National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Top Security Practices to Implement
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, making now the perfect time to think about your cybersecurity. It’s a topic relevant to both individuals and businesses, and the steps you take to protect yourself can prevent pain and losses down the road.
What Is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
NCSAM or National Cybersecurity Awareness Month has been in place for 17 years and aims to raise awareness of the threat posed by cyber crimes to businesses and individuals alike. This awareness initiative is promoted by the FBI and backed by a range of established and respected organizations. It’s focused on reducing the number of cyber crimes that wreak havoc across the country every year.
Security Practices Individuals and Businesses Should Implement
There is a range of security practices you should implement to keep your devices and systems safe. Dan Cashman, President of TrinWare, an IT company in Westminster, says, “We recommend that companies focus on proactive cybersecurity measures that will work to prevent attacks altogether. No cybersecurity plan is complete without threat protection and constant monitoring, as well as employee security training.”
We’re going to take a closer look at some basic security steps to take and how they’ll help protect you.
Be Wary of Unknown Links and Sources
It’s important to remember that it only takes one moment of weakness for a data breach to occur. You should always be cautious with communication, when receiving links, downloading attachments, and using unknown sources. Always assume the worst before and take the time to assess the site, attachment, etc. before proceeding.
Avoid Social Media Oversharing
One way in which people are undone and exploited by hackers and cyber criminals is when they overshare on social media. When you give too much away, you immediately make yourself a target for criminals and hackers, as they can use your personal details to create specific socially engineered attacks. And the same applies to the employees of businesses. Where the internet, and especially social media, is concerned, it’s often best to go private.
Keep Software Up to Date
When a company releases an update for their software, it’s because there’s a flaw in the old system. They want to patch those flaws so they can’t be exploited by cyber criminals and hackers. If you don’t update your software and Operating System to the most current models, cyber attacks could reach you through vulnerabilities that would otherwise be patched.
Strengthen Your Password Security
Password security is a cybersecurity basic, but that’s also why it’s so easy for many people to overlook or disregard it. Each password you use should be unique and complex; you shouldn’t duplicate passwords for different accounts or logins, and passwords should combine upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. For the greatest security, avoid using dictionary words. Using multi-factor authentication is also a recommended failsafe, as it can protect your accounts even should your password fail.
Don’t Share Information Over Unsecured Networks
Finally, you should be careful about how and where you share information. Sensitive files, data, or communication sent over networks that are unsecured could be intercepted. You should use secure systems that offer encryption and end-to-end security when transmitting private information.
Following these steps will help you create a basic layer of security, but there are still many aspects of your system that need further measures. Talk to an IT professional for more recommendations for boosting your security!
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November 11, 2020 at 12:01PM
How Effective IS Blogger Outreach in SEO?
There are many brands with perfect websites. They have good content, good keywords, and an excellent user interface. But then these two things tank their SEO potential: low credibility and relevance. The benefits of blogger outreach in SEO revolves around strengthening these weaknesses.
1. Digital popularity and links
Google uses brand authenticity as a ranking factor. If you are a powerful brand, you can expect to easily land a position on the fast page of search engine results. But what does powerful mean here? You must have been in the industry for a while. You must be a thought leader with powerful and useful information that has many people linking to.
The quantity and quality of your inbound links are a prime factor that Google uses when weighing brand authenticity. Blogger outreach earns you these links from influencers, from their social media pages and websites. Links denote power and influence. It eventually leads to improved ranking in search engine results pages (SERPS).
2. Brand endorsement
The main objective of SEO is to accelerate traffic and conversion with minimal spending. If you engaged in pay per click advertising for these two goals, you would come face to face with the challenges of budgeting, targeting, and continuous campaign oversight.
Blogger outreach makes things easier. Guest bloggers and influencers promote your brand to their audiences. You get to build trust faster than it would take with paid advertising, considering that 96% of people don’t even trust ads.
3. Digital PR
Blogger outreach is digital public relations. It makes a brand come across as personable as opposed to being too salesy. It is a type of marketing that leads to long-lasting and impactful results in brand awareness, brand love, and brand loyalty.
