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The Benefits Of Using Skype In Business

 

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Video communication is not just something you see in sci-fi films anymore; it is now all around us. Over 400 million people around the world have opened a Skype account, and around 30 million people use it concurrently. In 2005, Skype was sold to EBay for $2.6 billion – and then in 2011 Skype was sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion. This gives a huge indication of the rate at which Skype is expanding; invading workplaces everywhere around the globe.

Even though Skype plays a big part in people’s personal lives (being able to contact family/loved ones who are far away) – it also plays a big part in the world of Business. Companies around the world are beginning to wake up and smell the Skype; beginning to understand the true power of the online communications giant. Here are the top benefits of using Skype for business.

Reducing Costs

On Skype, if you call another Skype user it is completely free – and the same applies for the video call functionality. If you are looking at Skype’s ‘no fee’ service; instant messaging & screen sharing are also free to use. However if you want to call a landline or mobile does indeed offer lower rates than other phone services; in 2007 Skype conducted a survey which revealed 95% of companies using Skype had reduced costs on telecommunications. Skype also offer a premium service which can be seen to benefit companies through extra features.

Premium Service

Choosing the premium service can be to the advantage of a company. With the premium service the user is entitled to zero advertising, live chat customer support, 30% off a HD webcam…and most importantly group screen sharing & group video calling.

Group screen sharing & group video calling are perhaps necessities for a business in the contemporary workplace, for sharing work with colleagues couldn’t now be easier; creating a more efficient workplace. In a survey of 250 companies which use Skype, a whopping 80% remarked that it improved employee productivity. Client proposals can be created online, designs and files can be pinged around from one employee to another – faster than ever before. On top of this, with Skype’s group calling it eliminates the need for another service’s conference calls – again, reducing costs.

Building Relationships

Creating relationships within your business is important; whether it be with colleagues, bosses, clients or even consumers. Face-to-face interaction is the best way to forge & nurture relationships, which is why Skype is seen as a completely valuable tool within a modern day business. Building lasting relationships through your business will always be financially rewarding in one way or another. By utilising Skype, you’ll be taking positive steps towards ensuring bridges are being built internally & externally through your business.

New-Age Interviews

It is becoming common practice through many industries to use Skype as a method of interviewing. Interviews can sometimes be a costly practice for companies, having to pay for travel & accommodation for many potential employees. However using Skype, interviews can be conducted to gain a very good idea of an employee without them having to travel; wasting time & money. Skype interviews also allow the employee to feel more comfortable, since they will perhaps be operating from their home environment and will not have to worry about getting nervous in a waiting room with potential sweaty palms.

The only downside to Skype is that sometimes you may experience some lag on calls (delay), or even calls which are rejected/broken up midway through. Also, there is plenty of information on the internet regarding security of your company; that privacy is potentially an issue with Skype. However, if you read up on being secure whilst using Skype; you should have nothing to fear. In the coming years, Microsoft, who now own Skype, will be seen to be doing their very best to keep Skype security-safe.

All in all, with so many different features Skype has to offer – it will able to help your business in one way or another. Reducing costs, increased efficiency and relationship building are just some of the ways Skype’s services could have a positive impact on your business. Skype is the future, and the future is now.

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Many thanks to Ladbrokes Online for their assistance in compiling together this article and helping us understand how communicating and interacting online helps further businesses.

 

 

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How To Become A Successful Affiliate

As an affiliate manager for (InMotion Hosting), I see hundreds of sites a week and also review just as many applications for our in-house affiliate program. There are many sites that don’t have a grasp of what needs to be done to become a successful affiliate, but maybe it’s just a learning process they need to go through before reaching their goals. Because many of these tactics have actually been implemented by our affiliates, I can tell you first hand that they do make a difference. Of course, every site is different, but these are some general rules of thumb when starting out. Especially if you are new to the affiliate scene, these few pointers below should help you reach the top of the curve quicker so that you can start making some money.

