Using #Hashtags for your business

Last month we took you on a whistle stop tour of the humble #hashtag and what it’s all about.  Hopefully it helped you realise why Twitter is a great way to promote your business, and this week we thought we’d go through the many different ways you can use #Hashtags to increase your reach.

Find and use relevant #hashtags for your industry

For example #FlightDeals #VirtualAssistant #ITGeek.  That way when users search those #hashtags your Tweets will come up.

Keep on top of trending #hashtags and use them where possible

This doesn’t mean just jumping on something because it’s hot, including an irrelevant but popular #hashtag in a Tweet about cheap flights is going to make you look like a spammer.  And NEVER jump on a tragedy to make a point, or promote a product.  Just don’t. Seriously.

Create your own

Remember, you can create your own #hashtags, which is a great way to promote a specific event, campaign or product.  For example, we created #TSHTips for when we share hints to make your life easier.

Create competition

Twitter users are more likely to retweet (RT) your #hashtags if they’re in with the chance of winning something, so why not set up a competition, raffle or contest?

Create some Twitter buzz by asking followers to mention a specific #Hashtag in their Tweets and reward them when they do.

Check your settings

Your hashtag’s visibility will depend on your privacy settings. If your Twitter account is private, only those you allow to see your Tweets will have access to your hashtags. If you are using hashtags to increase your brand’s exposure, make sure your Tweets are set to Public otherwise you’ll be missing out.

Be clear

If you’re using a hashtag to join a conversation, make sure the hashtag is specific and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re talking about Obama’s health care plan, use #Obamacare instead of simply #Obama. A vague or generic hashtag like #health or #opinion isn’t effective either.

Keep it simple

Hashtags, like links, look like spam if they are used too often. While there’s no maximum limit to the number of hashtags you can use in a post, three really should be your lot on Facebook or Twitter.  Anything more and it can be difficult to read, and doesn’t give you much chance to add anything else to the conversation.

Don’t repeat yourself

Personally, there’s nothing worse than seeing someone use the same #hashtage more than once in the same Tweet.  Really, what on earth are you trying to achieve?

We love #Hashtags, #Hashtags are great.

No, just no.

 

Give context

So many people think a Tweet which just contains #Hashtags is enough to get a point across. It’s not.  Not only is it confusing, but it’s also really boring.

Why would you simply Tweet #happy?  What on earth does that mean?

Add context.

Equally, don’t just Tweet for the sake of Tweeting.  Make sure you are actually adding to the conversation, and not just appearing in search results.  For example, don’t just say Love #TheApprentice – no one cares.

Say something worth reading, or keep your mouth shut.

What’s the deal with #Hashtags?

When we talk to people about Twitter, one thing that comes up time and time again is the fact it’s just so damn confusing.

“All those hashtags – why can’t people just speak English?”

For many, the humble # makes text seem confusing; but the reality is it’s an integral part of how we communicate online these days.  As such, if you’re going to use Twitter on any meaningful level, you need to find out how to use them.

The basics

The purpose of a #hashtag is to turn any word (or string of words) into a searchable link.  Why’s that important, you may well ask (and again, many do).

Essentially it means you can organise your own content, and track specific topics of discussion based on those particular keywords.

Like cake?  Who doesn’t?  Type #cake in to the Twitter search bar and BOOM – everyone else’s Tweets about #cake will immediately appear in chronological order.

What can you include in a #hashtag?

The reality is you there is no pre-determined list of #hashtags.  Of course there are many that are popular, either trending temporarily, or sticking it out for the longhaul.  But if what you want doesn’t exist, you can simply create your own.

The key thing to remember is you can’t use spaces. If you do add a space, then the next character will form outside of the linkable #hashtag.  Even if you are using multiple words in the same #hashtag you MUST NOT use a space.

If you want to make your #hashtag easier to read, then consider using uppercase letters for the start of each word, for example #LuLovesShoes.

The good news is this won’t change your search results – #lulovesshoes would appear, regardless of capitalisation.

