• Are you telling your brand story in social media?

#BePrepared – Hashtags and Your Brand

Hashtags. You see them everywhere, and you may have a pretty good idea that they are important. But are you using them? If you are using them, have you built a hashtag strategy? In other words, have you thought about the hashtags you are including in your posts and making sure that they push your brand and your message strategically?

Hashtag Strategy

There are many good reasons to use hashtags. They are particularly important if you want to set your brand apart, reach more customers, and get your content found. If you rely on Twitter and Instagram, it is especially important that you pay attention to hashtags. Sure your followers may see your posts if you don’t use but hashtags make it easier.

One important thing to note before we continue is that each social media platform is its own search engine. Hashtags are used to locate the information we need with a simple search. Especially for platforms that reward hashtag usage – mainly Instagram and Twitter. The reason hashtags were created was to allow people to find and participate in specific online conversations. Today, they are used to attach content to a specific keyword so it can be found easily.

Hashtags are a powerful tool but you need a clear strategy. That means creating a plan, making a list, and then using the tags you choose consistently and strategically.

How To Pick Hashtags

Picking hashtags sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth is it can be tricky. Think about how hard it is to find effective keywords for your content or an available domain name for your website. Pulling something out of the air (without a plan) just because it sounds good usually doesn’t work.

The more complicated or original the hashtag, the quicker your content will be found – but only by the people who already know to look for that tag. Common, frequently used, keywords have a better rate of return if the goal is to attract new traffic to your social media content. A unique hashtag is created for hosting and running events where you can announce the hashtag early and explain how to use it to attendees during the event. However, if you just want to attract healthcare professionals to your blog, for example, then #healthcare, #doctor, or #medical might be a better choice.

Where to start? First, your brand needs to create a strategy around why and how you want to use hashtags. Then you need to decide which hashtags to use. When it comes to Instagram, you need to find tags that focus on your brand, your community, or your content. Right now, the recommended number of hashtags per post on Instagram is between 20 and 30. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much engagement and how many new followers you’ll gain by using more tags on this platform. On Twitter, due to the character restriction, it really is better to limit it to 1-3 hashtags per posts. You’ll need to be much more strategic about the tags you use with your tweets since you are limited. These approaches are related, but they are also different. These social media channels are different since they are completely unrelated to one another so the strategy you use for one may not be successful with the other.

Twubs

Luckily, there are some tools out there that can help. One particularly intriguing tool is Twubs. Twubs is a platform that is designed to gather up all your tweets and create a branded page. The site can also help you find trending hashtags, register your hashtags so that you can stake your claim to them, and conduct conferences and live events. This type of tool can help you monitor and track the impact of your hashtag strategy.

If you don’t want to use another tool, you can the research and tracking on your own. Twitter and Instagram make it easy to find what’s trending. You can search to find out if a tag is already being used and what sort of traction it’s making. Pay attention to the volume of usage and engagement generated by those following and using that hashtag.

A well-researched and thought out a set of hashtags that are used strategically can help you expand your reach and strengthen your brand. While it may take a little work to make sure that you are making the most of your tags, it will be well worth it in the end. Hashtags should be a key part of your overall social marketing plan. We recommend that each of our clients sit down and come up with 50 hashtags they could potentially use and then start incorporating them into their content marketing strategy.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#BePrepared – Don’t Steal Images Off Google!

We’ve all been there. A quick Google search and the perfect photo pops up. A couple of quick keystrokes and it’s all yours. Your troubles are over. But are they? No, in fact, post that picture and your problems may just be beginning. Using a photo that is protected by copyright without permission is stealing. So, before you “borrow that photo” consider the following.

