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


Your Twitter Feed Sucks – Here’s How To Fix It

It is apparent to me that most Twitter users using the network for business don’t have a clue what they are doing. It is sad to see how many Twitter feeds that simply Tweet out content for the sake of it and miss out on the opportunity this tool provides. I suppose it has to be expected, many users come from a traditional marketing background and in the old days communication was a one way street.

Twitter is fantastic for making connections, building relationships and nurturing community. When using the tool for marketing and business development you are wasting your time if all you are doing is posting links to content (especially if that content isn’t even yours).

75% of Tweets go unnoticed and fewer than 5% get retweeted. If this resonates then perhaps you should get off Twitter and start doing something more productive. Or, you could consider the following list of tips to make better use of Twitter for business development.

Listen and Respond

If someone retweets one of your posts, have the decency to thank them or at least acknowledge the Tweet. Your community can become a powerful advocate for you and a great way to grow your following but only if you stroke it and respect it. If someone retweets your content regularly and you don’t even notice it shows how little you care and sends a negative message and they will soon stop, or worse start dissing you.  Don’t create trolls!

Be Community Minded

A community relies on the interaction between members. Don’t forget to offer value to your community and you’ll receive value in turn. Engage with as many relevant people as you can – it’ll pay dividends and enhance your Twitter experience. Remember, your social network (on Twitter and elsewhere) is part of your business capital. Make sure it gives you best value, and protect it.

Don’t Over Tweet

It is important to consider your followers and not to be in their face too much.  If you post Tweets every minute of the day it can get annoying for those on the receiving end unless your content is hot (and you will be perceived as having no other work to do!).  Another terrible habit some Twits have is to use a tool that allows you to automatically posts several Tweets at once.  I use the 3 strikes and you’re out formula and unfollow when this happens.

Don’t sell or spam

Overt selling on Twitter is bad.  If we wanted to be sold to we would be watching the ads on prime time TV instead.  If you use your Twitter presence as a blatant sales tool people won’t want to follow you.  Be subtle with your sales pitch.  Try to follow the 80-20 rule and add value 80% of the time then promote 20%.

Don’t Cheat

Don’t plagiarise other peoples Tweets without acknowledgement (remember the “RT”). Retweeting can be a strong tool to make a direct connection so use this as an opportunity to build rapport rather than annoy.  All it takes is a little @.

Don’t be greedy

Watch your follow to follower ratio.  If you are following way more people than you have following you then it looks like you are desperate.  People are less likely to follow you if you have few followers.  You should always have more followers than you are following.

 Be strategic

Get smart with your Twitter time.  Focus on following the companies and people on Twitter that you want to do business with.  Follow them and then look for ways to interact with them, to add value and to get their attention.  When posting content, think strategically about your audience – posts shouldn’t be all about you but all about how you can add value for them.

No one cares what you had for lunch

Lots of Twits still insist on posting inane drivel on their feeds.  You can get away with this if your feed is simply personal but if you are using Twitter for business, this doesn’t cut it.   Here’s a tip – try speaking your Tweet, if it sounds boring and banal then spare us all and don’t post it.

Employ Tools to Help

Your Twitter strategy can be made easier using the right tools. You might want to manage multiple accounts, or deal with multiple timelines – there are tools to help. We use Hootsuite in all of its forms to help us manage our multiple feeds across our team.  You should check it out.

Create Your Follow Policy

Don’t waste time dithering about whether to Follow someone or not. Decide on your Follow Policy from the outset and don’t stray from that – it’ll save you lots of valuable time.

Measure, Measure, Measure

You can’t manage what you can’t measure.  Set goals for your Twitter presence in terms of follows counts, interactions and traffic to your website and make sure you have the tools in place to help you measure your success.  That way you will know whether your time is well spent.

Get with the Program

Too many businesses get on Twitter without having a clue how to use it properly and then have the audacity to turn around and say that Twitter doesn’t work.  Reality check: it isn’t Twitter that doesn’t work, it’s they way you are using it.

Want it done right?  We manage and maintain Twitter feeds for our clients and would love to add you to our roster so give us a shout.

 


Connecting Your Social Media Accounts

Many businesses would like to have a strong social media presence, but are put off by the sheer number of social networks available. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but remember, you don’t have to be on all social networking sites. In fact, being on sites that don’t directly speak to your target audience, or on sites that your target audience doesn’t frequently visit, can be detrimental to your business, and a waste of your valuable time.

