Blog

Blog

Jun 12 2017

Social Media is Crowded – here is how your Brand Can Stand Out

 

Social media is one of the most effective means of reaching your target audience, but it is also swarming with competition. In fact, over 78 percent of the US population has at least one social profile. Each day, the level of noise just keeps getting louder. This makes it more difficult to stand out in a massively crowded environment. What’s the key to success? Well, you don’t need to be everywhere at once–you just need to be where your buyers are. Social media is currently muddled by competing brands and people who are all hoping to get reach and attention. Organic reach is pretty much dead. How can your agency stand out? Read on to learn more.

Engage naturally

Many businesses are missing out on opportunities to engage their audience as much as they should. Of course, the objective is to feel less forced and more natural. You have the platforms at your fingertips to share useful content and insights. From that content, you’re producing reasons for people to stop and read your posts.

Yet, you must still understand what your target audience wants. Why are they using this particular platform? What do they need? Also, don’t forget the power of humor. Even a funny commercial can go viral and extend your reach. Here are a few other tactics you can try to increase engagement:

  • Share something shocking
  • Send out a compelling question
  • Give something away to people who like or comment on your posts
  • Use Facebook reactions and emojis

These strategies will help to get your target audience more involved, but you’ll need to continue and expand upon the effort. In addition, you must join in on the conversation. In fact, the perfect time for a response is when someone is talking about you. If it is something positive, you can thank them. If it has to do with a product or customer service issue, then address it effectively and immediately.

In addition, you must join in on the conversation. In fact, the perfect time for a response is when someone is talking about you.

 

The goal is to stay up-to-date on topics surrounding your company. After that, you want to humanize your brand. People engage with other people, not companies. Just remember that people are led by emotions–this is why humor works so well. Remind your audience that your company is made up of real people.

Get trendy

Your business needs to keep up with the latest trends and industry news to stay relevant. This doesn’t mean you need to become a breaking news reporter, but you should share valuable content within your niche. If your industry is robotics, then you should be keeping up with the latest stories in that sector.

Clients are impressed by companies who take the time to understand and maintain awareness of the world around them. When you share, use the right hashtags relevant to your industry to help improve your authority in your sector. During a busy workday, it can be difficult to find the time to read the news at all times. So, you can use these tools to help you instead:

  • Paper.li
  • Scoop.it
  • Pocket
  • Feedly

Then, post your findings at specified times.

Embrace the visual

According to social media studies, visuals are 43 percent more persuasive. Yet, you don’t want to post stock photos all day. The visuals should be related to your posts. So, look for eye-catching options that make your post more interesting. In fact, articles with images receive 94 percent more views. Here are a few options for images:

  • Raw pixel
  • Pixabay
  • Morguefile

You can then customize images with a site such as Canva. On top of images, you want video content as well. Every platform today has integrated solutions for video. This is another impactful way for grabbing people’s attention. Here are a few ways to include video within your strategy:

  • Offer a behind-the-scenes look
  • Showcase a new product or service during a live stream
  • Create video tutorials
  • Host a live presentation

Be curious

Your customers and clients want to feel valued. This is why you must engage them and ask questions. All of the top brands comprehend that asking questions helps to gain valuable insights. Through the responses, you can create even more dialogue and engagement.

Of course, you must ask the right questions. Try Facebook and Twitter for questions and polls. Plus, when your followers are engaging with your company on social media, it increases your SEO and SERP rankings. Here are a few questions to test:

  • Do you agree with the latest statement from Facebook/Exxon/Paramount?
  • What are some of your favorite posts?
  • Help us design our new logo
  • How do you like our new website?

Moreover, you want your questions to be short and uncomplicated. Plus, the last thing you want is to make it seem as if you’re only trying to sell a product. To stand out in a crowded social media space, you must build relationships. Not to mention, it helps to be creative.

Create a micro-community

Try using a tool such as IFTTT to crawl Twitter and add your fans to a list whenever someone mentions you. From this list, you can build a micro-community to stay in touch with your most engaged followers. Furthermore, you can use Facebook groups to also engage with a more niche audience.

Facebook groups have become more popular than LinkendIn groups for companies wanting to network online. You can use Facebook, and even Slack, to host a community with a smaller–but more interested–group of fans. You don’t need to share your content with thousands of uninterested viewers, you just need the right ones.

Tell interesting stories

As shared earlier, it is critical to share the human side of your company. One way of doing so is by telling stories. You might share these tidbits:

  • What your brand is doing
  • How you’ve been growing
  • Behind-the-scenes

These stories should be focused. You don’t want to get into TMI territory or share more personal details than is necessary. You just want to give a bit of an insider’s view of what takes place at your company and the types of people who work there. You can even produce a series of tweets or Facebook posts that share the stories behind your company. Plus, add some visuals that are enticing and add to your story.

