Author: Elizabeth Millar

Hashtags: What are they and when do you use them?

HashtagsIf you’re new to Twitter, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with hashtags. So, what is a hashtag? According to Twitter, “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

I’ve found that there are three main ways they are used:

  • Useful categorization
  • Twitter chats
  • Ironic or humorous commentary

If you want your hashtags to actually do something, you should use them strategically and sparingly. Do some research on your topics to see if there are commonly used hashtags and to avoid un-savory hashtags that may have different meanings than you might expect. Say you wrote a blog article on Twitter tips and you are about to post a link to it on Twitter. Good hashtags to use would be #Twitter and #socialmedia. It’s not a bad idea to wrap your hashtags into your tweet text to save on characters, so perhaps it’s something like, “10 Awesome #Twitter tips: LINK #socialmedia.”

Hashtags are also a great way to start a Twitter Chat. If you’ve ever participated in a webinar or online conference, you know that there is often an associated hashtag with the event. It’s a fun way to keep track of what people are saying so you can also reply, comment, and retweet. Do a couple tweet chats and you’ll notice your following grow, especially if you engage with other participants.

It may not be exactly a “Twitter Chat,” but I do love, love, LOVE participating in @midnight’s Hashtag Wars. If you aren’t familiar, you should look into it. It’s a pretty fun game. Warning: it can get all kinds of wrong!

Finally — let’s talk about the third main use for hashtags — ironic or humorous commentary. This is when someone posts something and includes a ridiculous hashtag for a funny commentary, not necessarily to gain visibility. It’s not a method I would recommend if you are trying to promote your posts, although if it’s funny enough, it might start to catch on! Example: That’s right, I spent 2 hours watching The Real Housewives of NY. #sorrynotsorryactuallyiamalittlebitsorry.

For an overview of using hashtags on Instagram, check out this article from One Gram at A Time: The Ins and Outs of Instagram.

Okay — that’s about all I can muster up on hashtags right now. Does anyone have anything to add? I’d love to chat about this and other social media marketing stuffs. Why don’t we use the hashtag, #justhashitout!




Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Content Marketing

Content Marketing Takeaways from Social Media Success Summit 2014Today’s Social Media Success Summit sessions were all about content marketing and presented by some excellent instructors: Joe Pulizzi, Lee Odden, and Todd Wheatland. Are you asking yourself, “what exactly is content marketing?” That’s okay! According to our old friend Wikipedia, it’s “any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.” I take that to mean that content marketing is pretty much all the work we do as social media marketers — and our medium of publication is on the social platforms.

With that said, let’s dive into the golden nuggets of content marketing knowledge dropped on us today:

  • Know your core audience
  • Understand your buyer’s journey:
    • How does he or she discover your content?
    • How does he or she consume it?
    • How does he or she act upon it?
  • Four types of content
    • Curated – stats, quotes, tips, news lists
    • Co-created – leveraging assistance from subject matter experts, employees, industry influences, customers, partners
    • Evergreen – in-depth guides, how-to articles, tutorials, stats collections, FAQs
    • Repurposed – blog posts, infographics, social shares
  • SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn — I honestly did not know this
  • SlideShare has analytics; check it out now while it’s all still free
  • Connect your LinkedIn and SlideShare profiles
  • SlideShare formatting: unless your content is an infographic, use the landscape/presentation format
  • Check out Canva for visual content creation (again with the Canva!)

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions on Instagram. Being new to using Instagram for business, I need all the help I can get!

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Week 3

I’ve done my best to boil down the tips and tricks from last week’s sessions — I hope you find them helpful. As always, you’re going to want to listen to the recordings for yourself to get the most out of what Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit has to offer.

Day 1 – Blogging with sessions by Stan Smith, Leslie Samuel, and Mana Ionescu

3 Takeaways from Week 3 of the Social Media Success SummitSince Rachel and I started this blog a few months ago, I’ve been eager to learn as much as I can about the art of blogging. In these sessions I found that there was an overwhelming amount of helpful information, so I’m giving you the highlights. If you’re a blogger you are definitely going to want to check out the recordings!

