years, requested by many users, and confused Small Business owners on what they should do about it all. As any changes are tested, here is how you should approach your marketing.

Let’s start with the facts:

So, what’s a business owner to do about marketing in light of these changes? As I noted in my last article, Is Facebook Really Implementing a Dislike Button?, back in September 2015, about the Facebook Dislike button:

One thing I am sure about and that I’ve counseled all my Small Business clients about is, do not use the feature as a business. This is for a couple of reasons:

1. you don’t know yet how people will come to like or dislike (pun intended) the new feature;

2. unless you really are in a business where showing empathy and invading someone’s personal life makes sense, it’s likely inappropriate for your business (and just plain creepy) to be offering condolences about, say, a family’s loved one passing away; and,

3. if you (again) really are in a business where you have that kind of relationship with your customers or clients, you should be writing a comment to show genuine concern or sending a personalized, private message to your customers or clients. If you’ve lost a loved one or something powerful has negatively impacted your life, how dismissed would you feel to get a click-of-a-button response from your favorite business? I thought so.

A community’s culture changes slowly and any release of a major feature can become an animal of its own kind. There’s no sense in getting caught up in a feature that the media will likely report on only the salacious, shocking and negative. Of course, if there’s a legitimate argument for using these tools (see nos. 2 and 3 above, or if reporting spam/abuse), go for it.

My general recommendation is to do nothing with any Dislike features. Ignore the hype and focus on creating positive, useful content with a coordinated sales strategy.


Responding to Google Reviews — The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Responding to Google Reviews — The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Responding to Google Reviews - Web and BeyondWhile the first phase of Google review traffic success is getting them, taking your Google review strategy to the next level is most certainly responding to Google reviews. Setting and managing buyers’ expectations is tough when you control little about the platform on which such opinions rest. This is why we discussed our strategy for getting (mostly good) Google reviews. So, if you haven’t read about this yet, I suggest you read that first and then continue on here to learn how effectively responding to Google reviews can be profitable (and mostly painless) for Small Business.

Many business owners don’t know, but you can read and reply to Google reviews. Google gives you this ability from the Google My Business dashboard, and you should use this powerful feature.

Responding to Google Reviews — The Good

The best responses to Google reviews for most Small Business owners are the good ones (three stars or more, in my book). I’m not going to lie; they’re nice to receive, look at, and bask in all your Small Business greatness and glory. The tactic of primary importance here is that you show appreciation. While most business owners don’t see it this way, you add value when you thank reviewers for leaving a good Google review. If you didn’t prompt them to leave the review, these are the people you should thank publicly. Then, move on. Don’t offer a discount. Don’t lavish them with praise. Simply thank them for their kind gesture, and wish them well.

And, if you start to get hundreds of good Google reviews per week, thank every 100th and move on. These reviews are seen by everyone and not everyone at that volume needs a thank-you.

Responding to Google Reviews — The Bad

Now comes the most challenging of all responding to Google reviews—the bad ones (of two stars or less). Why are these the most challenging? Business owners avoid facing reality, asking unhappy customers what made their experience bad, and doing the hard work to fix it.

Good business owners will overcome these challenges. And, I’m here to confess that sometimes these challenges are gnarly. Some, you may have to cut your losses and not fix. But, here are my thoughts about how to deal with responding to Google reviews gone bad.

Publicly acknowledge the reviewer with an apology that they had a poor experience with your company. This isn’t a time to be defensive, since you’re apologizing that their opinion of you is bad, not culpability for first degree murder. Your task is to review the text of what the reviewer wrote to see if you have sufficient information to understand why a reasonable consumer would feel this way, and if you should make it right. When you determine it legitimate, let the reviewer know that you’d like to make it right.

If, on the other hand, the reviewer didn’t provide enough details, in the reply to him or her ask them to reach out to you (perhaps via that same dedicated customer service email address we discussed in “Getting Mostly Good Google Reviews”). Once offline, turn that frown upside down! Within law and reason, help that unhappy customer become a raving fan. Once you’ve done so, ask them to re-review your business on Google. If you’ve done well, in my experience with my clients’ businesses, no reasonable customer won’t edit their Google review to four or five stars.

