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two-factor authentication benefits

The Benefits of Two-Factor Authentication

As technology continues to advance, additional security measures become necessary. Until now, single-factor authentication has been the standard. Single-factor authentication requires a username and password to enter an account. Consumers need additional security measures as cybercriminals become smarter. This is where two-factor authentication helps protect sensitive information and log-in credentials.  Two-factor authentication (2FA) isn’t a new concept, but is a necessary additional layer of security. It usually works by requiring the submission of a username and password, then asks for something additional to prove you are who you say you are. For example, some businesses will send a pin number to your cell phone you must provide for entry into a site.

Improved Security

With a second form of identification needed for verification, two-factor authentication makes it harder for an attacker to impersonate a user. In the event a cybercriminal gains password access, they can’t produce the additional element required to authenticate.

Increased Productivity and Flexibility

Employees can work remotely when their employers implement a second factor of authentication. They can securely access important applications, data, documents and back-office systems from any device or location with little risk.

Lower Security Management Costs

Approximately 40% of all help desk calls are related to password resets. With secondary authentication, businesses can expect less of the budget to be spent on security needs. It provides a safe way for employees or consumers to reset their account password by using the additional element to prove their identity, meaning they can handle the issue without contacting an IT professional.

Reduce Fraud

Identity theft is a common goal of cybercriminals. With two-factor authentication, businesses add extra mobile protection for customers, the site and the transaction. Adding a second element in your authentication process builds a sure brand consumers trust.  Ready to add two-factor authentication to your website? Contact your Houston IT experts.

7 tips to increased retweets

7 tips to increased retweets

August 13th, 2018
7 tips to increased retweets

Managing your company’s Twitter account can be tricky. You might have a lot of brilliant things to say in under 140 characters, but they’re useless if nobody reads them. So what can you do to get more people viewing and retweeting your posts? Here are a few tricks you can use to get more retweets.

Schedule your tweets

There is absolutely no point in tweeting out any content if your audience isn’t even awake for it. That’s why it’s important for you to tweet at the right time to get the most retweets. Most people are likely to retweet between 2pm and 6pm. However, if your followers live in different time zones and countries, the time you should be tweeting may vary. Twitter tools like Tweriod track down the geographical distribution of your audience and pinpoints the optimal time you should be tweeting to get the most retweets.

Use links

The next time you tweet out something, try embedding a link in your post. Whether it’s news, sports, or celebrity updates, people will put some effort in staying up to date with their interests. Studies have also shown that links to instructional posts get the most amount of retweets as well. The problem is, 140 characters is not enough content for your followers. So by satisfying your audience’s curiosity, you motivate them to pay you back by sharing your tweet out to their friends.

Ask for retweets

This is perhaps the most obvious tactic to get some retweets. Using call to action phrases such as “please retweet” significantly increases your chances of a retweet. Of course, you probably aren’t the only one asking for retweets. Adding something to sweeten deal, like a prize for one lucky person who retweets you, gives people incentive to do so.

Use visuals

Intriguing images can inspire retweets. Images are a great way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, and social media users love that. Some have found that using colorful images and infographics in their tweets significantly increased their engagement rates and led to more followers retweeting their content. It’s probably because there’s just more content to engage with compared to a brief 140 character thought.

Use retweetable words

Research has shown that some words are more retweetable than others. Words like you, twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, help are the top 10 most retweetable words. However common-use words in any conversation such as “lol, haha, work, sleep or watching” are less likely to get retweeted. Unless you’re someone incredibly famous, it’s best to avoid using conversation filler words and stick to the buzzwords that encourage people to share your tweets out to everyone they know.

Use quotes

Quotes express a lot in one simple line, making it perfect for any Twitter posts. Depending on your audience, a thoughtful quote can really move their fingers to click that retweet button. The next time you’re running out of ideas for tweets, dig up some good quotes relevant to your topic to get those retweets going. However, don’t continuously plug in quotes into your tweets. The trick is to do it occasionally, so you don’t risk people tuning out of your tweets.

#Hashtag

You’ll notice that the more popular tweets tend to have at least one hashtag. Using hashtags on keywords helps categorize your tweets with similar ones, giving your posts a bit more reach and, hopefully, more retweets. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as #thiscanbequiteannoying.

We get that small business may find it tough getting their name discovered among so many social media accounts. But if you consider some or all of these Twitter tactics, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your tweets. If you want to learn more about useful Twitter tactics to increase your exposure and engagement, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 online reputation management mistakes

5 online reputation management mistakes

July 9th, 2018
5 online reputation management mistakes

Businesses are relying on social media more than ever to get their voices heard on the Internet. However, so many companies make mistakes that are too important to ignore, and which could seriously damage your online reputation. As a business owner you need to keep your organization in check, and avoid these common online reputation management pitfalls.