  • Offer solutions to problems with your blog articles
  • Write posts as part of a series to keep people coming back
  • Get testimonials from your customers and promote them through your blog
  • The blog subscription CTA should be front and center
  • If you advertise on your blog, place the ads within content
  • Use your blog to build your email list
  • Ask your readers what they want via a short survey
  • Always have others edit your work
  • Keep it simple and clean (less is more) → STOP once you’ve made your point
  • Mention at least one influencer per post

Day 2 – Pinterest Marketing with sessions by Cynthia Sanchez, Michael Bepko, and Donna Moritz

I’m not heavily into Pinterest. Personally, I use it to search out knitting/crocheting ideas for crafts I make for my daughter. Professionally, I use it to build SEO for a B2B software company. I went in to these sessions thinking that I wouldn’t get much out of them due to my limited use, but I was wrong. I learned a surprising amount of tips and tricks.

  • Pinterest is turning into a search tool
    • Optimize your pins with keywords in the names and descriptions
  • Pinterest now has messages; you can contact people, ask them questions, engage, etc.
  • Pinterest has analytics: — I had no idea this was a thing!
  • Visual content is extremely important
    • Try creating a series of original images (10-20 in a batch) — they can be quotes, motivational, tips, etc. — use a tool like Buffer to schedule them out.

Day 3 – Podcasting with sessions by Cliff Ravenscraft, John Lee Dumas, Michael Stelzner, Pat Flynn, and Lewis Howes

I’m going to be honest here. I don’t think I’m cut out for podcasts. I was tempted to skip these sessions, but then I thought it’s best to hear it all out, especially since I paid for it! Much of it didn’t resonate with me because I don’t see podcasting in my near future. That said, these guys definitely know their stuff; and if you are even toying with the idea of podcasting, you really need to take advantage of the recordings.

  • Why podcast?
    • Because there is no screen time, you have a captive audience
    • People can listen while working out, commuting in the car, travelling, etc.
  • Grow your audience
    • Leverage directories
    • Participate in Webinars and demonstrate thought leadership
    • Leverage “New and Noteworthy” in iTunes
    • Do interviews!
      • Broaden your audience, make connections, etc.

Day 4 – Video Marketing with sessions by Caleb Wojcik, Ronnie Bincer, and Gideon Shalwick

I have a brief background in video production from college and my previous job. At my current job we’re lucky enough to have a staff videographer. I was still interested in hearing about videos from a social media standpoint since I have very little experience in it. It’s really amazing what people can produce for free with their smartphones that back-in-the-day would take a crew and a ton of equipment!

  • Try doing an “unboxing” — a video review of what receiving and using a brand new product looks like. It’s basically what people are interested in before they buy something anyway.
  • Create a repeatable video process (always do the same thing to save time and resources)
  • Use your video scripts later on as transcripts, blog posts, etc.
  • Create shorter videos that branch off of your longer ones
  • Try Camtasia for editing
  • Take advantage of Google Hangouts on Air which has no limit on how many people can watch (and it’s free live-streaming video)
  • Experiment with advertising on YouTube

Hope you guys enjoyed last week’s sessions as much as I did! Be sure to check out my other recaps of past SMSS14 sessions so you don’t miss a thing.

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Week 2

Last week was a doozy! Being sequestered in training for 5 straight days meant that I had to use every free moment to catch up on the Social Media Success Summit sessions. I won’t waste any more time, let’s get down to business.

