Wow, Got a Windows 8.1 PC for the holidays! (Now what do I do?…)

Happy Holidays!

Christmas morning and day was spent opening all the gifts, spending time with friends and family, and just relaxing. Well, now that it’s all over, the thought on your mind may be – “Great Windows 8.1 device, but how do I update the apps on it!” Well, have no fear, it is not as hard as it may sound.

If you know iTunes, then you know the Windows Store.

Upgrading your apps on your Windows device, is just as easy as using the iTunes store, and we have to pictures to prove it. To get started just opening the Windows Store app by clicking on its live tile.

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Once you open the Windows Store, this is what you see. An offering of apps for the Windows 8.1 platform.

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From here, click on “Accounts” and then “My Account”

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So Far, So Good, So very easy!

From here, you will see a screen of all apps that are installed on the device. If for some reason you are not seeing particular apps, not to worry. Just click on the selection box to see what other Microsoft devices you have and select the one that you are currently working on!

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Good. Now, move your mouse over to the top right corner of your screen to activate the Windows 8.1 “charm icons” that allow you to work specific tasks while in applications!

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Click on the device icon at the bottom of the screen and the click on App Updates.

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Once here, it is just a simple click on the check for updates button and Windows 8.1 will create a list of apps that have updates available.

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Just click on the Install button at the bottom of the screen, and your apps will be updated!

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Now is the time for celebrations!

Congratulations! You are now a Windows 8.1 Guru. Go and spread your wisdom to others and enjoy your new updates. We hope that this has helped those who may have been having a bit of a struggle with their new Windows 8.1 devices received over the holidays.

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Thoughts of a blue screen.

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Microsoft. The very name brings to mind thoughts of business enterprise, stoic. conformity, and software issues. What is doesn’t bring to mind is creativity, adaptability, or user friendly.

However, in my opinion Microsoft has made a turn-around in their thinking with the Surface line of devices.

Surface 2 equals fun way to work!

The Surface 2, which the device we currently use for our business, actually makes getting work done a little bit more fun. Even if you take away the split screen function with the Surface 2, you still have Xbox Music Pass (for unlimited streaming music and radio) Adobe Photoshop Express (which we use to enhance photos that we take) and the Flipboard App (easy way to catch up with the latest news that is of interest to you!)

Sync, don’t swim!

One the features I enjoy about the Surface 2, is the ability to sync with the Windows Phone. Photos are taken with the Windows phone are automatically loaded to uploaded to a OneDrive account, which in turn, makes them available to the Surface 2, and your windows laptop. This can really save you time because you are no longer hunting for pictures you may have taken for a client. And no more wondering what device they were saved on, just point to your OneDrive account, and there they all are!

But, my friends all have iPads…

True. The number of people that have a Microsoft Surface is not as great as the number of people that own an Apple iPad, and yes, the number of apps available from the Microsoft Store is not as wide of a selection as the iTunes store. But, allow me to do a short breakdown on the apps that I am able to use on my Surface 2.

  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Twitter
  • Foursquare
  • Adobe Photoshop Express
  • Instagram (BETA)

Those six app allow me to continue to create, edit, and share social media content for my clients just as if I were working from laptop.

It’s where you are.

The great thing about the Surface 2 is that, where ever the inspiration hits you, you can capture and create that idea in ways that were not available in the past. And the inclusion of the full Microsoft Office package, only adds to the value of the Surface 2.

There are so many more advantages of the Surface 2 that could be written about, but that has been done by individuals with more of a tech background than myself.

To sum up my own experience with the Surface 2 – It has made the job of creating content for social media channels for my clients a lot easier.

New addition to tech family

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Our Newest Family Member

Just a little update from our last post, we have enjoyed using the Windows Lumina Icon phone that this past weekend during all the Black Friday deals, we took advantage of the great savings from Microsoft and purchased a Surface 2!

Out of the box and ready for work!