Banners Don’t Work Anymore – Traditional banners really don’t get the audiences’ attention anymore. Contextual links and recommendations work a lot better than an animated banner. A recent study showed that anywhere from 31-91% of online display ads are not even seen. (http://marketingland.com/comscore-study-finds-31-of-display-ads-never-seen-3695) People will be less likely to click on a banner because they know it’s an advertisement. Would you rather buy something because you saw a commercial on TV or if someone told you that it was a good product? The same rule applies to sites. People go on the web as a resource to see what would work for them. Recommendations work. I’m not saying don’t put up banners, but realize that the banners should be used more as a supplement to your contextual links. Don’t just try to fill up the page with advertisements. That is the equivalent of a shop with neon signs everywhere.

Content is King – This is a rule that’s been in place forever, but very few people follow it because it takes time. You want as much content as possible on your site. A site with 100 pages is more likely to climb up the search rankings and offer an in depth look at a product that they are trying to sell. Quality of content is also important, so it’s not always wise to outsource unless you have a good QC (quality control) process in place.

Keep it Relevant – Make sure the affiliate products you are offering are in line with your site’s theme. If your site is about makeup, putting up affiliate products for golf balls is probably not going to do well. If you are offering web hosting, you will do best on tech, CMS or review sites. Seek out products or services that your audience will gravitate towards.

Try Different Marketing TechniquesEmail marketing is a necessity, but if you can break free from your usual routine in reaching out, your response may be better. Try things that other affiliates are not doing. Direct mailings, social media and in person meetings will all help with your affiliate efforts. The more work you put in, the greater the payoff.

Placement of The Link – Where you put your links on the site is as important as the products you are promoting. Most clicks will come from above the fold (the top half of the site that people will see when they come to your site), so your cash cow should go there. But also try changing the type of links based on the content of the site. If you have a review site with multiple categories, you probably want to associate a different product or service to each category/page.

Attend Shows – Unlike many other industry conventions and events, affiliate shows are meant for one thing, to meet people and extend your affiliate reach. Don’t think it’s a waste of time in attending these type of events. Merchants and other affiliates love to share their success and give you tips. It’s a great way to learn about new affiliate programs, products and services.

Conversion Rate is More Important Than CPA (CPL)Affiliates‘ eyes will open up when you mention a high payout. But it doesn’t matter if a referral pays you out $1000. If it doesn’t convert, you make $0. If the CPA is only $50, but you get a sale out of every 30-60 clicks, you’ve got a winner. Now it’s a matter of finding out the ideal place for the link. This goes back to trying different ways to advertise on your site. If a regular banner or link does this type of conversion for you, imagine what a contextual link in a review or a recommendation box might do.

Give It Some Time – Don’t be too impatient if you don’t convert right off the bat. Many affiliates will try out a product on a site, and after a couple hundred hits, pull it because it didn’t convert. Affiliate sites take time to grow, and the conversions are no exception. Remember there is usually a 30-365 day cookie that stays with the audience, so there will definitely be a period of growth. Many customers may not purchase right away, so give it at least a couple of weeks to a month before making drastic changes.

Contact the Affiliate Manager – If the business that offers the products/services that you are promoting cares about their affiliates, they will have a dedicated affiliate manager. Email, call, Skype or chat with them. They are usually happy to give you tips on how to make your site better. I have many affiliates contact me and ask why one of our products isn’t converting well. Many times, it’s the way the product is displayed, so I will give them advice on how to present it to the audience and what they can do to increase conversions. I’ll even help out with some content creation and custom landing pages. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they can do something to help you out. Affiliate managers want to see you succeed, so they will do what they can to help you out and give pointers.

Jason Hong is the Affiliate Manager at InMotion Hosting, a provider of virtual private servers provider based in Los Angeles, CA.  If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate for InMotion Hosting, visit our Web Hosting Affilate Program page for more details.

 

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Why Apple, Google, Microsoft Won’t Streamline Video Chat

By Mark Milian, CNN
Apple CEO Steve Jobs pledged to standardize video calling with FaceTime. But the industry has since made little progress.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs pledged to standardize video calling with FaceTime. But the industry has since made little progress.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The prospect of tech giants uniting under one protocol for video chat seems unlikely
  • A Skype user cannot talk to a FaceTime user who cannot talk to a Google Talk user
  • Despite a promise from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, FaceTime still hasn’t been opened up
  • Microsoft’s purchase of Skype last week is evidence that video calling is a big business.