Handling bad Google reviews is challenging because it takes facing that you have a customer service problem, may have to correct your staff, or realize that there’s some major defect in your operations, product manufacturing, or otherwise. But, if you learn this and fix it, your business is better for it and more resilient through economic downturns. I consider bad reviews a proper service to Small Business owners everywhere.

Responding to Google Reviews — The Ugly

Lastly is actually one of the easiest Google reviews to manage, because they require very little effort. It’s one that probably frightens you. The ugly Google reviews are those that are always one-star and long, sometimes cogent and sometimes rambling prose about how you wronged them.

They hate your business. They’ll never do business there again. You suck. Your staff sucks. Your product or service sucks. And, your logo sucks, too! Hate spews from every orifice of these ugly reviews. There are many exclamation points, question marks, and ellipses.

And, you cringe. You’re a normal, decent human being. And, who wouldn’t cringe at that?

So, what’s a business owner to do? Nothing.

Yes, you heard me right. Absolutely nothing. Ignore that garbage and move on. This is known as “flaring” and it’s similar to if a child has a meltdown on their mother or father in a shopping mall. It gives you pause, and then you realize it’s a child throwing a temper tantrum so you continue on your merry way. Flaring doesn’t deserve your energy, because these are not happy people. And, they won’t ever be happy customers. And, everyone around your business will recognize flaring when they see it.

The only time someone like this should be responded to, is at the request of your legal counsel. If they have stated your business has committed a crime or extraordinary wrongdoing, they’re harassing you or your staff, or posting this not once but everyone they can find a spot to do so on the Web, I’d communicate this to your legal counsel in order to determine the best course of business and legal action.

Responding to Google reviews can seem daunting at first. But, after you know this rubric for how to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly, you start to be able to plow through Google reviews.

Good reviews get simple, plain gratitude. Bad reviews get attention on the unhappy customer and on your operations, product or service to improve for the future. And, ugly reviews get ignored.

None of these are easy, and some of this is downright tedious. But, after starting to manage Google reviews well, my clients tend to see more and better Google reviews from their proper handling. And, I hope you do, too!

Cybersecurity for Small Business: It Doesn’t Keep You Up at Night? It Should!

Cybersecurity for Small Business: It Doesn’t Keep You Up at Night? It Should!

Cybersecurity for Small BusinessIf you want a pleasant Sunday morning read, check out this list of data breaches of major companies, organizations and government agencies. These are entities with IT departments, security professionals monitoring their networks, cybersecurity policies, and a budget to support their cybersecurity efforts. At least one of these data breaches included data about you. And, these cyberattacks were not even the primary targets of most attacks in the world. Hackers today find it lucrative to target businesses and, more specifically, North America-based small businesses.

Hackers have breached about 14 million small businesses in the last year, and most don’t know it. Cybersecurity for Small Business might sound obscure if you’re in business on “Main Street” and don’t sell online. However, it’s one of the most important management areas of your business to focus on today. Cybersecurity itself means protecting your digital world from attacks in a variety of forms so you can focus on running and growing your business.

Unfortunately, gone are the days when you can buy antivirus software for your desktop computer and all your digital worries can go away; it’s part of the solution but it’s not the whole solution. There are many ways in which hackers can penetrate your personal, your business, your employees, and your customers’ machines and access data with intent to steal or get access to that equipment for nefarious reasons. Frequently, the reasoning doesn’t make sense on the surface so you aren’t suspicious, and this can be the most dangerous cybersecurity breaches because you are unaware for so long.