Keep your brand consistent

This is what sets you apart from everyone else. You don’t want to be all things to all people. You must have consistency with your content, design, colors and videos. This important for brand recognition. Here are things you must do:

  • Design a brand style guide for all employers, affiliates and suppliers
  • Stay consistent with your colors and designs throughout all of your social media channels
  • Brand all of your visuals the same way
  • Make sure everyone in your company understands your brand

Weak branding creates weak results.

 

Post at all times

One often-missed opportunity is posting content throughout all time zones. Many companies only post during traditional business hours. Yet, social media is open 24 hours a day. If you want to increase your presence on a global scale, then you must post content even when you are physically closed for business.

Using a tool such as Buffer can help you schedule content throughout the day to stay relevant on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. To illustrate, Buffer can optimize your schedule automatically based on Twitter data that shows when your fans are most active.

Celebrate the successes of others

People will ignore your brand if you make it all about you. You must instead share exciting updates that shows you care about the successes of your community. Here’s how to do it:

  • Celebrate international holidays and festivals
  • Interact with your fans
  • Tag people and share their updates
  • Post non-promotional items such as statistics and memes

Keep in mind the 80/20 rule of promotion. Only one out of every five posts should be used to promote your agency. The rest of the time you should be listening to and engaging with your target audience.
In conclusion

One of the ways to grow your business is through social media. Using it effectively requires engagement, visuals and adding a human element to your brand.

Jun 9 2017

[Product Update] New Reports, Better Management, and More!

Pending Categorization widget on the Dashboard

Managing your uncategorized activities just got way easier!

We’ve added a widget titled ‘Pending Categorization’ to your ActivTrak dashboard!

Pending Categorization GIF

Now when you log into your account, you’ll have all of you uncategorized websites on your dashboard, ready to be cleaned up.

We hope this makes managing your uncategorized activities a little easier.

Single Employee Multi-day Productivity Report

We’ve added our new Single Employee Multi-day Productivity Report! Now, you can look at the productivity report for a single employee throughout multiple days.

Single Employee Multi-day Productivity Report GIF

This is very similar to our general productivity report, but now allows you to view multiple days for one person without flipping through tons of pages. Access this report by click on the user you’d like to investigate from the Top Users report (dashboard or individual report).

This should make it easier to narrow down where that little bit of unproductive activity within your organization is coming from.

The Productivity graph converts to a line graph when there is not enough space for each bar

We’ve also made some pretty cool improvements to the aggregate productivity chart, both on your dashboard and inside the productivity report.

The Productivity graph converts to a line graph when there is not enough space for each bar GIF

Our team noticed that certain views of the bar graph made it difficult to read the data. This is because we were trying to display all of the rows in bar graph form, which gets messy when you add too many. To fix this issue, when there is not enough space for the data, you aggregate productivity graph will convert to a line graph

ActivTrak App

The ActivTrak Mobile App will be released within the next two weeks!

Now, you’ll be able to download the ActivTrak App, and know what’s going on from anywhere in the world!

Filter Screenshots by Productivity

Now, when viewing screenshots, you have the option to filter by productivity value.

Filter Screenshots by Productivity GIF

This makes it much easier to decipher which screenshots you actually care about instead of sifting through each one individually.

Names Assigned to Alarms

Each alarm now has a descriptive tag so when you notice an alarm is triggered, you’ll now know which one, and why it was triggered before you start your investigation.

May 16 2017

Ready to Take Your Startup to the Next Level? You Definitely Need a Growth Strategy

We’ve all heard of that inspiring startup story, where the CEO started out in a run-down apartment with 20 roommates only to become a gazillionaire four or five years later. You can think of countless startup successes from YouTube and Facebook to more recent ones such as Instagram and Snapchat. We all say to ourselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?” To be fair, before the Facebooks of the world or the Snapchats, these were simply ideas which were probably bashed for being unrealistic–that is, until they took off.

Then, there are the stories of many promise-filled startups who crashed and burned. One such example is Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal. In 2016, she was listed as one of Forbe’s richest, self-made women. In addition, she has a best-selling memoir about her experiences which is becoming a Netflix series. If that isn’t a success, then I don’t know what it is. Yet, it also proves a cautionary tale–Nasty Gal is currently in the midst of filing for bankruptcy. What is the reason? It grew too quickly.

Of course, you must grow your business in order to increase profits. Still, there are many caveats and complexities which come with growth. Nonetheless, with a growth strategy, the crash and burn can be avoided. This is why it is critical to create a thoughtful growth strategy before you ever plan to take your business to the next level. You want to make steps forward, but they must be cautious.

It’s never easy

Turning a startup into a big business comes with its own set of issues. The truth is, many small businesses stay small. But, if you want to venture outside of the box, you must transition from startup to a thriving large company. The question is how to maintain speedy growth over the long-term.

