Website Broken

Backing Up Your Data

Website BrokenOne of the most important (but also the most neglected) areas of computing is backing up your data. Most people assume they’re safe because they’ve never experienced a disaster in the past, but they are sadly mistaken. Disasters will happen, at some point, and you will be kicking yourself later if you neglect this important task.

What does it mean to “backup?”

Backing up refers to the copying and archiving of computer data so it may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. When a computer user backs up their data, they are storing a copy of their information in a safe and secure place. There are many options when it comes to backing up your data, and most of them are reasonably priced.

Why backing up is important

Backups protect you from hardware failure, viruses, theft, accidental deletion, fires, floods and other disasters. If you were to experience any of these events without first backing up your data, you run the risk of losing all your work and important files. It is suggested that you have at least two off-site backup copies of your data, however, many people get by with just one.

Recommended products to help you back up your data

There are many services out there to assist businesses and individuals in backing up their data, often with only a few clicks of the mouse. Carbonite boasts that they are automatic (they backup your data without you having to do anything other than purchase their service), secure (all files are encrypted), and affordable (plans start at $59 per year). Another great service is Crashplan, whose plans start at less than $20 a year.

For documents that you are constantly using and changing, you may want to consider a cloud storage option, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Both of these options offer two-step verification for added security, as well as a small amount of free storage. More storage is, of course, available for purchase.

If a paid service doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can also backup your data yourself. Technology retailers have storage devices available for purchase and you can talk to a customer service representative to decide which storage device is right for you. The only downside to this is, of course, that you have to actually remember to back up your data on a regular basis.

How we protect your data

Appletree MediaWorks keeps your site up and running by always storing a backup – just in case. All sites are backed up nightly and the information is always stored in a safe place.

Building Connections: LinkedIn Networking Basics

256px-Linkedin_icon.svg_We’ve heard it all before. Salespeople love to take off in the middle of the day for important “business meetings” at the local brewery… “I’m just going to meet with a client and go over… my proposal.” Salespeople tend to spend more time on the road than in the office. To a cubicle-imprisoned employee, it may seem unfair, glamorous, and perhaps a bit… fake. But this really IS how business connections are made, right? It’s called networking.

In many business relationships, the ability to sit down for a meal or a drink and entertain may be as important (or more important) to landing that big deal as any more tangible factor. But as salespeople already know, networking can be difficult to manage efficiently. When you are juggling 4 bowling pins, a flaming torch and a garden weasel at the same time, there’s no chance to really concentrate on any one thing. This is traditionally where CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software comes into play. By effectively utilizing CRM, a company can manage its customer base and keep track of where each customer is in the sales process. It may even be configured to send notifications and reminders: “…haven’t heard back from Sam lately, it might be time to follow up”.

CRM has an obvious limitation, though. While it is very helpful in managing existing business relationships, it is unable to generate new ones. This is where LinkedIn comes into play. On the surface, it looks and behaves like an online career planner and résumé builder. But with millions of professionals from around the world already using LinkedIn, the potential for online networking is vast. Sorry sales department, this might actually give you an excuse to sit at a desk once in a while… but the payoff will be great.

Consider the following strategies for building your online network:

  • Add your existing contacts. If you’re just getting started with LinkedIn, chances are you’re one of the last people in your network to join – it shouldn’t be difficult to find the people you know. They’ll most likely be excited to connect to you and start recommending your exceptional work ethics to their colleagues 😉
  • Join Groups relevant to your location or services. This allows you to join discussions with like minded professionals in your field. By taking part in discussions, you can quickly make friends that may evolve into business relationships.
  • If a Group does not currently exist for your area or type of business, consider creating one. Keep in mind that you should not create a Group for your Company since Companies are automatically generated by LinkedIn.
Overall, LinkedIn provides a powerful tool for networking, all within a highly professional environment (unlike Facebook and Twitter). Even building a relatively small list of connections opens you up to endless networking possibilities. Remember the six degrees of separation? Just 20 connections on LinkedIn will open you up to about 500,000 professionals. The possibilities are endless.

Take A Stand Against PIPA & SOPA Acts

vector-glass-globe-913-1883You may have heard about Protect-IP (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently under consideration in Congress. We would like to make sure you are aware of Appletree MediaWorks official position on SOPA.

