Hashtag Etiquette on Twitter

Hashtags are the keywords of Twitter. They are so effective that other social platforms and digital spaces are implementing them. That being said, there is an absolutely wrong way to use hashtags for a business’ reputation and perception online. The same way Google has SEO guidelines and algorithms to prevent keyword stuffing, your business needs to do a self-check on how you are using hashtags on social.

Via Flickr by  James Mitchell

Via Flickr by James Mitchell

Businesses want their Tweets to be seen, so they often make the mistake of stuffing their posts with as many hashtags (or keywords) as possible. An example:

Buy our product! #product #anothernameforproduct #industry #relatedindustry #relatedindustry #relatedindustry #companyname

Yes, hashtags can be helpful in getting your content exposure. Too many hashtags turns users off. When you hashtag stuff, you become:

  • a spam email
  • a flyer shoved in their fact at an event
  • a blind telemarketing call,
  • a pop-up ad

Fix It Tip: Stick to 1-3 hashtags at most for each Tweet.

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Alright, you‘ve got it, 1-3 hashtags! You start sending out Tweets that look like this:

Buy our product! #product #industry #companyname

But you don’t see any improvement in engagement or reach. One reason for a lack of engagement in the above example is the hashtag placement. Social is about having a conversation, and sticking hashtags at the end still gives off a distinct advertising feel.

Fix It Tip: Place hashtags naturally into the conversation, such as:

Buy our #product – it improves #industry. #companyname

As you may have noticed in that example, it is okay to put a hashtag at the end of a Tweet as a statement point. But the majority of hashtags should be placed naturally in the Tweet.

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Via Flickr by mikecogh

Let’s keep improving the Tweet! Even with the fix it tip, the Tweet is still obviously advertising because of its wording. Here is a real life of example of what you are doing when you directly ask people to buy stuff on social. Two friends are talking in a coffee shop and you interrupt them to show off your superamazingawesomelifechanging product. The friends will be annoyed and will never buy from you. Multiply that example by millions and that is what you are doing on social when you directly advertise.

Fix It Tip: Inject some empathy into that Tweet! Instead of using hashtags as keywords to gain customers, think of them as tools to help the customer find the product they need to make their life easier. An example:

This #industrytask makes your life difficult. Try #product to get back to easy work and easier living. #companyname

You may have noticed the trending hashtags on Twitter. You know they are popular and want to use them to get exposure. DiGiorno Pizza thought the same with their Tweet.

digiorno-pizza

Here is the problem – the #WhyIStayed campaign was about domestic violence and having real women explain why they stayed in abusive relationships.

pizzafail

Fix It Tip: Always. Research. Hashtags. This is a good example of why you need to. The trending hashtags are a conversation. You can’t jump in without knowing what it’s about. Another real life example – let’s say you are at a party and you overhear someone talking about peanuts. Excited, you jump into their conversation, raving about this awesome peanut-centric recipe you have, only to find out they were talking about how one person’s cousin just died from a peanut allergy. Not only is that immensely awkward, but you became “that guy.” Don’t do it on social! DiGiorno Pizza feels so awkward about their fail that they haven’t been on Twitter since (which is a whole other social media mistake, but that is for a different post entirely).

It is a good idea to research any hashtag you want to use. Find out:

  • what it actually means
  • who is using it
  • how are they using it
  • how often it is being used
Via Flickr by cogdogblog

Via Flickr by cogdogblog

Lastly, I will tackle the Shakespearean question: To use or not to use branded hashtags? A simple branded hashtag you put at the end of every Tweet (ie: #companyname) is a good idea. You can even have branded hashtags for campaigns or special things your brand does that sets you apart from the competition. Just don’t use all of them all the time.

Bonus Hashtag Tips: Since hashtags are on multiple platforms, you may be wondering, “How in the world do I use them everywhere else?” Here is a quick cheat sheet:

Via Flickr by clasesdeperismo

Via Flickr by clasesdeperismo

  • Facebook: I don’t believe you should use them at all, but that is a personal choice. If you want to use hashtags on Facebook, I would stick to one at the end of a post.
  • Instagram: More hashtags are okay on Instagram. Try 3-5 in a post and make them more personal and less trendy. Hashtags are a way of conversing on Instagram rather than to find images.
  • Pinterest: Preferably, hover around 2-4 per post. Often Pinterest users don’t care about hashtag content in a post, they just want the information on the Pin. If you want to use more you can, but I stand by the fact that keyword stuffing on any platform makes your brand look scammy and unprofessional.
  • Tumblr: Use as many hashtags as you want since they are nondescript. However, your brand will win the favor of the difficult Tumblr audience if you research the crap out of popular Tumblr hashtags to understand the platform’s unique conversation.
  • Google+: Since not everyone uses Google+ for audience expansion, there is not much etiquette on hashtags (besides keyword stuffing). Stick to 2-4 hashtags, either throughout the post or at the end.
  • LinkedIn: No hashtags on LinkedIn. Come on, people, LinkedIn is a classy professional place. Using hashtags is the equivalent of wearing sweatpants to a merger meeting.
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Should You Choose Facebook or Twitter for the Start of Your Social Presence?