A good place to start when entering the realm of social media is with the heavy hitters; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube for video content, and your business blog. If this list still seems overwhelming, don’t despair! There’s a way to connect all these social networking sites so you’re not spending half your day posting the same YouTube link to all your different followers.

It is best to set up Facebook as your hub when connecting all your different social networking sites. This is because Facebook has a huge amount of applications that have been developed for all sorts of social networking related purposes. All you have to do is go to the Facebook Application Directory and search for the appropriate application, chances are it’s there in the directory. Next up, how to connect your blog, Twitter, and Youtube accounts to Facebook.

Blog:

Connecting your blog to Facebook means that each time you update your blog it automatically posts to your Facebook page’s wall, as well as archiving in the ‘notes’ tab of your page. The process for linking your blog isn’t obvious when looking at your Facebook page, but it’s well worth the search. To begin, click on ‘edit’ below your page’s profile picture. Next, click on ‘Apps’ in the list on the left hand side of the screen. Once there, find the Notes application and click ‘Go to App’. Now, on the left hand side of the screen you should see ‘Edit import settings’ as the very last option. Click this. You should now see a screen that looks like the photo below.

From here, enter the url of your blog and click ‘start importing’. Your blog is now auto posting to your Facebook page.

Twitter:

To connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts, log into your business’ Twitter account, then open a separate tab and go here. Find your business page, click ‘link to Twitter’ and follow the directions.

Youtube:

Using the Cueler application, you can connect your Youtube and Facebook accounts so that videos posted to your Youtube channel automatically post to your Facebook page as well. To do this, click here, and then click ‘install’. This will bring you to a screen that looks like this:

Choose the page you want to add the application to, and follow the directions to automatically post Youtube videos to a new Youtube tab on your Facebook page.

Following the above steps will help reduce the amount of time it takes to update your social media accounts. However, don’t forget to manually update your accounts as well. A mix of manual updates and auto posting allows you to save time, but also ensure that your business maintains a humanistic and approachable presence online. Also, if people follow your business across multiple social networking channels, taking the time to manually post, along with auto posting, ensures they won’t continuously see the exact same content numerous times.

We can help:

If you are interested in connecting your social media accounts and are looking for more guidance, contact us at Out-Smarts Marketing – we provide social media and internet marketing planning services to help you achieve your online goals.

 


Use Social Media to Maintain and Grow Your Network

Building relationships online is as important to growing your business or reputation as networking in the real world. Not only can you be more effective using social media but you can also get more done in less time.

The Internet is a great way to expand your career horizons and get to know new and influential contacts. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when using social media to network.

1. Dont try to network in every Internet networking hub out there. Choose those where you get the biggest impact (i.e. those that your existing contacts already use, those that reflect your target audience, or those most applicable to your niche). The most popular are LinkedIn (Professional Network), Facebook (fastest growing) and Twitter but there are many networks that are industry or job specific (like Active Rain for real estate) too so take time to check them out.

2. Leverage existing on-line networks to grow new ones. I use the Out-Smarts’ Facebook Page profile to promote our Twitter account and vice versa and add more contacts in that forum

3. Promote your activity in your chosen forums by including it in business cards, profiles and on your website.

4. Use widgets. Most of the social networks allow you to widget a link to your profile. Add this to your site, blog etc and include widgets for other networks in your networking profiles.

5. Always remember to be professional in these forums – ask the Granny question and make sure your content is appropriate to your professional standing.

6. When you meet new contacts in the real world find then on-line and add them to your networks.

7. Trawl the friends of your friends and contacts and add those you know or those gurus in your business.

8. Don’t spread yourself over too many networks or allow them to suck up your time. Schedule it into your day.

9. Join groups. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer groups. Join applicable ones and gain access to more people in your field.

10. Participate in the right forums. These should relate to your industry or market and to those of your prospects.

11. Ask and answer questions and use your status to attract new contacts.

12. Blogs can be a great way to build your network too. If you have a blog, always follow up with people who leave comments to connect with possible prospects and peers.

13. If you don’t have a blog then use blog comments as a forum to connect with influential bloggers in your industry, to build awareness of what you do and to add value for their visitors in turn.