As a national provider of online Web services, we oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or Protect-IP (PIPA) Acts currently under consideration. While we observe the concerns of those who are troubled by the potential impact on protecting intellectual property online, Appletree MediaWorks feels there is an urgent need to strike a balance between dissemination of and access to information and protection against its illegal use within the public domain.

The US government is currently reviewing SOPA and PIPA as possible ways to prevent unlawful distribution of copyrighted materials available on the Internet. These current proposals, if passed, would allow for significant interventions into the technological and economical basis of the Internet. This could put the vast benefits and economic opportunities of entirely legal and legitimate e-business models at risk. Generally, companies offering technological services should not be forced to be the executor of authority in such matters. If they were to act upon every implication of content infringement without any judicial research into the actual usage of its customers, the integrity behind their customer’s freedom of information and speech would be enormously harmed.

We encourage every Internet user concerned about these plans to contribute to the debate and to raise their voice with their local representatives in the House or Senate. We welcome the serious consideration by the US Congress of the potential
harmful effects on Internet freedom should SOPA and / or PIPA be passed as law, and hope the stability of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) remains intact.

One way to express your concerns could be to use one of the websites that emerged to protect user interests in the current legislative debate, such as Fight for the Future, “a nonprofit working to expand the internet’s power for good”.

At Appletree MediaWorks, we support you, our customer, and an open Internet. Thank you for being one of our extremely valued customers, and for taking the time to read this.

QR Codes Decoded

Quick Response CodeQuick Response (QR) codes became a fast spreading phenomenon as soon as the technology was released for public use in 2011. Designed originally for use in the auto industry for tracking vehicle parts, these matrix-style barcodes became popular in printed media for their quick readability and large storage size. A single QR code can store over 4,000 characters (numbers and text) or about 3 megabytes of binary data (such as a jpeg image). Anybody with a smart phone can download a free application for scanning and reading these QR codes on the go, such as ScanLife for the iPhone, QR Droid for the Android, or QR Code Reader for Windows Phone 7.

This technology becomes valuable for tying the real world back to your online marketing strategies. QR codes can be added to printed media as a way to share a certain landing page or social media campaign to your QR capable readers. For example, a successful QR implementation might consist of a QR code placed on the back of a printed catalog, with the text, “Scan this code with your smart phone for online-only deals and savings!” The QR code would then have a link embedded, which would lead the customer to a special “deals” page on the company’s website.

For a modern customer, QR codes offer the advantage of not having to open up a browser and physically type in a URL, along with the feeling of being given access to “exclusive” content. In order to tap into these feelings of exclusivity, it is wise to plan your QR codes around landing pages that are not obvious to regular visitors to your website. For example, an advertisement posted on the wall at a concert could contain a QR code that takes people directly to a landing page which begins, “As a special thanks for attending the event we sponsored, we’re offering a special 15% savings on any online purchase of $50 or more, using this coupon code…” Such a campaign would complete a media circle and help to tie your online brand with a real world presence.

Want to create a QR Code for your own campaign? There are several free QR generators available online, such as Kaywa QR-Code Generator or’s QR Generator. QRstuff in particular offers a wide variety of QR generation options, even allowing you to embed WiFi logins, calendar events (exclusive event invitations), Paypal “buy now” buttons, etc. The many options available will surely ignite all sorts of ideas for creating a unique “printed” social media campaign that suits your particular strategy.

Struggling to define a print strategy that builds upon your social media campaign? The professional marketing strategists at Appletree MediaWorks can help you get started by developing and implementing a unique solution that utilizes all the benefits of QR codes as well as dozens of other emerging technologies to attract and maintain a devoted customer base for years to come.

Google Plus: First Impressions

google-Plus-iconIn an already crowded online social media world, it seems like the last thing anybody wanted to see was yet another place to share information with each other. In a very “we know what you want better than you do” Apple-like move, Google has now done just that, unleashing its second attempt onto the scene in June (remember Orkut?).  Launched initially as an “invite-only” network – a deception considering that anybody with a Google Account is already part of the database – it will soon allow its flood gates to open. We are already seeing the effects of this network across the vast reaches of cyberspace. But what sets this new network apart from its competition? What does this mean for the marketing world? The time to answer these questions is now, while it is still gathering momentum.

