Is Your IM Business Ready for 2012?

One of the tasks of an internet business owner is keeping up with what’s going on in the world of technology. Some people refer to these new ideas as trends but when innovations become permanent fixtures everyone with a business website needs to take notice.

Mobile

Two things I recently did to a client’s WordPress site are starting to bear fruit. It took just a few moments to download a free plug-in to make his blog mobile friendly, and just a few more minutes to sign up for Yahoo’s Yelp. Recent reports conveniently delivered to my inbox are showing that mobile access to his site is double that of online access, and after learning there was a 400% increase in the number of mobile searches in the last 12 months, I really shouldn’t have been that surprised. If you or your client have a bricks and mortar business then this is a definite must do – and as soon as possible.

I can’t imagine how many smartphones have landed in Christmas stockings this year so prepare your business now before mobile search goes up by possibly another 800% in 2012.

Mobile searches often relate to local business. If people are looking for a hotel in your town, a restaurant, or the best deal on a new flat screen TV and your business is not online and mobile-friendly you’re missing an enormous opportunity.

Online Reviews

The internet is the first destination for most people when they’re considering making a purchase and what they head for is a trustworthy review site. Amazon.com has been using this review system effectively for a number of years and everyone knows these reviews are unbiased and written by real people. A recent survey showed that over 60% of people who use social media use consumer ratings and reviews for gathering information about products, services or businesses. If there are no reviews available, the consumer considers this as a big negative and goes off to look for an alternative.

Google is using social signals increasingly, whether it’s traffic that comes into a website from a social media site or from a review site. This is why Google+ was born, as a means for consumers to interact on the internet using their real identities.

Small businesses will need to develop a strategy for managing and soliciting feedback online and effectively dealing with any negative reviews.

Cloud

Cloud computing is definitely going to become more mainstream in 2012. It simply refers to a network of servers hosted online that store and manage data instead of a company having to manage its own local server. Most of us have used a simple form of cloud computing without knowing, in the form of email. It’s often the only thing that remains after a computer crash because it’s hosted elsewhere. Cloud computing may make sense for medium to large companies as it offers access to programs and resources that a company may not otherwise have, and data can be accessed from anywhere and you only pay for the capacity that you use.

Cloud computing is still in its infancy and at this point may not be the best IT solution for your business. Nevertheless cloud computing is something to keep an eye on in 2012.

Security

Online security is becoming a major problem for many small to medium-sized businesses and don’t think that your business is immune to pesky hackers. Beef up your security in 2012 especially if you store sensitive data such as credit card numbers, names and addresses or consider looking into cloud computing. Hackers are after credit card numbers primarily and any other sensitive personal information they can get.

If you have a number of authorized users accessing sensitive information change passwords often and put up strong firewalls.

As a business owner staying ahead of the competition is vital in this economy and that means using the most up-to-date tools. Are you ready for 2012? What are your plans?

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