  • Taking photos that don’t belong to you is not a victimless crime. Stealing a picture hurts the artist and deprives him or her of the royalties to which they are due. Remember, even though photographers may love what they do, it’s still a job and how they earn a living. Artists deserve to be paid for their work.
  • It can cost you. If you “borrow” a photo and you get called on it you are subject to fines. Sure, having that picture solves a problem but is it worth it if you end up having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for it? Sometimes a copyright owner will be kind and simply send you a cease and desist letter. However, they don’t have to warn you first. They can simply send you a fine for illegally breaking copyright laws.
  • You don’t need to steal photos. There are many pay per use stock photo sites that charge a reasonable price for the pictures they carry. You can find some amazing images and pay their creator for the right to use them.
  • Free stock photography is a great option. Luckily, pay sites aren’t your only option. There are plenty of free stock photo collections you can take advantage of. Let’s talk about three of the best.
  1. Canva – You may only know Canva as a powerful graphic design tool. In addition to being an excellent site for creating fliers, collages, and infographics, Canva has a substantial library of free stock photos that can be used for both personal and commercial use. Plus, if you use the tool to create your designs, using the photos within the site is quick and easy.
  2. Pixabay – This site has over 1.5 million royalty free stock photos, and some videos, shared by their community of artists. They are public domain without licensing restrictions so you can feel comfortable using them for your business needs.
  3. Unsplash – Similar to Pixabay, Unsplash has a large catalog of royalty free images gifted by their community of photographers. While Pixabay is a great tool if you are seeking specific photos for a project, Unsplash has beautiful images fantastic for attention-grabbing designs.

Without a doubt, finding free stock photography that is high quality and right for your specific needs can be a challenge, and it is always tempting to take the easy way out and grab something that you find through a Google search. There are tools that photographers use to track their images online and, eventually, your actions will be uncovered. This happens nearly daily. There are many small business owners that aren’t even aware that what they are doing is illegal. Be aware and educated. There are plenty of legal alternatives and doing the right thing will save you a headache, and money, in the long run.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#BePrepared – Should You Schedule Your Social Media Content?

When it comes to social media marketing, there is an age-old debate. Should you schedule your content in advance or post it as you go? Honestly, there are valid points to both sides of this discussion that you should understand, as a small business owner, before making your decision on how to proceed with your social media content.

Posting As You Go

Just like in the writing world where there are plotters (those who create a plot before writing) and pantzers (those who just sit down and write without a plan), social media marketing is a world full of people who swear by either scheduling their content in advance or simply posting when they feel the need.

Those who fly by the seat of their pants make a good argument for being present. They are there for their audience. Their content is never stale. Since they just posted something, it’s more likely that they will be there to engage with the audience and continue organically boosting the post by responding to followers. They are more likely to actually use the platform and not just post and disappear.

Many business owners that prefer this method argue that their engagement is way higher when they don’t schedule content. Which makes sense if they are around giving their post traction as it goes live. Engagement really is the key to gaining ground on social media!

Scheduling Your Content

Does that mean you shouldn’t schedule your content? Actually, there are plenty of solid reasons for scheduling your social media posts in advance. This is why so many businesses prefer this method.

Consistency

Consistency is so important when it comes to your online presence. It’s hard to grab someone’s attention at all online but once you have it, you need to take steps necessary to keep it. Maintaining a consistent, reliable presence on social media is the path to nurturing and growing your audience. The path to consistency is to schedule posts in advance. Then it doesn’t matter how busy your day, week, month is – social media is working for you in the background. No more panics about forgetting to post something that day or last-minute brain drains trying to come up with good content on the fly.

Strategy

Do you have a social media strategy? To get the most ROI, or return, on your social media marketing it’s important to create a strategy. If you don’t have one of those, you are basically throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. You’ll struggle proving that the time you spend on social is valuable because you haven’t determined which metrics truly matter for your business. If you are just posting as you go, it will be way more difficult to participate in social media in a strategic way.

Timing

The experts will tell you to check your analytics. Why? Because the best way to be successful is to track when social media success actually happens. What type of content is getting engagement? What time of day is your audience online?

