Quick and Clever Ideas for Using Instagram for Business

One of the most common things I hear from new clients is ‘We don’t use Instagram’.  When I question their reasons for this choice, the answer is always the same.  Instagram has a reputation of being social not business media.  However, isn’t that kind of missing the point?  Facebook has a massive social only following, but it also has garnered a colossal business following and customers are looking to Facebook to find and connect with businesses.  Instagram is NO different!

Instagram is owned by Facebook!

So, basically, I insist we set up an Instagram profile for my clients.  You do need a presence on there.  While it might be a different platform because it only allows an image sharing facility, do not underestimate it.  Here are some ideas to boost your sales and brand using Instagram

  • Share a balance of promotional pictures and general interest images 

While you are looking to increase your customers the same social media rules apply, constant blatant advertising will switch people off.

  • Harness the power of video – how to videos, product reviews, tour of the office

Be creative! The sky is the limit.  Why not ask followers to send a video of themselves using your product? User generated content actually works.  Look at GoPro to see just how well it works!

  • Use hashtags build followers

Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags per image or video.  There are plenty of websites that can help you come up with related hashtags, but make them relevant otherwise, people will lose interest in you pretty fast.  I often say 10 quality tags are better than 30 tenuous ones.

  • Then interact with your audience 

Follow your followers back, and get involved.  If they comment on your photo or video – comment back!  Be interactive and prove you are really out there listening!

  • Aim to Inspire

Try and post content that is relevant to your area that inspires people.  Inspiration and the idea of self-bettering and improvement sells.  Customers like to see things that make them believe they can be better.

  •  Host a Competition 

Use Instagram to host a photo contest.  Encourage users to share their images for the competition – and once more you are creating user generated content that gives you a wealth of pictures to use at a later date.  Make is clear in the contest announcement that images will be used for social media purposes and credit the user when you post their image.

  •  Share Your Team 

Customers love to know who is behind a company. Share pictures of your team whether they are at work or out and about doing the things they like, and explain what is happening!  If you are a sole trader – guess what – that means selfie time!

  • Switch to a Business Profile

There is no charge! However, switching to a business profile means you gain access to the analytics.  This useful information gives you insights that will help you understand your followers and learn more about people who like your company!

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self-confessed Geek Girl.

Will Social Media Management Fly in the Face of Automation?

Whenever you read about trends for 2017, they suggest that the biggest development is automation. However, can automation provide the service people can? We have all seen some pretty hideous blunders from companies using social media automation, and now we are seeing influencers rebuffing total automation and instead declaring that certain parts of automation detract from the social media marketing.

Responsive Social Media Marketing

Anyone that knows me will attest to the fact that I have countered that full automation does not work. It has always been my opinion that if you automate your social media marketing, you are losing the human interaction element of brand building. While technology advancements are always designed to help and save money, I still believe there are times when the shortcut is not worth the saving. ‘Social Media Marketing’ being one of them.

Post Automation Cannot Interact

If you have post automation software and preload it weeks at a time, where is your customer engagement? If you do not communicate with your clients you risk losing them. I am also a huge advocate of being bang on top of developments in your industry. If something happens today, but you have walked away from your social media because you automated it, you might not get round to reporting or commenting on the development for 7-10 days – I don’t think that aids your reputation as an industry expert – in fact, I am convinced it hinders it. Sure, it may take me a bit more time to check my customer’s industry news before deciding what to post every day, but it also means they are never more than 24 hours away from talking about news. Sometimes it has been just hours or less when I find a story to work with.

Reply, Like and Comment

If you think that you have done your social media marketing because you have loaded a week of Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram posts, you are wrong. You need to be monitoring these channels and responding to your customers so that they know you are out there. Like a comment, share a tweet, answer questions, these important actions do make a difference to your brand and how you come across to your prospects. I actively encourage my clients to check their Facebook and Twitter inboxes, and they get a sharp reminder if they are too slow!

