I love to cook. I love reading cook books and have dog-eared countless recipes in magazines. But I can’t say I’ve ever followed a recipe to the letter and yet I always manage to whip up a successful meal even if I’m missing some of the ingredients.
The best cooks are often the ones know how to open up the fridge and pantry and creatively put together a dish based on using what they have at the ready.
Cooking a great meal is an art and recipes are the science of cooking. I think of marketing the same way.
If you’re on any one of the major social media sites, you’ve probably noticed the rise and rise of hashtags — those short links preceded by the # symbol. You may be a hashtag fanatic or you may see them as unnecessary and maybe even a bit confusing. Love them, hate them, but don’t ignore them… because hashtags are fast becoming an integral part of how we communicate online. So it’s a good idea to have an understanding of which social media platforms support them and therefore how to use them to take full advantage. In this blog post I’ve done my best to summarise the need-to-know bits garnered from my web research (special thanks to mashable.com) and my own user experiences.
On Twitter, the hash turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organise content and monitor topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the upcoming X Factor grand final, you would include #xfactor in your tweet to join the conversation. Click on a hashtag to see all the posts that mention the subject in real time.
The hashtag’s use began with Twitter but has since extended to other social media platforms. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol. Twitter initially rejected the idea. The practice of hashtagging really took off when citizen journalists began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire to tweet updates on a series of forest fires in San Diego, just as Fire & Rescue NSW (@firerescuensw) is using the hashtag #FRNSW in their tweets to keep users informed of the current bush fire crisis sweeping NSW.
Which characters can you include in a #hashtag?
Spaces are an absolute no-go and will render your hashtag useless. If your hashtag contains multiple words, group them all together with NO SPACES. Use capital letters to differentiate between words in your hashtag, e.g. #SharpeDesignSolutions. Uppercase letters will not alter your search results, so searching for #SharpeDesignSolutions will yield the same results as #sharpedesignsolutions.
Numbers are supported but punctuation marks are not. So don’t use apostrophes, commas, full stops, exclamation or question marks or any other special characters such as asterisks or ampersands.
# and @ … like apples and oranges!
While the hash symbol generates a searchable link, the @ symbol does something completely different. Using @ before a person’s Twitter handle will message them directly and using the @ symbol on Instagram will allow you to tag a person directly, much like tagging a friend in a Facebook post. A hashtag will not.
Which social media platforms support hashtags?
Most major social media platforms support hashtags, including:
Twitter – the birthplace of modern hashtag usage
Facebook – recently added in June 2013 for desktop only (not clickable on mobile, yet)
Instagram – used to complement shared photos and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers
Google+ – when you click on a hashtag in Google+, the search results will include the original hashtag as well as posts with similar tags and keywords
Pinterest – simply used to mark and search for content
Tumblr – posts have a special “Tag” section where you can enter tags. These tags function like Twitter hashtags, organising posts by topic, but the hash symbol is inserted automatically. Hashtags included in the main body of a post are not transformed into links.
If you’re curious which hashtags are trending across social media, visit Hashtags.org to see which tags are hot right now.
Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my two favourite, humble hashtags and hope for the best: #SharpeDesignSolutions #CreativeThinking.
Happy hashtagging everyone!
Author: Jody Sharpe, Sharpe Design Solutions
I have to admit I’ve always believed that the name of the Facebook game is to get as many likes for a page as possible. After all, the more likers you have, the more sets of eye you have for your posts, right? Makes sense.
A client recently asked me whether LIKES, comments or SHARES were more important to marketing efforts on Facebook. Hmmm, that got me thinking. My conclusion, after some serious online research and garnering wisdom from gurus such as Justin Seeley, was that Facebook marketing is no longer all about the LIKES, but rather all about the SHARES that your content receives.
It appears logical that the more LIKES you have, the better off you are, because your potential audience is bigger. True. But… you have to understand how Facebook works. No matter how many likes you have, Facebook only puts your post in front of approx. 10% of your audience based on their ‘secret’ algorithm. Of course you can pay to “boost” your post and show it to more people. More people might see your post, but will that make them interact with it in any way? On the other hand, if someone SHARES your post, they’re not only putting their stamp of approval on it, but they’re also sharing it with their friends, who may also share it with their friends, and so on. This is what we call viral content, which is essentially the “holy grail” of online marketing!
What’s a Facebook LIKE?
The LIKE is the most convenient form of interaction on Facebook. All it takes is a quick press of a button and then you can keep scrolling. Your fans are not engaging with you in the same way a comment will, and they’re not sharing your post with others or increasing your audience in any way. A LIKE is simply an impersonal way of saying “yep, I saw it…” and nothing more. LIKES are dispensed randomly and extensively these days and are not really a good indication of whether a person really values your post. Some would argue LIKES have lost their lustre.
Why SHARES are gold
I’m very careful with what I SHARE on Facebook. I want to make sure my friends and fans will value the content of the post I’m sharing and I think they do the same before deciding to SHARE it on their own timeline. They aren’t going to SHARE something they don’t think others will find interesting and useful, so that’s why I think a SHARE is the best metric for judging how effective your social media efforts are on Facebook.
It’s a numbers game…
Let’s say you create an Instagram video and share it on Facebook. You have 1,000 people who like your page, so that means approx. 100 of them will see the post (by way of the “secret” algorithm). Even if everyone of those 100 people see and like your post, you have exactly that, 100 likes. Whereas if out of those same 100 people, one of them shares your post with their 500 friends (the average for most Facebook users these days), and out of those 500 people 100 people see it, you’ve just doubled your viewing audience. If you could get 1 of those 500 people to share your post with their list of friends, you’ve just tripled your viewers without spending a single cent. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Social media is all about how many sets of eyes see any given piece of content that you post. To be successful you can either pay for it by “boosting” your post (which is still a good option when you're just starting out and haven't got a lot of fans yet), or create share-worthy content.
So, “How do I Create Content that Others Will Share?” I hear you ask…
This is the million dollar question for social media marketers! I don’t think there is a magic formula for creating viral content. However, I recently came across an infographic “How to Create Perfect Posts on Social Platforms” created by My Clever Agency and I’ve included it for your viewing pleasure!
Author: Jody Sharpe, Sharpe Design Solutions
Jody Sharpe has over 20 years experience in marketing & branding and is passionate about helping local small businesses grow.