How To Use Hashtags To Grow Your Online Social Presence

Hashtags are a really useful tool for small businesses. You can use a hashtag to extend your social media reach and to engage prospects and like minded networkers. Used right they will help you build your following, your posts will reach a far wider audience, you will get more leads, and boost productivity. In this post, you will learn how to use hashtags to grow your online social presence.hashtag, hashtags

What is a Hashtag?

In social media a hashtag is the hash or pound sign (#) followed by a word or key phrase that is used to categorise what your post is about. For example, if you are posting about social media, you might use the hashtag #socialmedia or #socmed. When you post to social networks using a hashtag, this then becomes searchable i.e. you can click on it to see all posts that use the same hashtag and it makes it more likely that people will find your post.

A Few Things to Know About Hashtags

  • Never include a space in your hashtags. If there’s a space, then it won’t be searchable.
  • You can include numbers and capital letters in hashtags. Capitals often make the hashtag more readable and understandable.
  • Use hashtags that are short and sweet. Trying to fit a whole sentence into a hashtag makes it incomprehensible and reduces its reach.
  • You can (and should) have your own hashtag. One that you use to brand your posts.
  • Hashtags are hugely important on Instagram and are key to building your following.
  • Be extra careful when using hashtags on Facebook. Don’t use too many (2 is enough) and don’t use them too often.
  • Don’t use made up hashtags that mean nothing unless you are trying to be funny (this can backfire and be a waste of your time).

Hashtag Data by hashtagify.me 

To decide which hashtags to use, first think about what you are posting about and then consider which words you would use to describe your post. For example when we share this post we might use hashtags like #socialmedia and #marketing.

Once you have determined the most appropriate word to use you can dig deeper using tools that help you to determine the most popular ones to use.  Hashtagifyme allows you to search for a hashtag and view related hashtags and their popularity. Choose the ones that are most popular to get the widest reach.

hashtag, hashtagsInstagram Hashtags

Using hashtags is a central component to building your following and engagement on Instagram. This app allows you to use up to 30 tags – if you try to use more you won’t be able to share your post.

The optimum number will depend on your audience and your posts but a general rule of thumb is to use between 5 and 10 (test and try this to see what works for you!). Upload your photo then enter your hashtags in the caption area.

More sophisticated users often enter a few tags in the caption area then more in the comments (there’s also a way to hide them to make your posts look cleaner but still make them searchable by adding line breaks). It’s a good idea to save a list of hashtags you frequently use so that you can simply copy and paste them from your phone. Instagram has a useful feature when entering hashtags that allow you to see how often these terms are used.

Twitter Hashtags

Twitter can be a really confusing network and most people really aren’t sure how to use it effectively. Hashtags can really help with that as they help to organise constant streams of updates and help you (and your audience) find the nuggets of information they are really interested in. Use a relevant hashtag before relevant keywords to help your Tweets show up better in search. You can use them anywhere in your Tweet and popular hashtags often become trending topics. A general rule of thumb is to use 2 – if you use more then engagement will decrease.

Using hashtags efficiently and effectively can be a great way to increase your social media productivity. Remember to use them efficiently and effectively according to which platform you are on.

This post is an adaptation of a blog post that Mhairi Petrovic of Out-Smarts Marketing wrote for SMEI

Rogers Talks Small Business Events In Review

rsz_20160713_175149Rogers is celebrating small business across Canada this summer by launching their Small Business Centres with Rogers Talks.

In British Columbia, small businesses are the life blood of our economy. Over a million people in the province are employed by these firms.

Rogers Talks provide a networking opportunity for local small business owners. The focus of these events is on helping entrepreneurs learn tips and tricks that will help them succeed in growing their business. We were lucky enough to play a lead role in events at their Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey and Abbotsford locations.

At these events Mhairi talked to other small business owners about ‘How to Maximize your Small Business Social Media to get Better Results in Less Time’.

Here’s a recap of some of the key points.

  • Have a plan – one that aligns with your overall business plan, and write it down.
  • Determine which social media tools you should use. You can’t use them all so choose one or two and do them really well.
  • Get in the habit of listening out for opportunities (and never stop!).
  • Make the most of your digital time – do not let cute cats or Donald Trump distract you.
  • Share great content that engages and adds value for your audience.
  • Make sure your website is social media ready.
  • Be authentic and real – find your voice and let your passion show through.
  • Put in place tools and practices to measure your success.
  • Have fun – most important of all!

Thanks to the team at Rogers, the caterers and technicians who made these events a success.

 

Scottish Social Media Marketing Show Review

This week I attended my first social media event in my native land – the Scottish Social Media  and Marketing Show in Edinburgh. The show, aimed at small Scottish Social Media Marketing Showbusinesses in Scotland, was right up my alley. It was hosted by Hashtag Events and featured 3 breakout sessions with 3 separate options for talks, as well as an exhibitors centre showcasing marketing, print and networking companies.