Blogger outreach simplifies messaging. It’s an opportunity to ride on the influencer’s digital communication proficiency to reach their audiences. You can place a link in their existing content or have them review and link to your offerings. It enriches the content strategy.
Repair or build a positive image
Besides building brand awareness and improving sales, blogger outreach can help develop a positive image for your brand. You will come across as a thought leader and a trustworthy brand that provides useful information to customers and industry stakeholders.
You can use blogger outreach as a chance to repair your brand reputation. Outreach service by Magfellow is an example of how this works. Content creators help to control the narrative around your brand through links and blogs. Guest blogging shores up your authority and credibility, making your business resilient against digital slander and defamation.
It amplifies reach
There is no guesswork involved. Blogger outreach helps to position your content in front of the right receptive audiences. It beats the efficiency of Google and Facebook audience insights when it comes to targeting.
Blogger outreach doesn’t need you to pore over demographic data or A/B test every little thing you do. It cuts through the technical complexities in internet marketing and saves time. By helping you reach the right people, blogger partnerships can improve your traffic volume and quality. That’s good for both ranking and conversion.
It helps in lead nurturing.
The end goal for any marketing endeavor is conversion and sales. For SEO to be truly beneficial to your business or non-profit, it should lead the target audience to buy or contribute to your cause. Blogger outreach helps with that.
Sustained blogger outreach will get you the leads and help your nurture them hands-free, with the help of trustworthy brand ambassadors that are already loved by their audiences.
It helps with findability.
It is worthwhile to have your brand or offering championed by someone who has a positive reputation online. It works wonders in findability –it increases the number of places where people and search engine bots can connect with you.
Gentle reader, blogger outreach is highly beneficial and crucial for your SEO. It is hard to attain and sustain top ranking without it.
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November 11, 2020 at 11:58AM
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence On Social Media
Artificial intelligence technologies are being used across industries to automate and improve the efficacy of different activities. The advanced machine learning systems are equipped to replicate the discreet thinking and analysis patterns demonstrated by humans. This allows companies to leverage AI in performing some of the complex cognitive tasks with minimal human intervention.
While AI can be applied to varied use-cases, social media is one segment where it has become a major catalyst for companies to grow. For example, AI chatbots for business are helping companies to stay connected with their audience. It has truly transformed how brands communicate and build relationships with audiences on social media. From small to large scale, businesses are adopting AI in their social media marketing practices at a faster pace.
Impact of AI on Social Media
AI is transforming how brands use social media and it is the reason why this segment is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2023. The use of AI in social media has two major advantages:
AI functions using a complex network of computers that are capable of functioning independently. Once the algorithms and action points are defined, AI can function with minimum human monitoring. This helps to reduce marketing expenditure as brands can work with a smaller team without compromising their performance.
It also assists brands to boost revenue by making processes automatic and efficient. AI provides valuable insights that aids in creating content to improve engagement and make the brand visible to a wide audience.
Benefits of using AI for Social Media
Here’s how using AI in Social Media can benefit your business:
Communicating with the Audience
Many companies use social media to share their products, update about upcoming offers, and other important information. Almost all of the social media platforms have some sort of messaging or commenting feature that allows followers to communicate with the brand. Sometimes customers might have queries that they need answers to and may post the same on the brand’s social media profile. For brands whose followers run into millions, these questions can run into thousands.
It is not possible to ignore these questions as it would impact the brand’s image. At the same time, extensive hiring is not a viable solution as it would be expensive for the brand. AI technologies help brands to automatically reply to these messages by developing user-interactive AI chatbots that integrate with their social media profiles. Brands can also use chatbots for businesses to provide personalized support to shoppers.
Makes Influencer Marketing more effective
Influencer marketing is a branch of social media marketing in which brands collaborate with individuals who are ‘influential’ or specifically have a large following on social media. It translates into an organic way of spreading brand awareness. Brands do collaborations, like ask the influencers to review or showcase the brand’s products or services on their profiles. Since these influencers already have a large following, this approach assists brands to tap into their audiences.
