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The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag

The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag

If you’re a social media novice, hashtags — those short links preceded by the pound sign (#) — may seem confusing and unnecessary. But they are integral to the way we communicate online, and it’s important to know how to use them (even though some people, like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, are not the biggest fans). Plus, they can be a lot of fun.On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the Breaking Bad finale, you would include #BreakingBad 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 widespread use began with Twitter but has 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. But in October 2007, citizen journalists began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire, at Messina’s suggestion, to tweet updates on a series of forest fires in San Diego. The practice of hashtagging took off; now users and brands employ hashtags to cover serious political events (#Cairo) and entertainment topics (#MileyCyrus) alike.

With our beginner’s guide, you’ll be hashtagging like a pro in no time.

How do you make the most of hashtags? Let us know in the #comments.

Supported Characters

telephone-hashtags

Image: Flickr, Roberta Cortese

Which characters can you include in a #hashtag?

For starters, spaces are an absolute no-no. Even if your hashtag contains multiple words, group them all together. If you want to differentiate between words, use capitals instead (#BlueJasmine). Uppercase letters will not alter your search results, so searching for #BlueJasmine will yield the same results as #bluejasmine.

Numbers are supported, so tweet about #50ShadesOfGrey to your heart’s content. However, punctuation marks are not, so commas, periods, exclamation points, question marks and apostrophes are out. Forget about asterisks, ampersands or any other special characters.

Keep in mind that the @ symbol does something completely different. Using @ before a person’s Twitter handle will tweet at him directly, letting him know you have written to him via the @Connect tab. A hashtag will not. Sometimes users will hashtag a celebrity’s name instead of using her Twitter handle — it is acceptable to tweet #Lorde or @lordemusic. But if you are trying to reach someone directly, don’t use a hashtag.

There is no preset list of hashtags. Create a brand new hashtag simply by putting the hash before a series of words, and if it hasn’t been used before, voilà! You’ve invented a hashtag.

Supported Platforms

Social Media Icons

Image: Flickr, mkhmarketing

Most major social media platforms support hashtags. These include:

Twitter: Twitter is the birthplace of modern hashtag usage — as such, its hashtags are more versatile than other sites’ (see “Tone & Voice,” below). Twitter hashtags are mainly used to denote specific topics of conversation; the “Trends” sidebar of your Twitter feed curates a list of hashtags you might be interested in, based on your tweets.

When you search for a hashtag on Twitter, there are three ways to filter the results. The “Top” option displays the most relevant and popular posts, including those from users you don’t follow. “All” shows you every tweet that uses the specific hashtag in real time, and “People you follow” will only display results from users you are following.

Hashtag Search Results

Facebook: Facebook only recently added hashtag support in June 2013, and the practice has not picked up much steam. Nevertheless, clicking on Facebook hashtags will take you to a list of posts containing the same hashtag. The results are not limited to people you know.

Instagram: Hashtags can be used to complement photos shared on Instagram and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers. Some hashtags were created specifically for Instagram photo challenges — #ThrowbackThursday, for example, encourages users to post retro photos. Vine uses hashtags in the same way — try accompanying each of your Vine videos with at least one hashtag to maximize shareability.

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. Google search results display on the left side of the page, while hashtag results from within Google+ appear on the right. Google also gives you the option to search within Facebook or Twitter.

Tumblr: Tumblr posts have a special “Tag” section where you can enter tags. These tags function like Twitter hashtags, organizing posts by topic, but the hash symbol is inserted automatically. Hashtags included in the main body of a post are not transformed into links.

Pinterest: Use Pinterest hashtags to mark and search for content. Click on the hashtag in a pin description to navigate results that contain the exact hashtag, plus pins with the same word or phrase in the description.

Curious which hashtags are trending across social media? Hashtags.org tells you which tags are hot in real time.

Tone and Voice

Beyond simply organizing your tweets, Twitter hashtags can help you craft your voice while joining in a larger discussion. You can use multiple hashtags in one tweet, but don’t go overboard. One to three is generally an acceptable range.

