Jun 25 2018

Use Better Hashtags

I’m back this week with yet another lesson in social media marketing basics! Hashtags are ubiquitous on social media. Not only are they fun to use in a creative way, but they can also be used as an effective marketing tactic… if you use them strategically. Learn how to hashtag the right way!

hashtag
Don’t stress. You’re about to become a #superstar.

Hashtag Platforms

Hashtags as a method of informally tagging similar content in a group or message first became popular on Twitter, but has since spread to nearly every social media platform. So which platforms are best suited for marketing specific hashtag use?

Not the originator, but as the platform that saw the first widespread use of hashtags, Twitter is a great place to start. Twitter has a regular user base in the hundred millions. While that number is starting to decline, there’s no denying Twitter is a big, big platform. A user’s ability to curate their own content means there are thousands of insular, bubble-like communities. Instagram is the same way. It can be hard to grow an audience if no one is seeing your content.

That is where hashtags come in. Doing your research and finding the right hashtags will allow your posts and profile to appear in relevant searches within the platform. Using these hashtags regularly is a key strategy in growing your audience on Twitter and Instagram.

Facebook is a different story. Hashtags on Facebook are an opportunity to build your brand in a custom way. I’ve been experimenting recently with creating my own hashtags on Facebook, and I found that posts with my custom hashtag out-performed posts without. So if you post regular, timely content (say, a link to a weekly blog post) to Facebook, consider coming up with a unique hashtag to make your own!

Hashtag Strategies

Knowing your audience is key to using hashtags strategically. Really, you can determine which hashtags to use by answering one big question: what is everybody else using? It’s only a little more complicated than that. Let’s break it down:

  • What is the competition using? What hashtags are your rivals in the same field using? Especially ones that have been around a little longer or found more success. You have an opportunity to share your content with their audience by using some of the same hashtags.
  • What are industry insiders using? In nearly every professional field there are thought-leaders, innovators, and people the masses just pay close attention to. Making yourself a part of the same conversations those people are having is a great way to get your brand presence in front of new eyes, and build a reputation as a thought-leader yourself.
  • Can I make my post a meme? I can’t recommend every brand go for the sillier side of the internet, but there are all-time popular hashtags that are meme-related that are still in wide use. If you have an old photo that can go on Instagram, maybe save it for Thursday and use #tbt (throwback thursday). Other popular hashtags to explore are #love, #friday, #fashion, #cute.
  • Now you have a handle on #hashtags!
    Does my location matter? Yes, there are popular hashtags that are location based, too! If you operate out of a brick-and-mortar storefront, or prefer local clients, these can be useful hashtags to use to engage your local community. #pdx represent!

With these guidelines in mind, start making a list of hashtags you can use with your posts. Use the platforms themselves to explore how each hashtag is being used, to make sure it’s a conversation you want to be a part of. Remember, active and popular hashtags are good, inactive, unpopular hashtags are not.

Hashtags might seem intimidating at first, but while there is a lot to know about them, you can start seeing results with just a few small steps. Above all, remember to stay flexible, and don’t be afraid to experiment! If you need a hand, we can help! Reach out and chat with us about social media today.


May 24 2018

Why Your Social Media Sucks

So you’ve committed to, and prioritized your social media presence. You’ve thought about your audience, found a ton of free image content you can use, and started posting pretty regularly… you think. It’s been about a month, and you’ve lost that determination that got you started in the first place. Your numbers are horrible. You dread logging in to Facebook because that little arrow indicating your weekly total reach is always red, always pointing downward.

So what gives?

You may be making some common, key mistakes. As a social media manager, there are major issues I see all the time in the world of small business social media marketing. Here’s how to avoid them:

YOUR POSTS ARE TOO LONG

Facebook’s character limit for a single post is 55,000, but from a marketing perspective, your posts should never, ever approach this limit. Except in rare circumstances, you should even avoid having the “See more…” button appear on your posts.

One guiding philosophy I use across all online marketing is minimize clicks. People have short attention spans online. If your potential customer has to click “See more…” just to finish your post, it is way more likely they’ll lose interest before they get to the content you really want them to see. Make your clicks count! The ideal post both avoids the dreaded “See more…” button, and links directly to your shop/website/article/where you want your customers to go.

What you almost never want to see on one of your posts.