Day 1 – Google + with sessions by Martin Shervington, Lynette Young, Rebekah Radice, and Ryan Hanley

4 Takeaways from the Social Media Success Summit 2014 - Week 2Honestly, Google+ is not my favorite form of social media. I’m on it, but I sure don’t use it very much, and definitely not to it’s fullest potential. These sessions got me really thinking about how much more I should be doing, especially since Google+ posts have such SEO power. Of the many tips that were given, here’s what I took away to try to implement in the immediate future (baby steps):

  • Create circles and engage with them
  • Start a Community, and work intimately with them as they will be your advocates
  • Use hashtags
  • Add your own images/graphics (don’t settle for the defaults)
  • *Bold headlines* ← I had no idea it did this!
  • Post your events to Google+ → They can be inserted into Google Calendars which may increase attendance

Day 2 – Facebook with sessions by Amy Porterfield, Jon Loomer, and Andrea Vahl

Personally, I use Facebook to post pictures of my daughter and “like” pictures of my friends’ kids. I use it in a limited way for business since I work for a B2B software company and don’t have a personal “Facebooky” connection with my audience. That being said, there were tips in this session that will be valuable moving forward:

  • Make the posts about your audience, not you
  • Write in a conversational way, as if talking to a friend
  • Don’t use Facebook to sell stuff, use it to build a community and grow an email list; nurture the email list so that you have prospects that can become customers
  • Use Facebook Insights! Andrea Vahl provided a handy schedule to implement:
    • Daily → Look at your Engagement
    • Weekly → Look at Reach and Competitors
    • Monthly → Take a deep-dive into Likes, Like Sources, Post Types, and Negative Feedback

Day 3 – LinkedIn with sessions by Viveka Von Rosen, Stephanie Sammons, and Melonie Dodaro

I use LinkedIn heavily for work; I manage a group and company page. Where I really fall short is managing my own profile. I learned through these sessions that there is a ton that you can do to attract people to your profile page. I’ve always treated mine as a resume, only updating it when I get a new job. Here are the handy tips that rose to the top for me:

  • Unify your branding between your personal profile, group, and company page
  • Use keywords in your profile experience, summary, and interests to attract more visitors
  • Make your profile personal, don’t be afraid to share details to attract like-minded people
  • Be yourself
  • Engage strategically; it’s not about marketing, it’s about building influence
  • Ask for recommendations and reciprocate

Day 4 – Twitter with sessions by Erik Fisher, Amy Schmittauer, and Jessica Northey

Twitter is hands down my favorite form of social media, so I was very excited for Twitter-themed Thursday! Here are the takeaways I found most valuable:

  • If you’re having trouble creating new content, curate it.
    • Try a tool like Buffer. I just started Buffer, and I’m really enjoying it!
  • Enable Twitter Cards
    • Add a bit of code to your website, and you can tweet links containing rich media which saves more of those 140 characters for relevant text.
  • Build relationships by treating Twitter like a cocktail party; mingle, engage, be human, be giving
  • Share only content that you want to be known for
  • Quotes and resources are great things to share; large retweet factor
  • Never be boring!

Here’s to an awesome week two. Today’s sessions on blogging were incredibly insightful — look for a recap soon!

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 3

As much as I’m enjoying these sessions, I’m sure glad we’re through with week one. I’m definitely going to need the weekend to let all of this amazing content marinate into my brain before week two starts up! Now let’s skip the chit-chat, and get down to business.

How to Take Control of Your Social Body Language to Maximize Your Social Brand, Bryan Kramer

3 Takeaways from Day 3 of SMSS14Bryan started his presentation with the stat that 93% of communication is based on nonverbal body language. So when you’re communicating on social media, that’s A LOT of posts you need to write in order to get people to know who you are. His main point is to be human (#H2H), and in his words, “fakers suck” because “authenticity is the most important factor to gaining credibility in social.” This is proving itself more and more true as I wade through the world of social media. Just be yourself and the rest will fall into place. And being funny doesn’t hurt either.