However, a major problem with this approach is for the brands to identify the correct influencers. AI aids in making this process fast by automatically performing quantitative and qualitative research of influencers. AI can evaluate the content, engagement rates, and other parameters of different influencers to handpick those who will be successful in assisting the brand’s campaign reach out to a wider audience.
Create, Schedule, and Analyze Social Media Posts
Regular posting is considered an important way to grow audience and build a strong social media presence. With multiple social media accounts, it can be difficult for a company to create and manage content for each of these platforms. AI can help to create platform-specific content by conducting extensive topic research and providing information on search intent. It identifies patterns and user behavior to help brands understand which type of content is getting more engagement. Brands can then use this information to create engaging content.
AI also allows brands to automatically schedule posts for each platform. There are specific time intervals when posts tend to get more engagements and AI tools can identify the best time for the brand’s content and post them automatically. This improves the organic reach of social media posts. You can also get valuable insights about emerging trends, new audiences, brand visibility, and competitor performance.
There are several other advantages of using AI in social media. Technologies like speech recognition, predictive analysis, and computer vision are making it easier for brands to interact with their audiences. The technology is still evolving and the development of more use-cases of AI will benefit more businesses and help them deliver a better experience to their audiences.
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November 11, 2020 at 11:15AM
Best Registered Agent Services
Every state has a legal requirement for businesses to have a registered agent. This holds true for startups, small businesses, LLCs, and corporations alike.
What is a registered agent?
Registered agents are sometimes referred to as an “agent of process” or a “statutory agent.”
These services help to ensure full compliance with your state during the startup process and for the long-term of your operation as well. They are available during business hours to handle correspondence with government agencies on your behalf.
If your business gets sued, the physical address of your registered agent will be the place where this happens (instead of at the office in front of customers, employees, etc.).
Failure to maintain a registered agent service can be detrimental to your company. In some instances, the state can dissolve a business for letting their registered agent services lapse.
In some states, you can act as your own registered agent. But this means you’ll have to take on those responsibilities, and always be available during business hours. It also exposes personal details about yourself to the public, which most people want to avoid.
That’s why registered agent services are so popular. Whether you’re launching a new business or need to switch registered agents, this guide will help you find the best registered agent service for your business.
The Top 6 Best Registered Agent Services
After extensive research, we’ve narrowed down the top six registered agent services on the market today. This guide contains the benefits, plans, pricing, and additional services offered by each option on the list.
#1 – Northwest Registered Agent — Best For Customer Service
With “registered agent” in the name, it’s no surprise to see Northwest Registered Agent rank so high on our list.
From starting your business to maintaining your business with corporate guides, the registered agent services from this provider are second to none. For LLCs and corporations alike, Northwest Registered Agent will be a top choice for you to consider.
They have everything you could possibly want or need in a registered agent service. The plan comes with benefits like:
You’ll also get lifetime support from Northwest Registered Agent’s corporate guides. These business experts will help you start and maintain your business with assistance that goes beyond the traditional scope of a registered agent.
The service costs $125 per year. If you need a registered agent in five or more states, the rate drops down to $100.
#2 – Incfile — Best Free Registered Agent Services
Incfile is a business formation service with a wide range of offerings. It’s been used by more than 250,000 businesses over the past 15+ years.
One of the reasons why Incfile is so popular is because you can use them to get a registered agent for free.
That’s right. If you use Incfile to form your LLC or corporation, you’ll get a free registered agent for the first year.
They have an entry-level Silver package that literally costs $0. You only have to pay the state fees. The Gold and Platinum plans start at $149 and $299, respectively. But all three come with a free registered agent.
Here’s an overview of some of the features and highlights of Incfile’s registered agent service:
Incfile’s online dashboard definitely stands out from others on the market today. Between the mail forwarding and alerts, it’s really an exceptional service.
The standard price for Incfile’s registered agent service is $119. If you sign up for one of the business packages, your plan will renew at this rate after the first free year.
For those of you with an existing business, the change of agent fee from Incfile starts at $49.