The first thing that was very noticeable when the Surface 2 was unboxed, was that when we signed in with a Microsoft account, all of our web saves were there for us.  Another nice addition is the preinstalled MS Office 2013 full applications,

Now this is not a review ( ay do one later), but as an example of how easy it is to work ion the Surface 2, this weeks blog was done relaxing with feet up, Surface 2 (with backlit Type Cover attached) on my lap, enjoying a nice cup of Earl Grey tea!

Stay safe, stay warm , keep smiling, and we’ll see you in a bit!

The Windows Phone Challenge.

A switch had been made.

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Recently, a decision was made in our company to switch from Android and Apple mobile phone to the Windows 8 mobile phones. There were a number of reason for the switch, the least of them being having Office 365 on a cell phone!

Met with a challenge!

A few weeks ago, in a discussion with a former college professor, I mentioned that the company was switching to the Windows 8 phone. His initial reaction to the statement was – “Good Luck!” For me, this was a challenge. Since my company is in the business of providing the management of small business social media accounts, I found it the perfect opportunity to see if this could be done efficiently from a Windows 8 based phone.

The question of Apps 

The main apps I use to manage my clients social media accounts are Facebook, Google + (Google Plus), Twitter, and Instagram. A quick search of the Windows store, and there was no problem finding these three apps. Neither was there a problem with the functionality of these three apps. I found them as functional and as useful as their Android and Apple counterparts. However, I did find one major difference between the Windows 8 phone app for One Note – and that was the addition of Office 365 on my mobile device!

A walking Office!

Now, of course, one would not create an entire research paper on a mobile phone. But, having the functionality of Office 365 on your cell phone in order to make edits, short presentations, and such, can be a big difference when you are out of the office and meeting with a client.

Synchronicity

Also with having a Windows 8 phone, there is automatic synching between my Windows 8.1 laptop and the phone. This means, just like in an Apple world, all my documents, photos,and music remain updated between the two devices. And that can be quite a time saver (and a life saver with online storage with One Drive!)

So far, So good

At this point, it has been a little over a week since the switch has been made, and I really can say that it has been a great ride. Since the phone is also used for personal life, it is loaded with songs, music videos, and movies to help past the time as I travel from client to client. Now the only decision left for the business is – “Which configuration of the Microsoft Surface Pro do we purchase?”…lol!

Take care, have fun, take lots of photos and video with your phone of choice, and always keep smiling!

Time for school!..

Back to school

Reading, writing, and all the other good stuff!

Well, as summer draws to a close, the big move is upon us. A large number of parents are preparing their household for the return of the school year! Supplies are being purchased, clothes are being checked for size, and bedtimes are getting earlier. Ah yes, the sweet end of summer. But, what about business? Is it time for your business to go back to school also? Does your small business have what it takes or what it needs to make it through this first school semester? Let’s take a look at some key areas to concentrate on.

Social Media

For most small businesses, this is the one area that can make or break them. If your social media presence is lacking, then customers may look elsewhere for the products they need. But, if you bombard them with constant information, they will also turn you off, thereby defeating the very purpose of social media. The trick is to maintain a healthy balance. Make sure, first of all, that you are on the social network that can work best for and with your business. They all have their strong points and pitfalls, but not having an Internet presence at all, is not the way to go for small business today. Let’s take a look at some platforms and how they can work for you.

Facebook

Right now, undoubtedly, Facebook is the king of the social media mountain. The platform has the most users, most advertisers and is the most pushed social media platform. The question is – “Should my business be on Facebook?” and the easy answer is “Yes!”. However with that answer comes certain responsibilities. Number One – Make that your Facebook page is setup correctly. If you are still getting “friend requests” instead of “likes” for your business, then the page was not built correctly for you. Your main priority is to get that page converted to a business page so that you can use all the bonus business features that Facebook has to offer you. Quick side note: Facebook will no longer allow a landing page where customers have to like your page in order to receive information, coupons, or discounts.