According to the SBA, only half of startups survive longer than five years. After that, only one-third survive 10 years. The only sustainable means for growth starts with a tangible growth strategy.

“The only sustainable means for growth starts with a tangible growth strategy.”

Explaining a business strategy

This is a road map where you lay out extremely specific details regarding your company objectives. Then, you must define your methods for achieving your goals. You can’t get to “destination unknown” without a map.

In terms of a business strategy, it is important to lay out both short-term and long-term goals–with an eye towards five or even 10 years into the future. Remember that question, “where do you want to be in 10 years?” How would you answer that?

Why is it important to pen a business strategy? Simply put, if it is out of sight, it is out of mind. With a documented business strategy, you can share it throughout your company. This way, you have a guide that leads all decisions and initiatives. It ensures your daily decisions fall in line with your plan.

Still, your business strategy does not necessarily need to be set in stone. It is always recommended that you revisit your strategy on a consistent basis to make any necessary modifications based on historical data, new information, recent technological innovations and market shifts. Plus, it must fall in line with the needs and wants of your target customer.

Write your business strategy

Now that you are ready to document your detailed plans, it is important to follow these steps to ensure it is as comprehensive as possible.

1. Pen your value proposition. What sets your company apart from your competition? Why do customers utilize your products and services? What makes you different and credible? Use answers to these relevant questions to establish your value proposition. What is the unique benefit only you can provide?

2. Set up short-term and long-term goals. Try to include both general and specific goals such as:

  •  Increase R&D
  • Grow organic site traffic by 25%
  • Create five tailored landing pages
  • Launch in a new market
  • Create a mobile business app
  • Increase sales by 20%

If it helps, consider a brainstorming session with your company’s executives.

3. Rank your goals by levels of priority. Some of your goals may be more realistic than others. Then, there are compounding goals that can be reached only after you have achieved the goal before it. Moreover, there are immediate goals that need to be reached as soon as possible. Prioritize your goals based on a numerical scale, such as 1-10. This doesn’t mean you can’t aim to reach several goals at once, but it helps to ease any confusion about which goals you can and should target first.

4. Identify your target customer. If you haven’t already done so, this is an imperative action for achieving any measure of business success. In today’s consumer-driven world, you can’t be all things to all people. Personalization and engagement are what drives sales. So, think about who you are serving. What problem are you helping to solve? Who is your ideal customer?

What problem are you helping to solve? Who is your ideal customer?

5. Explain how you plan to reach your goals. You must now come up with detailed strategies for reaching your objectives. This may require new marketing strategies, hiring new staff, implementing updated technologies or all of the above. Here are some examples:

Objective: Increase organic reach by 25%

  • Conduct research into your target audience–what keywords are they searching for?

  • What sites does your target audience frequent?

  • What types of advertising will expand your reach and focus?

  • Hire a digital marketing campaign manager

  • Launch a digital marketing campaign, and optimize your sites for search engines.

Objective: Launch a mobile app

  • Conduct research around successful apps in your industry

  • Review policies for launching your app on the various app stores

  • Set aside a budget for your app

  • Hire an app developer

  • Launch a marketing campaign to advertise your app

When you go through this step, you might find that some goals may not be as easily achievable as you once thought. As a result, you should review where they will now stand on your priorities list.

6. Look at your competition. Regardless of your industry, you probably have competition doing well with something your business finds challenging. This is where you can take a look at your competition to help gain more insight into your business strategy. Try to understand what your competitors are doing which makes them more successful. On the other hand, what are they doing wrong?

7. Set timelines. Now that you have your objectives and methods for meeting them, you want to set a timetable for reaching them by priority. For short-term goals, this can be a month-to-month strategy. For long-term goals, you might look at achieving them by a certain year.

8. Make your plan strategic. If you intend to use your growth strategy for securing investments, then you should utilize a strategic plan template. This will have to include an elevator pitch and an executive summary.

Growth strategies to consider

There are multiple options for expanding your business. You want to choose one that works best for you, with the least amount of risk. Of course, it is important to determine beforehand how much risk you are willing to absorb. Here are a few widely-used growth strategies to consider:

  • Add new marketing campaigns. Are your current campaigns engaging and encouraging interaction from your target market? Do you have something that can go viral?
  • Take on more clients. There isn’t any question that you can boost your profits by increasing your client load. You might even look into account-based marketing.
  • Launch in new markets. This can include everything from opening a new storefront or launching an online business.
  • Create new products. You can certainly diversify your product listing. If you sell cat collars, you might want to venture into cat clothing.
  • Widen your service offerings. If you specialize in text messaging encryption, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to offer phone call encryption and even conference call and VoIP encryption.
  • Try acquisitions. You can focus on buying companies that are a facet of your distribution chain. If you manufacture tires, you might want to buy retail stores that already sell your product.

