Nine Excellent Free Cloud Generators

Cloud generators can be a fun way to create graphics, they can also help you insure that your content is on target and will be seen as such by search engines.
Cloud generators will transform your text, be it blog post, web page, resume or PR release into a visual image of your content helping you visualize keywords and their weight. and letting you literally see if your content is on target

Wordle

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

tagCloud generator

This can generate your tag clouds in html and flash online with just a few steps in downloadable form.

ImageChef

With tool, you can create a different styled and shaped word cloud and send to your friends etc as a post card.

ABCya

A word cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency. You can type or paste text into the box showing on their home page and press the arrow button to view the word cloud generated. The appearance of a word cloud can be altered using the graphical buttons above the cloud. It is also easy to save and/or print the cloud by simply pressing a button. This is specially designed for school kids.

Tagul

Tagul is designed for web masters who want to place nice clouds on their web pages. Tagul clouds have numerous advantages against ordinary text clouds like custom fonts, cloud shapes, colors, etc. and thus Tagul clouds have much fancier look. Tagul clouds are more entertaining for your web site visitors provide better user experience.

Word Cloud

ToCloud is an online free word cloud generator that uses word frequency as the weight. Hence, the generated word cloud of a page gives a quick understanding of how the page is optimized for certain words. ToCloud is also smart enough to extract phrases and works much better than most other word cloud generators on the web.

WordItOut

WordItOut lets you transform your text into word clouds. You can then save and share them, so everybody can find and enjoy them.

Tagxedo

Tagxedo turns words like famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.

TagCrowd

TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any text by creating what is popularly known as a word cloud, text cloud or tag cloud. It specializes in making word clouds easy to read, analyze and compare, for a variety of useful purposes.

 

How Secure Are Your Passwords

I recently attended a WordPress workshop about website security.  the presenter, from the firm Securi, gave us a demonstration on how fast hackers can find your username and password and crack a website open, I can tell you, that was a real eye opener.
The presenter showed us how a hacker can find a user name with software readily available online and how they could crack the site open by using software and password lists also available online.

A seemingly safe password containing uppercase, lower case, numbers, special characters took only minutes to crack.  Never mind easy passwords like many still use like… password or 1234.

How strong is your password? Find out with this app and tell us how long it took..


Are passwords obsoletes, fortunately no, but we need to look at them in a different light.  the key to secure passwords is uniqueness.  I know, thatwas my reaction too, how can you find unique passwords.

The first step is to forget about common words, short terms, go for long strings and instead of thinking passwords, think long string, think passphrases, long strings take longer to hack and chances are, a hacker will give up.

The presenter recommended password management tools, companies that encrypt your log in information and safeguard your passwords

If you have a website, implement “fail log in limits”, applications that lock your site after a predetermined number of log in attempts, implement layered authentication, limit the number of users who have access to the site, keep software, plug ins, themes updated, remove any app you don’t use

The online world will never be completely safe, but it’s up to you to manage and reduce the risk

So, how long would it take to crack your password?  Tell us in the comment section.

Social Media Rules for Brands: The 10 Commandments

Ten-commandments

Social media for brands dos and don’ts, the social media rules to know

Fleeting as social media exchanges may seem, they can have a pronounced impact on business and their influence can echo far beyond a simple post or retweet.

While the anonymous, public and often informal nature of Internet dialogue often leads corporations to relax their guard, it’s important to note: Managing a brand’s social media presence is a tricky balancing act. The key to being successful? Keeping things polite and professional, and constantly acknowledging your audience’s voice, while adding value or insight to customer exchanges.

Looking to enhance your corporate social media efforts? Here are

1. Thou shalt be patient and considerate.

While many campaigns seem to go viral overnight, it’s important to remember that businesses rarely experience instant breakthroughs or meteoric audience growth on social media. More important than chasing huge follower or subscriber counts is to consistently and meaningfully engage an audience by creating helpful and insightful content that addresses key concerns or speaks to consumer needs.

Over time, through constant two-way dialogue with users, this commitment will help your business build a loyal and involved following, the influence of which may far outstrip that of larger, less engaged audiences.

Be relevant, generous and sincere. While doing so may not seem as sexy or instantly gratifying as posting a viral video or infographic, it will help you build trust, empathy and, most importantly, relationships, the currency of the modern social realm.

2. Thou shalt not be indifferent to the voice of thy customer.

When you engage in social media, you commit to playing a role in very public customer conversations. This entails consistently having to acknowledge other parties’ opinions, and embracing both the good and the bad, including harsh or critical feedback.