Your online reputation will not take care of itself

Assuming that your enterprise doesn’t need an online reputation management (ORM) strategy is the most common ORM mistake business owners should avoid and, probably the first one as well. Just because your business’s reviews were positive today, doesn’t mean they will be tomorrow. Your online reputation can change in an instant.

Think about it: The key to protecting your business from the harmful bad reviews is a good ORM strategy. In short – this is a process that could make or break your reputation, and you should be extra careful. The more work you put in ORM, the more control you have over what appears in search engines for your products or services.

Expressing your personal opinion

You’re making a big mistake if you let your emotions get in the way when posting content on your business’s social media profiles. Discussing religion, politics, or other controversial issues may turn off people who matter to your business. Unless they’re relevant to the nature of your business, avoid mentioning sensitive topics. Instead, try to keep a neutral tone, since the goal of your social media efforts is to appeal to everyone.

Ignoring or responding aggressively to negative comments

Negative feedback can be painful to hear but, if you can put aside your pride, it is a real opportunity for improvement. When customers post a negative comment, ignoring it can make things go from bad to worse. Customers may think that you’re not taking their issue seriously, and could resort to posting complaints on all sorts of platforms, which quickly become impossible to control.

Also, don’t let things get out of hand – reply in a timely manner and try to solve problems as best you can, not by posting abusive rants or sending back angry emails to authors of bad feedback.

Posting fake reviews (both negative and positive)

Another online reputation mistake is to post negative reviews on your competitors’ website to dampen their credibility. This underhanded strategy is ethically wrong.

On the other hand, influential websites like Google have algorithms in place to help weed out false customer feedback, so making the mistake of posting fake client reviews to boost your business is such a waste of time and effort. Instead, focus on delivering high-quality products and services to generate authentic customer reviews, which can really pay off in the long run.

Being inconsistent

To build a good online reputation, you need to be consistent. Your social media fans followed your page for a reason – they have certain expectations that you will post regular and interesting content. Updating social media with ten posts one day, followed by complete silence for the following few weeks, is a bad example of consistency. Don’t disappear for days or weeks on end. Try to schedule a routine and interact with your audience on a regular basis.

A credible online reputation is an important part of your business’s public image. If you want to discuss how to establish an online presence and a strong ORM, contact us today and we can give insights from experts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

More teens leaving Facebook for other sites

More teens leaving Facebook for other sites

June 11th, 2018
More teens leaving Facebook for other sites

More teenagers are leaving Facebook for other online platforms that feature images or videos and give them more control over who can be their friends. Based on a new Pew Research Center survey, only 51% of US teens are using Facebook. By contrast, 69% of US teens were reported to be using Snapchat, 72% Instagram, and 85% YouTube.

Reasons for user demographic shift

The same survey found that only 10% of US teens use Facebook most frequently, unlike other platforms like Instagram (15%), YouTube (32%), and Snapchat (35%). There are two main reasons why Facebook is no longer the first social media choice for US teenagers: visual content and control.

#1. Visual Content

The current youth demographic group favors visually appealing posts. As a result, teens prefer platforms like Instagram and Snapchat that allow them to beautify their photos and instantly share them with their friends. This is unlike Facebook where users can only upload, share, read, and like curated posts, which is deemed “uncool” by teenagers.

#2. Control

Youngsters are known to be highly expressive, but this is impossible to do if they’re friends with their mom, dad, or other adults on social media. Snapchat and Instagram solve this by allowing teens to control who’s able to see their posts. What’s more, Snapchat and Instagram stories allow users to send time-limited messages. Unlike regular Instagram posts, Instagram stories allow users to share images or videos on their app immediately. These images and videos will then be removed from the platform after 24 hours, similar to how Snapchat works.

These two features mean users can upload more “adult-oriented” posts without worrying that their parents will see them. Users can also get peace of mind knowing their uploaded photos or videos will be removed from the app after a period of time (usually 24 hours).

The next steps for SMB marketing

It’s crucial for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that have a limited marketing budget to understand which platforms reach which demographics. For example, SMBs targeting customers aged 13 to 17 years should rethink their marketing strategies if they’ve invested mainly in Facebook ads. They should consider reallocating their advertising funds to Snapchat, Instagram, or YouTube where their target customers are most active.

Is this the end for Facebook ads?

This doesn’t mean companies that have invested in Facebook marketing won’t see any more benefits. The survey discovered that 70% of US teens from lower-income households use Facebook, a much higher figure than those from middle income families or wealthy families.