I’ll use the colloquial term “cybercrime” throughout this discussion to cover the wide variety of crimes, unethical tactics, and downright immoral practices of individuals and companies against personal and business systems and their data. These cybercrimes include, but are not limited to,

  • hacking your digital devices (which could be your smartphone, computers and laptops, Point of Sale terminals, credit card machines, and similar devices),
  • hacking your digital services (think about your website, email, cloud storage, and online services),
  • blatant physical theft (ergo, larceny) of digital equipment to get the underlying data,
  • data theft,
  • phishing,
  • stalking,
  • identity theft,
  • wire tapping,
  • denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against your servers to shut down your websites,
  • email bombing (the equivalent of a DoS/DDoS attack, but with a volume of email messages sent to you instead of HTTP requests to the server), and
  • injection of malware (malicious software), ransomware (taking data to make you pay to gain get it back), and other types of software that do dubious actions to your digital environment.

Now isn’t this a Charlie Foxtrot, eh? I know it’s daunting and it might scare and overwhelm you. It’s understandable that you may feel this way. But, as a business owner in the Internet Age, you must head cybercrime off at the pass, or risk losing time, money, and clients. Thankfully, there are some common sense ways to deal with cybercrime, so you can rest at ease knowing your digital world is safe and get back to running your business.

Physical security of hardware

Every Small Business should have physical security protocols for all digital devices (phones, external hard drives, computers should be secured in place so they cannot be easily picked up and run away with, laptops / tablets / credit card readers should be secured in locked storage when not in use.

Your next best defense since people are fallible, is to have an off-site backup. This can include making a full copy of your encrypted data on an external hard drive and taking it someplace away from the business location, and/or using a cloud storage backup service such as Carbonite, Crashplan, or even Google Backup and Sync.

Something that some businesses are starting to do as well, when all else fails, is to make sure their business liability insurance cover physical theft. And, you should know that there are cyber security risk / liability insurance policies available for damages and losses from digital means.

Physical access to systems (users)

When it comes to physical access to systems, your users should be guided by an effective Digital Device Policy and include protocols for:

  • How to create employee user accounts and assign only the administrative/user privileges needed for them to perform in their role.
  • Give users physical access to systems only at the times needed to satisfy their assignments, and not give access to unnecessary systems at all. If employees don’t need access to your server room, don’t give it to them.
  • For  how to allow Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) employees at your business. You should have in place a policy for managing BYOD’s. Employees must use and abide by these security protocols on their mobile devices, if they use personal devices at work.

Separation of personal and business devices

You separate your business and personal finances, because you need to track what is yours and what is your business’, even if only for tax purposes. The same goes with cybersecurity. You need separate personal and business logins for online accounts. This may also include hardware, like the phone you use to make and receive personal or work calls. Will your ISP or telecommunications provider have protections in place if you’re using your consumer service for business purposes? Probably not. The fine print matters here.

Software protections

Since the late 1990s there has been antivirus and anti-spyware software. And, yet, business owners resist installing reputable antivirus software on their business machines. While some have costs associated with them, many are free and built into your operating system, such as Windows Defender. You simply need to activate them. But, if you have purchased a license for one not built into your operating system, please make sure that your license is still valid and the software are kept up-to-date (including your mobile phones and devices). Also, firewalls keep your computer, and any devices or routers connected to the Internet safer, especially your Web browsers (all of them, even if you don’t use them all, all of the time), must have firewall protection. Again, on Microsoft Windows, there’s Windows Firewall that simply needs to be enabled.

VPN when on WiFi on anyone else’s network

If you spend much of your time on other people’s WiFi, then you need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your business data trafficking across the network. This includes any open WiFi network at your local cafe and if you’re working at a coworking space or even at your client’s site. No network outside your firewall can be trusted to be secure. A VPN product you can try for 500MB per month for free is TunnelBear and if you use more data than that per month across your business, then you can upgrade.

Web browsing and email protections

As a business owner (and advising your staff similarly), don’t open suspect emails and don’t transact any personal or private information about yourself via email. Period.

At the core of most Web and email protection is antivirus and spam-filtering software, so it’s definitely recommended that your ESP (email service provider) and/or ISP (Internet service provider) give you options for protecting and securing your Web and email traffic. However, that’s simply not enough for a business today.

In addition to such protective software, you should also seek out information on implementing SPF, DKIM, and/or DMARC as available through your ESP.