A growth strategy isn’t meant to be one-size-fits-all. A successful plan must be specific. In order to keep your target audience coming back, tailor your growth strategy to their wants and needs. And, always be willing to change course in response to market feedback.

Apr 26 2017

8 Reasons Your Competition Doesn’t Want You to Go Virtual

Many successful companies across the world are opting for virtual employees that may never set foot in a company office, probably don’t live in the same area as the company, and may not even be in the same country.  FlexJobs has a list highlighting 125 companies that have embraced the virtual workforce with great success and, in all likelihood, your competition is following this same trend. 

It’s time for you to get the facts on virtual employment, so here are 8 reasons your competition doesn’t want you to go virtual.

Reason #1: Optimized Recruitment

When you begin to seek out talented virtual workers, your pool of potential candidates expands beyond your immediate geographical region and even beyond the borders of your country.  With the continued evolution of telecommuting and virtual employees, no matter where in the world you may be located, you can compete for the best and brightest minds in your field. 

Another added benefit is that just the flexibility of being a virtual employee can be a major perk when seeking out talent, as indicated by the Society for Human Resource Management.  Sites such as Upwork, FlexJobs, and We Work Remotely have simplified the process, acting as a clearinghouse for the most skilled workers around the globe. 

For the modern worker, flexibility is one of the characteristics they are looking for when job hunting.  Some millennials, for example, have stated they are willing to sacrifice $10,000 of the salary for the opportunity to work virtually.  If a business wants to compete for top talent, they should offer virtual employment.

With the advent of the virtual workforce, it has never been easier to find the perfect person for a position!

Reason #2: Higher Productivity

Did you know that virtual employees have higher productivity than traditional employees?  Consider these statistics:

But that’s just the employees talking, you might say.  Of course, they are going to say they are more productive.  What do the actual companies have to say?  Well, according to a white paper by Aon, increases in productivity as measured by companies employing virtual employees range from 10% to 43%.

There are quite a few reasons as to why virtual employees can get more work done, and the key seems to be workplace distractions.  Another survey identified some traditional office issues as major problems for productivity:  61% said that noisy co-workers are the biggest distraction in an office and 40% reported lost time resulting from impromptu meetings initiated by co-workers – again, distractions.  The same study pointed out that 80% of the respondents felt they achieved maximum productivity when they could work alone

Virtual employees can enjoy the elimination of distractions such as conversations around the proverbial water cooler, workplace drama, and problems with needless interruptions from other employees.  They are free to find a quiet place to work.

Once a disciplined virtual worker can focus on the task at hand, their productivity can skyrocket.

Reason #3: Better Morale

Employee morale is a major issue.  In fact, a 2017 study from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. indicated that one of the biggest reasons for employees leaving a company is burnout.

Believe it or not, statistics show that virtual employees have better morale.  For example, ConnectSolutions, in their study on the productivity, found that 44% of their remote employees reported having a more positive attitude at work.  Another study on telecommuting done by PGi indicated that 80% of respondents felt their morale was higher working remotely.

But how is morale better? Consider these results from TinyPulse:  an overwhelming major of virtual employees that answered the survey said that they …

  • Felt happy at work
  • Felt valued at work
  • And could see themselves still working at the same place a year later

A virtual workforce supports the very ingredients needed for a productive, motivated employee!

Reason #4: Improved Retention

The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. performed a study this year that discussed major concerns of HR professionals, and employee retention ranked near the very to top.   The loss of an employee can have a major impact on a business.  Not only does it affect the workflow and company productivity, but significant time and money can be lost in searching for a replacement and onboarding that.  There’s also a learning curve as they get accustomed to how things work at the company.  In short, retention of employees saves both time and money.

A recent study focused on HR professionals was performed by WorldAtWork, and 85% of the respondents indicated that the virtual work program at their company had a moderate to high impact on retention.  A comprehensive white paper by Aon about virtual workers found that the use of virtual workers can increase employee retention by anywhere from 10% to 50%

Aetna, one of the early leaders in virtual employees and telecommuting, found that the option to work remotely served as a powerful tool for retention.  In 2013 their average company turnover was around 8% but the average for virtual employees was between 2% and 4%. 

No matter the size of your company, retention is in issue.  You can increase employee retention by using virtual workers.

Reason #5: Reduced Stress Among Employees

The ability to work remotely reduces stress among employees.  The ConnectSolutions study on the productivity reported that 53% of their own remote workers felt less stressed, and a telecommuting report from PGi revealed that 82% of their respondents felt their stress levels were much lower since they had been working remotely.

Why are stress levels lower?  Probably for many of the same reasons that employee productivity is higher for virtual workers:

  • Minimal distractions, allowing them to focus on getting the job done
  • No traffic-filled commutes to and from work
  • Freedom to take breaks as needed and work when their productivity is at its peak

Some have indicated that their virtual work arrangement allows them to see more of their family, which can also reduce stress.  It gives them the freedom to deal with issues outside of work and return to the job when they can give it their full attention.  They also can avoid workplace drama and dissension.

