On 23rd August 2007, Chris Messina proposed that hashtags could be used in tweets. Since then, hashtags have become common place on Twitter. This article covers hashtags and how they can improve your social media strategy.
A hashtag is a key word or phrase (spelt without using spaces) with a ‘#’ in front of it. For example #andyditchburn, #marketing and #nebusiness are all hashtags.
Most people use hashtags in tweets, but they’re also used on other social media channels including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. A hashtag can appear anywhere within a social media post.
When used correctly, hashtags are a great way to make your social media posts easier for your audience to find and interact with.
Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to your social media success. Here’s how hashtags should be used on different social media channels –
Hashtags on Twitter effectively allow you (or your audience) to collect a number of tweets from different users into a single stream.
It’s easy for users to search (using Twitter’s Advanced Search feature is a good idea) and find tweets that contain specific hashtags.
On Twitter hashtags make it easy to join conversations around topics that are relevant to you or your business.
As with Twitter, hashtags on Facebook allow posts to be collected into a single stream.
However, the big difference is that most individual Facebook accounts aren’t public. Therefore hashtags on these accounts aren’t searchable.
So, when you search for hashtags on Facebook the results are likely to come only from bigger more established brands.
In a similar way to Twitter and Facebook, Instagram collects posts from different users into a single stream. When you search, you’ll see posts from users that you aren’t currently following.
If your account is set up as public, then your posts could appear when another users search.
On Instagram, when you type the ‘#’ symbol, popular hashtags are automatically suggested.
Pinterest treats hashtags slightly differently to the other main social media channels.
Hashtags can be (and often are) included in account descriptions, board titles and board descriptions, but the only place they’re clickable and searchable from is the actual pin description.
Pinterest advises users to be ‘careful with hashtags’. They also say – ‘having too many of them in your descriptions may negatively impact your ranking.’
Tips for using hashtags –
Do some research and discover the most popular current trending hashtags.
Hashtags should be used sparingly – I usually advice using a maximum of around half a dozen, any more can overload and confuse the audience.
Start your own hashtag – use it consistently throughout your social media strategy.
Don’t use hashtags that are too long and difficult to read.
When combining a series of words, ensure that a random word isn’t accidentally spelled.
Are you using hashtags? Let me know how… send a tweet to @Perro_Andy.
Most business owners engage in networking! It’s great for personal development and confidence building, but most importantly it’s probably the most cost effective way to generate new business.
If you believe that networking is a viable way to generate new business, then you should commit to and develop a networking strategy and plan.
Developing a strategy and a plan will help you to maximise the opportunities when you attend different events.
The actual events that you choose (or choose not) to attend will directly impact how successful your networking strategy becomes.
These are the main different types of networking events –
Casual Contact Events
Often a great place for inexperienced networkers to start! These events are usually informal and relaxed. You should expect to meet a broad range of connections from lots of different industry sectors. It’s likely that there won’t be a membership fee, usually there’s a nominal meeting fee.
Strong Contact Events
These events are more formal and much more structured. An annual joining fee is usually required to gain membership. As well as financial commitment, joining a Strong Contact Event group also needs personal commitment.
Community Groups and Forums
Rotary is a good example of this type of group. The intention is usually to create a positive impact for local charities or communities. Committing to these events can be a good way to implement part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy.
Industry Specific Networking
Usually ran by professional or trade associations. Membership fees and rules on attendance vary.
The audience at these events are limited to your industry. However, it’s a great opportunity to meet and share knowledge with industry leaders.
Conferences, Trade Shows and Exhibitions
The style of these events is similar to a Casual Contact Event. They probably aren’t advertised as ‘networking’, but they are undoubtedly great opportunities to connect with like minded individuals. They can be busy, crowded and fast paced.
Private Invitation Only Events
These ‘invitation only’ events are usually hosted by companies or organisations. They could be drinks receptions, launch events or awards dinners. Again, they’re not advertised as ‘networking events’, but most people in attendance will be engaging in networking of sorts.
These groups aren’t primarily about business, but they’re a great way to develop long term business relationships. Members share a hobby or a common interest in areas such as sports, music, crafts or religion.
Women Only Networking
Recently there has been an increase in Women Only Networking Groups. These groups fall into all of the categories mentioned above. They’re designed to support women who feel uncomfortable attending meetings or events that are strongly dominated by men.