How to Streamline Your Social Media Activities with Proven Tools, Ian Cleary

The first thing Ian asked us was, “Do you dream of being on top of it all?” I think my eyes filled with tears as I shouted, “You bet your sweet @$$ I do!” at my laptop. Ian recommended loads of tools to help yourself get organized. Tools to auto-release your content, help you find content options to share, find websites to link to your site, and so much more. I have to say, I was shocked at the amount of tools he provided in 35 minutes. I felt overwhelmed and far from “on top of it all.” The thought of new tools, new passwords, more things to log in to totally freaked me out. But as with most things, trying new stuff is scary, and same goes for this. When social media is your career, you can’t settle into a rut or you will be as obsolete as Friendster. When you’re presented with a list of tools like Ian gave us, I recommend you pick one or two that address your pain points and give them a try. That’s the advice I’m giving myself and anyone else who came out of this session feeling as I did.

How to Find Out Where Your Ideal Audience Is Using Social Media, Neal Schaffer

Neal started his presentation by talking a little bit about social strategy and how important it is to understand your customer. By knowing what they are interested in, how old they are, and where they are located, you can target them on social platforms. He narrowed down the playing field by limiting the search to four of the twelve most visited websites in the U.S.: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Something new I learned is that you can sign up for the advertising function on these platforms and utilize it to locate your demographics. Did you know that when you sign up for advertising on Facebook and Twitter that you get access to a snippet of code that you can paste into your  website’s tag manager and find who on Facebook and Twitter are visiting your site? Facebook and Twitter also have the ability to upload an email list and they will match the emails up with accounts on their platforms. Stuff that sounds both cool and creepy, but let’s face it, the internet can be creepy.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to these sessions, I highly recommend you do so before next week. Thanks goodness for the recordings. I have a heck of a meeting schedule next week, so I’ll probably be listening to most sessions on demand. Daily recaps will probably turn into weekly recaps!

This post comes paired with polenta with sausage and mushroom sauce. #noms.

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 2

Day 2 of the Social Media Success Summit is in the books. I have to say, for such brief sessions, they sure pack them with information! Here’s a run-down of what I was able to absorb.

Unlocking Your Perfect Social Media Strategy, Mark Schaefer

3 Takeaways from SMSS14 - Day 2Long story short — you need a social media strategy. And unlike traditional marketing strategies, social media strategies are alive and need to be adjusted as technologies and trends change. Mark went on to offer a 6-question methodology for creating your strategy. It’s all those important questions you need to ask yourself, for example: what do you have to offer that no one else does? Once you have that answered, you have something to work off of and you’re on your way to formulating a solid strategy! I will be setting time aside soon to go through all of the questions and create a strategy of my own. I can see myself putting it off as just keeping up with the day-to-day work can be challenging enough, but in the end it will definitely be worth it!

How to Build Powerful Relationships on Facebook and Beyond, Mari Smith

Mari’s focus was on Facebook, which for me is not a platform I use very often, but her session was very interesting. I was surprised to hear that only about 6% of your Facebook fans ever see your content. So if you’re not getting user interaction, such as likes and shares, on your posts there is even less of a chance of someone seeing the content. She offered many tips for increasing reach: post outside of business hours, mix up the frequency, and even try posting less — gasp!

How to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic and Revenue, Syed Balkhi

I’m going to be honest, my brain is still spinning from Syed’s session, and I mean that in a good way! He offered a ton of tips for optimizing blogs through online tools and WordPress plugins. What I found particularly insightful was his suggestion to re-use old content. He offered many ways this can be done:

  • Tweet old posts to maximize your potential reach and get new followers
  • Change content format on your blog — bring old articles to the front with “Tip of the Week” or “Popular Posts” sections
  • Turn your posts into a “round-up” to get more leverage from the content
  • Build an eBook from your posts and offer it as incentive to sign up for your email list

There was oh-so-much more, but you’ll just have to go track down the recordings to get the rest! And don’t forget to check out my summary of the Social Media Success Summit – Day 1 when you have a chance.

This post comes paired with octopus shaped hot dogs, cucumber salad, and homemade applesauce. Give me a break, I have a small child to entertain!