Using Social Media for Recruitment – Part 2

Yesterday, we talked about how you can use LinkedIn for recruitment purposes, today we look at some of the other tools available to support your recruiting needs.

XingAnother professional network which is becoming more popular with over 8m users. It is very similar in its functionality to LinkedIn but posting jobs is much cheaper. The downside is that lots of users are in Europe so it’s not the best tool for North American recruitment purposes.

Other professional social networks that facilitate recruitment:

Viadeo

Social Networks – Facebook

Facebook Groups: there are groups on Facebook dedicated to getting the word out about jobs. To do so you can join and post or participate.

Facebook Pages – some companies have Facebook pages dedicated solely to helping them find staff.

Facebook Events – having a hiring fair? You can use Facebook events to promote it.

Facebook Ads: allow you to post ads aimed at people you want to employ: location, education level etc.

Twitter

Twitter is proving a great tool to promote job openings. You can use corporate or staff Twitter pages to Twitter to your community about job postings or you can even have your own dedicated Twitter feed that serves this purpose alone like KPMG http://twitter.com/kpmg

As with any Twitter effort, your follow strategy will be important.

 

 

 


Shut Up and Listen

In December I read an article in the Vancouver Sun that inspired me. The article, called “How Social Media Have Globalized the Shopping Experience”, related how the writer, Gillian Shaw, simply had to Twitter about her choice for next car and lo and behold she got a response from a GM dealer offering her a test drive. Here’s an excerpt:

Gillian Shaw

My Social Media Experiment

So, I decided to try this out for myself to see whether organisations using social media are actually doing a good job of listening and responding to customers and prospects.

Twitter

First stop Twitter where I decided I would use the tool to plan a ski trip. So I Twittered:

CaptureSki

To date I haven’t had a response. I tried a different tact and sent a Tweet to Sun Peaks who were listening to direct messages and did, thankfully, respond:

Sunpekas

A few days later I got stuck in an elevator: what a perfect opportunity to see if anyone was listening and could help me. So I posted my dilemma on Facebook and Twitter. Followers we’re listening – I got 2 responses from friends, both in Alberta, both in no position to help me escape!

Facebook

On to Facebook, where I commented on the Marks & Spencer Page about my frustration with their delivery service (more often than not gifts for my family in the UK arrive broken or damaged):

M&S2

Here was an opportunity for M&S to respond to my concern and to correct it in the public forum, to enhance their customer loyalty but again I had no response. Very disappointing – this year I will find a more reliable supplier and M&S just lost a loyal customer of 20 odd years because they weren’t listening or were choosing to ignore my comments.

Shut Up and Listen

Whilst I might not have the following of a journalist like Gillian Shaw, I do have over 2000 Twitter followers and am very active online – I really expected to get more response to my social media comments.

What is my point here? I have two:

1) Shut Up – First of all companies should realize that we are living in a new world, one where they can and should interact with their customers in these forums to build loyalty and improve customer service. Your audience expects this and not doing so puts you at risk of negative exposure. This is no longer a push to market model where companies bombard their audience with one way messages but a two way street where they can build loyal and valuable relationships with customers and prospects and enhance brand value. Shut up about yourself already and focus instead on your audience and providing value for them.

2) Listen – the first step any company should take when approaching social media is to implement effective listening strategies. Listen to what online communities have to say about your products or services, company, industry and competitors. By doing so you will not only get a feel for what is appropriate (very useful when building your social media strategy) but you will also identify sales opportunities, chances to improve customer service and to build loyalty so that customers keep coming back. Our article Are You Listening? talks about tools you can use to do this effectively.

Conclusion

I look forward to the day when companies stop talking about themselves and start listening to and fulfilling the needs of their audience on social media. There is a vast source of information and opportunity about your company and your market online just waiting for you to tap into it. What are you waiting for? Shut up and listen!


Out-Smarts Podcast #30 – with Smart Cookie and Bratface Marketing’s Andrea Baxter

Twitter is a fabulous tool. Case in fact: recently I connected with Andrea Baxter from Bratface Marketing on Twitter. You might know Andrea from her success as part of the Smart Cookies team that shot to fame following their appearance on Oprah.

Andrea joins us to talk about that meteoric success, how Smart Cookies use social media and about her latest venture Bratface Marketing. Enjoy!

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Links to blogs sites mentioned:

Marketing Vox

Duct Tape Marketing.com

Start Up Nation