In a post for The New Yorker, Susan Orlean points out that hashtags can provide colorful commentary as a sort of “muttered into a handkerchief” aside, to give context and to convey humor or sarcasm.

Sometimes a hashtag is so zany or specific that there are few, if any, search results attached to it. These exist mainly for entertainment purposes. Orlean gives the example “Sarah Palin for President??!? #Iwouldratherhaveamoose.” As she points out, it is unlikely anyone would actually search for “#Iwouldratherhaveamoose,” but it adds a dash of humor that followers appreciate.

Here are some sample tweets that use hashtags (in bold) to add context, humor and voice:

  • Let the weekend begin! #TGIF
  • Wearing socks with Crocs is so stylish #kidding
  • Just dropped my second ice cream cone. #fail
  • I hate when people smoke e-cigarettes indoors. #annoying #rude #whygodwhy
  • The movie #Gravity is beautiful, but so terrifying! #nevergoingtospace
  • I’m loving ‘The Sound of Things Falling’ by Juan Gabriel Vasquez #FridayReads
Business and Marketing

Many major brands now have Twitter accounts, and some choose to create hashtags to promote specific events or campaigns. If you want to use Twitter as part of your business strategy, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

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Consolidate your tweets: Choose a specific account that will represent your brand or business. Set up a business account, or designate one employee to tweet on behalf of the company. That way, users can find all of your tweets in one place.

Use relevant hashtags: See what hashtags other businesses in your field are using. If you’re promoting cheap airfare, you will want to use hashtags like #CheapTravel and #FlightDeals so users will find you when they search for those keywords.

Follow trends: See what hashtags are trending and make use of them — if they are relevant to your business. Using a popular hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand (for example, including #MileyCyrus in a tweet about cheap airfare) makes you look like a spammer and will hurt your credibility.

Create your own hashtag: If you want to create a special hashtag for an event or campaign, select one that hasn’t been used before and remind everyone to use it in related tweets. Be sure to include the hashtag in any promotional materials. Make it informative but short — for example, Mashable uses #MashReads to talk about writers who visit our HQ.

Generate buzz: Creating a contest, raffle or promotion is a great way to get Twitter talking about your brand. Users will be more likely to retweet your hashtags if they know they might win a prize by doing so. For instance, if you’re promoting a new confectionery shop called Candy Land, get Twitter buzzing by offering free treats to users who tweet #CandyLandPromo.

Remember, your hashtag’s visibility will depend on your privacy settings. If your Twitter account is private, only those authorized to see your tweets will have access to your hashtags. If you are using hashtags to increase your brand’s exposure, make sure your tweets are set to Public.

Best Practices

Tweet Me Candy

Image: Flickr, TPorter2006

Twitter has a helpful list of best practices for using hashtags, but here are three key tips for all users:

Be specific: If you’re using a hashtag to join a conversation, make sure the hashtag is specific and relevant to your topic. If you’re talking about Obama’s health care plan, use #Obamacare instead of simply #Obama. A vague or generic hashtag like #health or #opinion isn’t effective either.

Keep it simple: Hashtags, like links, look like spam if they are used too often. Three hashtags should be the maximum on Twitter and Facebook, but you can get away with more hashtags on Instagram and Vine. And don’t hashtag the same word twice (“#Gravity is a great movie! Everybody go see #Gravity”). It’s #redundant.

Give context: A tweet that contains only hashtags is not only confusing — it’s boring. If your tweet simply reads, “#happy,” your followers will have no idea what you’re talking about. Similarly, if you tweet, “#BreakingBad is #awesome,” you’re not really adding much to the conversation.

 

Image: Flickr, misspixels

ARTICLE SOURCE

Track your hashtags here: http://www.hashtags.org/

For more training information on social media sign up for free on the Virtual Marketing Empire Free Online Marketing Training Center: TEAM VME

 Make it a great day!

