Good small biz reads #11: A cautionary tale about Facebook, how to use Google like a pro, and why online meetings are a smart small business tool

This month’s roundup of recent articles that I found helpful and want to share with you has a definite online focus. It is so hard to keep up with developments on the Web. Yet keep up we must. The Internet can be your best friend, as our first recommended article shows, or your worst enemy, as the second recommended article shows. So know what you’re doing out there, folks. Now, here are this month’s recommended reads:

• In “4 Ways Video Conferencing Can Benefit Small Businesses,” June Bower discusses why videoconferencing is a boon for small business owners. The cost of such services is coming down, making it affordable by almost anyone. For example, I have just signed up for one-year subscription to Skype’s conferencing service. They were running a 50% off sale so it only cost me $53. It will enable me to easily “meet” with the four other people who are involved in a book project. They all live at the other end of the state, which involves a minimum of three hours of round-trip travel for me if we meet in person. So paying for Skype (especially at the bargain price) is easily justified by the travel time and the cost of gas and turnpike tolls that I’ll save. (Note: June Bower works for Cisco’s Collaboration Software Group, so her viewpoint is not entirely unbiased, but everything she says seems to make sense to me.)

• I know Christine Pilch, a copywriter-marketing-media specialist, from the LinkedIn Western Mass group, which she started. In “The danger of using a Facebook Page as your social media hub,” she provides two real life examples of what can go wrong when you put all your social media eggs in the Facebook basket. As she points out, because Facebook is a free platform, they are not beholden to you or anyone else. You basically cede control to them and if something goes awry, you’ll face what Christine calls “a huge Facebook sea of indifference with no pipeline to a real-live human being who can or will help.” This article is very important; read it and beware.

• On a cheerier note, in “111 Google Search Tips You May Not Know About,” you can learn how to, well, use Google like an expert. I consider myself a pretty solid online researcher, but this article definitely pointed a few things out to me that I didn’t know. This is one article you’ll want to bookmark for future reference.

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