Automation Has a Place

Please do not think that in saying this, I am against automation of all shapes and sizes. That could not be further from the truth. Some automation is exciting and time-saving. A prime example of useful automation is Chatbots and AI. I love these developments and would urge people to look to these to save time and money without cutting corners on their social media marketing.  Embracing these developments are what the smart cookies are doing!

My Keyword of 2017

For me, the keyword for 2017 is ‘Responsive’. If you can purposefully argue that your use of technology is responsive, then go for it. Are chatbots responsive? Yes, yes and well, yes! As soon as a customer interacts with a chatbot they respond – quicker than a human. So, if monitoring your Facebook messages is something you have no time for – that is where you need to deploy automation in the form of a chatbot. However, the same argument cannot be made when it comes to automating a load of posts and walking away. What if something changes and your tweet leaves you slightly pink-faced?
So, before you take time-saving measures be sure to ask yourself one question “Is this responsive?’

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self-confessed Geek Girl.

So You Want To Be An Influencer?

We have all heard of the term Influencer, but do we understand it? More interestingly many people want to know how to become an Influencer?

The bottom line is influencers are trusted sources in their respective fields that can add clout to a marketing campaign, sales push and various other reputation building activities. If you were looking for a great deal on a mortgage for example, and you heard Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert) bigging up a potential lender, you might be drawn to find out more. And in that case rightly so. Martin in a known financial Influencer. Remember there is a difference between taking advice from an industry expert and listening to an unrelated celebrity sell the merits of a shampoo they never actually use because they are being paid significant amounts of money.

So how do you increase your chances of being an Influencer in your market?

It involves work on your part! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that is how it goes. If you want to be recognised as an expert in your industry, you need to earn your place. Here are some ways you can start to improve your knowledge and begin to demonstrate what you can do.

Read and learn

Every day you should be learning about your industry. You need to be aware of your industry trends. How else are you able to know what is going on? Things change, methods of working change and the way in which people market and sell in your industry changes – be at the cutting edge of that by reading. Being in social media and marketing, I tend to use the following pages to see what is going on:

  • Google News
  • Flipboard
  • Klout
  • BuzzFeed
  • Wired

These are just a few before anyone shouts that I have missed some and my personal favourites. There are many sources in all industries. I also have several magazine subscriptions, Entrepreneur being one of the best for me.

Learn From the Best

Who are the important influencers in your industry? You can learn a lot from them. I have enormous respect for Neil Patel for example, and I follow his work. Be open to the fact that you probably do no know as much as you thought you did. Even if you feel that you know as much or more than others already at the top – you still have to get there. Arrogance will work against you.

Get Involved

Find the best group on Facebook and LinkedIn and start participating. Quora is an excellent place to demonstrate your knowledge. You do not get paid for these things, but it is well worth the effort to become known as an expert. Answer questions, ask questions and start debates. Remember you are still a small fish! Do not be surprised if an influencer with more clout tries to put you in your place. Do not be one of those people. The only time you should look down on someone is when you are offering them a hand up.

Guest Blogger

In much the same way as getting involved, Guest blogging is another great way to get your name out there. You will need to apply, but there are always sites up for welcoming guest bloggers. Guess what? It is another freebie – but honestly, you must leave the money focus at the door. Why would you want to guest blog? Well, if you can correctly identify the big blogs in your industry, you are putting yourself in front of an audience much larger than your own.

Smile!

Finally, a tip that works in all walks of life. Smile, be a friendly and approachable person. Influencers might be experts that people look up to and are influenced by, but they are still just people. Rudeness and egos need to be left at the door. You will get a lot further if you are amiable and approachable. It is ok to be nice to people – most of them don’t bite!

So there you have it. Becoming an influencer is a slow process, and many fall by the wayside before they get there because they frankly cannot be bothered. The choice is yours. I for one will keep going, so if you see me around say ‘Hi’, I don’t bite either!

