Twitter For Business: What Is A Hashtag?

What is a hashtagWhat is a hashtag?

Placing the # (hashtag) symbol in front of a word or words (no spaces in between) in some social media sites turns that word or words into a clickable link that when clicked gives you a list of all the status updates/tweets/comments that have included that #hashtag in it.

Why is it there?

The #hashtag makes it easy to find conversations that are talking about the same thing.  Let me explain:  It’s a bit like going to a library and looking for an autobiography.  If the library didn’t have a specific labelled section for autobiographies and all the books were just randomly stuck on the shelves we’d have trouble finding them.  The hashtag is giving the update/tweet/comment a label to make it easier to include it in a particular section of conversation and makes it easier to find.

Where can I use it?

Although Twitter is probably the most well known social media site for the #hashtag, you can now use them on some of the other social media sites such as Google+, Facebook and Instagram.

How is it used?

#Hashtags are used in lots of different ways including:

Following conversations around television programs:  most popular programs feature a #hashtag so viewers can comment and talk to each other on social media sites about what they’re watching

But for business they’re generally used in these ways:

Conferences & exhibitions:  to connect conversations to do with the events:

event hashtag

Local networking:  to find people in your geographic area to network with:

local hashtag

Industry discussions:  to talk about your industry developments, news and network with your peers:

Industry Hashtag

Categorising:  to make it easier for people to see what the post is about:

category hashtag

And not forgetting:

A way to recommend someone using #ff (also known as #followfriday):

Follow Friday Hashtag

Can you search a #hashtag ACROSS social media sites?

Funny you should ask that 🙂

I came across Tagboard.com when I was reading an article on Social Media Examiner.  #tagboard is a website where you can create your own #hashtag boards so you can follow the #hashtags you’re interested in across multiple social media sites.  You definitely need to put this on your list of social media tools to have a look at!

Tagboard for hashtag

What #hashtags do you use on a regular basis? Tweet me @kljsocialmedia

 

Using Twitter to find local customers

How would you like to find tweets that mention your topic of expertise, from people who are geographically close to you?  Imagine how useful that could be to you!  It would mean you could start up a conversation on Twitter and then have the opportunity to take it offline.

A recent client, who has a tyre repair service, has a search set up for the word ‘puncture’ – whenever he sees a tweet that includes that word he sends a reply to let them know he can help, and quite often he’s then booked to do the job.

While you can use the basic Twitter search box to do this you need to know something about search operators to get really specific, which can be complicated.  However the Twitter Advanced Search page lets you search locally without knowing anything about search operators.  Unfortunately Twitter seem to have hidden this option quite well – but don’t worry, because I’m going to tell you how to find it!

To access the Twitter Advanced Search page type the keywords you want to search for in the usual Twitter search box and press Enter on your keyboard.

Twitter Search

You’ll see a results page that gives you a list of tweets that include those keywords. Click the down arrow next to the ‘cog’ in the corner of the page then click Advanced Search.

Twitter Advanced Search Button

 

 

 

 

 

This reveals the Twitter Advanced Search page where you can really narrow your search.

Twitter Advanced Search Page

Type in your keywords then go to the Places box.  Enter the geographical area you work in and then click Search.

You’ll get a list of tweets that include your keywords, from people who are in the location you searched on.

To save this search for future use click the drop down arrow on the search results page next to the ‘cog’ and click Save Search.  The next time you want to look at this search click in the basic search box and a list of your saved searches will appear.

Using Twitter search in this way helps you find opportunities and people to add to your network.

A to Z of Social Media: F is for Forums

While everyone’s raving about Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc., let’s not forget about the humble Forum.

A Forum is an internet message board where like-minded individuals congregate to discuss topics, ask questions and generally network.

Wait a minute – isn’t that what social media is for?!

 

It certainly is, but social media sites can sometimes be complicated to use and a little daunting.  An internet forum is usually much more straight-forward.  You sign up for a free account (although there are paid levels on some of them) and then browse through the different discussion topics to find threads of conversation you find interesting and want to get involved in.

To find a forum that’s related to your industry or your target market’s industry, do a keyword search on Google, e.g. marketing forum, beauty forum, small business forum … you get the idea.

Once you’ve joined a forum you have the option to add a signature to all the posts you make.  Be creative with this – add your website address or a link to your Facebook page.  Note:  some forums will only allow you to do this once you’ve made a certain number of posts or if you have a paid account.

What should you use a forum for?

  • Ideas for blog posts – look through the topics being discussed, many of the questions could be turned into a blog post
  • Answer questions – show off your expertise by answering questions, but remember not to sell in your reply.  By giving people genuine help you’ll soon become known as the go-to person for that topic
  • Ask questions – forums are a great place to do some market research – the replies may often throw up things you’d never have thought of
  • Find new contacts – look for referral partners or suppliers, do some research on them by browsing their activity in the forum first

Here’s some fantastic business forums I’ve used in the last year and actually got a new client from one of them:

Have you found a forum useful in the last year?  Let me know in the comments box below.

And remember to check out the rest of the A to Z series here

Your Linkedin Profile: 4 key sections to get right

stand-out-from-crowdDo you want to stand out in a crowd?

