The ways to use social media to help your business are multiplying and becoming more potent on a daily basis. Although social media is often applied to advertising, it can also be a more basic tool. The videoconference program Skype is a free, internet-based chat program that allows users to make phone calls via the internet.
Conference calls are often an important part of business. Skype has a feature that allows multiple users to connect to one another and have a conference call. Videoconference calls are available through “Skype—Business Version,”1 a program that is specifically catered to the needs of businesses. The program offers file sharing, voice conference calls, and screen sharing.
Additional services of the Skype business version can be utilized through a pay-as-you-go plan or a monthly subscription. These additional features include the ability to make calls, through Skype, to other mobile or landline phones. In addition to making calls, you can make a Skype number your business’s number, so all phone calls to your business are routed through Skype.
You can also pay for videoconference calls through “Skype—Business Version.”2 However, the voice-only conference call is free, as long as every person who is involved in the call has a Skype account.
Creating a Skype account is simple and free. An account requires an email address, and you can just use your business’s email. You can then give the password to anyone in your business who is authorized to use the account. Or, as mentioned above, you can participate in the Skype business program, which links you and your employees together under one account. Skype is also encrypted, so it’s difficult for someone to hack into a conference call and listen to your conversations. Skype accounts are also password-protected, so only you or your employees can access your account.3
Although Skype is a valuable tool, it has its limits. For example, though the maximum amount of people possible on one conference call is 25, having 25 people on one internet conference call would require a very powerful internet connection and computer.4
Many small businesses lack immensely powerful internet systems. However, a decent broadband connection can handle a voice conference call of five to 10 people. It is recommended that a conference call be limited to five people for the best quality.
Despite its drawbacks, Skype offers many valuable services. Those services are free or low-cost—that’s a great price for small-business owners. The “Unlimited U.S. & Canada” plan is $2.99 per month, and it allows for an unlimited amount of calls to mobile and cellular phones. If you do not use a phone service regularly, you can pay for a specific amount of minutes, starting at 2.3 cents per minute.5 Calls with a “Pay Monthly” subscription have higher rates.
In case you do not want to pay for a one-, three-, or 12-month subscription to video conferencing, which is more expensive at $8.99 per month (including regular Skype features),6 you can buy a day pass to use Skype’s group-video-calling service.
Skype, especially its business version, offers a streamlined, safe, and cost-effective phone service that has the ability to serve the needs of a small business. Provided you have a reliable broadband internet connection, you won’t have to pay for a more expensive phone plan for services ranging from conference calls to secretarial needs.
For more information, visit:
1. “Skype—Business Version”
2. “What does it all cost?”
3. Skype Security
4. Skype Community: “Maximum contacts in Skype 4.1 conference call?”
5. Skype Credit—International Calling
6. Skype Premium