I couldn’t attend all of the breakouts and I am sure I missed some great sessions. Here are my key takeaways from the event and the talks I did see:

1. I was at the conference hoping to see how small businesses in Scotland use social media in comparison to Canada. Turns out they are using them in exactly the same way. Social media adoption by small businesses in Scotland is a little behind Canada from what I can tell, and there’s the same confusion over which tools to use and how to use them strategically.

2. The first session I attended was Liz Melville’s talk on How to Spend Less Time on Social Media and Get Better results. Her advice – get clarity on who your clients are, align your products and services to them and use automation to fill your sales funnel even when you’re not working.

3. The next session presented by Colin McKeand focused on networking. Everyone had the chance to do their 1 minute elevator pitch. Key takeaway was that a connection is nothing without a follow up.

4. David Hood‘s session was the next one I attended. It was called Stop the Noise: Applying Insight and Intelligence for Competitive Advantage. Ironically, I was at the back of the room and couldn’t really hear for the noise from the exhibitor area but I could tell he was questioning and counter balancing some of the norms of social media and had a great wry sense of humor and directness. Wish I had had a better seat for this one…

5. The final session I attended was the one I found most beneficial, by Steven Sefton who had some killer ideas on how to improve your website. They included:

  • ditching the sliders on your site (they don’t work!),
  • using copy that is about your prospective customer and not about you,
  • having effective call to actions
  • really great content marketing that your audience can relate to and that gets shared.

All in all it was a day well spent. Thanks to all of the speakers and to the hosts!

Google Reviews – How To Get More Reviews for Your Business

Good Google reviews are super important. When people Google your business the first thing they are likely to see is your Google My Business listing. If you have lots of great reviews that helps to get people through your door to do business with you, and it helps with your website positioning.

I was asked recently how to get good reviews and how to get rid of bad ones. Unfortunately you can’t just delete bad reviews. Trying to get them removed can be arduous too, so the best way is simply to get more good reviews!

Here are a few ideas and suggestions to make the process easier for your customers (and for you too!) – these will work for Google but you can adapt and use them for Yelp reviews, and Facebook too.

Google Reviews – How To Get MoreGoogle Reviews

1. Many people don’t know how to give a review on Google. Prepare a one sheet handout giving them detailed directions showing them how to submit a review for your business. Email these to your customers or give them to them at the checkout (depending on the type of business you operate).

2. If you collect email addresses for your current customers (recent customer in the last 2 years only!) you should send a follow up email those that buy from you. Thank them for their business, ask for a review and give them directions as outlined above. You could also send this to your newsletter subscribers encouraging them to review your biz. Be careful though, because of the Canadian Anti Spam legislation you can’t simply email everyone and anyone.

3. Run a monthly promo: each review is entered into a draw each month. At the end of the month draw one and send them something good like a gift card or a voucher they can use next time they do business with you.

4. Make sure your staff know how important it is to get good reviews and incorporate asking for reviews into your business processes.

5. Seek out those who give good reviews and make sure to thank them. If you ignore them then they’re certainly not going to give you more!

6. Add an ask for a review on your invoices / receipts.

7. Showcase reviews on your website and on your social feeds too.

8. Depending on your business model you can add a call to action button on your website encouraging people to review you.

10. When you set up your My Business listing Google probably sent you a ‘Review us on Google’ sticker. Display this prominently.

Of course getting good reviews starts with having great customer service. The better your service the more likely your reviews will be great too!

Related articles:

Listing Your Business on Google

Tips for Staying CASL Compliant

Listing Your Business on Google

Is your business listed on Google?

Listing your business on Google is a great way to help you get discovered and it also goes a long way to validate your business. In Canada most of us use Google to search the Internet so having a presence there iListing your business on Googles vital.

To find out if your business is listed on Google, simply Google the name of your business. If the right results show up on the right hand side of the page then you’re listed thanks to Google. Checking this before setting up a new one helps avoid the headache of duplicate listings.

Note that if you’ve ever set up a Google + page then you likely have a Google business listing and you may have 2 since Google also set up a bunch for every business it could find.

Listing your business on Google / claiming Your Google Listing

Once you’ve determined whether you have a page or not, go here to create your listing OR click on ‘Claim this listing’ (you’ll find this below your phone number on the results to the right of your screen when you Google your business name).

Google My Business listingGoogle will step you through a process to verify your name address and location. Make sure all of the details are correct then click on the check box to verify that you are authorized and that you agree to the terms of service. Google will then call you with an automated message giving you the four digit code you need to complete the verification process.

Note that this will set up your business listing AND your Google+ page as well as Google maps.*

Once you are set up you should add more detail about your business along with photos, and your logo to brand your presence.

*It is important to differentiate between Google+ which is Google’s attempt at a social network and Google My Business which is a directory. You should have both and they should be linked so when you are setting them up remember to login and use your Google account when stepping through the process (the one you use for Adwords and Analytics too!).

Why you should have a Google Business Listing

1. Gets your business discovered online locally – and this is huge
2. It shows the world that you are for real!
3. Provides valuable links from Google back to your website
4. Helps your customers quickly and easily find you both online and off

If you need some help with this get in touch.