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 – 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 1

I’m super excited to be attending the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit. It’s been many years since I’ve attended a user conference and been on the receiving end of the learning. This conference is different than any I’ve attended before. Why? Because it is 100% online, which is cool because it made it much more cost effective (cheap, I’ll just say cheap), and as a bonus, I don’t have to spend time away from my adorable toddler. The downside is that it’s 100% online, which means in my situation a significant amount of time sequestered from distractions at work (and the inbox is piling up!). Day one went well, but I already see many scheduling conflicts in the not-so-distant future, so good thing they record them for later viewing. Although, I have to say it’s fun to Twitter chat and see ideas pop up in real time. Does anyone agree there should be a hashtag for those of us talking about it in off hours (perhaps #SMSS14afterdark?) If the reference is lost on you, I have no words.

Let’s get down to the meat of it. What did I learn today?

Social Media Success Summit Day 1The first keynote was “Drip Feed Marketing,” by Mike Stelzner. It’s about regularly delivering free content to an audience who will find value in it. The key message I took away from this was to ask your audience what content they want. Why guess when you can set up a quick poll and ask? Also, my favorite quote was in reference to creating content: “Relevance trumps pizzazz every time.” I take this to mean that content is still king!

The second keynote was “How to Use Visual Content to Drive Massive Social Media Engagement,” by Kim Garst. She stressed the importance of being visual; apparently you only have about six seconds to impress visitors to your website. They will judge your company based on how snazzy your website is. I can’t say I disagree; I recently selected a new dog groomer based on its website. Kim also provided many tools and tips on creating sharable content; she gave a big ‘ol bump to Canva. You may remember them from my previous post about free webinars. But I digress …

Finally, Andy Crestodina finished it up with “How Examining Two Numbers in Your Analytics Will Make You a Better Blogger.”  He had some very cool things to show us on finding your star content in analytics  and how to improve it. He shared a formula for giving an SEO boost to old content by indicating relevance by using keywords:

  • in the beginning of the title tag
  • once in the H1
  • four to six times in the body
  • within links to the page from other pages on your site (link from your old stuff to your new stuff)

While doing this is totally on the up-and-up with Google and other search engines, I found this statement to be a good reminder, “Don’t compromise your content so much that you can’t recognize it. That’s spam.”

There ya go — the Social Media Success Summit Day 1 in a nutshell, a small digestible nutshell. So far, this conference is packed with a ton of great content; you should see the amount of notes I took today!

I will be posting more articles about my learnings from the event, but let’s be honest, I probably won’t get to writing one every day of the conference. But I’ll do my best to share the tips I discover with you!

This post comes paired with sopes. Delicious sopes from Palapa in Santa Barbara, CA.

Social Media A’Poppin’ — Choose Wisely

Choose-WiselyIf you’re starting a social media program for your company, it can be quite daunting. There are so many different platforms. Do you sign up for all of them? Blindly pick 1 to start with? Cry and run away? Don’t do any of those things — instead, just stop and think for a minute, and read this quick guide to getting your company started in social media marketing.

Who are you trying to reach? Maybe you want to engage with current customers who need your support. Or you’re looking to find customers you have not yet been able to reach with your website alone. You might even be trying to build partnerships with other companies in related industries. What is the demographic you want to connect with?

Where are they social? Do some research. Are they heavily on Facebook, but not really on Twitter? Maybe they’re more business-oriented and mainly on LinkedIn? Perhaps they are extremely visual and big-time Instagrammers? Do they meet in communities on Google+? Don’t forget to look at Pinterest — they might be creating boards with your product!

Less is more. A lot of articles on the Web may make you think that jumping headfirst into every platform is the way to go, but I think it’s good to start small. Build a following, engage, and see how it goes. You may want to add another platform or two; you might also find that you’ve hit the sweet spot! Take it from someone who knows, managing more than five social platforms at one time can be crazy town!

This post was inspired by my giant bowl of Sriracha popcorn that I ate instead of dinner. We all have nights like that, right?

Curry in a Hurry – My Favorite Tweeter

The hardest part about starting a blog is … starting the blog. I thought I’d ease into it by writing about my current favorite tweeter. There are a lot of thought leaders out there talking about profound subjects, comedians with no shortage of dick jokes, socialites with selfies, and so many more inundating the Twitterverse. Those guys aside, the one tweeter I can consistently rely on for content that makes my day is @DepressedDarth.

DepressedDarth Twitter


Classic @DepressedDarth. The posts are frequent enough that it seems that whenever I check my feed, something hilarious has been tweeted. I find it hard not to retweet nearly every one that I see! With all the crazy things happening in the world, I find it extremely comforting to read hard-core Star Wars nerd humor throughout the day. Who’s your go-to tweeter?

This article is paired with chicken curry. With our busy schedules, my husband and I have a quick and easy curry dish at least once a week. This post felt like one of those dinners. Let’s get something good — that might be debatable — on the table ASAP. Accidental rhyme score!