You’ll have to experiment with each post to find how just how long you can make it. There is no official character count before “See more…” appears. It depends on a number of variables (how you attach your photo, the title of your link, size of your screen, etc…) To find out, write your posts in Facebook’s publishing tools, and save it as a draft. From there, you can view the post as it will appear in someone’s feed.

YOUR PROFILE IS CONFUSING

I can’t overstate the importance of having an optimized profile on each of your active platforms. Your profile is the place people go once they’ve already been hooked– either by a post they saw, or looking you up by name– and they want more information about you. This is your opportunity to show your best side, while also directing people towards your end goal.

Yet, all too often, I see incomplete profiles, too-long descriptions in the “About” section, and incomprehensible profile pictures.

On Facebook, the “About” section is best used as a space for a very short description of what you do–I’m talking one, maybe two sentences. These sentences should be both engaging and immediately answer the question, “so what exactly do they do?” A longer description can be put into the “Our Story” section.

Make sure you fill in all the relevant details for your business, too: phone number, business hours, address, and founded date, link to your homepage, etc. This is the kind of information people are looking for.

Instagram is a little different, because profiles have a lot less information. In order to optimize that limited space, the profile description should be even more engaging and descriptive. Feel free to use emojis and hashtags, if you can identify some that work well for your business. The space to link to your website is prized real-estate on Instagram. It’s the only opportunity to point folks in a direction, outside of Instagram’s “Story” feature. Linking to your homepage is fine, but you should consider changing it periodically, to match what you are posting about. Advertising a specific item in your online shop? Change your link to go directly to that item’s page! Now, when you post about it, you can caption the photo with “Link in bio.”

YOU FOLLOW TOO MANY PEOPLE

PDX Alliance for Self Care is a new, local non-profit that is doing their Instagram profile right.

On platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, it’s so important to maintain a low follower to following ratio. These platforms use this ratio, in part, to determine “who to follow” recommendations. These suggestions are a key method of growing an audience.

And really, it comes down to a matter of trust and optics. As a potential customer, would you put more trust in a business that has 560 followers but was following 1100 people, or one that has 495 followers and following 460 people? It simply looks better to

have a lower ratio. It shows people that people are, in general, more interested in you.

One easy tactic to keep this ratio low is to only follow people that are already following you. Most social listening tools have automated this strategy, and allow you to toggle it on or off. But it’s not too difficult to do manually, especially in the early stages or if your overall audience is less than 1000 people.

 

It’s easy to make mistakes and oversights when first starting out in social media marketing. Even if you’ve made all of the mistakes I outlined above, I hope I’ve equipped you with the knowledge to fix them, so your numbers can improve. Rest assured, you’re still doing the right thing by getting serious about social media in the first place. After all, the first step to a successful online presence is an active one!

There are a host of further issues to explore. Social media marketing is an ever-evolving landscape, and it’s difficult to stay on top of things. We can help with that. With Upswept Creative, we’ll work closely with you as a partner in social media marketing. Together, we’ll build a presence that works. Reach out to us today!


May 14 2018

Authenticity Online

Authenticity can often seem like it’s in short supply. Especially on the internet. Whether it’s a snarky meme or “fake news,” genuine voices are in high demand online. People are starved for them.

Whether you’re managing the social media channels of an established business, or taking a DIY approach to building your own online marketing materials, it’s so important to keep it real. Trust is the basis of any good relationship, customer to business included. Connecting with potential customers from a place of genuineness, honesty, and passion will make them more likely to purchase your product or services. In fact, 80% of consumers polled said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.

Here are some ways you can find your authentic voice in your online marketing efforts:

Authentic to You

In order to come off as honest online, you first have to know yourself. At the very least, know your brand. Is a funny and light-hearted tone appropriate, or does your marketing require a more serious approach? What sorts of images will communicate your desired tone? Think these elements through before you start posting, or you may risk of coming off as calculated and facetious.

Being true to the core of your business identity is the first step in attracting the kind of customers you want.

Share Your Excitement

It’s no secret that passion is appealing. You should feel passionate about the work you’re doing. If you aren’t, it becomes much harder to get people to pay attention. I believe humans have the capability to be passionate about anything, we just have to find the angle that lets us connect with it. If you’re managing social media for a client, spend the time to learn the ins-and-outs of the business. Even if it seems really boring at first, you’re likely to find something that fascinates you eventually.