Instead of looking the other way when someone posts something unflattering, take a moment to objectively assess the feedback. Constructive criticism not only presents opportunities to improve our efforts to serve end-users; it also presents a chance to engage in human exchanges, and apologize and appease the situation.

In other words, the goal is to create conversations, not critiques, and optimize the level of customer support and service provided to your audience. Sometimes, simply taking a moment to acknowledge others’ voices, or answer questions directly can bridge gaps that threaten to build a gulf between you and end-users.

3. Thou shalt be true to thyself.

You’ve spent ample time crafting your brand’s mission and values across your website, marketing materials and advertising efforts. Now is not the time to abandon the positive image you’ve worked so hard to cultivate, or forsake professionalism or propriety in the name of popularity.

Given the medium’s more personable nature, social media exchanges should certainly be more human than formal. But all should be respectful of customers, audience needs and the positive image you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. It’s important not only to respect followers’ time and intelligence, but also to be consistent with your branding and messaging across all platforms. That way, fans and followers know both who you are and the values that your business stands for.

4. Thou shalt think before you post.

Trade secret: Every post or status update you share should add value for your audience, regardless whether that value comes in the form of enlightenment, entertainment or an uplifting exchange.

Therefore, make every share unique, and think about how to ensure it counts – i.e., what can you add to the conversation that others can’t? As a simple example, retweeting posts of note is an excellent way to share information, but adding your own opinion or links to further resources is an even better use of time. Likewise, if you post every single little detail or update about your brand, industry and products, fans may become fatigued. Respect your audience and think about how to make posts superlative, singular and of notable worth before sharing.

The key question to ask yourself: What’s in it for them?

5. Thou shalt be brief.

Remember to keep it short and sweet on social media. You have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention, and even less time to keep it. Therefore, make sure your posts have an immediate impact and utilize concise language, links, references or (better yet) visual assets, such as photos, videos and inforgraphics. These quickly convey key information at a glance.

Look for ways to distill an idea down to a single statement or elevator pitch that clearly and quickly communicates subject matter, tone and target audience, and provides further points of reference should audiences wish to dive deeper into the topic.

6. Thou shalt not hog the conversation.

In many ways, social networks serve as the world’s largest cocktail party. But no one wants to be stuck with a self-centered conversation hog.

The same rule applies to your social media presence, where it’s important to listen before speaking – doubly so, as the dynamics of conversation and rules of online behavior differ depending on context and parties in attendance. Dedicate the majority of your time proactively engaging your audience, then split the remaining time between content your audience will care about and promoting your brand.

7. Thou shalt do good.

Think of social media as the world’s largest megaphone or amplifier – it can project your online voice louder, farther and faster than ever before.

Always be engaging and upbeat (negativity never reflects well on the poster, especially online, where conversational subtlety and nuance are often lost in translation), and take advantage of the opportunities presented to promote positivity. Material you post online should be less promotional than beneficial in nature, designed to help viewers save time or money, enhance learning and awareness, or offer key opinions and insights. From securing support for charitable ventures to offering deeper looks at evolving trends to helping fans and followers make valuable connections, consistently look for ways to aid, assist and uplift your audience.

8. Thou shalt keep it strictly business.

While color and personality are always welcome online, business and pleasure seldom mix well in social media contexts – personal and corporate accounts are best kept separated. Remember: Users following business accounts do so because they identify with the brand, and expect content in keeping with its core image and focus. Posting anything outside of this realm may prompt confusion, surprise or indifference, and has the potential to reflect poorly on your brand.

Communications should universally be polite, professional and on-topic. Where the risk of misinterpretation or controversy exists, play it safe and skip posting. Keep your tone and voice upbeat and respectful – avoid complaints, negative comments and stabs at the competition at all costs.

9. Thou shalt respect the hashtag.

Twitter hashtags are great vehicles for highlighting topics of relevance, drawing audience’s attention and fostering fan engagement. However, they can also be dangerous when used incorrectly – i.e., too frequently or in inappropriate contexts.

Oftentimes, brands overuse hashtags or place them in unrelated posts to drive added visibility. But doing so may leave viewers feeling cheated, especially if those hashtags add no relevant context to conversations or potentially alienate readers. This can cause a negative reaction to your online voice and ultimately your business, which will not only hinder fan acquisition but potentially detract from your brand.

10. Thou shalt not lie.

Skip the temptation to embellish, fib or inflate the truth online, especially since it can easily backfire or even lead to potential legal repercussions. Likewise, be honest with your audience. If fans and followers have questions about an evolving scenario – e.g., a potential PR crisis -– sometimes, the best answer is simply a prompt: “Apologies, but we don’t know. However, rest assured we’re working on it, and will let you know as soon as possible.”

