Creating Effective Social Media – 5 Easy Steps to Creating Social Media That Reaches Your Target

Effectively creating a social media presence is not as hard as it seems. Use five easy steps to improve your online presence now.

1) Know your target audience: You know your customer (or you should) – that’s your audience. All audiences have diversity: age, economic background, style, and interest areas. Now, when you create content, do it as if you are directly speaking to them. Start a conversation. Spark your target’s imagination. Use humor and remember that being too formal can seem inauthentic. Don’t forget to be online with your audience. Explore what they talk about, what they like, what they share, what they hashtag. Interact to get to know them. Tip: use hashtags to research the climate around a topic and see what’s trending.

2) Intentionally set boundaries: After you have visualized your target audience you will need to set up “Go” and “No-Go” areas for your content. These parameters are simplistic yet, paramount. Setting social media boundaries will help you keep your target group happy. Your goal is to create content that is professional and pleasing to your audience. Remember, what is appropriate for one audience, may not be relevant for another. Areas to carefully consider: politics, profanity, slang verbiage, etc.

3) Find a graphics tools that work for you: Creating graphics will serve you well, as visuals are an integral part of all social media platforms. Even Twitter is now more visually based; they have made it easier than ever to share graphics and animated gifts, right at the point of creation. You can put your best visual foot forward by utilizing any purchased, or free, graphic software like Adobe Suite (purchased) or Pixler (free). You will want to research which programs work best with your skill level; there are many online to explore.

4) Consider your platform: Create visual content with limited text, to show/say something significant and inspirational. Know what rules apply to the platform you are using. For example, Twitter limits you to 140 characters or less. These rules will shape your content. Research platform parameters online to familiarize yourself with each structure.

5) Use color: Don’t forget to utilize color; it draws the eye! You can also create a theme of colors that you will use to represent your brand. Using colors enhances what someone feels, for example, Greens and Blues are said to create trust and a fresh feeling, while yellows, reds, and oranges are said to excite, or even make the viewer hungry (think fast food chains). Create content that welcomes your audience to take a closer look. Tip: add your logo to most of the content you create.

By using the five steps above: knowing your audience, setting boundaries, optimizing graphics, mastering platforms, and through utilizing color, you are well on your way to creating social media that effectively reaches your target.

Stephanie Newby is the owner of Newgreenie Inc, an Entrepreneur, Writer, Current Graduate Student and Social Media Enthusiast. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission if this article is shared in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Stephanie Newby, Newgreenie Inc.

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What Is GoSpaces and How Do I Use It for My Business?

Ecommerce landing page - Spaces

Ecommerce platform provider Shopify recently launched a free website builder and shopping cart service called GoSpaces.

Designed for international use, GoSpaces is a way for Shopify to explore and learn from emerging markets where online commerce has less penetration. The company launched GoSpaces in 38 countries and 20 languages.

Ecommerce Landing Page

GoSpaces Hallmarks: Simplicity and Ease of Use

Simplicity and ease of use are GoSpaces’ hallmarks. It is an economy version of the typical shopping cart in that it lacks many of the bells and whistles usually associated with such platforms.

For instance, users only have access to a single one-page template, there are no apps to which the platform can connect and the setup process requires no technical know-how.

In fact, businesses don’t even have to use GoSpaces to sell products at all but can create just a basic website — sort of an electronic brochure.

The similarity between these two GoSpaces sites testify to the platform’s simplicity:

Ecommerce landing page - Simplicity

GoSpaces Product Options

If you look at the main menu, under “Tour,” you get the impression that GoSpaces is intended solely for use by artists, authors, entrepreneurs, designers and developers. In truth, anyone can sell just about anything using the platform, including physical products, digital products for download or monthly subscriptions.

Current sites sell everything from electronics to children’s shoes, ebooks to music and cell phone cases to t-shirts. One site even sells tarot card readings!

Since GoSpaces is free, entrepreneurs can also use it to test out business ideas with little or no risk involved.

Payment Methods

GoSpaces uses a variety of payment methods, including credit card (via Stripe), bank transfer, Paypal, Bitcoin, convenience stores and more. More than 150 currencies are represented, which means that customers can most likely pay using their local currency.

Free to Use, to a Point

GoSpaces is free to use until the retailer reaches sales of $50 or more each month. After that, the platform charges $9 per month plus a 3 percent per transaction fee.

Intended for Beginners

Looking over the site, it doesn’t take long before you realize that the platform is primarily intended for beginning entrepreneurs.

For example, the blog contains posts with titles such as “10 High Impact Digital Marketing Courses for Beginners,” “How to Design the Perfect Newsletter” and “Your 6-Step Guide to Effective Business Card Design.”

There is also a set of tools to help businesses get started that include elements like a business name generator, slogan generator, logo maker, image resizer, domain name registration and more.

How to Use GoSpaces

With that as a backdrop, here’s how to setup a GoSpaces site to use for your business.

1. Go to and click the green “Get Started” button. You will also see buttons that say “Create Your Space” positioned throughout the site — just another way to get started.