Virtual employees experience less stress, which allows them to focus even more on the job!

Reason #6: Environmentally Friendly

Many companies are making a sincere effort to “go green” and do what they can to support the environment.  GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com investigated, among other things, the environmental impact of companies allowing employees to telecommute just half time.  The result would be the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking the entire workforce of New York state off the road.

How can a virtual workforce have such an impact?

  • Less fuel consumption because commuting is no longer required and travel is drastically reduced
  • No need for large office complexes
  • Lowered emissions resulting from reduced power requirements
  • Reduction in paper waste

In short, virtual workforces are eco-positive!

Reason #7: Lowered Costs

Have virtual employees is much more economical for so many reasons.  According to data collected by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com , if those with jobs that support telecommuting worked remotely just half the time, the typical US business would save $11,000 per employee each year.  Here are a few examples of where money is saved:

  • Greatly reduced real estate costs, as experienced by insurance magnate Aetna
  • Computers and furniture for individual workspaces
  • Power and water
  • Air conditioning
  • Maintenance
  • Mail service
  • Janitorial services
  • Office supplies

It is far more economically smart to implement a virtual workplace!

Reason #8: Easy to Manage, Monitor, Communicate, and Pay

Many people believe the myth that working with virtual employees is much harder than dealing with on-site employees.  It is actually quite easy to manage virtual employees thanks to Saas (software-as-a-service) tools. Trello, for example, allows remote teams to collaborate on projects and makes it possible for managers to oversee multiple projects from one easy-to-use platform.  In addition, Trello syncs across various types of devices.

ActivTrak is a cloud-based monitoring service that allows managers to track what employees, virtual or on-site, are really working during their business hours.  It can monitor both web and application usage and generates usage reports so companies can make sure their employees are actually working on legitimate tasks.

Communication with virtual employees is becoming easier and easier thanks to tools like Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, or HipChat, which offers a combination of group chat, video chat, and screen sharing (which can be vital for some projects). 

Tools like PayPal make payroll management straight forward and if you have concerns about managing issues like taxes and benefits then you can opt for something like Intuit Payroll.  Online marketplaces for finding virtual employees can also provide some useful tools for payroll management, time-tracking, very limited monitoring, and communication, such as those offered by Upwork.

It’s easy to manage your remote employees using the growing list of Saas tools available!

Why Aren’t You Going Virtual

As you have seen, the numbers are there to show that using virtual employees helps you to find the very best talent and see higher productivity with better morale, improved retention, and less stress on your employees.  In addition, a virtual workforce is not only eco-friendly but will result in tremendous savings.  Finally, contrary to what you may think, the tools are out there to help you effectively manage, monitor, communicate, and pay your employees no matter how widely scattered they may be geographically. 

The virtual workforce is a powerful trend that produces excellent results … have you gone virtual yet?  You can bet your competition is hoping that you don’t.

Monitoring Solutions from ActivTrak

Many people are reluctant to make the move to a virtual workforce because they are concerned of being ripped off by employees who claim hours but haven’t done the work.  This can be prevented through the use of monitoring software like ActivTrak

ActiveTrak is the easiest way for you to see who is doing what and for how long with a very simple, intuitive dashboard for setting up your invisible tracking system, looking at the results, and generating productivity reports that give you insight into what your employees are doing.  Contact us for more information.

Apr 10 2017

[Product Update] ActivTrak On-Prem, New report, New funtionality

ActivTrak On-Premises

We’ve released an On-premesis version of ActivTrak!

This edition has all of the same features you know and love, but offers clients more control over data security and hardware choices.

Click here to let us know you’re interested!

More info coming soon!

User Activity Report!

We have a new report! While sifting through your top applications and top websites reports, you now have the ability to drill down into the specific website or application and view which user used which application, and when they used it, and for how long.

You’ll notice this is a much more visual representation of your data, with different colors indicating more or less time spent in the program, and when you hover over a block of time you’ll see more details such as the exact amount of time spent in the application.

Click a slice of the top apps/websites widget from your dashboard to go directly to this report and begin investigating who was using what and for how long. Alternatively, click ‘Users’ while inside the top websites/apps report on the website or application that you want to explore.

Export to Google

Use google tools? Your life just got a lot easier.

Now you can export and manipulate all reports and screenshots to your google account. All exports will create their own ‘ActivTrak’ folder in your Google Drive to house your exported data.

Now, when you go to export a report, you’ll choose what data you’d like to export (this page vs. all pages, etc…), but now you’ll notice two options appear next the drop-down labeled ‘Download’ and ‘Google.’ Simply choose the option you prefer, and you’ll have your ActivTrak data in your possession in no-time.

Mar 25 2017

ActivTrak Support Just got a Lot Better!