Google + (Google Plus)

A great runner up to the Facebook platform is Google Plus. From the same company that has brought you Google (search engine), and Gmail, has their own social media platform. Cool feature – if your business has a Gmail account, than you are one-step away from having a Google Plus page for your business. Is Google Plus a viable option for you business? Well, here at Content Marketing Creations, we maintain both a Facebook AND Google Plus page for the business and really would not have it any other way. A strong feature with Google Plus, is that you can actually and quite easily share different information with different people with the use of circles.  Another nice feature with Google Plus is that once your business is verified, you will notice a positive change in how your company shows up in Google search results. Google Plus also thrives on all those hashtags (#) you see on many social sites.

Twitter

A new kid on the block for social media, but a very important one in the elusive 18-25yo age demographic group. Think of Twitter as the what’s happening now voice for your small business. Using only 144 characters to spread a message can sometimes be a challenge, but that is they key to Twitter. Short bursts of information. Can Twitter be an important part of your social media arsenal? It can be a great way to build a following for your small business IF there is someone who knows how to use it in a professional manner, and can pull people in with great and catchy short-form advertising.

Instagram

The digital Polaroid camera – Instagram, is great for lending a daily snapshot of your business for your customers and potential customers to take a look at how you have grown and what products you have to offer! The key to this social media platform is its name. The photos you take are instantly uploaded your account for viewing by those that follow your business.

Many, many more to mention.

There are many more platforms out there such as: Pinterest, Vine, LinkedIn. All of these can help your business to grow, reach customers. build a interest in your small business, and create repeat business. The key is using them in a professional and business like manner so that your customers feel comfortable sharing your page and information with other people. And as always, here at Content Marketing Creations we are here to help. We are local, and our goal is getting your business to a comfortable place in the world of social media.

 

 

It’s all connected

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A small connected world

When you are a social media content manager AND a small business owner, there are many hats that you may find yourself wearing at any given time.

On the one hand, there are the devices you use for personal use and on the other hand, devices you use for business use. I myself, use a variety of devices from all three sides of the social media triangle for each of them serve a different purpose. For as many of you, I work out of both a home office and a mobile office.

Home Office

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I set up this picture of the “Small Office Home Office” to give you an idea of how many platforms I work with. And I will do my best to break them down as to what functions they serve for me in my day to day social media management.

Lenovo Laptop

My primary device at home is my laptop. A Windows 8.1 based machine. Now before all the Windows 8 comments start (and they will!), this was a replacement for my college laptop (an older Acer Windows laptop) that had given me 6 good years before upgrading. And as college students have limited funds, the Lenovo fit the bill quite nicely. The laptop is my primary machine when at home, and it is from here that I do all of my Facebook post scheduling for all my clients, write my blog posts, and maintain many other facets of social media. Programs used the most on my laptop are:

  • Paint – photo resizing and text overlays.
  • Facebook , Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Outlook – Maintain personal and business social media and email.
  • WordPress – Blogging platform.
  • Wix – Website building and management.
  • Internet Explorer and Google Chrome – Sometimes, it actually helps to have two different browsers open while working.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)

My tablet is my primary “go to tool” when I am out taking photos or shooting video for my clients. I like that it shoots video that can be directly uploaded to many social media platforms, and the quality of the video is pretty good (no negative feedback from any clients yet!). The fact that is has an SD card slot really helps for times that there is a need to pop the card into an adapter and do some editing from my laptop. Programs used most of tablet are:

  • Camera – capturing video and photos for clients of events at the business location, and some things that just catch my eye.
  • Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest – Maintain client and personal social media.
  • TechNews, Dailymail,  Pulse – keeping up with all the news that I can.
  • Netflix – Always a need for an entertainment break.
  • Google Now and OneNote – great apps to help keep me on track.
  • You Tube – to check how client videos look on mobile devices.

iPhone 4s

The iPhone was added to my social media arsenal as an upgrade when I added an additional line to my carrier account. It was a necessary upgrade as this way, there was a number for the business and a number for personal. As for reason the iPhone was chosen easy – did not cost me at all.  It was the “free phone of the week” so it was the one that I chose. Now , this being my first Apple product allowed me to view the device triangle from all three sides – Microsoft, Android, and now Apple. And for the most part, all there really is for me, is that each one does what I need when it is needed. Programs used most on the iPhone are:

  • Phone calls, messaging and texts – great way to keep in touch with friends and family.
  • Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vine – Maintain client and personal social media feeds.
  • Camera – capturing photos for personal and client use.
  • OneNote – keep track of daily schedule.
  • Facebook Page manager – Managing client pages on the go.