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self-confessed Geek Girl.

The Beginners Guide to Blogging

If you have always wanted to start a blog for your business, but never been sure of how to do that – never fear.  In this post, I will walk you through all the steps needed to get started, get your voice heard and increase your company’s visibility through the media of blogging.

Why Blog?

If you run any kind of business, blogging gives you a voice and a platform.  I am going to assume you are already active on social media channels with your business profile (if you are not, you really should be).  Twitter is limited by characters, just 140 per message.  It is known as a form of microblogging but that is not to say you should release a page of A4 text 140 characters at a time!!  Facebook allows you more freedom, but huge posts are not really appropriate.  So blogging is a great way to get larger chunks of information out into the public domain.  Your social sites can then be used to direct traffic to your blog.

What a Blog Should Not Be Used For

A blog is not just a sales page.  You have a website to showcase the products you offer, so keep your advertising on there.  You can reference your products but blogging is primarily for sharing interesting content and information.  You could share a customer experience of your product, but do try and keep the blog informative and interesting.  Look for news in your industry, relevant developments and content that will offer your readers interest and education.

Getting a Blog

The first port of call is whoever looks after your website.  There are plenty of ways they can add a blog section to your website.  Many allow plugins from WordPress and other blogging platforms.  Failing that, WordPress and other sites offer a free blog page.  The sign up is easy and over 48% of hosted blogs are with WordPress but there are others out there. From a branding point of view the neatest way is to have your blog as a link on your website, but failing that ensure consistency of colour and tone, as well as uploading your logos ensures that your blog still fits your brand.

I am going to reference WordPress more as I believe it is still one of the best platforms for new bloggers.  Even with their free options, you have access to a tonne of layouts, meaning you can choose something that is really reflective of your business.  Spend some time going through the layouts on offer.  You will see that all offer colour change options and lots of scope to personalise.

The only negative to having a hosted free blog via WordPress is that the URL (the www.myblog…) bit will not be personal to you, and will contain a WordPress URL with your username attached (make that your business name), however, this is not a massive issue as 9 times of 10 you will be driving traffic to your blog via ‘click here’ type links so often your clients do not see what is behind the link.

Get Writing

That is basically it.  Now all you need to do is create useful, informative content.  A blog post can be any length and standards and recommendations change all the time.  Have your say. There is no point desperately filling to reach 1000 words if you have made your point in 500 – remember the key is to be interesting and engaging – you do not want your audience falling asleep. Publish your content and proliferate links to your social media accounts.

And that is it! Give it a try and ‘Happy Blogging’

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self-confessed Geek Girl.

4 Free Social Media Tools I Use Every Day

When you spend half your life creating social media content for clients, finding tools to help you is imperative. I want to lavish my customers with content they can be proud of, but as a small business, I cannot afford to subscribe to expensive services. Running a business has to be cost effective for all involved. I offer ‘Responsive Social Media Marketing’, so whilst that might make my life harder, you will not find content automation tools in my armoury. I do not schedule my content weeks in advance, I make a judgement call every day. I use the ‘hit list’ of my clients that includes their marketing plan for the month or week, but I also have a strong pull to the news and their industry trends. So, no Hootsuite for me. But, I have a lot of free tools that I rely on, and I thought I would share some of them with you.

Flipboard

I love Flipboard. It enables me to not only see content specific to any topic I so desire, but I can create my own magazines (I have 4), which enables me to store the content of interest for later. It also means I can create a following of like-minded individuals, who also share or ‘flip’ what I have collected. Flipboard allows you to bring in content from any source, so my own blogs get flipped after publication and it is thrilling watching others flip them out to a wider audience. Magazines can garner a following, so I am building my own gang of followers in my industry, but I can also follow magazines in my client’s industries, furnishing me relevant news and content on tap.

hastagify.me

This is a funky little website that gives you a hand with hashtags. Those pesky little creatures can be the bane of the social media marketer, as tweet after tweet no one pays you any attention. Simply add the hashtag you are planning to use the search box, and the software will return like-minded tags and rank them in order of popularity. This means you can see easily whether you are targeting well (and your content needs work) or whether you are using a dud tag and need to reconsider.