(CNN) — Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a bold gesture at the company’s annual developers conference last June when he pledged to unite the technology industry under one video-calling standard.

“FaceTime is based on a lot of open standards,” Jobs said, referring to Apple’s video-chat product. “And we’re going to take it all the way. We’re going to the standards bodies starting tomorrow. And we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.”

That statement sparked thunderous applause when it was made 11 months ago. But Apple appears to have made no progress since then, according to experts in the fields of video calling and Web standardization. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The prospect of tech giants uniting under one protocol for video that would allow, say, a FaceTime user to call someone on Google Talk seems even less likely today than it did when Apple first floated the concept last year.

Microsoft and Skype

Microsoft already had a mature infrastructure for video chat — through acquisitions and internal development for Windows Live Messenger, Lync and Kinect — when it bought Skype last week for $8.5 billion.

Skype has about 170 million active users. Microsoft gets access to that network, which Skype had closely guarded from developers looking to circumvent its fences.

The developers for a mobile video application called Fring found a way past the barriers, but Skype eventually locked them out. “We wanted to provide access across islands,” said Fring CEO Avi Shechter.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement last week that the company would continue to invest in Skype software for non-Windows platforms. But he made no mention of opening the platform to outside developers.

Qik, which first launched its mobile video app a year ago in a deal with Sprint Nextel, plans to add Skype integration, Qik co-founder Bhaskar Roy said recently. However, Qik is owned by Skype.

Skype’s business-exclusivity deals, like the one it has with Verizon Wireless, may be the motivation for its insular behavior, Shechter said.

Skype said last year in response to Jobs’ comments that it was not considering using Apple’s technology for its video-calling programs. Skype didn’t return requests for comment.

“I think that every player has its own motivations,” Shechter said. “Overall, they’re making a mistake by not opening up.”

The challenge of ‘bridging islands’

Google is often a proponent of openness and standardization. Andy Rubin, the head of its Android group, promoted that idea in an interview with reporters last Tuesday but declined to say whether Google would open its video-chat protocol, used in Android and Gmail, to outside users.

“You don’t want to artificially create islands,” Rubin said. “You want to bridge islands.”

In the early days of e-mail, an AOL customer could not send a message to a Compuserve user. Similarly, it took some time for cellular carriers to determine how picture or video messages would be delivered to phones on other networks.

AOL created another island last week with the launch of AIM AV, a video-conferencing tool that doesn’t require a login name. The company also announced plans last week to block Gmail from connecting to its AIM chat service but says it is working on a way to import buddy lists.

Logitech, another player in video conferencing, welcomes the idea of standardizing video communication.

“We know that openness and collaboration are critical to the adoption of video calling,” Joerg Tewes, a vice president for Logitech’s consumer video division, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “Without interoperability, video calling will never reach its full potential and achieve mass consumer adoption.”

Apple, Google and others collaborate on some standards, such as with HTML5, the Web programming language. But there are downsides to the procedure.

Developing standards typically takes much longer than when one company takes the reins, because participants debate minute details, said Jim Zemlin, executive director for the Linux Foundation, who has been involved in such negotiations. But for consumers, the benefits of interoperability usually outweigh the extra wait time, Zemlin said.

Tech giants are usually the ones to kick off these talks, several experts say. Apple, Google and Microsoft are the few companies who have the clout to rally the industry, they say.

“If you’re a small company, it’s very difficult to push your standard yourself,” said Eric Setton, a co-founder of Tango, which makes a video-chat app for smartphones. “In terms of communication platforms, it’s very important to be ubiquitous.”

Apple’s change of heart?

Apple may have seen standardization as a way to quickly gain a foothold in the video-calling market, but executives may have had a change of heart once they saw the early success of FaceTime, Zemlin said.

“Maybe even Steve Jobs underestimated just how much he was going to kick ass,” Zemlin said. “As their market share increases, they probably have less incentive to open up the standard.”