For example, last year I was tasked with promoting a conference by and for professionals in a particular field of social science. I don’t have a social science background, and at first glance it could seem dry and academic to the average person. But as I performed my due diligence and really dove into the deep end with what this field was all about, I discovered this conference was actually very progressive. They had booked speakers centered around social justice, provided continuing education opportunities, and kept the price of registration as low as possible in order to accommodate low-income professionals.

Because I took the time to learn these things, and really get onboard personally, I was able to highlight them in an engaging way on social media. Finding your way “in” to a topic you’re tasked with promoting is one of the most important aspects of being a successful social media manager.

Don’t Be Afraid To Have Fun

Having fun with the topic at hand, when appropriate, is a great way to show genuine excitement and passion about the products and services you’re advertising. Don’t be afraid of it! A great example is Wendy’s twitter account. No one wants to engage with an account of a fast food giant that just posts ads all day. That’s why Wendy’s snarky, sarcastic, and meme-filled feed has found such viral success. People are both shocked and amused, and you can tell that the person (or team) behind the handle is having a blast.

 

Getting started marketing online can be intimidating. It’s not easy to decide  what to put out to a potentially massive audience, And I hope these have helped you wrap your head around the topic.

If you find yourself needing some more guidance, or you’d rather hire professionals to collaborate with you on the decision making process, Upswept Creative is here for you! We can work with you to take the stress out of online marketing, and get your social media presence on a course to success. Schedule some time to sit down with us today – you won’t regret it.


Feb 20 2018

Social Media Trends 2018

One of the biggest challenges of social media is that it’s always changing. Old platforms switch up their interface, lose users, or disappear entirely. New, confusing platforms pop up to fill the gap. Even the old stalwarts go through massive changes over the course of a year (installed the new Snapchat update yet?). Social media is an ever-evolving landscape, and 2018 will be no exception. As a social media marketer, it’s my job to research, anticipate, and prepare for possible trends on the horizon.  Here are the trends I see having an impact on social media marketing in the coming year.

New Tech = New Trends

Technology evolves rapidly, and the tech companies that run social media platforms need to implement and cater to them in order to stay relevant. Digital hangout platforms like Houseparty became hugely popular with young people in 2017. This is a good indicator that larger social media platforms will eventually incorporate some of the key functions of hangout apps into their own platform. Facebook tends to do this by purchasing an up-and-coming app, and folding that app’s functionality into their own system updates.

While new functionality can be intimidating, I think of instances like this as an opportunity. Many brands will be experimenting with new ideas. Nothing is set in stone. Explore the new technologies as they appear, and take the chance to do some experimenting yourself. You may end up setting the standard for how brands use that function to market!

Rearranging Chairs in the Twitterverse

Believe it or not, Twitter is starting to show signs of decline. For the first time, Twitter failed to increase it’s active users for the entire second half of 2017. The first sign of a dying platform is seeing a halt in active user growth. While it won’t happen as fast or be as dramatic as the sinking of the Titanic, this slowdown is worth keeping an eye on in 2018.

We can expect Twitter to throw some curveballs this year, similar to their decision to increase the character count of tweets near the end of last year. They might even try some outlandish things to stay afloat, which will affect existing marketing strategies. Keep an eye out for changes so you, too, can adapt and keep your market efforts effective.

The (Facebook) Sky is Falling!

Facebook Live is an example of a feature from another app folded into the system. Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

One of the most dramatic changes in the social media marketing landscape happened at the end of 2017: Facebook changed the algorithm that determines how a user’s feed is populated. The changes are intended to prioritize posts from family and friends, and reduce “spam” from business pages. While this change has been live since November 2017, social media marketers are still adjusting.

So far, we’ve learned that the new algorithm punishes pages that use “baiting” strategies to boost engagement. This blog post goes into detail on what the algorithm will flag as bait, and how using those strategies will actually hurt the reach and engagement for future posts. As we approach the end of Q1 with these changes, updated strategies that take the new algorithm into account will solidify. Experiment yourself, and pay attention to what other brands in your field are doing differently.

Change is Scary, but We Got This!

The ever-changing landscape of social media makes marketing in these spaces a unique challenge. But if you stay engaged and up-to-date, you will be better prepared to make the necessary adjustments, and keep your online marketing relevant, engaging, and successful.

Of course, your real challenge may simply be that you don’t have enough time to stay on the cutting edge of social media marketing. That’s where we come in. Upswept Creative offers social media management packages designed specifically for each client. We will meet you where you’re at in terms of expertise, budget, and brand voice. Reach out to our Social Media Maven today to schedule your free consultation.