Klout

Whilst this is a pretty buggy ‘Beta’ platform, I have learned to love Klout. Using the information in your profile Klout proffers suggestions for ‘reshareworthy’ content in your field. It scores you on your own performance as an expert and provides helpful suggestions for other influencers you might be wise to network with and follow. This is a content curation platform, so if you like what you see you can schedule it to post to your social media platforms. Currently, it can only post to Facebook profiles, not business pages, but you can cut and past – or just use it to add a layer to your Twitter plan. As with Flipboard is also gives you an opportunity to learn as you are presented with a myriad of industry relevant articles. Currently, with no knowledge of how it happened, I have become an expert in David Beckham and fish. As mentioned the Beta platform is bug ridden, but hey, it makes me smile every time I login!

Canva

Canva is a great free graphics design tool. If like me, you struggle to create a stickman, this is your lifeline. So easy to use, whether on the desktop or via the app, you can create amazing graphics in no time. There are thousands of great free images, icons, styling details and texts available, and you get to choose what your graphic is for, making sizing issues a thing of the past. Choose from every graphic for every platform. If you want to upgrade you get access to even more functionality, but to be honest, it has given me everything I need at no cost.

Of course, there is a mass of other free tools out there, and I will look at some more in another post – but in the meantime, I really do recommend you check these out.

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self-confessed Geek Girl.

 

Facebook Organic Reach is Dying – What Can You Do?

It is little wonder that organic reach is dying, after all, what good does it do the platform?  If businesses only use organic reach posts to advertise their businesses and services then they are getting something for nothing from Facebook.  The way posts are seen on timelines and news feeds is constantly changing, but it is the complex algorithms used that prevent your posts reaching their intended audience.  Have you noticed that despite several thousand followers, only a few hundred or less get your latest post?  Be assured it is very deliberate!  Facebook want to push you into using paid advertising, by hitting that boost button or running other promotional activities you are adding to their bank balance. But this creates an ROI issue for you, and as a small business, you may feel that even paid adverts are not creating the lead generation you were hoping for.  (There are some great tips for creating an epic paid campaign, we will discuss those another day.)

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to increase your organic reach and today we will look at organic post targeting.

Who knew that was even a thing?

We all know that when we place an advert we are pushed to create a target audience, that is a grace Facebook affords us for spending money.  They will guide us through the process of setting up a target audience so our adverts stand a chance of hitting the desired audience.

However, when it comes to targeting your existing audience, the functionality is hidden away.  We think this is because Facebook doesn’t really want to help you hit a better organic reach, but maybe that is just too cynical.

Anyhoo – it really is a thing, and you need to learn how to use it. 

If you have a diverse product range, then sometimes the information you are sending out will leave an organic reacher cold.  So, really it was a waste of time hitting them.  If you target your content within your following you stand a better chance of each hit counting.  And the best bit is you do not need to know which customers to target because Facebook does it for you.

So, turn on the feature -that is pretty important. 

In your settings, under general, you will find the Audience Optimisation for posts option.  Check the box and save the changes – ta-da!

Now, when you come to create a new post you will see that a new icon appears in the content window.  Next, to add an image, choose your mood and location you will see a target icon.

Clicking on this gives you a whole host of options from gender to age, location to language and much more.  So, for example, if you are running a promotion from your store in Birmingham, targeting by location makes a lot of sense.  As with paid adverts, you have the ability to select interests, so make the most of it. Word of warning, the audience is selected from your followers, and you have to target at least 20 people which might mean tweaking the selection fields if you don’t have a huge following.

This is a fantastic way to do some free A/B testing on posts, and there is also the ability to end the post, which means after a certain date it won’t be seen on newsfeed any longer – helping with evergreen content.