It also doesn’t hurt to enable two-factor authentication (a/k/a 2FA or TFA) on all online services that have the capability. Where possible, use a password manager, such as LastPass, 1Password, or Dashlane, to not only use unique passwords for every online account you have for the business, but also long passwords with unique passwords to increase its resilience to attacks.

Mobile security

As more and more computing happens on mobile devices, security on them will become the dominant concern for small business owners. But, mobile doesn’t simply stop there. With the advent of Internet of Things (embedded “smart” technology in everyday things), wearable technologies, smart vehicle systems (Android Auto, anyone?), and voice assistants (like Amazon Echo devices, Google Home, and, the newcomer, Apple HomePod), cybersecurity needs expand to have to meet those new frontiers.

It’s so important for Small Business to have their representatives’ support when it comes to combatting cybercrime against them and their customers. In April, a bipartisan small business cybersecurity bill was introduced by nine senators—the MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act of 2017. Sadly, this bill, according to Skopos Labs as detailed on GovTrack.us, has a 3% chance of becoming law. This is a commonsense piece of legislation to get the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), “to disseminate resources to help reduce small business cybersecurity risks, and for other purposes.” Call your congressional representatives and tell them that you support S. 770 and they should support their small business voters by supporting this bill.

Also, if you’re scared senseless and you need help, never fear. Contact the Alexandria Small Business Development Center and we can refer you to professional security consultants who can help you.

Next Roundtable – Sizing Up the Competition

Alexandria Small Business Development Center hosts a monthly Business Development Roundtable from January to November. We meet in our main conference at noon on the third Tuesday of the month, and you can bring a beverage or your lunch, for a different business marketing or management topic that’s pertinent to Alexandria Small Business. Join us on August 15, 2017 at noon, when we gather to discuss “Sizing Up the Competition: How to Create a Competitive Advantage.”


What’s New at Google – May June July 2017

What’s New at Google – May June July 2017

What's New at Google | Web and Beyond

In the past few months, Google has been busy! Google added some fancy charting features to Google Sheets, Android Pay partnered with PayPal, Google NoCaptcha reCaptcha arrived, Backup and Sync from Google became available, and easy HIPAA compliance showed up for G Suite (with help from partner, Virtru). I’m going to highlight the important ones in this installment of What’s New at Google (WNAG). I’m restarting these WNAG posts again, and since it’s been a while, I’m mashing together a few months’ worth of news.

Google and G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) constantly changes and some of it’s pretty important to the overall productivity of a Small Business. Other changes, not so much. This ongoing Web and Beyond blog series, What’s New at Google parses through the chaff so you know what’s going on at Alphabet and its most powerful Search Engine subsidiary, Google. These posts update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner and entrepreneur. These are the exciting and frequent enhancements that Google makes to deliver better products for you, as well as danger zones to avoid when they fall short.

Backup your Computer Files and Photos Easily with Google – What’s New at Google

It’s really important for Small Business owners to secure their business data. Laptops and mobile devices break, get lost, and are stolen. And, when (not if) these incidents happen, Small Businesses are put in catastrophic positions. Don’t let this happen!

Google has finally released its anticipated backup solution (for Windows and Mac OS X) and it’s available for G Suite too, so this is going to be really great for Small Business. It uses the data of your Google or individual G Suite user account storage space for the data you backup. It allows you to selectively choose which folders to backup in Google Drive, and which folders to backup to Google Photos.

Head over to Google’s Backup and Sync for Google Photos and for Google Drive and get your computer data securely backed up to the cloud.

What’s next for Google payment and loyalty experiences – What’s New at Google

Google’s The Keyword blog, which is the omniblog for all of Google’s products and services, wrote an article about its new payment and loyalty upgrades it’s making across the Google and Android ecosystems. This may seem technically trivial and summarily benign to you but if you’re a local Small Business, this is incredibly important.

As Google upgrades it Google Payment API and Card Linked Offers API (the services that connect Google tools to your eCommerce websites and mobile apps), the more you’ll have the ability to drive retail traffic into your business.