#3 – Swyft Filings — Most Versatile Registered Agent Services
Swyft Filings is another well-known and reputable name in the world of registered agents. They provide services for LLCs, C-Corps, S-Corps, and nonprofits.
So regardless of your entity type, business size, or industry, this will be a top option for you to consider. Swyft Filings has registered agent services available in all 50 states.
Getting started is simple. Just fill out a quick questionnaire online to sign up. Once you’re registered, Swyft Filings uses automated technology that sends you timely reminders to ensure compliance.
The service starts at $149 and renews automatically. So you won’t have to worry about your service lapsing.
You only have to pay a flat fee and won’t have to worry about hidden costs or upcharges.
Swyft Filings makes it easy for you to view official documents that have been uploaded online by your registered agent. The service is secure, reliable, and protects your privacy.
It’s also worth noting that Swyft Filings has several different business formation plans for you to choose from as well. Those packages start at just $49 plus state fees. A registered agent is not included in those services.
#4 – ZenBusiness — Best Registered Agent Services For LLCs
ZenBusiness is one of the most popular and reputable names in the business formation space. While the company is definitely known best for its LLC formation services, they provide excellent registered agent services as well.
If you’re using ZenBusiness to launch your LLC, it makes sense to get a registered agent from them as well.
These registered agent services will ensure compliance for your LLC. It also adds a layer of privacy and protection to your business.
ZenBusiness will accept all important legal documents on your behalf. Everything will be uploaded to an organized online dashboard for you to view, print, or download at any time.
The registered agent services start at $99 per year.
But if you’re using ZenBusiness to start your business, their registered agent services are included with every plan. Those plans start at $129, so it makes sense to bundle the services together.
If you’re starting an LLC need and need a registered agent, look no further than ZenBusiness.
#5 – MyCorporation — Best For Small Businesses
MyCorporation has been around for more than 20 years. Since 1998, they’ve helped form 1+ million businesses across all 50 states.
As a pioneer and leader in this industry, the registered agent services from MyCorporation are perfect for small business startups.
Getting started is simple. Just navigate to the website and fill out a quick form online. MyCorporation has registered agent services for LLCs and corporations alike.
Here’s what you’ll get with this service:
The registered agent services at MyCorporation start at $120. The rate renews automatically every year. You can also add MyIncGuard to your plan, which comes with year-round reminders and tools.
For those of you starting a new business, the registered agent services come standard with the Deluxe and Premium packages. These start at $224 and $324, respectively. If you use MyCorporation to form your business, you’ll get a free EIN filing.
#6 – MyCompanyWorks — Best For Switching Registered Agents
MyCompanyWorks is another popular choice in the business formation space. They provide formation services and registered agent services for LLCs, c-corps, and s-corps.
Since 2001, more than 60,000 businesses nationwide have trusted MyCompanyWorks for their services.
MyCompanyWorks offers registered agent services in all 50 states. I like MyCompanyWorks because they are so versatile. The services are great for anyone forming a new business as well as business owners who want to switch registered agents for their existing company.
Benefits of the registered agent services from this provider include:
The registered agent service starts at $99 per year.
If your business is already established and you’re looking to switch registered agents, MyCompanyWorks doesn’t charge extra fees for the change.
Registered agent services are also included in the Complete business formation package, starting at $279. Alternatively, you can add-on the service to any of the other formation plans, which start as low as $79.
MyCompanyWorks plans are backed by a 90-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.
How to Find the Best Registered Agent Services For You
Contrary to popular belief, not every registered agent service is the same. Some of these options are undoubtedly better than others. With so many choices to consider, narrowing down the best registered agent service for your business can be tough.
There are certain factors that you need to take into consideration as you’re evaluating different services. Keeping the following elements in mind as you’re browsing will make your life much easier:
Business Entity Type
What type of business are you starting? Or what type of organization do you currently have?
Most registered agents will work with all entity types, but some are clearly suited for one over another. LLCs might not use the same registered agent service as an S-Corp. Certain registered agents are better for nonprofits.
Do some digging to see what types of entities the registered agent you’re considering works with. If they work with businesses similar to yours, it should be a good fit.