Numbers are supported, so tweet about #50ShadesOfGrey to your heart’s content. However, punctuation marks are not, so commas, fullstops, exclamation points, question marks and apostrophes are out. Forget about asterisks, ampersands or any other special characters.

Make yourself heard

How and why you use #hashtags will depend largely on what you’re trying to achieve, and also your style, tone and voice.

Lu likes to use her #hashtags as an aside, or to convey personality, humour (or more likely, sarcasm). Her current favourites include #SendCoffee #ShoeLove #ShoeGoals #MumOf5 #WhyGodWhy

 

The key to Twitter is getting involved.  Why not spend some time looking around, searching existing #hashtags and seeing what other people are doing?

 

Remember, we’re here to help – so if you need a crash course, or just have a quick question, don’t be afraid to get in touch. Drop us an email: lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk, call 0161 883 2024 or leave a comment.

Social Media Platforms: The Pros and Cons

If you follow our previous blogs, then I think I’ve made it pretty clear during this time that you’re unlikely to just randomly stumble on the perfect mix of social media channels and content – it is something that takes time and will require your attention.

That said, in true Time Saving Heroes style, I have pulled together some quick fire bits of information about various platforms to help you make your decision.

Facebook

Started in 2004 Facebook has the benefit of being a real powerhouse in the digital world. As a result they are a real leader when it comes to innovation and listening to their users. Incidentally, reports indicate there are 1.65 billion active users of Facebook per month, so there’s a good chance your audience will be logging on at some point.

Thanks to how long it’s been operating it’s likely that most people will have a personal account, which means it can be a great place for someone to launch their business presence from. Business pages operate in much the same way as personal pages, and are all pretty intuitive. New features and options are always being added, and you can now include live video and information on particular products and services.

However, over the years Facebook has become more of a pay-to-play space, with businesses being subjected to an increasingly complicated algorithm for generating reach. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on targeted ad’s or don’t want to constantly test out best posting times etc then Facebook may not be for you.

Equally, if your primary audience are teens or millennials, then you may find that they are starting to head elsewhere these days. Younger audience appear to be preferring to use Instagram and Snapchat instead.

Twitter

Slightly younger than Facebook, Twitter still has a wealth of experience and lots to offer. However, while it is growing as an ad platform, the algorithm timeline means you are likely to end up experiencing the same drop in reach as counterparts do on Facebook.

That said, it is a fantastic platform to use if you want to provide instant updates and keep people involved and up to speed with a particular event or product launch. The one drawback may be that user numbers are stalling compared to other networks, and those who are new to the platform don’t necessarily hang around.

Instagram

When you think of Instagram, you immediately think of photos – which makes it a fantastic place to go if you have a visually appealing product to sell. Great content can gain almost instant traction and huge levels of engagement, helping you to reach your audience.

However, as with other networks, algorithms are likely to have an impact on future performance, and increased advertising is sure to see organic posts falling when it comes to reach.

LinkedIn

The oldest social network site of the bunch, LinkedIn is the go to place for professionals, and entirely dominates this space. It is a fantastic place to make genuine business connections and seek out thought leaders in your industry.

However, low numbers of users are actually active (in comparison to other platforms), and as such you often need to post content multiple times to ensure it is seen. The down side is that LinkedIn can become very time consuming, though the rewards for genuine interaction and relationship building are undoubtedly worth it.

 

Pinterest

My personal problem with Pinterest is how addictive it is, but then, that is kind of the point. From a marketing perspective it is a great place to target women, even though it is starting to gain more traction with male audiences.

The ability to add a Buy Now button is fantastic for direct commerce, however, it is essential you have quality photographs of products, and may need to spend money on a commercial photographer. The site can also be a bit confusing at first, and does not lend itself well to those who want a quick-fire way of reaching people.

 

Snapchat

As mentioned previously, Snapchat is becoming increasingly popular with younger audiences, so if this is your target, you’d be daft not to consider this platform. However, it can take some getting used to and the downside is that it can be very hard to track the actual performance of snaps, so you’re never quite sure whether what you’re doing is working.