Bridge to everything

As you can see, there is a lot of crossover with the devices and apps I use to manage both my own social media and that of my clients. Using them this way gives me to freedom that is needed to do my best, not only to give my clients the best service they deserve, but to also keep myself abreast of the best and upcoming social media trends and platforms that are always emerging and evolving.

Oh, and do I still grab my original Android phone? Sure do! It’s a older model – Samsung Infuse 4G and quite actually for its durability, large screen landscape, and SD card capability, it still comes in handy for low-light club dance floor shooting situations. Dropping my iPhone on a club dance floor, is not something I look forward to!

So, that’s how I use the connected and small world of mobile devices to create great content for my clients and to stay on top of it all. So, how do you use yours?

The Google Plus side of things..

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Your Business on Google+

Last week, in the blog post, the subject was the new look of the Facebook business pages. And as promised, this week we take a look at the re-designed Google + business pages. And from the photo above, you can see they have made some changes.

Getting there

Getting your business on Google Plus, is actually a little different than the Facebook side of the house. Because Google is primarily the “go-to” search engine on the Internet, during your business page set-up, you will be required to verify that you are a business. This can be done by having them mail you a postcard to the physical location of your business.

Google Your Business!

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The starting place to getting your business on Google+ is the link Google My Business (http://www.google.com/business/). This will lead you to the page you see above. Like Facebook, Google+ is a free social media platform for both personal and business use, that allows you to post updates of text, video, photos, and links. At the moment, you can schedule posts on Google+ as you can with Facebook, but trust me, the Google+ team is probably already on that!

At the screen you see above, you can either sign into Google (this works if you already have a Gmail account), or click the Get One Google button and start from scratch. Either way, you are then presented with a screen of a map of the United States where you are asked to type in your business name.

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As you can see, once our company name was typed, the location of the business appeared in the search box results. This is because we had created our Facebook and Bing listing earlier than our Google + page. If your business does not come up, do not panic, as the process to add it to the Google search results is quite easy.

“Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!”

There are really just five categories to choose from in setting up a Google+ page for your business:

  1. Local business or place – This includes any local business, place, store, or service.
  2. Product or Brand – This would include cars, appliances, electronics, or financial services.
  3. Companies – Here you choose company, institution, non-profit.
  4. Arts, Entertainment, or Sports – This would be wise if you like to create a page for your favorite book, movie, music or sport team.
  5. Other – If your business falls in none of the categories above, choose this one!

“Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself”

After selecting the right category for your business, you can than start to build your profile, business tag line (Ours is “Your Business is our Passion”), and add a profile photo. From here, when you click Continue, the process will seem very familiar to you. You will edit your page information,  and a cover photo.

And now the fun begins..

The main difference between Google+ and Facebook is the way you interact with fan and other pages. In Google+ you create Circles in which to add people to decide what information you share with them. The default circles for business pages are:

  • Team Members – Great way to share company only information.
  • VIP – Friends, Family, and business partners.
  • Customers – Use this to build a deeper connection by posting discount information and upcoming sales to this group.
  • Following – See something you like, but can’t decide where to put it? Drop it here until it becomes relevant!

And that’s really all there is to it! Now that you have your page on Google+, spread the word about it in your place of business. Let people know that you are on Google+. Build your following and build your business.

Until next time, take care, take time, and remember – August 6th is National root Beer Float Day at A&W!

Content Marketing Creations

Google Plus Page: https://www.google.com/+ContentMarketingCreationsPortHuron

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/contentmarketingcreations