Standardization is a very transparent process. Some of the largest standards groups — the Internet Engineering Task Force, the International Organization for Standardization, the World Wide Web Consortium and American National Standards Institute — have no public record of Apple filing for an open FaceTime.

Several people from the IETF started an initiative to ask Apple to disclose parts of FaceTime’s inner workings, but nothing appears to have come of that. An IETF spokesman said he was unable to verify Apple’s plans with members, and representatives for the other three organizations didn’t return requests for comment.

Several of the world’s cell carriers, including Verizon, are working together on a voice- and video-calling service to run on 4G networks, called VoLTE. Verizon doesn’t plan to sell a product running the service until next year, a spokesman for the company said.

Experts say VoLTE is too complicated for basic video chat on the Web. And Apple’s FaceTime still is not sanctioned by carriers to be used on 3G networks.

Apple not opening up FaceTime’s infrastructure is consistent with how the company normally operates, despite the surprise and confusion created when Jobs initially pledged to lead standardization efforts, said attorney Andrew Updegrove. He is a partner at the Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove, which has represented more than 100 standards development organizations.

“Apple has always been a proprietary play and not an open play,” Updegrove wrote in an e-mail. “It wants to hold all the cards and get all the benefits, and from an execution point of view, you can’t fault them. They’ve been brilliantly successful.”

With Microsoft now at the helm of Skype, people in the industry express even less optimism that an open video-calling discussion will be fruitful any time soon.

 

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Facebook To Buy Skype?

Charlie White15 hours ago by Charlie White73

Two reliable sources say Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is talking to Skype about either buying the company or forming a joint venture, according to Reuters.

One of the sources said Facebook is considering a buyout of Skype at a price of between $3 billion and $4 billion.

The other source told Reuters the deal won’t be a purchase by Facebook but rather a joint venture between Facebook and Skype.

Skype and Facebook are no strangers. In October, when Skype released its version 5.0 software for Windows, it included a Facebook tab that let users chat or call Facebook friends via Skype, right from the Facebook newsfeed that can be viewed from within the Skype application.

Facebook isn’t the only one chasing Skype. One of the sources talking to Reuters added that Google was also in “early talks” with Skype about a joint venture.

Update: When we contacted Skype Wednesday night, the company responded, “As a practical matter, we avoid commenting on rumor and speculation.”

Let us know in the comments what you think of this deal and who stands to gain the most.

 

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A new way to shape the people you’ll be hiring in 2014 (or sooner)

By – Annie  

When Ashkon Jafari was in college (starting at age 16), “I had no one to turn to for advice and felt lost,” he says.

Then he snagged an internship where he lucked into meeting a boss he now describes as “an outstanding mentor,” who helped him choose the right courses and find his first real job.

The experience proved so valuable that it inspired StudentMentor.org, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit Jafari launched last month.

StudentMentor is the first national online mentoring matchmaking service designed to pair up college students who have questions with experienced businesspeople who have answers.

Prospective mentors and mentees can join for free on StudentMentor’s web site and are matched according to their areas of common interest. Geography isn’t a factor, as most mentoring sessions take place online or by phone. In its six weeks of existence so far, 296 mentors have signed on.

Teisha Overton, who heads up Indie Recruiter LLC, a human resources consultancy in Garland, Tex., is mentoring a student in Las Vegas whom she met through the site.

“She hasn’t chosen a major yet, but one of her interests is HR and recruitment, so we’re talking about how she could focus her course work,” Overton says, adding: “In this tough economy, college kids are pretty shaken up about their prospects once they graduate. They’re also extremely motivated.”

Says Doug Brent, a California tech executive who has counseled several mentees since joining StudentMentor last month: “Most of their questions are about very specific situations, like ‘How do I get along with a difficult boss?’ or ‘What should I do to prepare for a job interview?'”

“Even kids who are really good at being students just haven’t yet learned basic business stuff, like how to network, which is where a mentor can really help. And you can meet via email, Skype, or whatever, so the process is efficient,” he says.

Brent, whose own two children are recent grads of Harvard and USC, characterizes himself as “a Boomer who wants to help”, adding, “Students tend to listen better to advice from people other than their parents.”

 

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