5 Reasons Small Businesses Should Use Social Media

AMan Writing and Planning Social Media Conceptss a business owner, you are probably wondering how much time you should be investing in social media. Is it even worth all the time and effort? The answer is YES and here are 5 reasons why:

1. Social media can reduce your overall marketing costs

Social networks are a cost-effective way to get your small business in front of both your current customers as well as prospective customers. Consider starting off with a small budget to boost your posts on Facebook to target consumers by specific demographics, keywords, and interests. This will help increase your awareness and the reach of your messaging.

2. Offer better customer service

One of the first places people go to voice their comments, concerns, and questions is Twitter and Facebook. You can quickly answer customers in a public format that lets other customers see the quality of your customer service.

3. Create a voice

Social media is a great way to display your business’s personality. You can do so by sharing behind-the-scene information about you, your employees, your workspace, and more. Remember, you don’t always want to have a sales tone! When you humanize your small business in this way, it makes it easier for consumers to connect with you and develop loyalty.

4. Make yourself visible

Often times, if you are not active on the various social media platforms out there, customers forget you exist and begin communicating with your competitors. Try posting several times a week on the various platforms where your audience is present to remind them of your business. Remember fish where the fish are!

5. Build loyalty and trust

Allowing your customers to share their stories about their experience with your small business on social media is a wonderful form of word-of-mouth marketing. So when customers rave about you to their friends and family, it not only boosts your online reputation, but it increases the chances that someone else is going to give you a shot next time they need your services.

Start with just a few minutes a day, and you will soon see a difference!

Want to see some examples? Connect with us on our social channels today!  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

 

Written by: Anat Hazanchuk, Social Media Marketing Manager at Ooma

Alexa, Use Ooma to Check Voicemail

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When the Amazon Echo launched last summer, I got one to see what all the buzz was about. Expecting yet another voice assistant, like the ones from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others, I set up the Echo device in my kitchen.  Right away, my kids were using Alexa to play music, my wife was asking for the weather, and I was adding things to a shopping list.  We did all this effortlessly while moving about our daily activities – cooking, cleaning, doing homework. Alexa was always there, at our beck and call.  What amazed me most was one evening during dinner we were listening to music and I couldn’t hear my daughter speaking.  I didn’t want to get up to turn the music down.  So, on a whim, I said from across the room “Alexa, turn it down”, thinking there’s no way Alexa could actually do this.  Guess what, she did it. That feature alone made me love Alexa.

Unlike Siri and other voice assistants, Alexa allows 3rd party companies, like Ooma, to develop new ways to use it.  So my team brainstormed some ideas for things we might do.  The geeks in us loved building apps for a new platform.  We were pioneers.  Being first on a nascent platform would create new opportunities for users to discover Ooma.  But more importantly, we realized we could make Ooma home phone service more convenient for customers who had an Echo.  We identified a few key features:  Allow Ooma customers to listen to voicemail over their Echo device.  And allow Ooma customers to dial their phones using voice commands.  We quickly put together a prototype.  We tested it with co-workers, friends, and family, and then iterated to get the voice commands right.  We shared it with Amazon and got excited reactions.  It was a go!

I’m proud to say that through hard work at Ooma and the support of Amazon, we were able to implement production versions of the features in a few short weeks, and then launch them at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Ooma customers can now listen to their voicemail through the Echo device or a Fire TV.  And any Echo owner, not just Ooma customers, can dial their phone using voice commands, using Alexa.  To get started, go to your Alexa app on your smartphone, and search for Ooma in the “Skills” section.  Ooma customers, remember to choose the “Login with existing account” option.

We couldn’t do everything we envisioned.  For example, although you can ask Alexa to dial your phone, you cannot use the Echo microphone and speaker to complete the call.  We hope that in the future Amazon will open up the ability for us to make the Echo a speakerphone.  We’ll be sure to update you if and when it does.  In the mean time, thousands of people are already enjoying the Ooma skill, the very first communication service to launch on the Alexa platform.  Congrats to the Ooma and Amazon teams who made this possible!

Written by: Thad White, Director of Product Management

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Ooma Now Works with Apple Watch, Android Wear, Philips Hue!

IFTTT_Generic_v2If you haven’t heard, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) has been a hot topic of discussion lately, and we’ve been following it very closely over here at Ooma. IoT is the quickly growing network of devices that interact with each other over the Internet, and it includes everyday devices like your smart phone, watch, lights, TV, and even your washing machine. We thought to ourselves, shouldn’t your home phone be in that list too? Well, now we’re excited to tell you that Ooma can now connect with your favorite devices, including your Apple WatchTM, Android WearTM, and Philips HueTM light bulbs!

