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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
Out-Smarts has been on Twitter for over 6 years now but recently we’ve seen our follower count start to stagnate. It was stuck hovering around 4000 followers for over a month despite the fact that we had been doing all the things we’ve always done. The trouble was that we had been doing the things we had always done! So I decided to shake things up a little.
Here is what I did to kick start the Twitter following and put a little spring in our step.
Kick start your Twitter following:
1. Using Just Unfollow , I went through following to see who was inactive, inappropriate or not in our target sweet spot and un-followed those, giving us plenty of space to add new followers while still keeping our following to follower ratio in the black. You have to be careful to do this gradually and not to unfollow too many at once.
2. Edited our cover image to show a picture of me – I am behind the Tweets, and humanizing the Twitter feed is important – people follow people more than brands on Twitter. I also edited the bio to make it more upbeat, personal and interesting.
3. Doubled up on the effort to interact and retweet in order to build real community and engage them.
4. Scheduled follow time into my Twitter day, gradually following Twitter accounts in our target area. You can’t control who follows you but you can impact this because if you follow people in your target audience, they are more likely to follow you back. Twellow is a great tool to help you with this but you can also get creative by checking out prominent people in your industry and locality to see who they follow.
5. Rather than just posting links to great articles, I also try to augment the Tweet in order to give a little perspective about what the article or link is about. I am also having some fun with symbols. Doing so has resulted in more shares and favs.
It has only been a few days but so far we have added almost 40 new followers and most of those are in our target zone. The lesson learned is that you always have to be reviewing your processes and the way you do things if you want to avoid stagnation and this goes for Twitter as well as most other aspects of your marketing.
What have you done to build your Twitter following? Share your tips with us!
Great status updates help you to get more likes, comments and shares and this in turn helps you reach new audiences and build your brand. This infographic fromShortStack encapsulates ten quick and easy ways to make your updates more juicy. We’ve added our own slant too:
1. Make it interesting – post a great fact that most people don’t know or a quote to inspire – but always make sure its relevent to your audience and brand.
2. Got a great idea or tip to share with people? Do so.
3. Share, comment and endorse content from others in your industry. If you scratch their back they’ll likely return the favour.
4. Questions encourage your audience to respond but make sure that every update isn’t a question as this gets a bit boring.
5. Encourage followers to act on your update. Spell it out to them so they know what it is they’re supposed to do!
6. Don’t just post a link with no description – tell people a little about it so that they can decide to click through or not. People avoid clicking on links as they seem spammy.
7. Make your P.S. in email newsletters short and sweet. I saw one lately that was almost as long as the email itself!
8. Use short links – especially on Twitter – as this encourages people to share and gives them the space to do so.
9. Followers are more likely to click like on photos and images (especially on Facebook) so post images often and use an app like Over to enhance images with text.
10. Ask for comments and get people to share. There are lots of ways to do this and what works best will depend on your audience. When people do comment, always respond.
Social media has become an important marketing tool for small business. If you use it effectively, you can build brand awareness, generate leads, boost customer loyalty, drive traffic to your website not to mention enhancing mind share. What’s more, a social presence is becoming an expected norm if your prospective customers are below 45. For younger audiences, if they don’t find you on social media, they simply don’t do business with you.
The challenge for small business looking to implement effective social media campaigns is that we all have limited time and resources, not to mention the fact that we don’t have bottomless pockets. So how can we take advantage of social media in a way that makes sense given these potential barriers? Here are 10 tips that will boost your social media marketing productivity.
1. Don’t spread yourself too thin – there are thousands of social media tools. You can’t use all of them effectively, so choose up to 3 (no more) and make those the tools that your customers are most likely to use and that you will enjoy using. For example, if your target audience is the professional business type, build your presence on LinkedIn and focus on that network rather than trying to have a presence on Facebook, Pinterest et al.
2. Schedule social media time into your day just like you would for any other business activity. Stick to your schedule and don’t get distracted. Social media can be a big time suck, don’t let it.
3. Use productivity tools likeHootsuite to schedule posts and to manage your networks effectively (Hootsuite supports LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WordPress and more). If you have different team members managing your social presence, Hootsuite let’s you see at a glance who is responding so that you are all on the same page.
4. Install and use apps on your phone so that you can check in on your social feeds and respond accordingly on the fly. All of the major social networks as well as third party tools like Hootsuite have iPhone and Android apps although some are better than others when it comes to functionality.
5. Your social presence is an extension of day to day business. You don’t need to come up with a whole new story for your social media updates and you shouldn’t. Think about your to do list for the day and how you can reflect your daily activities online. Hosting an open house or event? Make sure attendees can interact with each other in the appropriate channels.
6. Reuse your existing content – to find great content to post on your social networks, use content that you already have (white papers, marketing materials, case studies etc) and adapt it to your needs.
7. Find new content use content tools: my favourite us Zyte which is an app I use on the iPad that allows me to subscribe to fresh new content based on topics and categories I’m are interested and I can then easily share it on the networks as required.
8. Be an editor – blogging is often a central component to a company’s social strategy but blogging takes time. Build a blog editorial schedule so that you know what to blog about and when, and remember that quality beats quantity when it comes to blogging. If you hate to write then consider other options like video or photo blogs that make it easier for you.
9. Consider outsourcing part of your social media to a firm like Out-Smarts that specialises in social media, but be very careful if you do do this. Make sure that the company you work with takes time to understand your organisation inside out so that they can represent you in an authentic way online. And never outsource your social media then forget about it. The best partnerships are those where your social media partner firm manages your day to day and general posts whilst you or your staff augment and humanize your presence when time permits.
10. Get lean – quality is much more important that quantity when it comes to building your following. Save yourself some time and don’t follow everybody and anybody. Instead take time to determine your connection startegy i.e. who you will most benefit from connecting with. This will likely be different for each social network (if you are doing it right) you use and might include industry visionaries, your ideal clients/prospect, partners and related pages.
At Out-Smarts we provide professional, dedicated and timely social media marketing services managing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube pages for our clients. Why not focus on what you do best and let us focus on what we do best. Call us today to find out about our services
If you are considering running a contest on Twitter, or any other social network for that matter, take time to think it all through before you launch. If you don’t it could end up simply annoying people and causing you to lose followers or worse, as depicted in Rob Cottingham’s Noise to Signal cartoon.
Look at McDonald’s failed Twitter campaign earlier this year. Someone at McDonalds had the bright idea that they would use Twitter and the hashtag #McDStories to encourage people to share their warm and fuzzy experiences of McDonalds. The company didn’t take time to consider whether Twitter was the best forum for this (they should have, given that there are many activisits and anti McD people on there). As a result, the campaign was hijacked by people sharing their negative experiences of McDonald’s and when I say negative, I mean really bad. Had McDonalds taken the time to consider which social media tool was the right one to use they might have had a more desired outcome.