The best registered agent services will help you maintain compliance with state and federal law.
Look for a service that will send you reminders via text or email to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines or requirements. Some services will provide extra materials and compliance guides. It’s fairly easy to spot the difference between a registered agent service that just does the bare minimum and those that go the extra mile.
Privacy and Security
Privacy is one of the top benefits of a registered agent. The registered agent’s address will be listed as public record, not your home address or office address.
Legal documents and government correspondence can be facilitated through your registered agent. Some will offer mail forwarding as opposed to just mail storage. Others will securely upload documentation to an online dashboard for you to access remotely.
Business Formation Services
The vast majority of people seeking a registered agent service are starting a new business. It makes sense to use one company for both services.
In fact, many business formation services will provide you with an incentive to use them as a registered agent as well. Some will offer a free year of registered agent services when you sign up for a business formation plan.
If you already have an existing business and just need to switch registered agents, the business formation services won’t be as important to you.
The price for registered agent services typically falls around $100 per year. You might find some that are $50 higher or lower. But generally speaking, you shouldn’t be paying significantly more.
Some businesses use their attorney as a registered agent. But that will be much more expensive compared to the services reviewed in this guide.
If you bundle your registered agent service with a business formation plan (as previously mentioned), it’s usually the best bang for your buck.
Your registered agent should be there to provide you with assistance if you have questions or need help.
Whether it be over the phone, in person, or through an online portal, this is an important and often overlooked aspect of a registered agent service evaluation. I’d recommend reading customer reviews before you make a final decision. Most reviews will mention something related to support (whether it be good or bad). These remarks can help sway you in one direction or another if you’re on the fence between a few options.
What’s the best registered agent service? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Northwest Registered Agent is our top pick for customer service, as they go above and beyond to satisfy your needs. Incfile offers free registered agent services when you sign up for a business formation package. Swyft Filings has plans to accommodate all business entity types.
If you’re forming an LLC, check out the registered agent services provided by ZenBusiness. Small businesses should look toward MyCorporation’s services. For those of you looking to switch registered agents, MyCompanyWorks does not impose a change of agent fee.
Regardless of your business type or needs, you can find the best registered agent service for you by following the recommendations in this guide.
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November 11, 2020 at 11:07AM
How to Get More B2B Traffic and Leads With Content
Does your business serve other businesses? Wondering how to reach more people beyond LinkedIn? In this article, you’ll find a four-part plan to drive traffic and generate leads across multiple platforms. #1: Research Customer Needs to Create Relevant B2B Content With digital fatigue on the rise, how people consume content is also shifting and marketers […]
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November 11, 2020 at 05:05AM
How to Create Beautiful Instagram Carousel Posts (Free Templates)
Instagram carousel posts are one of the most engaging formats on social media right now.
Hootsuite’s own social media team finds that, on average, their carousel posts get 1.4x more reach and 3.1x more engagement than regular posts on Instagram.
The temptation to swipe left, it seems, is hard to resist—especially when there’s a persuasive cover slide. Give your followers the chance to stop doomscrolling and start swoonscrolling with thumb-stopping carousel posts.
Bonus: Get 5 free, customizable Instagram carousel templates and start creating beautifully designed content for your feed now.
What is an Instagram carousel post?
An Instagram carousel is a post with multiple photos or videos that can be viewed by swiping or clicking left. Up to 10 images or videos can be added and shared as a single post on the feed.
Just like any other Instagram post, you can include a caption, alt-image text, a geotag, and account and product tags on each image in your carousel. People can like, comment, and share your carousel post, just like any other.
When a carousel is published, a small icon appears in the upper right corner. As someone flips to the second image, the icon is replaced with a counter that indicates the number of frames. Small dots also appear at the bottom of a post to mark progress through the carousel.
Why choose an Instagram carousel? Give your brand the “magazine treatment” with double-slide spreads, close-ups, and shots from different angles. Provide step-by-step guide instructions or parse out information. Build intrigue and unveil a surprise or before and afters. Or use the format to convey scale.