Too many people on Linkedin blend into the background because they haven’t put any thought into their Profile.  It isn’t something you can just create in 5 minutes during your lunch break – it’s an important part of your Linkedin strategy.  Your profile should attract people to you and hold their interest when they read it.

Take some time to get the following 4 key sections just right.

1.  Your Name:  This is where you put your real name, not your business name, not your nickname or something obscure.  It’s your Personal Linkedin Profile so it needs to have your actual name at the top of it.  If someone is trying to find you make it easy for them!

2.  Your Photo:  This should be a recent professional head and shoulders shot of you.  It shouldn’t be your logo or a picture of you playing with your dog in the park.  This is a professional business network, make sure your photo reflects that.  Again if someone has met you offline and is trying to find you in a search to connect, if you have a common name or they don’t remember your name correctly, a clear head & shoulders shot will guarantee they pick the right person to connect with.

3.  Your Headline:  This will default at your current title e.g. Owner of XYZ Company.  When someone uses the Advanced Search function on Linkedin the list of results shows only a snapshot of each profile – this snapshot includes your name, your photo and your headline.  Instead of getting lost among a list of ‘Owners of xxx’ or ‘Manager of xxx’, customise your headline and make it stand out.

Karen James Social Media Manager

4.  Your Summary:  If you’re lucky enough to stand out in a search and someone clicks through to your profile to find out more, make it easy for them to find out exactly what you do and who you help.  You’ve got 2000 characters to play with in your summary so make them count.  Remember to use relevant keywords as Linkedin is very Google friendly and your profile may well show up in a Google search.  Make people think ‘this is just the person/product/service I need‘ when they read it.

Sell With Social MediaIf you want to design your social media activity to attract more clients check out my FREE ebook: and get 7 actions you need to take on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Google+  or Pinterest to get people into your sales funnel

Social Media Marketing is like an Expo

Many small businesses fail in social media marketing because they set up a Twitter or Facebook account and don’t know why they’re doing it or what to do with it.  But if you think about it, using social media for marketing your business is just like using an Expo (trade exhibition) to market your business.

Let me explain:

If you were to take an exhibition stand at a trade show you’d think about several things (hopefully!)

  • You’d find out what was the most appropriate exhibition for you to attend; whether your target market was likely to be there; have any other businesses similar to yours attended and did they have any success.
  • You’d set some objectives – decide what you wanted to achieve from the exhibition.
  • You’d think about the information you wanted to get across to people visiting your stand; what would they find useful; what would make them want to know more about your product or service.
  • You’d think about how you were going to convey that information; would you use brochures, demonstrations, videos.
  • And while it’s nice to chat to people at a trade show, you’d likely want to think about how you would convert them into prospective customers.
  • Once you got back from the exhibition you’d think about what worked well, what you could have done better, and what you would do differently at the next one

When you think about social media marketing you need to go through the same steps:

  • What’s the most appropriate social media site for your business; are your target market likely to be there; do your competitors have a presence on them and if so are they having any success?
  • Set some objectives – what do you want to achieve from being on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn … is it building awareness, generating leads, giving greater customer service?
  • What content (information) can you give your prospective customers that shows you know what you’re talking about; how will they know you can solve their problems?
  • How will you deliver that content – text, video, audio, slideshow etc?
  • It’s great to have followers and people clicking like buttons but are they moving through your sales funnel?  How will you convert them to leads?
  • How will you measure your social media activity?  How will you know if your social media marketing efforts are working?

So if you’ve ever been to an Expo and had a really successful day think about the steps you went through and then adapt them for your social media marketing activity.

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Social media marketing is like driving a car

 

I had this revelation recently after my daughter’s ‘Northern Lights’ predicament.  We live in the North East of England and she’d read something on Facebook that you could see the Northern Lights really well from Whitley Bay.  She passed her driving test about 2 years ago and has her own car so her and her boyfriend decided to go and take a look.  I rang her about an hour later to ask if she could see them – her reply was ‘No, I’m in North Shields’.  Puzzled by this I asked her why she was in North Shields when she’d heard they could be seen in Whitley Bay!?  Her answer:  I don’t know how to get to Whitley Bay but I know how to get to North Shields!!!

How do I tie that in with social media marketing you might ask :)

My point is this:  My daughter knew how to drive, she understood what pedals to push, she could read the dials that told her what speed she was doing and she could recite the highway code, she even knew where she wanted to go … but without planning how to get there, what roads to take, she didn’t reach her intended destination and unfortunately didn’t achieve her objective of seeing the Northern Lights.

In social media marketing the tools you use are like the car – you need to know how to use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube etc. to be able to drive them, you need to know what features are available to help you.  Just like setting off on a journey in a car you need to start with an objective in mind – where are you going (why are you using social media)? Just like a journey you need to plan how you’re going to get there – what you’re going to do to help you acheive the objectives you set at the start.

In social media marketing you need to address the 3 key areas –

WHY you’re using social media in the first place, what are your objectives?

HOW to use the social media tools that are the best fit for you

and WHAT are you going to say once you’re on there – what is your content plan?

If you forget about one of them then you’ll end up like my daughter – disappointed that you didn’t see the Northern Lights!

If you’d like to learn more about social media marketing check out my new FREE EBOOK:  Generating Leads with Social Media