In our experience with IoT, the hard part isn’t getting your device to connect to the Internet; that’s the easy part. Where it gets tricky is getting your device to talk to other devices that aren’t designed to talk to you. Recently, we’ve made some friends over at IFTTT that could help us with this problem. IFTTT, which stands for “If This, Then That,” is a free Web-based service that allows devices that don’t normally work together, work together. After collaborating with them closely these past few months, here are a few examples of what you can now do with Ooma:

  • Caller-ID on your wrist: Have your Ooma Telo sendreal-time push notifications with caller-ID to your Apple WatchTM, Android WearTM, or other iOS and Android devices when you receive a call.
  • Philips HueTM visual alerts: When your kids are sleeping and you need it to be quiet in the house, turn off your ringer and have Ooma blink your Philips HueTM light bulbs when you receive a call.
  • Voicemail notifications: Receive push notifications on your iOS or Android devices when you receive a new voicemail or get visual alerts on your Philips HueTM bulbs.

To activate the features above for free, Premier users can go to http://my.ooma.com/apps or visit http://ifttt.com/ooma. If you want to learn more, you can also look at our support article here.

Leave us a comment with your thoughts and ideas!

Written By: Anthony Hizon, Product Manager at Ooma

 

 

 

How can I market my business on a small budget?

Ooma_chat_1024x512_Twitter_v3The problem many small businesses face is how to market their business without breaking the bank. Marketing on a small budget is a constant concern for small businesses. To answer that growing question, we partnered with Ebong Eka, CPA, small business expert, to provide the answers to the Top Ten Ways to Market your Small Business on a Budget in our Twitter Chat (#OomaBizChat)!

1. What’s the best social media platform to use for marketing?

Depends on where your audience is and where they spend the majority of their time. However, live streaming apps like Periscope and Blab.im have become game changers for the business world!

2. A mentor suggested Facebook ads, what if my customers aren’t on Facebook?

Facebook is the #1 platform for business in terms of impact and users. Use paid ads and start off with a small budget like $3- $5/day. Build strong content marketing assets to share with your audience. Also remember, “Likes” don’t necessarily turn into dollars.

3. I wear many hats at my company. How do I find time to market to my customers?

You either market to your customers or your competitors will market to them. Social Media is cheaper than traditional forms of marketing. Here are some steps:

  • Spend your time and effort where you want to see a return on investment.
  • Designate an hour a day towards marketing- and add more time as you see needed.
  • Join networking groups that focus on Facebook and social media.
  • Hire interns/outsource

4. If I have $200 to spend, what are the best platforms to market my business?

Use Facebook power editor to create dark (sponsored) posts and target it to specific audience (interests, zip codes, income levels, etc.) or even model your ads after your competitors.

5. TV is expensive, are there other areas that I should focus my marketing efforts on?

  • Social Media has an unlimited reach.
  • Original or sponsored content on YouTube depending on your audience and how they consume content.
  • Blog about solutions to problems that your potential customers may be facing.
  • BIG 5 Social Platforms: LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook – You can also throw Pinterest in the mix!
  • Youtube and Facebook video ads
  • Video tutorials

6. What are 2 quick ways to get media and marketing attention for a small business for less than $200?

  • Create Facebook ads for $5/day and mirror your competitors’ audience using Facebook Editor.
  • Create lead generation campaigns including free ebooks, workbooks or resources in exchange for a customer email address.

7. Why should small businesses do email marketing? Isn’t email marketing dead?

  • Email is the best way to connect with prospect clients and customers
  • Use auto responder software like Aweber or Mail Chimp to manage your email list
  • Offer targeted specials to your email list in order to incentivize new customers to act too

8. What are the Top 4 mistakes small businesses make with marketing?

  • Focusing solely on one marketing platform without data to support the decision or researching the social channels their customers spend most of their time using.
  • Not staying committed to the marketing process and wanting a quick return on investment
  • Not willing to spend money on advertising and not understanding the platform where marketing dollars are spent.
  • Not paying attention to the analytical data from their marketing efforts. For example, not knowing the cost of customer acquisition in relation to the marketing dollars spent.

9. Are blogs still a great way to market for cheap or should small businesses focus on social media?

  • Blogs are great to tell a story
  • Do both – social media for presence and blogs for personality and trustworthiness
  • Re-purpose content that you’ve seen do well online. For example, re-purpose (reuse) the content that gets the most engagement, shares, likes and comments.

10. What are the best tools to brand your business with a small budget?

  • Social Media Platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (It depends on your audience and where they are spending most of their time.)
  • Phone system: Ooma Office- includes features to make you sound like a big business without the big costs. You can forward incoming calls to your mobile phone with the mobile app. You can also create separate phone lines for others members of your company.
  • Websites: WordPress – This content management software makes it easier to make changes to your site.
  • Email Campaigns: You can use email marketing software like Aweber or MailChim

Marketing is the lifeblood to any business. Without marketing, you won’t get clients and without clients, you won’t grow your sales! Even if you’re not a techie, social media is a great platform to grow your business and your brand, which leads to growing your sales!