Category: Business Tips


 
We’re incredibly excited to introduce one of our newest additions to our team, our new Tech Support Ninja: Tiffany!

If you haven’t had a chance to work with Tiffany yet, you’ll soon find out she’s here to make your support issues non-issues.

We’ve made a concerted effort to expand our support team to better serve the needs of our users. Tiffany is one of a string of hires here at ActivTrak to ensure we continue to deliver you the highest quality product, support and service.

If you need to reach our support team, you can simply chat in via the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your dashboard, or send a ticket to Support@ActivTrak.com with your account number and your issue explained as clearly as possible.

Mar 20 2017

12 Simple Alarms to Curb ‘March Madness’ Madness

March Madness is here, which means so are distractions. I have a small window open on my computer streaming the Notre Dame v. Princeton game – it’s a nail-biter.

March is the time when you start hearing basketball talk around the office. Everyone has made a bracket, and want’s to see how their projections turn out. the NCAA official website even employs a ‘Boss Button’ this year, where your screen changes to a powerpoint-looking design and text begins to type. The distraction is real, and it’s becoming much easier to hide it.

No matter your stance on brackets, college sports or how much you care about your employees streaming basketball games, the needs of the business never stop, and productivity must be maintained.

To help with that, I’ve created 12 alarms to build an ultimate March Madness alarm suite to maintain workplace productivity, minimize distractions, and avoid forcefully blocking these websites entirely (see further down for a list of cable providers and other streaming sites to block), because no one likes .

Alarms & Conditions:

Your going to want to create 12 individual alarms. Each alarm will consist of two conditions.

The first condition will always be:

  1. Duration (sec) greater than 900 (15 minutes)

Use one of the following for each alarm as the second condition:

  1. URL Contains Ncaa Not Case Sensitive
  2. URL contains (Insert one of your top 3-5 cable providers in your area) Cox – Not Case Sensitive
  3. URL contains (Insert one of your top 3-5 cable providers in your area) Spectrum – Not Case Sensitive
  4. URL contains (Insert one of your top 3-5 cable providers in your area) TimeWarner – Not Case Sensitive
  5. URL contains (Insert one of your top 3-5 cable providers in your area) Comcast – Not Case Sensitive
  6. URL contains (Insert one of your top 3-5 cable providers in your area) Xfinity – Not Case Sensitive
  7. URL contains TNT – Not Case Sensitive
  8. URL contains TBS – Not Case Sensitive
  9. URL contains TruTV – Not Case Sensitive
  10. URL contains CBS – Not Case Sensitive
  11. URL contains ESPN – Not Case Sensitive
  12. URL contains BleacherReport – Not Case Sensitive

Do not put more than one URL condition, the alarm would not fire appropriately.

Post-trigger Actions:

So, now that you’ve triggered you alarm on March Madness activity, what should happen next? Well, it depends on your policy.

As always, we suggest to do what’s right for your organization, your office culture, and your regulatory compliance policies. With that said, here are some suggestions for polite post-trigger re-directs to remind users to maintain their responsibilities, no matter who is playing.

Remember, we put a duration of xx seconds in our alarm, so it should only trigger if the active window is the basketball game for the specified duration.

Email Alert:
“$User$ is on $URL$ watching $titlebar$.”

Pop-up message:

“I know it’s March Madness, but you’ve been here for 15 minutes now.

Please return to work. ”

Then of course, you always have the option to terminate the browser. This a great way to get the user off the site, but may result in lost work.

For this reason, I would recommend creating a duplicate alarm adding 120 seconds more to the duration condition (making it 1020 sec) with the terminate button selected. You may want to create another email notification to let you know what certain users disregarded the first notification, and continued watching.

That should cover it! Remember, your local TV providers will vary from place to place, and you’ll most likely have to list more than one. I hope this helps you keep the madness at bay in your office.

If you’re a more strict admin, simply block the following websites and cable providers to prevent users from visiting them. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list, and it lists sites  and providers for streaming sports as well as cable/internet providers who have a presence in more than one state, and offer streaming services :

ncaa.com
espn.com
Sling TV
TBS.com
TNT.com
CBS.com
TruTV.com
AT&T Wireless
HughesNet
Verizon Wireless
Sprint
dishNET
Level 3 Communications
Earthlink Business
XO Communications
T-Mobile
Windstream
XFINITY from Comcast
Comcast Business
CenturyLink
Cricket Wireless
MegaPath
Global Capacity
Frontier Communications
Wisper ISP
Time Warner Business Class
Time Warner Cable
King Street Wireless
Charter Spectrum
TDS Telecom
Exede Internet
AT&T U-verse
FairPoint Communications
Lightower Fiber Networks
U.S. Cellular
Cox Communications
Rise Broadband
Cable ONE
Unite Private Networks
Suddenlink Communications
Mediacom Cable
WOW!
Verizon High Speed Internet
Verizon Fios
Sunesys
US Signal Company
RCN
Bright House Networks
Wi-Power
MetroPCS
Optimum by Cablevision
Startouch
WATCH Communications
Wave Broadband
C Spire Wireless
Pixius Communications
E-Vergent Wireless
GTT Communications
Freewire Broadband
PenTeleData
Mercury Wireless
Packet Layer
EasyStreet Online
WANSecurity Wireless
MetroSpan

Let us know what you think, and what you would add to this alarm to make it perfect!

