Archives for January 2014

Why Conference Calls and Hangouts Don’t Work


You’ve likely experienced one. You may even love them. Your day filled with blocks of them. You can even do them on Google Plus. The truth is, conference calls and hangouts don’t work. Oh, there might be an exception or two, but the vast majority run anything but smoothly. hangouts don't work

Too Many People Involved

Just because we can have a Google hangout with 10 people on it, doesn’t mean we should. The more generally isn’t merrier. If you keep it to 3-4 people, you have a fighting chance, but once you get north of 5 the chances of chaos increase dramatically. Phone conferences calls with 20+ from multiple locations are laughable.


It’s just not there yet. Feedback, distortion, noisy lines, all lead to an inefficient experience. Video is worse. The bandwidth and speed can’t meet the demand of video. When is the last time you had clear video and audio on a Google Hangout? Never. Hold on, I’m having trouble hearing you, and I can barely see you.

People are too Easily Distracted

You’re in a room with 8 people, all with their laptops in front of them. There are 20 more people on the bridge that are at home, or at another office. All with their laptops in front of them. The only person focused (generally) is the person talking at the time. Kids, dogs, and traffic are often heard on calls. “Can you please mute you’re phone, the noise is disrupting the call.” If only I had a dollar every time I heard that barked out.

They are too Long

I think most people can hang in there for 10 minutes. When you start to get past 10 minutes, people start to drift, especially if they’re not in the same location as the speaker. The problem is calling a meeting with multiple people for 10-15 minutes won’t give you the time needed to go over what needs to be discussed. So it’s a catch 22.

Quick Tips
Keep them short, 30 minutes or less
Keep them small, 5 or less is preferable
The more people you have, the shorter they need to be
Mandate that everyone on call/hangout needs to participate
No smartphones allowed
For participants working from home – Kids, dogs, etc. should not be seen or heard

So an awesome guy that I use to work with, Jason Klock, brought this video to my attention earlier this morning. No conference call was necessary. The video was produced by Trip and Tyler, and they hit it out of the park. The video is 4:00 minutes, and you will be laughing.



comic via GCS Agents

5 Must Have Apps for the iPhone


There are literally a million apps availableapps for iPhone in the App Store for iPhones. As of October, 2013, Apple was proud to announce they had grown from their initial offering of 800 apps in July of 2008, to a total of 1,000,000 (475,000 native to the iPad).

Obviously, it will take quite a while to get through that huge list of “helpers”. These are the tools that make your phone the truly powerful tool it can be. Okay, so it can also be a great time waster with the endless amount of games and other amusements, but we’re going to stick with some of the more productive options out there.

  1. Google Maps This is the app I find myself using more than any other. Having an Atlas and GPS in your pocket at all times is a convenience it’s almost hard to believe I lived without. Google Maps is still by far the best free map app available for the iPhone.

    You can look up addresses and get turn-by turn directions in real time. There are tips to avoid traffic, and safer bike routes (in select areas). What more could you ask for? Well, plenty, probably. But it won’t be long before that’s available, too.

  2. Snapseed is the most versatile camera app available today – at least for free. It offers a nice range of editing tools and cool filters, along with strong photo correction, non-destructive editing and localized adjustments.

    Besides integrating well with all of the social networks, Snapseed is the only iPhone app that comes close to a desktop photo-editing program.

  3. LinkedIn continues to be the best business networking tool available. Whether you are very active in the professional world, or just looking for a job, LinkedIn can be a priceless aid.

    Having full access to your business associates and all their information at the ready can prove to be invaluable.

    Regardless of your field, as the smartphone and networking worlds grow so does LinkedIn. It is an important online network for anyone serious about their profession, and offers a very thorough iPhone app.

  4. Dashlane is a very simple and effective password manager app. Like with any other password app, you’ll have to create one strong password to remember for you Dashlane account. All other passwords can be generated (on another device) and saved automatically to your account.

    The app allows you access to your login credentials, and a copy and paste function for the encrypted passwords into apps and mobile websites when you need to use them.

    There are some limitations to the free version, but a premium account can be had for $4.99 a month, or $39.99 a year. The premium account includes syncing which is vital to using the iPhone app. Dashlane is extremely secure, and if you perform sensitive transactions on your phone, it is worth the extra security.

  5. Dropbox is, for many computer users, synonymous with file sharing and synching. It has been around for a long time, and as probably the most recognizable name in file-sharing, it integrates with literally hundreds of other apps and services.

    Dropbox is a great way to have access to, and share, files of all types for you and your team – whatever the project may be – and wherever you may be. If you already use Dropbox as a computer user, the app is a must. You have access to all the files, wherever you are, in your pocket.

  6. Twitter. Yes, this is a list of 5 Essential apps, and this is number 6. I debated adding Twitter, but decided to add it because of its ever-growing omnipresence in every facet of our culture.

    We all need our distractions from time to time, and there is no question that Twitter is indeed a never-ending stream of that.

    And, unlike Angry Birds, it can be legitimately used for business opportunities – or, at least that’s always a fair excuse.

(Photo Source)

What Do People Respond to Most on Social Media?


Check out your Facebook feed right now. Go on, do it! What do you see? On mine right now, I see countless selfies, but also someone asking for help finding a specific game for her son, an Amazon ad, a fill in the blank question from a children’s clothing company that I follow, and a friend who likes Crate and Barrel, so now I see their ads, too. So what exactly will I (or anyone else) respond to the most when it comes to social media?

While of course the answer is going to be different for everyone, there are a few things that we can count on people replying to, sharing, or just generally interacting with. As individuals, we want people to interact with us on Facebook and other social media, but it doesn’t necessarily make or break our bottom line. Such is not the case for businesses – generally, those who interact with companies on social media are more likely to make purchases and become long time customers.

Here are a few slam dunks when it comes to posting content for your business that people will respond to:

Interesting visuals

You know that old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well, it certainly still rings true on social media. Posting images, videos, graphics, infographics, or images will draw more eyes to your page – in fact photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes than the average post. Make sure that these things are relevant to your business before posting, though! There’s nothing odder than a picture of a puppy chomping a bone on the Microsoft page (or similar). Make sure that your visuals make sense!

Contests, promotions, or free stuff

People love free! I’d say it’s been that way since the beginning of time, and will continue on forever. There’s no easier way to get people to visit your page than to give something away. The same goes for sales or promotions – people love a deal almost as much as they love free stuff.

Ways to interact

I posted above that one of the things I saw on my feed was one of my favorite kids’ brands posting a fill-in-the-blank type question. While there’s nothing in it for me to answer their question, it is nice to feel like they care what I have to say – one of the many great ways for businesses to win their customers love.

Maddie Heinen is a regular contributor to She is a freelance writer who specializes in blogging, content creation, and social media. When she is not working, she is taking care of her two kids, husband, and home in Central Florida. Maddie enjoys reading, shopping, and is interested in real estate. She is currently working on establishing her own internet-based media company, Red Hibiscus Media, which will specialize in both online content as well as print material.