Here’s an example that will be possible someday very soon, and even sooner if you’re using a Clover Small Business Point of Sale solution:

Jane Shopper is searching for a yoga school to join. Up pops not just yoga studios in her area, but Google now surfaces a list of classes and the ability to “Book” a class today, right now from Google Search or Google Maps. (As a business owner, this currently works if you’re using one of several scheduling services in a supported industry, including Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale, and WellnessLiving. In short speed, Google will be also bring on board Booksy, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon and TimeTrade.)

Now Jane walks into that yoga class and has a great experience. Before leaving, you, the savvy yoga studio owner, let’s call her Yogi Jill, have Jane sign-up for your loyalty program. If she comes to a few more classes, then she’ll get a discount on a monthly package going forward. Every time Jane uses Android Pay for touchless payment at the yoga studio, Yogi Jill is able to track data about Jane and push new offers to her when they’re earned. This keeps the relationship warm, Jane getting her asanas sharp, and the retail traffic continuous.

And, if you’re selling products, note that this works similarly for retail stores as well. My advice to Small Business owners right now is to make sure that you’re using the technology that connects to Google and don’t invest in any Point of Sale solution provider that isn’t going to integrate with NFC payment (i.e., Android Pay and Apple Pay), as well as connecting to your loyalty program, and Google Payment and Card Linked Offers APIs.

Google adds some fancy charting features to Google Sheets – What’s New at Google

Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets

Image: www.blog.google

Google Sheets has introduced machine learning into its skill-set through the Explore feature. You can use natural language searches for data you have in your spreadsheet workbook and get that data visualized more easily.

Learn more in Google’s article, “Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets.”

If you’re a Small Business trying to make better decisions, the more you can centralize your data into Google Sheets and make it visual, the easier those decisions can be. You can export data from Google Analytics, your CRM, and recent purchase information from your Point of Sale or invoicing software, then import those into one Google Sheets workbook. From there, you can use the Google Sheets Explore feature to unearth insights that will help you create stronger customer relationships.

Google NoCaptcha arrives – What’s New at Google

So, we all know the bane of Internet’s existence are spammers, hackers, and trolls. But, for the average user, the most prevalent annoyance are the images that you need to decipher and complete in order to complete forms, known as CAPTCHA/reCAPTCHA.

As Google explains it,

reCAPTCHA is a free service that protects your website from spam and abuse. reCAPTCHA uses an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive CAPTCHAs to keep automated software from engaging in abusive activities on your site. It does this while letting your valid users pass through with ease.

reCAPTCHA offers more than just spam protection. Every time our CAPTCHAs are solved, that human effort helps digitize text, annotate images, and build machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems.

Of course, this is less than ideal, because the onus is on your fickle website visitor to have the patience to complete the reCAPTCHA puzzle in order to submit a contact or other types of forms on your website. Google is solving this with invisible NoCAPTCHA. With the new NoCAPTCHA, the common website visitor won’t see a reCAPTCHA puzzle unless they’re identified as a likely spammer. The website publishers and visitors the world over all exhale a collective sigh of relief.

As a business website publisher, all you need to do is setup Google reCAPTCHA on your website, and the rest is taken care of for you by Google.

Google brings Smart Reply to Gmail on Android and iOS so you never have to type again – What’s New at Google

The last update I wanted to cover is Google’s update to its mobile apps for Gmail. They’ve implemented Inbox by Gmail’s Smart Reply functionality into Gmail Mobile. This is great for those one word to one sentence responses that comprise of many email messages we receive on a daily basis. This is available in the consumer-side Gmail and in G Suite Gmail, so check it out and see if it’s helpful to your productivity.

More Updates – What’s New at Google

Here are some other highlights over the past few months, if you want to dig deeper:

Until next time on What’s New at Google!

G Suite ← Use this signup link to try G Suite Business with a free trial. If you want to keep it, I can give a discount on your G Suite account, covering your first year of service. See these instructions and request a redemption code.