Trust is the foundation of any relationship – real or online, and its loss can have a marked impact on both your brand and customer perception. As Benjamin Franklin once pointed out, it takes many exchanges to build a positive reputation, but only one mistake to undo it.

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Social Recruiting, Social Job Search

A recent  Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey shows that:

  • More than 90% of employers used social recruiting in 2012.
  • Two-thirds of companies recruit candidates via Facebook, more than half use Twitter to find talent and nearly all use LinkedIn.
  • 43% of respondents felt that the quality of applicants has improved thanks to social media.
  • 20% said it takes less time to hire when using social recruiting.

FDA: No Unsubstantiated Claims, Even on Social Media

No Unsubstantiated Claims on social mediaIn case some wondered, FDA guidelines apply on social media as well and liking a post from one of your followers promoting unsubstantiated claims is an endorsement of those claims.

In December 2012, the FDA sent a warning letter to Amarc Enterprises regarding two websites. This letter has garnered attention because it references Facebook. The FDA details a variety of serious concerns over the way Amarc is marketing their vitamins, in particular their websites have numerous testimonials that are unsupported by clinical data.

For example, “PolyMVA helped save my life. I began a regimen of PolyMVA… After 3 months, the Stage 2 cancer was down to Stage 1.” These vitamins have not been approved by the FDA and are being improperly marketed as drugs. Similar claims were made for pets using the products and the FDA notes that this is also a violation.

Here is what the warning letter says about Facebook: “We also note claims made on your Facebook account accessible at: https://www.facebook.com/poly.mva, which includes a link to your website at www.polymva.com. The following are examples of the claims: In a March 10, 2011 post which was ‘liked’ by ‘Poly Mva’:

  • ‘PolyMVA has done wonders for me. I take it intravenously 2x a week and it has helped me tremendously. It enabled me to keep cancer at bay without the use of chemo and radiation… Thank you AMARC’”

The product’s Facebook page has been taken down, but it appears that the claim was posted to the wall. Not only was the claim left on the wall, it was “liked” by the page administrator which would be a clear endorsement of the claim. The letter also mentions a blog post on the Amarc site that makes claims that are unsupported by scientific data.

Interestingly, their other Facebook page is still live and posting things like this: “THE BINDING OF PALLADIUM, A RARE TRACE MINERAL, WITH ALPHA LIPOIC ACID, A POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT, DRAMATICALLY INCREASES NUTRIENT ABSORPTION AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL AND THROUGHOUT THE BODY – A BREAKTHROUGH THAT DISTINGUISHES POLY-MVA® FROM ANY OTHER SUPPLEMENT!”

I posted a link to the FDA warning letter on their wall and asked for a response. They replied, “Discussions with the FDA are ongoing and the issues raised are being addressed. AMARC is committed to our products and working with health agencies in complying with any applicable rules and regulations. This is somewhat of a normal review in the industry. Thank you for the inquiry and we will continue to support our clients and our products.”

Follow existing guidelines
It’s clear that these websites, the Facebook page and blog provided no clinical data to support any of their claims. This warning letter isn’t really about Facebook or blogs, but about following existing guidelines. The FDA is very clear on labeling and how companies can promote their products. Companies that continue to follow this guidance (on websites, Facebook and blogs) should be fine

Original article

Small Businesses Increase Content Marketing Efforts

Many small businesses are already using some form of content marketing to promote themselves—74% as of a January survey of US small businesses by BusinessBolts.com. It’s a tactic that must be paying off, because three-quarters of small businesses also said they planned to do more content marketing this year than last—and just 4% said they had no plans to do any content marketing at all.

Small Businesses change in content budgets 2013

Articles and blog posts were the type of content most favored by small businesses—74% have promoted their business using articles, and 64% through blog posts. Slightly under half were publishing social media content and about two out of five used email newsletters.

Small businesses spent an average of 6.9% of their annual marketing budgets on content marketing last year, according to a November study conducted by Ad-ology Research.

Ad-ology found that US small businesses were spending a greater share of their budgets on content marketing than on social media advertising. This suggests that small businesses may be more focused on using social sites to publish owned content rather than paying for advertising on the networks—a trend at some larger businesses as well.

But small businesses in particular seem to rely on content marketing because it can be extremely cost effective. A majority of the small businesses surveyed by BusinessBolts.com estimated they spent less than $100 on content marketing per month; just 11% spent more than $500.

Responding to Negative Online Comments

12 basic principles for handling difficult questions, comments and statements on the social web. These apply to communications, marketing and customer service issues as much as they do HR and other activities.