While content curators are moving in to this space, and will continue to do so, it’s fair to say that Snapchat does still have quite the reputation for being a sexting app.

What is the Twitter banner, and why is the landing page important?

Your Twitter banner, or header photo, is the first thing visitors will notice when they first click on your profile. When you send a Tweet other users will only see your profile image, but if they want to find out more about you, they’re likely to visit your profile – and they will see your header photo before anything else.

As a result, it’s important you give this aspect of your profile some careful consideration and don’t just leave it blank, or whack anything in there in the hopes that it will do.

When trying to decide what your header should look like, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do I want to be perceived? What are my values?
  2. What do I want to communicate through my design? Am I trying to sell or attract?
  3. What are my key visual elements? What are your brand colours, logos or iconic products people should associate with you?

Your Twitter header needs to represent you or your brand, but it also needs to be striking to catch people’s attention.

Let’s have a look at this header photo by Starbucks.

image-4-starbucks-header

When you land on their profile you clearly see their logo as their profile photo, but the cover image also shows precisely what they’re selling, and is branded again with their logo on the cups. It does everything you need it to, and they update it on a regular basis – which is even better as it doesn’t get boring.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we offer cover image designs for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so if you aren’t making the right first impression just yet, we’re on hand to help you.

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk to find out more.

 

Where are your customers?

When I start working with a new client on their social media one of the things I ask during my fact find is “what platforms do your customers use”. Usually I’m given one of two answers:

1.      I don’t know

2.      All of them

Depending on the mood I’m in I might start asking how many of their customers use QQ, We Chat, Baidu Tieba, Viber, Kiwibox or Skyrock. If I’ve had coffee and am therefore slightly less sarcastic, I may just explain that “all of them” does not simply mean Facebook or Twitter.

In fact, there are so many social networking sites it’s impossible to really keep a handle on a comprehensive list of what’s available. “All of them” is never a realistic answer.

With that in mind then, I ask again, where are your customers when are they online? Chances are you won’t know the actual answer (unless you are stalking them) but you can take an educated guess.

Facebook remains the most popular platform, closely followed by YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Some people may have accounts on a variety of different networks, but most will favour just one or two. Personally I live on Facebook (to keep in touch with friends and share sarcastic posts) and Pinterest (great for Home Ed ideas and knitting projects). Professionally I prefer Twitter and LinkedIn because it allows me to share information quickly, and interact with others who have similar interests.

When it comes to deciding where you should focus your attention you need to think about what you have to offer, and what interactions you are looking for. If you’re a handyman is it worth posting videos showcasing your skills or offering top tips for simple DIY? If so, YouTube could be a great channel for you, followed by Facebook so you can share your videos.

I used to do a lot of work with a wool shop in Devon who started posting simple video tutorials on YouTube for basic knitting patterns. Knitting newbies would see the video, get inspiration and then be directed to their online shop to purchase the materials they needed. Sales went through the roof.

If you sell products that are visually pleasing then Pinterest may seem like the most logical choice; however, the audience for this site still has a huge US bias, which is great, as long as you can ship there. It might well be that Instagram is a better option instead.

Do you want people to like and share your content, or do you want them to interact? Do you want to start conversations and debates, sharing information and knowledge, or do you want people to passively digest your message? Again, a lot of this will come back to how much time you have.

These are all things to think about before just jumping in to a particular platform because everyone else is there.

If you’re avoiding social media because of this, then you’re missing the point

The vast majority of the people who follow this blog are business owners (usually SMEs), and as such I imagine this post will resonate somewhat.

This week I had a meeting with a potential client who wanted to find out more about the services I offered.  Initially they were interested in content for their website, but conversation drifted to social media.  They immediately admitted they could see the upside, but the thing that worried them the most was this – what if they (i.e. their customers) took to social media to complain?

It’s entirely plausible that I’ve been doing this for too long because honestly it took me a while to understand what their problem was.

We all know that customers sometimes complain. Occasionally they complain for apparently no reason – some people just can’t be helped. No, it’s never nice to be complained about, so I get that; however, every complaint is an opportunity to wow.