Initially I recommend attending lots of different types of networking events whilst keeping an open mind.
Different people naturally prefer different situations and environments. When developing your networking strategy and plan, it’s important to know which events ‘work for you’ and make you feel comfortable and relaxed.
In my Guide, ‘What Everybody Ought To Know About Networking’, I break networking planning down into 3 stages –
Preparation – Preparing A Networking Strategy
Networking – What To Do At The Event
Following Up – What To Do After the Event
Click here to find out more about ‘What Everybody Ought To Know About Networking’.
Over the last few months I’ve worked with several clients to help them to improve their blogs.
What to include in a blog post has frequently been discussed.
The one area that always seems to divide opinion, is whether or not a ‘call to action’ should be included in a post.
I always advise that an ‘appropriate’ call to action should be included!
Read on to find out what should be included in a blog post and how an appropriate ‘call to action’ can help to make your posts more successful.
What should be included in your blog posts –
Think carefully about your headline! The main purpose is to influence and encourage your audience to ‘click through’ and read more.
Your intro is usually the next section to be read after your headline. It should concisely communicate what your audience will ’take away’ from your post.
The quality of your images can make or break a post. All blogs don’t need to have images, but they should be used whenever possible.
As with images, it’s a great idea to embed (as professional as possible) video in your blog posts.
Try to use short paragraphs to make your posts more inviting and easier to read. Headings, sub headings and captions can also be used throughout to not only improve the appearance, but to make your blog posts easy to read.
Your blog posts should contain appropriate links. Don’t give your audience too many options – only use links that you really want to be clicked on.
Social Media Sharing
Your posts should include social media sharing icons. This will encourage and make it easier for your audience to share your content.
Allowing your audience the chance to leave comments is a good idea. Your blog platform should allow you to approve comments before they are displayed.
The ‘Call to Action’ –
A ‘call to action’ (sometimes referred to as a CTA) is an instruction intended to provoke an immediate specific response.
It should be the next ‘natural’ step that you want your audience to take. Therefore, it’s important that the ‘call to action’ is strong, visible and appropriately positioned within your post.
The ‘call to action’ is usually (but not always) displayed at the end of a blog post.
In digital marketing and on a blog post, a ‘call to action’ will usually direct the audience to ‘click’ on something.
Your ‘call to action’ could be –
Other blog posts that your audience might want to read
A link to your website or social media platforms
An eNewsletter sign up or opt in form
A link to your online store, with discount or coupon code
A free download or a free limited period offer
If your audience is enjoying reading your content, then they’ll expect to see a ‘call to action’. If your posts are interesting and relevant then your audience will naturally want to take the next step.
I’m sure that using a ‘call to action’ will help to make your blog posts more successful. Drop an email to email@example.com or tweet @Perro_Andy to let me know how you get on.
There are many obvious benefits to writing a blog. It’s one of the most cost effective ways to market your business.
However, constantly generating new ideas for blog content can be tough! Everyone experiences writers block or just a general lack of inspiration from time to time.
Staring at a blank page (or screen) can be daunting.
Here are some tips to help you to find inspiration for your next blog post –
Revisit your keyword research
You should have a list of key words and phrases that you want you website or blog to be found on. Revisit this list and use the key words and phrases to inspire topics and categories for future posts.
Respond to your audience
Always ask yourself ‘what do my audience really want to know?’ Writing to solve your audiences biggest problems is a fantastic approach to generating content.
Read competitors or associates blogs
The idea here is not to pinch content from others – but this might help to inspire new topics and themes to explore.
Change your working environment
A change of scenery can help everyone to become more inspired. Try working from somewhere new – maybe from home, a coffee shop or an associates work space. Taking a walk, or getting some fresh air might also help.
Keep a list of ideas
Make notes to constantly record your thoughts and ideas. Either carry a notebook around with you, or use an app such as Evernote or Trello.
Check out your old blog posts
Is there anything there that can be updated or refreshed? Your most popular content could be used to inspire new posts.
Just do it!
A blank page (or screen) is a daunting! The best way to start writing is to dive straight in and start writing or typing. Don’t over think it! When you do have a draft of something, you’ll feel more relaxed.
Write content in batch
You could have a monthly or fortnightly blogging day. When you are in the groove, generate several posts and schedule them through your blogging platform.
I hope one or two of these tips will help you with your next blog post!
Find out more about blogging in my guide – Who else wants to blog like an expert?