Move fast. The longer you take to respond to comments, the more you risk appearing unresponsive, uncaring or, worse, secretive. According to NM Incite (pdf), users of Facebook pages expect to be responded to within 24 hours and Twitter users within 2 hours. In social media, it often pays more to be quick than 100% accurate.

Be accurate. Despite the pressure on speed, try to be as factual as possible – angry customers and bloggers love to highlight, question and poke holes in wooly or cagey responses. Make sure to double-check the facts with your sources and it you’re not confident about the answer, at the very least acknowledge the question, comment or statement, express concern and say you are looking into it. This can help buy you more time to find the appropriate solution.

Be flexible. Don’t assume that either the complaint is 100% genuine (consider carefully its motivation) or that you are 100% correct in your response. If you don’t have the full facts, say so publicly and communicate updates thereafter regularly. Appear anxious to help, as opposed to desperate to please. Backing yourself into a rhetorical corner can prove awkward when you have to extricate yourself publicly.

Be transparent. Admit if you have made a mistake. Denials, evasions insincere apologies as a means of quietening a community are often quickly spotted by the community and may simply inflame the issue. And while the tactic of trying to take a conversation offline can help diffuse difficult situations by buying you more time to assess the situation and/or find a solution, it can also be seen by the customer as a sign of weakness or withdrawal and lampooned as such.

Be sincere. If the complaint is genuine, apologize sincerely and with humility and in language appropriate to the audience. And yet an apology will mean nothing unless the problem is resolved in a reasonable manner. Sharing what you as an organization have learned through the experience is also a good way of demonstrating that your empathy is genuine.

Be human. As The Cluetrain Manifesto pointed out, ‘conversations among human beings sound human’, and are ‘conducted in a human voice’ that is ‘typically open, natural and uncontrived’. Look to use language that is accessible, engaging and empathetic while remaining at core professional and objective. Avoid jargon and respond direct to the individual or group using their actual names. ‘Dear valued customer’ doesn’t wash it with customers increasingly expecting personal attention.

Be focused. Not all customers are equal, and while social media is leveling the playing field, some – the 1% – are most active in the community. You need to identify your top influencers, make sure to understand their interests, requirements and behaviors, and make sure your PR, marketing and customer service teams understand when and how to interact with them. This is not to say you should ignore the rest of the community which, clearly, must not be allowed to feel unwanted or ignored, but be aware that complaints from highly socially engaged customers, bloggers and other influencers may impact not just the community itself but can also make waves beyond it.

Follow-up. Once you have acknowledged the issue and responded, find ways to engage direct with the customer in question on an ongoing basis. Encouraging deeper discussion on the topic will show you are willing to listen and learn, and help make them feel like you care. Equally, walking away once you have responded can make it appear as if the customer is no longer a priority.

Add value. Following up also provides you with additional opportunities to add value to conversations and hence deepen relationships and re-build trust. Look to be helpful by providing options rather than just a single solution, or be seen to go the extra mile by pointing people to useful or relevant information. People will notice – and may comment on the fact – that you are bending over backwards to help them.

Take control. Negative comments on your community should be actively managed – it is after all your channel. Proactively rebut statements that are demonstrably untrue or misleading and, above all, don’t run away from your page in challenging times as it will only make your detractors appear as victors. Ensure discussions remain within the parameters you have set in your Community Guidelines and enforce your terms regarding offensive posts, the sharing of confidential or personal information about company executives or other members of the community, third party advertising, repeat/verbatim comments etc. And remember that it is within your rights to ban members who consistently flout the rules, though you may want to explain why you are doing it both to the individual and to the community as a whole.

Avoid fights. Don’t antagonize your audience or get into online arguments: as Nestle discovered to its cost in the wake of Greenpeace’s palm oil campaign, David usually wins against Goliath in the court of online public opinion. If the situation is volatile, step back and wait for the right opportunity to engage with the customer in question, meantime work closely with the relevant internal stakeholders – often Sales, Public Relations and Legal – to develop a reasonable solution. Appearing thin-skinned will only make you appear weak and vulnerable.

Don’t censor. Nothing conveys a failure to listen and understand better than censoring or removing criticism from your official online communities or elsewhere. Realize that critical voices are a price of entry to the social web, and that deleting or demanding changes to negative posts can provide detractors with a powerful rhetorical weapon. Rather, always try to maintain the high ground, be seen to be responsive and listening and deploy a strong legal approach only as the final option: deleting content or threatening bloggers may simply result in the so-called ‘Streisand effect’ as complaints escalate and go viral.

It is essential that the teams managing official channels as well as interactions with third party online communities understand these principles and are properly trained in the art and science of handling negative opinion.

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