Ah, but a complaint on social media could go viral they tell me.

Yes, I acknowledge, it could. However, you have 15 followers and sell a niche product, the chance is slim. And if it happened, your business would probably benefit from the publicity.

It’s not really worth the risk though, they argue.

Harumph.

Let’s cut to the chase here. Your customers will not complain because you are on social media. If they feel strongly enough to complain, they will find a way to do so.  This obsession that somehow a complaint on a Facebook page is going to destroy your business is simply ridiculous.

How did customers used to complain?  In person. The law of Sod would also dictate they’d wait until your store was at its busiest before they did so. The result? Other people would hear.

You know what impact those complaints have on your target audience? Nothing – provided of course you handle it correctly.

Online complaints are no different.

If someone complains on social media, and you address it courteously and in a timely manner, you will always come away looking better.   As a result, social media is not a thing to be feared. It is an opportunity to be embraced and one we really don’t think you should miss.

 

If you are concerned about how to keep on top of your interactions we offer a management service to take the hassle from you. Alternatively, we are always happy to provide advice if you have a specific concern when it comes to customer service.

Please get in touch by calling our hero hotline: 0161 883 2024, emailing lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk or messaging us via Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Why you shouldn’t hashtag all the things

As you would expect a large part of my professional life is spent online. I’m either writing or reading blogs, or interacting with a wide variety of people via social media. (occasionally I also do “proper” work, but I avoid it as much as possible). As a result I see a lot of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to content and digital marketing.

One of my personal pet peeves, the sort of thing that makes me disappear in to a corner and bang my head against a wall is over enthusiasm when it comes to hashtags.  No doubt you’ve seen the sort of posts I’m referring to.

#Your #statusupdates #look #so #cool #with #your #hashtags #saidnoonever

Today one particular post has sent me over the edge (it contained 18 different combinations of essentially the same tag) and it’s time to call a Hashtag Intervention.

What is the purpose of a hashtag?

Once upon a forever ago the hashtag (#) was simply referred to as the pound sign.

For musical types, you may even have referred to it as the sharp sign.

Personally, it’s always been the noughts-and-crosses board, but I accept I may be in a club of one there.

Regardless of what the sign means to you, when it comes to social media the humble # has been elevated to supernova stardom. Now it is used to draw attention, organise and promote content.

Twitter started using hashtags to make it easier for users to find, follow and contribute to specific conversations. If you wanted to find out what the latest news was in Manchester, you would simply search #Manchester and you’d have access to everyone who had used that tag.

#Simples.

How to use them

Whilst many people will know what they are, and even what they’re meant to do, few seem to really understand how to use them.

Here then are my top tips to ensure you’re making the right impact:

  1. Be specific – whilst there are some rules when it comes to using a hashtag, the reality is you can pick anything. With an endless array of options it serves to be focussed. If you are selling products for newborns, don’t imply rely on #parents, instead try to attract #NewMums or #newborn #baby to really hit your target audience.
  2. Consider the platform – although you can now use hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram etc it is important to bear in mind the platform you are using. For example, Instagram tags will tend to focus on the content of a picture whilst on Twitter tags are used to engage in particular conversations.
  3. Don’t go too long – hashtags need to be memorable, and more importantly, readable. Hashtags count as characters, and if they’re too long to type, people simply won’t bother. Equally, too many words strung together and it becomes impossible to read clearly. #ItsNotACaseOfGoBigOrGoHome
  4. Maintain a balance – posts with more hashtags then general words are meaningless. It’s true that the more hashtags you use, the more users you are likely to reach as you tap in to more searches and conversations. However, your content becomes impossible to read as it doesn’t actually contain anything worth reading. My advice is don’t exceed more than five tags per post. And ideally, keep it lower than that.

As always, if you need any advice, tips or help when it comes to curating content or posting on social media, the team at Time Saving Heroes are on hand to help out. Give us a call on our hero hotline: 0161 883 2024, email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or get in touch via Twitter or Facebook.