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

Related articles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag

http://mashable.com/2013/11/03/hashtag-comic/

 

 


Twitter Marketing To Boost Your Business Growth

Twitter Marketing To Boost Your Business Growth

 

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As the world’s second most popular social networking site, Twitter is a marketers’ dream. 

However, some people still see Twitter as a teenager’s platform to share what they had for lunch and what they bought at the mall. The stigma around Twitter is that it’s all twaddle and nonsensical conversation, without any real-world bearing. 

The majority of the Twitter users are far from that very small portion. From some of the top Fortune-500 companies and internationally ranked businesses, Twitter is a multifaceted media platform that provides marketers the ability to engage in real-time dialogue with customers, promote products and create buzz.  Twitter marketing can truly boost your business growth…

1. Have an Ear to the Chatter 

The Internet is king. Whatever needs to be said, posted, shared or argued about is online. The world’s pulse is rhythmically beating to the tune of wi/fi. Twitter’s beauty is the fact that it’s an instantaneous connection to the collective conversation. 

Twitter offers an incredible insight into what your customers, competitors and colleagues are thinking, saying and feeling about you, your products and your image. 

2. Connect with customers 

Twitter is the equivalent of sitting down with all of your customers at once over a cup of coffee. The intimacy and relationship building is what separates Twitter from any other social media available. 

At its root, Twitter is a conversational tool. 

Pose questions to your customers. Challenge the Twitterverse to improve your latest product. Listen to what they have to say about your customer service representatives. Provide a safe place for your customers to register complaints and genuine feedback. 

3. Connect with businesses 

Create new B2B connections through your Twitter page. The best way to begin these new relationships is to follow industry leaders and companies that you respect. Engage in thoughtful Twitter-banter, and as often as you can, Re-Tweet relevant Tweets. 

Twitter broadens your scope: you’ll stumble upon industries that you may have never considered as a potential partner or inspiration for business practices. 

4. Promote products 

Though this list seems to be in no apparent order, but it rather is. These four reasons outline why marketers need to have a Twitter presence, but it/s also a blueprint for success and how you need to approach your account. 

Promotion or creating a buzz should be the very last thing you tackle in the Twittersphere. After you’ve focused on listening and connecting, then promoting your products becomes a part of the conversation rather than a blatant or cheesy attempt to drive sales. 

Twitter is an on-going conversation. Would you ever ask a new acquaintance to borrow their car on the very first meeting?

 

Hope this article brought you value.  Please comment or tweet below

 

Make it a great & Prosperous Day!!

 

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

 

 

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Some value articles:

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/topic/social-media


5 Most Common Direct Mail Mistakes

 

5 Most Common Direct Mail Mistakes

 

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There’s nothing worse than witnessing your money being wasted on a direct mail campaign that just didn’t get your phone ringing or send customers through your door. When it happens, it’s likely not the direct mail delivery method, but your actual campaign that flopped.

 

 

Here are the five most common mistakes most businesses make: 

1. Your direct mail list targeted the wrong customer: Not spending enough time and money on the list itself that targets your best type of consumer is a major campaign deal-breaker. Quite often we throw a campaign together without a thought to what kind of marketing list we are going to use. We find out later that the direct mail piece, the message and the call to action was perfect but the list, which we rushed to purchase without checking the validity and the integrity of the list broker has let us down. 

Due your diligence and find a reputable list broker and explore the quality of the list. The types of consumers on the list can sometimes change the direction of what kind of marketing message you are going to use if you happen to find another target market ready to buy your product or service. 

2. Your direct mail campaign wasn’t tested: Testing your campaign is a necessity. More than half of our customers will give us their direct mail campaign, the list and then fail to provide us with some parameters on changing how the mailing piece looks. There are so many things to test such as the color of the envelope, size of the piece, the message, making it lumpy and so on. 

