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5 Effective Pinterest Marketing Tactics for your Business

Pinterest marketing – yes, this platform has come a long way from being a place to share recipes and interior decor. Pinterest is one of the most underutilized, yet effective marketing tools for businesses. 

But we understand the hesitation behind using this as a marketing tool. With Instagram, Facebook and TikTok being one of the most used social media platforms for marketing, it can seem daunting to learn something completely new. 
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Mastering Social Media to Grow Your Small Business in Terrace and Kitimat

Next week, Mhairi will be heading up to Northern BC to present ‘Mastering Social Media to Grow Your Small Business” at the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce on February 27th then on to the Kitimat Chamber the next night.  The Terrace event is full but there are still a few spots in Kitimat. Click on the link to register below.

Just because you know what social media is, does not mean that you necessarily understand how to use it to grow and develop your business. This workshop focuses on understanding social media, what is it and how it’s connecting people.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how/if social media should be an important part of your marketing strategy.
  • Understand what opportunities are available for you to leverage social media for business growth and prospecting.

Tickets: FREE
Light dinner included


Terrace and Kitimat businesses welcome!

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 

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

Conversations are Key to Small Business Success on Social Media

Social media is so mainstream, you would think by now that we would have grasped how to use it properly. Instead businesses fall back on bad habits and focus on the old push model – pushing out content (the more the better) and hoping that some of it sticks (or that somebody (anybody?) notices). If you log into your Twitter dashboard right now, the chances are that the majority of the Tweets you see are links to articles written by someone else and in many cases the original article titles are still intact with no value add and there’s no mention of the originator.  Little wonder then that 75% of our time spent on social media is wasted, all we are doing is rehashing other people’s content and poorly at that.

In 2014 if your small business isn’t having conversations in these networks then why bother?

Non BroadcastLet me ask you this. Would you go to a networking event and stand in the corner of the room and shout ‘I’ve a great deal for you’ or ‘Have you read this bla bla bla?’  at the other attendees? Of course you wouldn’t so why is it that you think it is okay to do this on social media?

Successful social media participation is a lot like attending a networking event, you have to start conversations and interact in order to make the most of your time there.

Don’t be shy. Here are five quick tips to help you kickstart social media conversations.

1. Who is it you waMulti-ethnic group portraitnt to have conversations with? – Most likely your partners, clients, business contacts, people of influence in your community, other businesses you would like to have as clients, media types and service providers who can bring you business. Make sure you are following them on Twitter and have liked their business pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest (this will depend on which networks you use).  Make a list on Twitter if you like (to help you track them more easily).

2. Listen well – You’ve followed the right people, now what? Get into the habit of listening (watching) out for their updates and replying, responding and sharing when you have something positive of valuable to add. Do this daily and remember that this is about them not you. Be authentic.

3. Get social in real time – Rather than simply scheduling posts, get into the habit of using these tools in real time. When you post, take a few minutes to hang out and wait for responses so that you can have real time interactions with your connections. If you don’t have time to do this then monitor your feeds (most social apps facilitate this). Thank people who share your posts (if you do they will be more likely to do so again). Remember your manners.

4. Find ways to start and stimulate conversations  – If you are linking to articles remember to include the @twitterfeed of the original source – that helps you build new relationships.  Tell people what it is about the post that is interesting / adds value or you disagree with. Include a call to action. Share pertinent articles that you think will be of specific interest to your network and, even better, share directly with individuals in your network.

5. Integrate online and off – use social media as a tool to augment your in person business development.  If you are attending conferences or events, look for your fellow attendees in advance and connect with them online so you can meet break the ice before meeting them in person. Get into the habit of connecting on social media with people you meet at networking events then go back to steps 2 and 3 in order to enhance your relationship with them.

How do you start and maintain your online conversations?  What works for you?  Let us know.

Other Out-Smarts Blog articles you might like:

The top 10 social media mistakes businesses make

Using social media to maintain and grow your network

10 Ways to Kickstart your Tweets


Small Business: Here’s Why Your Social Media Isn’t Working

Social media can really level the playing field for small businesses. It gives us the ability to do more with less and yet many companies claim that social media isn’t working. The fact of the matter is that it’s not social media that’s at fault, it’s you. Here’s why:

1. You’re  not listening – and you are not alone – 40% of brands using social media don’t respond to comments, questions, replies or retweets. Guaranteed that by doing so you are ignoring inquiries and opportunities that could bring you business. Get in the habit of monitoring your feeds regularly and respond frequently.