When a business decides it’s time to keep up and get their brand on social, it is extremely overwhelming. There are many social network options, but most new-to-social businesses settle on Facebook or Twitter as their first online marketing platform.

Via Flickr by Jason Howie

Via Flickr by Jason Howie

Why is this? Well, Facebook and Twitter are warring clans for the dominion of social media. While Facebook is the innovator that amped social media into what it is today, Twitter was ahead of the curve in creating a new form of social networking. Since their rise to popularity, Twitter and Facebook have been borrowing site layouts, keywords, hashtags, content formatting, and algorithms from each other. Much like the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple, Facebook and Twitter are in a casual war.

So, when businesses are new to social, they gravitate towards one of the two giants. They have a tried and tested layout that attracts users from every demographic. No matter what your business is, you can find your audience in the folds of one of these platforms.

But which one do you choose? If you only have enough time or room in your budget for one, you have to look at who your target audience is.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

For larger businesses that have a target audience that spans across the country, Twitter is your best bet. The audience of Twitter is vast and the platform makes it easy for your audience to interact with your brand. As long as you understand how to craft your messages, use hashtags, create a conversation, and how often to post, Twitter is going to be your best platform.

Via Flickr by Ricky-Lai

Via Flickr by Ricky-Lai

For the smaller or localized businesses, head to Facebook. The users want to interact on a more personal level with Facebook. They want to have conversations with their brand and stay up-to-date on what is going on. Local businesses thrive on Facebook because the people want to support their city and create relationships with owners. They also love bragging about that awesome boutique on Main Street or the greatest tacos ever at the 3rd Street Mexican restaurant. You are likely to get high interaction and more referrals on Facebook.

However, I highly recommend you get on both. My starting price for my social media services cover both Facebook and Twitter posts. This is because I believe businesses need to be on both and it does not take up a great deal of extra time to create different messaging for each platform. Your audience is not restricted to one platform. There will be some of your audience on Facebook but not on Twitter and vice versa. To stretch your reach as far as possible, starting on both Facebook and Twitter will give you excellent leverage.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

Why You Still Need Paper Marketing in a Digital World

Last week, I sent maybe 200 emails for a client, marketing his service to different localities across the US. Many replied back, interested in the service. One asked if I could send them a brochure or flyer they could put out on a display table for a local event to garner more interest for the service.

I was very excited about this offer and immediately emailed the good news to my client. He replied back, upset at the fact anyone would want paper marketing in a digital world. After saying everything is digital these days and paper marketing is archaic, he told me to email the local group back and say we could send some of the client’s business cards for her to put out.

Image via Flickr by Antonio Bonanno

Image via Flickr by Antonio Bonanno

I understand my client’s frustration. Hiring someone, like myself, to create a brochure or flyer can be pricey for startups on a tight budget. Especially when everyone has grown accustomed to being able to view the success of their digital marketing efforts with analytical software. It is difficult to see the benefit in paper marketing when there is no instant way to track the results and success of it without directly asking the consumer how they heard of the company.

Yet paper marketing is still completely relevant. Digital and social can do some truly amazing things for businesses that had a harder time of it in the past. The same reason businesses use social are the same reasons you should keep paper marketing. One of the reasons for social is because a large segment of their audience use social media to communicate and stay loyal to a business. There is still a group of every audience who prefer traditional paper.

Image via Pixabay by kruziwuten

Image via Pixabay by kruziwuten

This is part of why I was astounded at my client’s refusal to supply a paper marketing avenue – his audience directly asked for it. Whenever your audience asks for more information on your product or service, no matter what form it is, you should deliver. The audience will be pleased at the prompt fulfillment of their need and the investment can be used for future marketing opportunities.

The end point – there should always be a corner of your budget reserved for paper marketing. Even if you have no plans to launch a campaign via paper, you want some money reserved in case the need arises. Especially if you plan to go to events. You will need business cards, brochures, flyers, and even a sign for your booth. Your business should always be prepared for all marketing avenues. Which one you invest the majority of your time and resources in depends on your business. However, you should always keep a toe in every marketing platform available.

Originally posted on LinkedIn