Instagram carousel size and requirements
Much like a regular post, Instagram carousel can be published in square, landscape, and portrait formats.
But keep in mind that all posts must be uniform. Whatever shape you choose for the first slide will apply to the rest of the frames, too.
Instagram carousel sizes:
Instagram video carousel specs:
Don’t be afraid to post a mix of videos and images.
How to create an Instagram carousel post
When it comes to creating an Instagram carousel post, it’s best to start with a concept. Determine why the carousel is the best fit for your content, instead of a standard post, collage post, video, or Instagram story.
With this question answered, you’ll likely have a good sense of the type of content you plan to use. Sketch out a storyboard to get an idea of how many frames you’ll need. Decide if your carousel will jump from one image to the next, or have a continuous, panoramic effect.
1. Add all relevant photos to your photo library.
2. Open the Instagram app and click the + icon from the navigation bar.
3. Tap Library in the lower left.
4. Tap Select Multiple, located in the bottom right of the image preview window.
5. Select up to 10 photos in videos in the order that you would like them to appear.
6. Tap Next. If desired, apply filters or edits to each frame. Tap on the photo to open Edit tools. When finished, or to skip this step, tap Next.
7. Add your caption, geo-tag, account tags, and product tags. Swipe through to tag the appropriate photo.
8. Tap Share.
Tip: Double check to make sure all your frames are in the correct order before you publish. You can’t reorder or delete single slides after you share.
Instagram carousel templates
Want to take your carousels beyond “ten pictures from the same vacation”? Start by customizing one of our five free, professionally designed Instagram carousel templates in Canva.
1. Get access to the templates by clicking the link below:
Bonus: Get 5 free, customizable Instagram carousel templates and start creating beautifully designed content for your feed now.
2. Above is the first page you will see upon opening the template URL. Click Use Template
3. This page will open. All templates are shown. Choose one.
4. You can swap in any photo by clicking Uploads in the side menu and clicking Upload an image or video and selecting whatever image you want off of your machine. Once the image is uploaded, just drag and drop from the menu into the frame you want the image to replace.
5. Change the text boxes by selecting the text and pasting in the new copy you want in your post. Using the circles on the corners of the textbox. You can make the box taller or shorter as necessary. Text color, underline, font options, size options, font alignment and line spacing options appear above when a text box is selected. Highlighted in this screenshot is where you can change text color.
6. Selected above is where you can change the font size.
7. Selected above is the font type.
8. If you click on the template background, you can change the background color by clicking the colored square beside animate in the top menu and color swatches will appear on the left menu.
9. To change colored blocks/shapes, same as above. Select the shape and the colored square will appear in the top menu. Click the square and color swatches will appear in the left menu.
10. To export: Click Download and save as a png.
11. If you want to save only one template of 5, open up Select pages and select the corresponding template by clicking the square to the right, and then select Done.
12. To split your image up for the carousel: go to https://pinetools.com/split-image and you’ll see the above window, then select Choose file.
13. Select the file you just downloaded from Canva
14. Once your file has been imported, select horizontal split, output as JPG or PNG (personal preference) and split by Quantity of blocks (equal width) and put 4 into the Quantity of blocks, then select Split image.
15. This is what you’ll see after you click Split image, and under download pieces (images) are now the four pieces of your instagram carousel split to size. Click on each row 1, column 1, row 2 column 1… etc button to download back onto your machine.
16. And now you have your four separated images to upload onto instagram using the multiple-image upload. Just make sure you select in the proper order, or else your carousel will be posted out of order from the template!
Engaging Instagram carousel examples
Draw inspiration from these brands and creators on Instagram.
Random House Kids
The children’s publishing arm of Random House knows a thing or two about spinning a story. Here’s how they do it with an Instagram carousel post.
What’s inside the travel suitcase of jewellery designer Louise Damas’ brand manager? You’ll have to swipe through to find out.
If you like the first band featured in Coachella’s Instagram carousel, chances are high you’ll want to see the musicians featured.
Explore the textures and fabrics of Kotn with this Instagram carousel. The Canadian brand uses the format to show off and editorialize its apparel.