Ideally, you would post your content at just the right time of day. The time that analytics has shown works well for your audience. It can be tough to do this well without scheduling your content in advance. If your audience is most active at 6:30 PM every night – then it’s likely you’ll be eating dinner at the most important time of day for your social media marketing. Wouldn’t it be nice to just schedule the content for 6:30 and then go and enjoy a meal with your family?

Productivity

Also, when it comes to productivity – the ability to batch tasks all at once has long proven to be effective. Being able to sit down and create and post all your content at once and then move on to other initiatives for the month is amazing. You can schedule the time each month to work on your social media without feeling overwhelmed by the task. Many business owners start questioning the value of this marketing approach when they feel like they are spending an exorbitant amount of time working on their own social media marketing. Who could blame them? Efficiency is more appealing.

Our Best Practice Recommendation

Now you understand why there is a debate over scheduling your business content. Social media is supposed to be social so scheduling in advance and walking away from your content is a bad idea.

You can probably also see the popularity of being able to use a scheduler, like Hootsuite or Buffer, to batch your social media content in advance and feel confident about maintaining a consistent, online presence.

As a social media expert, our recommendation for best practices when it comes to posting your content online is… do both! Set aside a few hours each month to schedule strategic content on all of the platforms where you maintain a presence. We recommend at least 3 posts per week but don’t overdo it. The more posts you create, the less likely people will see them (blame the algorithm and the billions of people using social media every day).

However, don’t just stop there. Make it a point to pop in every day and engage with folks on social media and post something timely. Whether it’s a picture of you at a conference or networking event, that blog you just published, or a live video – let your audience know that you are around.

This method of combining the two strategies ensures that you are consistent with your online presence but also reminds you that this experience is an exchange with your audience – not a one-way street. Social media is not a publishing platform where you post it, they come to read it and then they go away. It’s an experience and a connection with you, the business owner. The best way to #BePrepared for social media success is to understand the value of both methods and then build a social media strategy that actually works.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#ShareYourMessage – How to Show Up as Your Brand

Creating, strengthening, and maintaining your brand is one of the most important things any business can do. It doesn’t matter if you are a small company, a big company, or somewhere in between. Your brand is the first thing your customers will think of when they hear your name.

A carefully crafted brand can give you a leg up on your competition, encourage people to come back, and differentiate you in the marketplace. But regardless of how well your brand is created, it must be reinforced everywhere your customers come in contact with it.

These days, many of your customers may only know you from what they see online. That means that one of the most important places for you to use your brand wisely is social media. Your social media content must be high value, build community, and be consistently engaging. While that may sound like a tall order, some simple rules can help you achieve that goal.

Understand your Brand

You may think you know your brand, but do you really? Write down your brand vision: does it make sense for who you are and the culture of your company? If you don’t believe it, then you can’t expect that your customers will. If it’s not what you want then start working to make it reflect the brand vision you do want.

Know Your Audience

You can do everything right with your content but if it’s not what your customers want you are wasting your time. If you don’t have a clear picture of how to best serve your customers with social media, then you need to find out now.

Be Authentic 

Today’s social media users are seasoned and sophisticated. They can spot a fake a mile away. Regardless of what kind of content you are posting it has to reflect the real you, and it needs to look and sound human.

Be Consistent

Regardless of what platforms you are using they need to share a common message and flavor. Of course, you can tailor your content to the type of information that is best suited for unique social media feeds (i.e., Twitter versus Facebook versus Instagram), but all content should be true to your brand and culture.

Be Active

You can’t build a social media following if you rarely post. Develop a strategy that keeps you front and center of your community’s feed on a regular and consistent basis. Respond to comments and questions promptly and let your visitors know that you appreciate their feedback.

You owe it to yourself and your company to be a watchdog over your brand. Monitor what is being said about you online and keep an eye on what your employees are posting when they are representing the company. Your brand image is your business’s lifeline and if it is not managed carefully and nurtured regularly it can do you more harm than good.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.


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