Feb 24 2017

[Product Update] Weekly Digest, On-Prem & More!

ActivTrak’s Weekly Digest is here!

Now, you have a simple way to keep track of what’s going on with you ActivTrak account.

Once a week, you’ll receive a handy little email that provides you with some high-level stats from your ActivTrak account. We think this will make managing your account much easier, and should make it easier to quickly identify issues and outliers that require your attention.

Doesn’t that look nice?

If you’d prefer not to receive a weekly digest, you can turn off the emails by navigating to Settings > Weekly Digest and unchecking the box that says “enable.”

Announcing ActivTrak On-Premesis (Beta):

We now have an on-premises version of ActivTrak!

After numerous requests regarding an on-premises version of ActivTrak, we’re proud to announce that we have a fully functional Beta version of ActivTrak for on-premises deployment!

This development comes after some enterprise clients expressed concerns about soaring their sensitive data in the cloud. This is the exact same ActivTrak you know and love from the cloud, except using your own hardware, housing your own data on your own servers. The idea here is to allow users to utilize ActivTrak in a way where you have control over your hardware, security and now data.

We’re currently in the process of reaching out to select new and current users to acquire a group of Beta testers to deploy the first instances of ActivTrak On-prem.

Interested in ActivTrak on-prem?

Click here to add your name to the list!

Want more info? Click here to send an email to our sales team. They can answer any questions you have.
 

Block by Category:

This is some long-awaited functionality that we’re very happy to announce. Now, on the blocking page you have the ability to block complete categories of websites and applications. You’ll notice we’ve added a etgories section to the blocking page. To block a category, simply choose from this list, then use the select all button to block everything in the category.

Uncategorized Time:

Previously, we excluded uncategorized time in the top categories report because, well, the time was uncategorized, so it can’t really display as a category. However, this made the report less accurate and informative. To fix this, now the top categories report on your dashboard, and in the reports section will display and calculate uncategorized time. When you click on uncategorized time, ActivTrak will send you to the uncategorized page where you can view all websites and apps that are being used, but have not been categorized yet. From there, you’ll be able to select the desired category for both general activity and the productive value from two dropdown menus on the right side of your page.

Agent Updates:

We’ve added more robust reporting capabilities to our Windows and Mac agents when reporting activity in both Firefox and Edge browsers.

Improved Data Density:

We’ve improved the data density on reports with a lot of data to be displayed. Now, you’ll be able to view more data at once in your ActivTrak window, and frankly, we think it looks a little better as well.

New Multi-screenshot image:

We’ve also updated the image for alarms and screenshot conditions that take multiple screenshots when triggered. You’ll notice the new icon has multiple ‘image’ layers, and a single screenshot alarm or condition will only display one square ‘image.’

Feb 16 2017

[Case Study] Take Your Company to New Heights with ActivTrak


 
Download PDF
 

Executive Summary:

A startup with cutting edge technology wanted to implement Six-sigma Lean Methodology in their process on a key project. In order to do so, Biorev, LLC implemented ActivTrak’s software to gain control over their remote workforce productivity, increase focus during projects, and block distracting websites to keep team productivity high, and overall business flowing smoothly. With ActivTrak’s easy-to-use monitoring suite, Biorev can monitor productivity to ensure business goals are met.

Short Summary:

Using ActivTrak’s user behavior analytics service, Biorev is able to become operationally profitable and ensure productivity meets business expectations.

Background:

Biorev, LLC is an international consulting and 3D rendering startup company that specializes in 3D rendering and animation, web design, mobile application development, and end-to-end manpower staffing solutions. Biorev has the track record, support, and service to take projects to a new level. Providing multiple services for a variety of large companies internationally from the construction industry to technology spaces, Biorev has zero space for errors, and less to correct them.

The Challenge:

Executive VP of Media and Digital Marketing, Sagar Gupta, contacted ActivTrak with a mission to improve his company’s performance, unfavorable team productivity, and to eliminate repeated errors on completed projects. Given that his entire team was working remotely (either from home or their Offshore Indian Offices), Sagar realized he did not have a detailed understanding of what was being done during working hours, which resulted in numerous errors in projects due to not having control over his team’s internet or work activities.

With Biorev trying to implement Six-sigma Lean Methodology in their process on a key project, Sagar wanted a solution that would give him complete control over his employee activities to ensure they’re dedicated to their work, and not making those same errors from previous projects.