But if you do decide to move your Facebook ad spending to other platforms, keep in mind the different preferences based on gender. More girls (42%) identified Snapchat as their go-to platform compared with boys (29%). On the other hand, more boys (39%) identified YouTube as the platform they used most frequently compared with girls (25%).

It is highly recommended that businesses of any size use more than one type of marketing channel to attract customers. Not only will your company’s search engine rankings increase naturally, but having more than one approach can also help you reach more of your target demographics and compete better with similar companies. We help SMBs make the best of their marketing funds by tailoring marketing strategies that reach the most teenagers, so if you’re interested in social media marketing, send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Ways to leverage social media for your business

Ways to leverage social media for your business

May 14th, 2018
Ways to leverage social media for your business

Do you, as a brand new business owner, know how to take advantage of social media exposure, especially if no one has any idea what your new business is all about? The truth is, you can succeed with social media, even if you have what could be perceived as a small, newbie brand. Read on to learn more.

#1 Prove you’re an expert

It’s important to know everything there is about your product/brand, and often it’s a good idea to know even everything beyond it. According to PR firm founder Heather DeSantis of Publicity For Good, one needs to “transition from being a business owner and someone selling a product to a thought leader. You have to have actionable tips that other small-business owners can take action on”.

#2 Establish profiles on major social media sites

Take time to figure out which social media sites your target customers frequent. Then set up pages or profiles on those sites — and post content regularly, at least once a week. To post to multiple social media platforms at a time, consider using a service such as Hootsuite. Once profiles are up and running, don’t let them fall behind. Outdated profiles are almost as bad as nonexistent ones.

#3 Create fresh, shareable content

Google loves original and valuable content. By creating informative articles, people will share links to your site and you’ll notice a difference in Google’s search results. Just remember: Write for your target audience, not for Google.

#4 Adopt a multi-platform approach

You can create a Facebook ad; you can build on Twitter by following and retweeting key people in your industry; you can also even use paid search marketing like Google AdWords, or even do a Facebook Live session to promote. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’re also gently nudging people to turn their interest into a visit to your website.

Getting the word out about your business can be tough, particularly if you don’t know how to effectively reach out and then keep the momentum going once you get some coverage. How do you get the word out online, without having to spend thousands of dollars on advertising or PR? Just call us today for a quick chat with one of our social media experts who can help you out.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

HIPAA Requires Careful Social Media Posting

HIPAA Requires Careful Social Media Posting

May 7th, 2018
HIPAA Requires Careful Social Media Posting

Healthcare providers that use Social Media can interact with their patients, advertise new services, and quickly communicate urgent announcements or messages. There’s immense potential for it to improve care, but also to expose patient-specific information.

On April 14, 2003, the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” (HIPAA) became law with the goal of protecting the privacy of patient medical records, hospitals, doctors, and health plans. The regulations set forth by this legislation allowed patients to freely access their medical records and gave them more control over the disclosure and use of their private health information.

Billions of people consume Social Media content every day, and over 30% of healthcare professionals use the same platforms to build and expand their professional network. There are advantages to utilizing Social Media in the medical field, such as notifications about new services, and interacting with patients. However, there is a possibility that using this platform the wrong way will lead to violations in patient privacy and HIPAA regulations.

What actions on Social Media violate HIPAA rules?

According to HIPAA regulations, a violation or breach is unauthorized use or disclosure under the Privacy Rule which exposes the privacy or security of Protected Health Information (PHI).

Examples of common violations include:

  • Sharing pictures (like a team lunch in the workplace) with patient information visible in the background.
  • Sharing any form of PHI (such as images) without the patient’s written consent.
  • Posting “gossip” about a patient to those who are not concerned, even if the name is not mentioned.

How much do HIPAA violations cost?

People in the healthcare industry cannot treat HIPAA lightly. If an employee were found guilty of violating a HIPAA rule, that person could face a fine between $100 and $1,500,000. Depending on the severity of the violation, the employee might face a 10-year jail sentence, lawsuits, termination from the job, and the loss of medical license.

How can healthcare organizations prevent violations?

It is a good idea to have employees undergo training on HIPAA Security and HIPAA Privacy procedures and policies when they are hired. Topics that should be discussed include workstation use, workstation security, and bringing personal devices into the workplace. These procedures are crucial to making sure that employees comply with HIPAA rules and are protecting patient information, whether it be electronic, written or oral.

Do you work in the healthcare industry and need help managing IT and privacy issues? Feel free to give us a call today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Mission: WesTec will be a “turn-key” solution for all of its clients’ business connectivity needs. It will offer efficient and effective solutions, directly and with strategic partners, that create tangible value for its clients at every point of contact. Westec will serve all people and entities with a servant’s heart.

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