 

Written by: Ebong Eka, CPA
Ericorp Consulting, Inc.
Levyti Consulting, LLC

www.ebongeka.com

 

“Alexa, Use Ooma to Call Mom!”

1That’s right –Ooma is partnering with Amazon to provide advanced voice-enabled calling capabilities using Amazon Echo and its voice-activated virtual assistant, Alexa. As the first-ever home communications solution to enable calling capabilities for Amazon Echo, Ooma continues to lead the way as the communications hub of the smart home.

Here’s how it works:

Free for ALL Amazon Echo Users

Alexa allows Amazon Echo users to initiate domestic phone calls using voice commands over Ooma’s cloud platform. The Ooma Calling Skill can be enabled from the Amazon Alexa App and activated for free.

Even More Features for Ooma Customers

For current Ooma Telo owners, the call destination can be identified by name if the contact information is entered into the Ooma online contact list. Users can also listen to voicemails through their Echo device by using the voice-command, “Alexa, use Ooma to play voicemail.”

In addition to the partnership with Amazon Echo, the Ooma Telo offers integrations with smart devices such as Nest, Philips Hue and LIFX, iOS and Android devices and wearables, WeMo and Dropbox – enabling new ways to communicate and be notified of important events at home and bringing both convenience and simplicity to homes everywhere.

 

 

Home Phones Just Got Smarter

There are more than 1.9 biIFTTT_Generic_v2llion smart home devices in the market today, and according to BI Intelligence, there will be 9 billion by 2018. And now your home phone is one of them. Ooma Telo now integrates with popular connected devices and services including Apple Watch, Android Wear, Philips Hue, WeMo, LIFX light bulbs and Dropbox, in addition to Ooma’s current integrations with Nest.

These new integrations provide Ooma customers with the convenience and flexibility of using their Ooma Telo with their mobile devices and connected home devices, including possible uses such as:

  • Caller-ID on your wrist: Incoming calls on your Ooma Telo generate a real-time push notification of the caller-ID on your Apple Watch, Android Wear, or other iOS and Android devices.
  • Visual alerts let the lights do the talking: Identify known callers and avoid interruptions by setting up visual call alerts on your existing lamps using a WeMo smart plug, or on your Philips Hue light bulbs.
  • Enable a more illuminated life: With LIFX Wi-Fi enabled LED smart bulbs, you can create customized visual call alerts, such as blinking green for known callers and red for unknown numbers.
  • Voicemail notifications: Receive a push notification on your iOS or Android devices when you receive a new voicemail, or get a visual alert on your Philips Hue, WeMo or LIFX light bulbs.
  • Voicemail archiving: Automatically save voicemails to your Dropbox account.

The new integrations complement the Ooma Telo’s integration with the Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide™ alarm and Nest Learning Thermostat™, which have made homes safer by making it possible for a home phone to call homeowners when an event is detected, with the option to immediately connect them with local emergency services using their home phone number and address.

Ooma enables the integrations through a partnership with IFTTT, a free web-based service that allows consumers to creatively control their favorite products and apps to perform functions based on conditional statements.

To sign up for IFTTT and connect Ooma with hundreds of apps and devices, go to http://my.ooma.com/apps or visit http://ifttt.com/ooma – happy connecting!

Ooma is Growing, Fast!

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We’ve got some exciting news to share – Ooma has been recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies of 2015, prior to going public this summer. This year, we made the list of Top 50 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Silicon Valley Business Journal as well as San Francisco Business Times’ Fast 100. What an honor! It’s been a great year for Ooma, and it’s all due to your support.

 

 

Here are some highlights from fiscal year 2015:

  • Revenue increase of 36%
  • Core user base increase of 34%
  • Ooma’s shares began trading on The New York Stock Exchange on July 17, under the ticker symbol “OOMA”
  • Strong Q2 financial results, including subscriptions revenue growth of 37% YOY and a core user base increase of 29% YOY
  • Ranking as the best home phone service for overall satisfaction and value by the readers of a leading consumer research publication for five years running

As small business and home communications continue to shift to the cloud, Ooma provides an affordable and innovative hybrid SaaS solution specifically tailored to meet small business and consumer needs – without the complexity or limitations of traditional phone systems.

Our flagship consumer device, the Ooma Telo, replaces the standard landline with a revolutionary home phone system loaded with features including free calling in the U.S., unparalleled PureVoice HD voice quality, blacklisting, free mobile app calling from anywhere in the world, and integration with Nest devices.