After preliminary research, Biorev came to find that many monitoring services come equipped with unnecessary features, which made the products complicated to use, and much more expensive than they could justify. Sagar realized these additional details provided little-to-no value in helping him solve his problem.

Moreover, as a startup, Biorev couldn’t justify paying hefty costs on a limited budget for unnecessary feature packages that didn’t directly address his clear, immediate issues.

The Solution:

After just over a week of using the free trial to test the software, Biorev decided to move forward with implementing ActivTrak across the entire company. The upgrade process was quick and painless – Sagar even managed to negotiate an extra agent free of charge!

Sagar soon realized that ActivTrak is truly a plug and play software, as he easily installed the tracking agent on every computer in his company, and configured all settings in under two hours. Once the data began to collect, Sagar knew ActivTrak was the answer Biorev had been looking for.

Specifically, Biorev loved the ability to label the productive value of activities, and block unproductive websites to keep employees on-task and focused. With ActivTrak, Biorev was back in complete control, and on top of their employee activity.

Success Story:

In less than a month, Sagar saw a complete turn-around in his team’s productivity, and increased operational profitability.

That key project where Biorev implemented ActivTrak actually won the company “Best Home Technology Product” at the NAHB 2017 International Builders’ Show® (IBS), because they were able to able to finish their projects on-time, free of errors and at the superior level of quality expected by both Sagar and Biorev as a whole.

All of Biorev’s computers are currently paired with ActivTrak’s agents. Biorev plans to use ActivTrak on every computer for every employee for the foreseeable future.

“ActivTrak was simply plug and play, believe it or not. It took me 2-3 mins per machine to get started and overall took me 1 hour to block all the unnecessary sites. In no time, I was ruling the entire thing, and was on top of my employees activity.”

– Sagar Gupta, Biorev, LLC EVP – Media & Digital Marketing 

About Biorev, LLC

Biorev provides photorealistic 3D renderings and 3D animations for the design/build industry, inventors, and product developers. Biorev is dedicated to customer service. We stand behind our work and we support client technology needs unconditionally. Biorev has the track record, support, and service to take your project to a new level. We create beautiful conversion-friendly websites, drive targeted website traffic, and create outstanding 3D Renderings and Animations. The staff at Biorev has been responsible for designing multimedia presentations for a variety of large companies internationally.

We are young HR technologies, outsourcing and Services Company, We provide end-to-end employee life cycle management solutions to organizations. Biorev is a leading HR Outsourcing company, specializing in HR Shared Services, Recruitment, Offshore Staffing, Consultancy Services, Technology solutions for web and mobile applications, Social Media Solutions and IT solutions

We are proudly serving clients globally ranging from IT to Construction Industry.
 

Jan 30 2017

[Product Update] New feature, SSO w/Google and more!

We’ve been hard at work this cycle. We’ve got some really cool stuff to tell you about, even a new screenshot feature!

SSO w/ Google

ActivTrak now allows you to create and log into your account using Google Single Sign On (SSO).

In addition to making it quicker and easier to log in with a Google account, ActivTrak just got a lot more secure. By adding sign up/ sign in with Google, ActivTrak now has two-factor authentication through Google account creation.

Google OAuth 2.0 is the industry standard for two-factor authentication, which is why we’ve decided to add this option first. We plan to expand our single sign on options in the future.

This new addition also makes access management for ActivTrak much simpler in situations where an employee leaves your organization. Now, instead of logging into ActivTrak to revoke access, you can simply remove an email address from your Google admin console, and the user will also be removed from your ActivTrak account. Pretty cool, right?

Screenshots

This is a big one! Screenshots has has a new look! You’ll notice the Screenshots button now has its own dropdown menu with a couple new sections to play with.

Here’s what you need to know: 

This brand new feature will show you the most recent screenshot captured from each user in your account. Now if you’re interested in what’s happening on your computers you can just head to the Recent Per User section and you will literally see the most recent screen ActivTrak has captured. Every user, all the time.

The refresh in the top right corner will grab the most recent screenshot since the currently displayed image.

This is just the first bit of added screen capture functionality for this year, we’ve got much more in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

  • History: This is your typical screenshot section that you know and love.
  • Configuration: This section allows you to create screenshot rules independent of alarms. This used to be a small button on the screenshot page, but we figured it should be a little easier to find.

Groups

We’ve simplified the way you add users to groups.

Now, when you select your group and click ‘Add/Remove Members’ you’ll notice a select all button and two new search fields labeled ‘Domain’ and ‘Computer’ on top of the user selection box while creating your groups.

The idea here was to make it easier to find and select multiple users at once.

Use either filter to display all computers and/or users with the associated keywords.

Give it a try here.


That’s it for now. Have a suggestion? Let us know here, and we’ll try to add it to our pipeline!