Ecommerce landing page - Get Started

2. Create an account. Clicking the “Get Started” button takes you to a page where you create your account. All that’s required is your email address and a password. Alternatively, you can sign up using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

Ecommerce landing page - Create Account

(Note: GoSpaces asks you to confirm your email address although that doesn’t appear to have any bearing on your ability to create a site as you can proceed without confirmation.)

3. Review the Dashboard. After creating your account, GoSpaces redirects you the admin dashboard. Four options appear in the navigation menu: Get Started, Payments, Customers and Subscriptions.

Ecommerce landing page - Dashboard

Once you start selling, the payments, customers and subscriptions areas will populate with transaction-related data, such as what you see here:

Ecommerce landing page - Transaction Report

4. Create your Space. Click the green “Create Space” button in the center of the page to begin setting up your website or shopping cart.

Ecommerce landing page - Create Space

Clicking the button takes you to your “Space” (GoSpaces’ term for your website) where you will need to take the following actions:

  • Add a page title and description;
  • Upload a cover image;
  • Add page copy, to “Tell your story”;
  • Add a product, to start selling; or
  • Add a section, to collect emails (useful for service businesses).

Ecommerce landing page - Design Space

5. Add a product. If you intend to use GoSpaces to sell products, click the “Add a product” button.

Ecommerce landing page - Add Product

This action takes you to a product page where you will:

  • Upload a product image;
  • Add the product name and description;
  • Set the price (pricing can be one-time or monthly or annual subscription);
  • Include product variants, such as size or color;
  • Enable shipping.

Ecommerce landing page - Product Creation

Sellers can also upload digital files if they are not selling physical products.

Although you can add multiple products, GoSpaces isn’t Amazon. If you have more than a few SKUs in your catalog, consider using Shopify or another more robust ecommerce platform.

6. Add a section. Another option is to add a section, which you can do whether or not you sell products.

Clicking the “Add a section” button creates an email subscription form. Edit is by adding a title and reason to sign up.

Ecommerce landing page - Add Email Form

7. Preview or publish the Space. Once you’ve completed the setup process, you can choose to either preview or publish the site.

Other Editing and Admin Options

Clicking the “Account Settings” link located in the upper-left-hand corner of the page (It may also appear as a “hamburger menu” — a 3-line icon.) opens a sidebar that contains additional editing and admin options, including page title, country, language, business name, payment methods and others. You will need to set some of these up before using the site, such as:

  • Create a payment gateway. Setup a payment gateway to take payments online.
  • Register a domain. It’s in your best interest to register a domain name, which you can do through the platform. If you already own a domain, go to Settings > Custom Domain to configure it.
  • Upload credit card information. Even though the first $50 worth of transactions each month are free, you will need to add credit card information to pay for transaction and subscription fees should you exceed that amount.

The GoSpaces platform is about as simple as it gets, both to setup and use. But considering that it’s intended mainly for small businesses in emerging markets, that’s the idea and the reason Shopify created it. Still, for any business that wishes to sell only a few products or that doesn’t have a website, the platform could suffice.


This article, "What Is GoSpaces and How Do I Use It for My Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends

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Former Student Creates Scholly to Find Scholarship Opportunities

scholly helps find scholarship opportunities

When Christopher Gray was preparing to go to college, he knew that covering all of his tuition and expenses was going to be difficult. He didn’t want to find himself buried in student loan debt after graduation, as so many other college grads do. So he dedicated his time to searching for scholarships to help relieve some of that financial burden.

But getting those scholarships wasn’t easy. Gray didn’t have Internet access at his home. So he used the local library, resources at his school and even his cell phone to find and vet different scholarship opportunities.

Although his scholarship search was ultimately successful — he was awarded about $1.3 million in total scholarships – it was a lengthy and tiresome process. He knew that he wasn’t the only student to have issues finding relevant scholarships to help pay for school. So he created Scholly to change the whole process and help others find scholarship opportunities.

Find Scholarship Opportunities

Gray explained in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “The idea is that Scholly turns those months of searching for scholarships into about two minutes. It decreases the amount of time you need to make sure you actually get what you qualify for.”

To use the service, students can sign up by paying a $2.99 registration fee. Then there’s a registration form that collects information from students to help determine which scholarships are most likely to be relevant. For example, the form collects information like the student’s GPA, demographic information, and even some miscellaneous factors that might qualify them for lesser known scholarships. For example, Gray mentioned that there are sometimes opportunities for students who are left-handed or vegetarian.

After Scholly has collected all of the relevant information, it takes a couple of minutes to develop a list of scholarship opportunities that match with the student’s responses and qualifications. Gray says that it uses a search function to aggregate the information. However, it doesn’t just search the Web for anything that matches a set of keywords. Scholly actually vets scholarship opportunities first before including them in its list of potential search results for users.

So it’s a multi-step process. Scholly first scours the Web for any potential scholarship opportunities. These can come from other scholarship sites, schools, independent organizations or pretty much anywhere else on the Web. But then the “Scholly Squad” goes through those opportunities to determine if they’re legitimate and what students they would potentially apply to. Then when students sign up and input their information, Scholly searches within that collection of vetted scholarship opportunities to find the most relevant results.