It takes a lot to get noticed in Silicon Valley, and like we said, we couldn’t have done it without you!

 

 

 

Ooma Moves Beyond the Office Walls

Ooma Office Mobile App

We know that small businesses have to be flexible to thrive – and that more and more of your business is happening outside its physical walls. That’s why we’re excited to have released our mobile app for Ooma Office. We took all of your most-used Ooma Office features and built them into iOS and Android apps that let you tap into the full power of Ooma Office from anywhere. You and your employees can use at the office over Wi-Fi, or on the go using your cellular data plan.

What else can you do in our new app?

  • Make calls using your business phone number, so your mobile number can stay personal
  • Receive calls by setting the app to ring when a call comes in to your Ooma Office number or extension
  • Easily transfer calls to another extension or voicemail box
  • Check your voicemail and call logs
  • Access and adjust account settings

Best of all, the Ooma Office mobile app is a free add-on that any user on your system can use at no additional charge.

No longer “tied down by landlines,” longstanding customer Sheree of Sheree Earle, LCSW shared that “it fits right into my on-the-go lifestyle – it’s like having an office wherever I go.” Another Ooma user, Juan S. of Pasan Services, summed up his experience, saying that the Ooma Office mobile app “presents one of the best office mobile solutions I have seen.” The flexibility it provides to small business owners have Juan recommending the service to friends looking for a versatile business solution.

Try Ooma Mobile Office for yourself and let us know what you think. The iOS and Android apps are available for free download in their respective app stores. Which new mobile feature are you most excited to try out?

 

Here’s Why You’re Still Getting Robocalls and What You Can Do About It

UntitledElection season is upon us – polling numbers and sound bite analysis fill the airwaves. There’s another sound that becomes all too familiar during election season – the sound of the incessant ringing of phones due to unwanted robocalls across the homes of millions of Americans.

In May, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post “Last year alone, we received more than 215,000 complaints related to unwanted and intrusive calls and texts.” Certainly thousands more went without a complaint. In the same blog post Wheeler went on to say “…telephone companies can – and in fact should – offer consumers robocall-blocking tools.”

So, why are unwanted robocalls still such a major issue? Let’s have a look at few telemarketing and robocall myths.

Myth: Listing a phone number with the Do-Not-Call Registry will eliminate all robocalls.

In fact, the Do-Not-Call Registry doesn’t protect consumers from calls made by non-profits and political pollsters.

Myth: The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects consumers from all unwanted telemarketing calls.

The latest order of the TCPA provides an exception that allows banks, pharmaceutical companies and health care providers to send a limited number of communications containing vital financial or medical information to consumers–without their consent.

At Ooma, we help our customers take control over their phone systems by providing technology specifically designed to combat telemarketers and robocallers. We offer three distinct types of blacklists, which are lists of phone numbers that customers would prefer did not reach them.

On average, we block 26 calls per month for each blacklist subscriber and the system gets better over time as new feedback from the community rolls in. Here are a few details on our blacklist features:

  • Personal blacklist: The Personal blacklist is your list of phone numbers that you don’t want to hear from. Customers can add and remove numbers from the Personal blacklist whenever they’d like.
  • Expanded blacklist: The Expanded blacklist taps into a third-party database of confirmed telemarketers, robocallers, and phone spammers. When an Ooma customer enables the expanded blacklist on their account, they will be protected from unwanted and unsolicited calls from nearly 900,000 known sources of phone spam.
  • Community Blacklist: The Community blacklist contains thousands of phone numbers that are known sources of spam and telemarketing calls. When an Ooma customer enables the community blacklist on their account, they’ve instantly blocked phone numbers that the Ooma community has collectively found to be invasive or annoying.

So, before you get another annoying unwanted call, see how our robust blacklisting features can bring you some peace and quiet this election season and beyond.

 

Thank You for Supporting Ooma!

Ooma Thanks You!

You heard right – Wall Street’s phones are ringing with crystal clear quality. Ooma is now officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange as OOMA!

This is a landmark occasion for us and we wanted to say a big heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our customers. We wouldn’t be here today without your support and enthusiasm for Ooma.

We started this company more than ten years ago with the idea to transform the landscape of home phone service. Then we reinvented phone service for small businesses with Ooma Office. And as we move into a new era of connected homes and businesses we plan to continue to deliver innovations and partnerships that reshape the future of smart communications.

Whether you’re calling a loved one across the country or calling a customer down the road, Ooma is humbled that you chose us to be the one connecting you to the important people in your life. Every time you’ve picked up your phone you’ve brought us one step closer to where we are today. Thank you again for your support and being a part of our journey.

This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter – and we are committed to continuing to create innovative new products and services that make your life better.

– Eric Stang, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ooma

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*This blog post shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.*

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