Using the insights you will be able to see how effective – or not – your organic posts are becoming with targeting, and you can see how A/B testing is performing.

Overall this is a really natty, lesser known feature that you need to spend time getting to know if you are reluctant to engage in paid advertising.  There are other tips and tricks we will discuss later, but this is a cracking one!

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author, and self-confessed Geek Girl.

5 Tips for Building a Social Media Following

So, if you run any sort of business you really need to be on social media.  Customers expect to be able to interact with businesses on social media platforms, and as you never know which platforms your customers will favour, you need to be on more than one.  I would advise as a minimum that you need to have a Facebook page (not just a profile), a Twitter account, a LinkedIn presence and Instagram.  That is the minimum and there are others out there, it is up to you to locate your target market and discover where they hang out.  Once you have created the basic presence, use these 5 helpful tips to build that faithful following.

1. Fill Out Your Profiles Fully

It is easy to skip over some of the fields, but you really need to get them completed.  Consider using keywords so that you are easy to find in searches.  Make sure you have your website link, and if appropriate, make that link your landing page dedicated to social leads.  On Facebook add the correct web link to the descriptions field of your page’s profile and banner images.

2. Create a Brand

On all social media platforms, you should create a consistent brand.  If you are promoting yourself, your profile picture should be a suitable image of you in a professional capacity.  A head shot that is used consistently on all your channels.  If you are a business you may want to consider using your business logo as your profile picture and an image of your premises or products as the banner.  As a rule of thumb, the banner on Facebook and Twitter can be changed – seasonally or to reflect offers, etc, but your profile picture remains consistent and is only changed if you change your logo or get a new set of pro headshots done.

3. Make Some Noise

There is no point having these channels if you do not use them.  Social media platforms are not considered pure sales channels.  You need to develop interesting content, relevant to your industry and build your reputation as someone that knows what they are talking about.  Get to know the social media 80/20 rule.  In order to build the audience, you are hoping for 80% of your content (across all platforms) should be entertainment, information, educational, funny, emotive, engaging and interesting.  Vitally this should not contain any direct advertising.  Save that for the remaining 20%.  These are the sales posts, the direct and blatant advertising.  Post every day, only once in Facebook and Linked In but more (if desired) on Twitter and Instagram.

4. Get Involved

Make an effort not to be a keyboard recluse.  Ok, so social media is a solitary job.  Those of us that do it full time know how isolating life can be, which is why it is vital to get involved in online communities.  There will be interest groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, join those and interact with other people (scary!) On Twitter and Instagram it is harder to do this, but be sure to get involved with interaction.  Social media used to boil down to slinging posts up, that met the 80/20 rule and walking away.  However, responsive social media marketing dictates that you never leave a contact out in the cold.  Answer questions, reply to comments, generally make your audience feel like you care and are really out there.

5. Hashtag in the Right Places

As a general rule, you hashtag on Twitter (just 2), Instagram (it allows 30 but I say stick to about 10) and LinkedIn (when you are sharing content).  Hashtags are lost on Facebook.  Hashtags are not for sentences but should be structured to ensure those looking for you can find you.  Have a look at hashtagify.me, pop in your ideas and it will spit out the highest ranking hashtags in that area.

If you follow these tips you will be well on your way to creating a social media presence that you can be proud of.

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author, and self-confessed Geek Girl.

 

5 Twitter Tricks You Need to Know

Do you ever feel that you are tweeting into a black hole?  You get no likes, no follows, no interaction?  You are not alone!  Twitter is a fast paced, micro blogging, social media tool, so to get noticed you need to know how to play the Twitter game.  Here are 5 tips to get you started and help you the visibility you are looking for.

