It’s all about networking in today’s computer age. Whether you’re looking for new friends, or you’re running a business, we’re finding more ways than ever to connect with one another. This has led to a friendlier, more approachable business model for many businesses. Simply put, business is starting to lighten up a bit–while still hopefully maintaining an air of professionalism. Video conferencing, IM chat support, and always-on email tech support are more popular than ever. As technology advances, so marketing and doing business changes, too. That’s beneficial for both businesses and for clients, as both can handle tasks in a way that’s easier and more efficient.
How Marketing is Changing
Most consumers are now demanding that the businesses they interact with stop treating them like a number. That concept stems from the fact that many businesses jumped at the chance to automate procedures through computers in the early to mid-90s. While it certainly was an excellent way to reduce costs, it also took the human face off of business, making it appear cold, uncaring, and boring.
Call centers were then created to combat this, but most used scripts that customers heard so many times in a row that they simply knew they weren’t special or appreciated. Eventually, even call-in support started to face difficulties–not to mention it was incredibly expensive.
Today, social media has taken up an important role in marketing. Without it, businesses are getting left behind as it is simply easier to find a business through social media.
How Doing Business is Changing
The way we do business is also changing. More often than ever, day-to-day business is being handled through cloud apps and document handling services. This is actually preferable to physical media drives in several ways; it’s safer when it comes to preventing data loss, and can allow multiple people to access files at once. It also means that it’s possible to chat with clients live through an app, while collaborating on a solution.
It’s also more possible than ever to handle every aspect of business from behind a computer. You can make sales, sell items, handle customer requests, invoice, and even track customer relationship information, all via apps and software.
The Evolution of the Apps
Thankfully, with the era of smartphones and tablets came simple, affordable apps to allow companies to interact directly with one another, and their clientele, too. Apps started out relatively simplistic, but have expanded into flexible, functional programs that can do just about anything. These apps are sure to help you stay connected, right from within your browser.
Here are the most popular browser-based apps:
1. Google Docs
You’ll be able to keep all of your documents in one place with Google Docs. With the freely provided 2GB of space, most small businesses won’t even need to expand their account for more. Google Docs has plenty of immediately available functionality, with:
It also has a long list of compatible plugins that can extend your functionality.
Wave claims to be “ridiculously easy accounting” for businesses. Unlike other browser apps for business accounting, Wave is absolutely free with no restrictions. You can collaborate with others on your accounting issues, or you can work on your own, depending on what you need. It will help you to keep track of expenses, invoice your customers, or scan receipts with a camera or smartphone. That’s a lot of functionality, all packed into a free app.
MailChimp is email marketing made easy. Easily accessible through the browser itself, the MailChimp platform is ideal for any business with long marketing lists or little knowledge in creating HTML emails. It simplifies the entire process, giving you an end result that truly shines. Because you have each of your mailing lists all in one place, it’s an easy way to stay organized and on track, too. MailChimp is free to start, but does require payment after a certain level of use.
Easily connect to your fans, customers, and clientele over social media with the use of HootSuite’s in-browser app. Known to be one of the most robust social media access apps on the market today, HootSuite connects directly to Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to allow you to direct post to accounts. You can schedule posts up to several weeks in advance, organizing them by photo messages, text messages, and video.
There’s no installation required to make use of Meetings.io; as long as you’ve got access to, a browser, you’ve got access to the app. It’s a useful video conferencing app that provides plenty of basic functionality–entirely for free. While Meetings.io doesn’t have many of the bells and whistles that some other premium software has, it does have everything you need for a basic meeting. It’s compatible with group conferencing as well as one-on-one conferencing, and can be used to connect up to 5 people, and has screen sharing and other functionalities available.
If you have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account, or any other page for which you need to source content, ContentDJ can help you to find the content you need quickly. It offers a free trial, but access is affordable and the time you’ll save by using it is more than worthwhile. How it works is that you use keywords to find relevant content to share with your audiences; it’s up to you how and when you share that relevant content.
Campfire is a really robust in-browser chat app that will allow you to create personalized chat rooms where you can talk to clients, team members, and more. It has a long list of add-ons-for-extra, including screen-sharing, chat tracking, and file viewing.
It does cost money, but starts at a very reasonable $12 USD for a basic account. Basic accounts offer 1GB of storage and up to 12 chatters, so most people only ever need this level of service. Should you need more, it’s easy to graduate up to the next level. If you really aren’t sure if even basic is enough for you, there’s an easy-to-sign-up-for 30 day trial–but be mindful that a subscription will be started afterward if you don’t cancel.
When it comes to browser-based chat apps with a touch of professionalism and function, Campfire is one of the only apps that allow you to move fluidly between Android, iPhone, and computer, all while storing your information and chats for later viewing.