Let’s begin by exploring the differences between Google+ and its largest competitor – Facebook. What will draw the market to this new network, and perhaps draw attention away from the old? Although Google has never been a vocal proponent of online privacy, perhaps the most notable difference is how Google makes privacy feel controllable to its users. It handles its content flow completely differently than Facebook – making it much simpler to hide information from certain individuals in your network, while showing it to others. Utilizing a feature called “circles”, Google hopes to replicate how real life social networks work, whereby you may wish to share your weekend party photos with your drinking buddies, but not necessarily your mom. It remains to be seen how powerful a draw this new content flow will prove to be – whether people value having precise control over who may access their online content enough to make the switch – but it remains a compelling argument nonetheless.

While social networks – by their very nature – primarily focus on connecting individual people, the very fact that it gathers so much attention makes it a powerful marketing tool. Facebook allows businesses to have Pages which people can then “Like”, allowing them to read posts from the business, and share it with their friends. Google+ introduces a new feature called “sparks” whereby a user can input what their interests are and Google will automatically create links to sites that relate to that specific interest. These links can then be shared with other people in the user’s circles.

The Google-addicted Internet is also becoming accustomed to seeing the new “+1” button that is permeating not only Google’s search engine, but also many forward-thinking websites across the web. Clicking this button is a sign of approval or validation that the content is a good source of information. This little button – according to Google – is aimed at transforming the entire landscape of the Internet into a giant social network, with Google+ positioned comfortably at its core. Google is already beginning to incorporate “+1” clicks into its organic search results. It aims to affect a user’s personal version of Google’s algorithm – furthering its trademark “filter bubble” phenomenon – a controversial reality.

It will be important in the coming months to keep an eye on how the “+1” button terraforms the web – and how this affects your business’s web presence. While Google+ promises to help connect individuals in new, potentially exciting ways, we have yet to see a fully functional plan for incorporating businesses into the mix, though Google states that they are hoping to add this option later in the year. Google+ Product Manager Christian Oestlien states, “How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and will have something to show the world later this year.”

In the meantime, does your web page have a Google +1 button? Make sure to stay ahead of the game. Appletree MediaWorks will be more than happy to get you started on this important network. Reach out today and let us know you’re ready to take the first step.

Does Your Business Belong on Facebook?

facebookIn 2010 many of us were fortunate enough to see The Social Network – David Fincher’s Oscar award winning drama about the turbulent rise of Facebook. The film’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, captured the attention of film critics with as much unblinking enthusiasm as today’s youth afford “The Facebook” itself. Teens have surrendered so much of their lives to online interaction that the real world seems to be only an extrapolation of a person’s online status. Those of us who resist the pull are eventually sucked in – because nothing is “official” until it happens on Facebook.

Amidst the pull, businesses were quick to feel the tug. If everybody in the world is looking at one billboard, it makes perfect sense that business owners would want to see their name up there. I recall when requests began to trickle into my inbox, followed by a flood. Everybody wanted a Facebook page and a Like button for their business. Now pretty much every reputable business has exactly these two elements. But this is usually where it stops – they do it because everybody else did. But what will be accomplished? Let’s take a look at “why”.

Facebook was initially created as an exclusive club where university students could interact with other students. Zuckerberg did not worry about making the service profitable initially because he wanted it to be “cool”, shunning the banner ad approach in favor of a clean, polished look. This initial marketing helped to foster what is now known as a social network, where friends connect, keep up with each other’s lives, and even chat live.

This friend driven social atmosphere becomes fertile ground for grass-roots marketing, where buzz can be passed between intermingling social circles that are already tuned in to listen to their friends. The fact that marketing passes between friends makes it more meaningful than a simple ad. For example, if a billboard tells me to Eat at Joe’s, I might – or might not. However, if my friend Nathan tells me he just had the best corned beef sandwich he’s ever tasted at Joe’s, I’ll be on my way there!