1. Target Influencers

Influencers are other people in your field who have build their reputation as industry experts.  People listen to them and respect their opinions.  If you can get liked, mentioned, followed or retweeted by an influencer you have been given a helpful boost.  So, firstly find and follow their Twitter profiles.  This will mean their tweets will then be shown in your timeline.  If you like what you see, be sure to like or share their content too.  If you decide to retweet one of their articles or link to something they are doing, be sure to mention them, by using @ and their twitter handle.

2. Use Links With Care

Whilst it is tempting to always link back to your pages, sometimes this is counter productive. Studies have shown that tweets without links often get more interaction.  Obviously if you are sharing a link to someone else’s work, or even your own, it is unavoidable.  But, consider sharing pictures or text that does not always have a link from time to time.  People are lazy, and Twitter is fast moving.  It is quicker to share a tweet that is just on the main Twitter screen, than it is to wait for a page to load, scan the contents and decide if it is share worthy.

3. Images Are Great

Images standout in the Twitter newsfeed, so it is no surprise that tweets with pictures get more interaction.  Stock images are rapidly loosing favour, so consider supporting your tweets with genuine pictures of products.  If you have no suitable image you can always make them with software like Canva, which is free.  If you really feel the need you can always pick up a commercial use royalty free image from sites like pixabay, but try and use your own images from time to time.

4. Hash Tags Need Research

Hashtags are kind of a feature of Twitter, but there is often a lot of misunderstanding.  You can hashtag any words, but that does not always mean your tweets will get noticed.  I constantly see companies creating a hashtag out of the company name. This might work if you are #Facebook, but is unlikely to help if you are #ZoesShoes.  Hashtags dictate trending subjects on Twitter, and indicate what people are searching for or following.  #HighHeels might actually be a better tag for Zoe, that trying to tag a store that no one has heard of, so will not be looking for.  Of course there are viral campaigns that whip up a storm using a new hashtag that no one else is using, but for the majority of us we need to be targeting the hashtags that trend in our area.  Check out hashtagify.me, here you can enter one potential hashtag, and the system will return you others that might be suitable, including their hit rate and popularity statistics.  Limit the use of hashtags to no more than two per tweet, and do not hashtag whole sentences. #ThisIsSuchACoolProductYouShouldBuyIt is a massive no-no

5. Timing is Key

Do some research online about the best times to tweet.  This means taking account of your target audience and their timezones.  At various points of the day, Twitter usage surges.  Evenings, after school, any time when lots of people are changing activities, say coming home from work, or picking up from school etc.  If you are not online when your target audience is, then you need to be using scheduling tools to send your tweets for you.  The average lifespan of a tweet is just 17 minutes before it disappears into the ether.  If you have been added to lists, tweets will be seen for longer, but consider trying to get your tweets out live at the most optimal time.

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self confessed Geek Girl.

3 Social Media Trends for 2017

If your business has yet to grab a seat on the social media train you are now becoming the minority. In 2016 active users of social media topped 2.3 billion people. That’s rather more people than you could fit on the average Virgin Cross Country train.
 
We call this the ‘instant gratification’ generation, they want everything now. Social media their preferred method from communication. It is instant, fast and free, what is not to love? But, we must not get complacent and assume that it is only for social use as the name suggests. Far from it. All businesses, no matter how big or small, need to embrace social media. It needs to form a strong part of their marketing plan.
 
When it comes to social media the aim is two fold. First, enable customers access to your products and services whenever they choose. Then build a reputation through replying, commenting, liking and sharing. Show your viewers that you are human, that you care, and that you an expert in your field.
 
Let’s have a look at three of the predicted trends for social media in 2017. Implementing these will help you make an impact with your business.
 
Chatbots
 
This has become my favourite subject on which to bore anyone that will listen. Even the dogs are not safe from my chatbot ramblings. Chatbots harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI). These virtual assistants provide rapid and accurate responses to basic customer queries. They are alway on duty, ready to help and incapable of error. Unless you have equipped them with dud information of course.
 