2. You’re rude to your fans/followers – fans are like exotic hot house plants, if you care and nurture them they will grow abundant and spread but if you ignore them they will simply die off. Nurtured fans can become your marketing dept on steroids. So why are you ignoring it when they retweet or share your content? A simple thank you is all it takes to keep them happy. Why would anyone retweet your content if you ignore them for it?

3. You’re a headless chicken scratching around doing what you can but with absolutely no direction. You started out with a blog, then added a Facebook page because everyone’s one there, then Twitter because you saw it on TV, and now Pinterest, Google+…. The fact of the matter is that it takes you so long to do your social media that you don’t have enough time to do what you do best and make money. There are thousands of social networks out there. You can’t be on all of them effectively and still make money for your business so choose 2 or 3 (max) and do them really well. Choose the ones that your target audience is most like to use.

4. Your branding sucks – sounds harsh, but it is true. Before you embark on building your social media presence it is important to make sure that you you’ve done your homework and that your brand is ready, and that isn’t just your logo (but that’s important too). You should understand what your company stands for, how it is perceived, how your offering is different. If you know this then you will be more likely to succeed online and off.

5. Your customer service stinks – another hard thing to hear but if your offline customer service stinks then it’s just going to be amplified online, rolling out the red carpet for trolls. Fix your processes and make sure your customer service rocks before you start.

6. You like the sound of your own voice – sorry to tell you but this isn’t about you, my friend, it is about your audience.  Stop mouthing off about you and your business all the time. Eighty percent of your posts should be focused on adding value for your audience and twenty percent should be about you (not the other way round).  And save the photos of your coffee (yawn).

7. Your social media stands alone.   – your  presence on social media needs to reflect your real world activities.  If you are having an open house or event, Tweet about it.  Closed on Monday, then post it on your Facebook page.  Consider social media as a component of your overall marketing, communications and business plan.

8. You’re an old school communicator – many small businesses fail on social media because they take the old approach to communicating and talk at their audience rather than with their audience.  This isn’t about you pushing out your message, it is about building conversations centered around your customers.

9.  You  don’t know what social media is and you don’t care. For you, social media is a passing fad and not worthy of your attention. People said the same thing about the Internet 15 years ago and the telephone 100 years ago. The fact of the matter is that if you want to do business with the next generation of clients, you will have to use social media to some extent.  If you’re not on there then they will rule you out and you’re business will suffer.

10. You delegated to the person in your office who has a thousand Facebook friends.  Just because someone knows how to use social media socially, doesn’t mean they can use it effectively for business.  Make sure that whoever is doing your social media understands your business, goals, audience and what to say or not to say before they start.


Making the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile – 10 Quick Tips

linkedinAre you using LinkedIn for business: to integrate real world relationships and add value for your connections online? If you aren’t you are missing out on a big opportunity but you are not alone. There are 7m LinkedIn users in Canada and 11m in the UK and only 44% of them have complete profiles. What does that say about the other 66%?

66% had incomplete profiles and 41% had no recommendations. – See more at:
66% had incomplete profiles and 41% had no recommendations. – See more at:
66% had incomplete profiles and 41% had no recommendations. – See more at:

LinkedIn is often perceived as a tool for job seekers and recruiters when in truth it is a valuable professional social network that allows you to build mind share by staying in touch with clients and contacts, adding value for them and showcasing what you do best.  LinkedIn can be the tipping point that encourages people to do business with you, if your profile is incomplete or you don’t even have one then there’s a good chance you are missing out on opportunities.

LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is just the start.  At a minimum it should include:

1. An up to date and professional headshot

2. A summary and highlights that showcase what you do and why you are great at it, using keywords that your target audience are likely to use to find you

3. Past work experience

4. Professional designations

5. Information about your education both at school and on the job

6. What you are passionate about and how you contribute to your community

7. Links to your website and blog as well as a unique URL

8. Participation in industry and community groups

9. Recommendations from people you have done business with

10. Apps that showcase your work such as Slideshare to share presentations.

Your LinkedIn profile is organic and fluid and should be updated often but if that is all you are doing, you are missing out on opportunities.  In our next post we will discuss what you should be doing on LinkedIn to take your real world connections online.

Remember to tell us your goals for 2014 (on LinkedIn and beyond) to be entered to win a 21 point website and social media review report.

More Out-Smarts Blog posts about LinkedIn:

Why You Should Use LinkedIn for your Small Business

Portrait of a LinkedIn User

Using Social Media-for-Recruitment – LinkedIn