In addition, students can continue to use their Scholly accounts throughout high school, college and even graduate school. So you don’t just input your information to get a one-time list of search results. You can save the opportunities that you’re interested in and even sign up for alerts when scholarship deadlines are approaching or if there are any new scholarships that you qualify for.

Scholly also offers the opportunity for schools, organizations and individuals to pay for the service on behalf of students. The Give:Scholly program offers everyone the opportunity to help students access Scholly for free. In addition, Scholly has partnered with CommonBond to give students who have had to utilize loans the opportunity to refinance those loans to get the best rates possible.

The issue of student loan debt is certainly not a new problem. But entrepreneurial students like Gray are working to alleviate that burden as much as possible for their peers and for the next generation by creating platforms like Scholly to find scholarship opportunities.

Image: Scholly

This article, "Former Student Creates Scholly to Find Scholarship Opportunities" was first published on Small Business Trends

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Top 10 Benefits of Switching to a Cloud-Based Phone System

cloud-based phone system

As small businesses change and grow, the ability to quickly scale up — or down — becomes a necessity. Adding new employees, for example, requires the company to adapt its phone system to accommodate the need for more lines.

That is harder to accomplish using traditional on-premise telephony systems due to higher setup and maintenance costs, the need for hardware on-site and reliance on IT support. A cloud-based phone system, on the other hand, would enable small businesses to manage communication services in a less costly, more streamlined and agile manner.

The following points, gleaned from an email exchange between Small Business Trends and Aaron Charlesworth, VP of product marketing at Vonage, outline the benefits that small businesses can accrue by switching from traditional PBX systems to cloud-based VoIP technology.

Benefits of a Cloud-Based Phone System

1. Fully-Integrated Communications System

A report from the research firm Gartner points out that integrating a company’s communications with its everyday applications for business processes and workflows helps increase efficiency.

Business tools that operate in the cloud are easy to deploy, enabling employees to stay connected whether they are in the office or on the go. In this way, the cloud provides a consistent business presence and helps to increase productivity with seamless access to CRM tools, email, instant messaging, voice and videoconferencing.

2. Control Over Modes of Communication

A cloud-operated system puts businesses in the driver’s seat, allowing them to pick and choose what features they need, with access to turn them on or off easily.

Also, cloud solutions give employees anytime, anywhere access via a smartphone, desk phone or softphone to all their calling features. Even better, they can have real-time access to their critical business software.

3. Top Line Business Features

A cloud-based phone system would give small businesses access to the types of network applications that one would typically find at larger corporations. These include features such as a Virtual Assistant, Auto Attendant, Never Miss a Call or Call Center solutions.

4. Mobility and Ease of Use

Today’s workplace is increasingly mobile, and small businesses especially need to be able to operate from multiple locations.

With a cloud-based system, small business employees have access to features that allow them to log in from anywhere so that they can be reached while on the go, giving customer-facing and revenue-producing employees greater control over their productivity.

5. Time Management and Efficiency

Web-based customer portals enable IT staff to manage their system more efficiently. With insight into the installation, service configuration, trouble tickets, training, billing and call analytics, this full access to a customer’s system and account allows them to spend fewer resources on project management and focus more on work that adds to the bottom line.

Also, cloud solutions can easily integrate with other cloud-based applications, providing mobile employees access to all the features and functionality they need to work just as efficiently as if they were in the office.

6. Flexibility to Scale Up (and Down)

As a business grows, so does the need to hire new employees, open new offices and onboard new customers. This requires a communications system that can scale up — or down — as the need arises.

With a cloud-based phone system, businesses can add as many extensions as they need to accommodate heightened call volume, or, if necessary, simply call in to deactivate these extra extensions. Unlike traditional systems, businesses only pay for the extensions they need for as long as they need them.

7. Business Continuity

Working with a phone system “in the cloud” allows businesses to remain connected to their customers no matter the environment. A cloud-based communications system is likely to be unaffected by outside factors such as severe weather or other issues that may keep employees from getting to the office.

With a cloud-based system, businesses can maintain a consistent presence — and access the tools needed — to keep things running smoothly.

8. Improved Customer Service

With the Virtual Receptionist (VR) or Auto Attendant feature, businesses can easily direct calls to various departments and even create greetings unique to a given department.

For example, a business could set up a holiday greeting in advance (via the administrative portal) and pre-set it to revert to the non-holiday greeting on a specified date. It could also add an on-hold message about special promotions or commonly asked questions.

9. New Service Features Added Easily

During busy seasons, some businesses will add premium calling features to increase call-taking efficiency and maximize staffing. Call Groups, for example, allow incoming calls to ring on multiple extensions.

Call Queues provide a “dynamic waiting room” for callers that let businesses customize the on-hold experience and better manage call volume. Both help to decrease voicemails, missed calls and busy signals, enabling service to as many callers as possible.

10. Cost Savings

Cost savings are another benefit of cloud-based phone system.  Moving telecommunications off of PBX platforms and to the cloud can be less expensive relative to monthly service rates versus that of a traditional system, helping to reduce costs and, ultimately, increase profitability.

Cloud Phone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Top 10 Benefits of Switching to a Cloud-Based Phone System" was first published on Small Business Trends

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