Chatbots are currently used in many businesses customer service strategy. Some offer information retrieval to enhance the customers experience. Some are more complex. Performing tasks such as ordering and taking payment for goods and services. This is common place already in some famous fast food outlets in the US.
 
It is worth noting that installing a chatbot into your Facebook messenger is simple, and free to use.
 
Live video
 
Three of the top social media platforms have launched live video. This is a smart move, as we already know that users love to consume information via images and videos. YouTube is still one of the top contenders for prerecorded content. Live functionality has a huge viral uptake rate potential. Social media users love the chance to be part of the life of the person streaming. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all allow live video, and there is no cost. This offers businesses a great chance to interact with their consumer base. Pick your live time after researching your target audience. There is no point hitting record if your audience has already gone to bed.
 
Augmented Reality (AR)
Before the blank looks come out, let me follow that up with two words: Pokemon Go. This viral gaming trend is version of AR, where Pokemon can be ‘found’ living in our locality. In our coffee shops, our parks and even our homes. According to the industry experts, the forerunner for AR is likely to be Facebook. They are currently using lenses and masks for Facebook live in beta testing. To quote the marketing hype:
 
‘This feature will allow the users to try on a variety of different masks whilst sharing a live video. Delivering a different experience for their users worldwide.’
 
These newer uses of social media marketing will become common place over 2017. The smart businesses are getting grips with them now.
Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self confessed Geek Girl.

4 Tips For Attention Grabbing Hashtags

#readmypost!

Hashtags are tricky little creatures, and sometimes they do not seem to offer rhyme nor reason.  You create two posts using the same hashtags, one flies and one bombs.  What is going on?

Firstly you need to remember that there are several things that determine whether a post will fail or fly.  The time of day is critical and we will cover that over the coming weeks, the content of the post is pretty important and the headline is crucial.  Even if something carries a hashtag I monitor, I may still choose to blank a post and move on if the headline does not grab my attention, and we will also look into the best format for creating headlines that will lure the readers in.

But for now here are 4 things to consider when using hashtags:

What are Your Competitors Doing?

In order to best work with hashtags you will need to have done your homework and research.  This means following their campaigns and monitoring what appears to be working and what doesn’t.   How many people liked their post, shared their post or interacted with their post?  This will give you a valuable insight into what is trending in your industry – after all, there is no point reinventing the wheel.

Let Social Media Make Suggestions 

When you start to type a hashtag, the social media platforms designed to use hashtags will make helpful suggestions.  On Twitter they are ranked in order of popularity. If no suggestions appear you are potentially working with a very under used tag and might be better off rethinking.  Instagram does similar, but has the amount of times the hashtag has been used, and lists other related tags, again with numbers following, making it easy for you to see the higher performing tags that relate to your post.

Play to Topical Events

Around the festive season using seasonal tags is usually a great move.  People might be looking for #giftideas or #presents.  If you have a product that fits the bill do not be afraid to use these hashtags.  Similarly what is going on in the world is also good to follow.  Trending stories make a great way to located popular tags – just remember they are time expiring and stop using them. Remember the story of the woman who bought an emu egg and tried to raise the chick?  It was huge for a day or two.  Perfect to piggyback your hashtags if you happened to stock supplies for birds for example.

Create Your Own But Keep It Brief 

If you really feel nothing hits the mark, or you have a very specifically named product you are trying to build brand awareness for, by all means use these as hashtags.  However, one does not hashtag a sentence! #buymybranditisreallygreatandyouwillloveit is going to get you all of nowhere!

Finally, do not be a hashtag spammer.  You can post them after your content, or you can incorporate them into your content but ‘I really #love #buying #newshoes’ is not great for the reader.  On Twitter two tags is considered enough.  Instagram lets you work up to 30 but that doesn’t always mean you should.  Thinking about hashtags with these 4 tips in mind should allow you to create some really successful campaigns.

Anna Everett is a responsive social media marketing expert, author and self confessed Geek Girl.