For any business, the best way to take your Facebook marketing efforts to the next level is to attract people to “Like” your Facebook page. Encourage your customers to visit your Facebook page – add it to your business cards, your stationary, etc. Don’t be pushy, but when a customer has just had a good experience with your business, that is a perfect time to encourage them to “Like” you on Facebook. Satisfied customers are the best ones to spread the word, which has very high marketing potential. One satisfied customer “Liking” you on Facebook could mean hundreds of people seeing the recommendation from someone they trust.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to “Like” Appletree MediaWorks on Facebook, so here is my shameless plug.

The next piece of the puzzle is to update your Facebook page regularly. Remember that people who have “Liked” your page will receive your updates in their News feed, so by sending out regular updates, you will keep your business in the forefront of their mind. Remember not to overdo it, though, as people may also “Unlike” your page if they feel they’re receiving too much spam. Instead, focus on providing useful, helpful updates every other day, or even once a week. The goal is to keep your customers valuing your business and coming back for more.

In conclusion, Facebook can indeed be a wonderful marketing tool for your business, if handled correctly. Your satisfied customers are your best marketeers, and Facebook helps you utilize them to generate buzz. Your business DOES belong on Facebook.

Joe Job

How to Survive a Joe Job

To a budding or established company on the web, the possibility of cyber attacks is very real and can be damaging to your reputation if not handled correctly. One of the worst of such online threats is the all-too-common “Joe Job” attack.

Essentially, a Joe Job attack happens when an attacker sends fake (spoofed) spam email that appears as though it originated from your domain. Email has always been one of the most insecure protocols on the Internet – anybody with even a minimal knowledge of technology can send email “from” whoever they want, without much effort.

Usually you become aware of such an attack when you begin receiving a flood of angry email replies to the spam (since the Reply-To address is often your own). Now begins the long arduous task of saving face amongst the onslaught of defamation. It seems daunting, but we have compiled a comprehensive guide to surviving a Joe Job attack, should you be unfortunate enough to become a victim:

1. Create and if these do not already exist. These should either be set up to forward to you, or you could configure your email client to also receive email from these addresses. This is so that information sent from SpamCop and other blacklist services is not missed. Whenever somebody submits one of the spam emails to SpamCop, real time reports will be forwarded to Fortunately, SpamCop is smart about these things and will realize that the emails are not originating from your domain.

2. Set up a spam information page with information about the attack and a form where victims can submit the header information from the offending emails to help you expedite the investigation. In cases where the attack is being carried out by a devious competitor, this will have the benefit of letting them know you’re onto them, and they need to stop. It also helps the people who are receiving the spam. They may be hearing about your company for the first time by receiving the defaming spam, and the proactive ones will almost certainly be browsing your site looking for answers. It will help immeasurably to provide them with the information they are looking for, letting them know that the email did not come from you and that there is something they can do to help end the attack. As you begin to receive more information it will also help with your own investigation. Appletree’s Joe Job information page is an excellent reference.

3. Create an alert link from your home page that directs people to the spam information page without distracting the customers who are there under normal circumstances. The point is that you need to address the issue with an official response and a way for proactive victims to do something meaningful to help stop the attack.

4. Once people begin sending you full header information thanks to step 3, you can begin doing some research to find out where the attacks are coming from. As you view the full headers, the only line which cannot be faked is the “Received” line, which usually contains the originating IP address. This may or may not be useful because a smart attacker will often bounce their emails off of several “open relay” servers, effectively hiding their original location. This information will still be very valuable to SpamCop, however, in building up a blacklist of known “open relay” servers, which will be beneficial in the long run. Make sure to create a SpamCop account and submit all of the spam emails you receive.

5. Notify your web host about what is going on. Even though the emails are not being sent from their servers, it is good for them to know what is happening. Sometimes web hosts will help with the investigation.

6. Utilize your social networks – blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc – to send out helpful “security” reminders, while being sure not to instill fear. The people in your own network will appreciate the information even though they most likely did not receive the spam email. The spammer usually has different targets and goals, separate from your own. It is always a good idea, though, to make sure your own customers are aware of your spam policy and that you are actively on top of keeping them safe while doing online business with you.

Other than that, be very gracious and kind to the victims who complain about getting spam from your company. Being knowledgeable enough to briefly explain the nature of the problem will go a long way towards turning potentially bad press into a network of allies.