To test the headline, the direct mail piece design, the overall message and power of the call to action, put yourself in the mindset of your customer and be a test junkie. You will find you will be consistently doubling and tripling the money brought in on a campaign when you test the effectiveness of the campaign. 

3. Your direct mail campaign didn’t separate features from benefits: Stress the benefits to the customer in your marketing message as opposed to the features of your product or service. The customer does not care about the fancy features of your product. As a matter of fact, they do not have the time to listen to how great you are; they want results. What kind of results can your customer achieve by using your product? 

Features are the objective facts about your product or service (size, color, appearance, usability) while benefits state what the product or service does for a customer (makes money, saves money, heals, saves time, etc.) Make sure you clearly tell your readers what your product or service can do for them and how they will benefits from using it. 

4. Your direct mail campaign didn’t have a call to action: Even if the intent of your campaign is to reach potential customers and make them aware of your product or service, you still need to have an offer. What is a campaign good for if you do not have an offer? Even just asking for the order in your message is good enough to get you results. 

Your readers need to be prompted to take action and it’s your job to offer the right incentive for them to do so. Research what kind of offers you are going to make and be sure it is compelling and benefit driven. 

5. Your direct mail campaign was a one-time deal: On average, people need to see or hear an advertising message seven times before they take some sort of action. Mailing out a campaign just once doesn’t do the trick. It’s called a “campaign” for a reason and entails multiple mailings to be the most effective. It’s not your customer’s job to keep your information and recall it when they need it; it’s your job to always be in front of them. 

Be sure to follow-up with your potential customers, either by multiple direct mailings or phone calls or a combination. It’s important to time your campaign well and stay top-of-mind, especially when your customer is in need of your product or service. 

A direct mail campaign is an investment with the potential for great returns. Don’t make the common mistakes many businesses do. With a winning marketing combination and the right tools and messages, your campaign can come out shining.

 

Hope this brought you value.  Please comment or tweet below!!

 

Make it a great day!!

 

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

 

 

Article Source

Some valuable articles on direct mailing:

http://www.dmnews.com/5-direct-marketing-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them/article/317389/

http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/6-preventable-direct-mail-mistakes-that-could-cost-thousands/1

 

 

 

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How to Improve Efficiency When Marketing Online

How to Improve Efficiency When Marketing Online

 

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For any entrepreneur working on the internet it is vitally important to continually make strides to improve efficiency online of effort. Most successful online businesses can attribute their accomplishments towards their ability to increase their own work efficiency. In a nutshell they have learned how to build a business by tapping into various available resources other than just their own efforts! 

Here are 5 perfect examples as to how to build a business online without relying completely upon the investment of your own time and effort! 

Reach Out 

By seeking the help of others who have already been where you want to go you will save yourself a tremendous amount of time and frustration. One of the best ways to learn how to build a business correctly is from those who have already done so. It makes little sense to try and figure things out on your own when there are those who already have the answers you are seeking! 

Automate What You Can 

There is no better way to increase your work efficiency than to take advantage of the technology available on the internet to do so. There are many software applications you can find for free or purchase that will automate many of the time consuming tasks you currently perform. 

Adjust and Adapt 

Do not try to fight the changes you may face online since in most cases they are inevitable. The internet is very dynamic and is constantly evolving so evolve with it since in most cases these changes will be for the better. Most successful online businesses achieved their status by their willingness to quickly adapt to many changes which resulting in giving them a competitive edge. Remember, to evolve is to get better! 

Maintain Your PMA 

**Always maintain a positive mental attitude since this will keep you motivated and make your efforts seem effortless! Doubting yourself or what you are doing will only serve to decrease your work efficiency while increasing your stress! 

Keep It Real 

Ambition is an admirable trait however by not keeping your expectations realistic you can quickly become frustrated thereby losing motivation. When setting any goals always take into consideration your own skill sets and the resources you have available. In this way you will avoid investing time or effort into something that is not within your capabilities! 

The key for any entrepreneur working online is to improve efficiency in any and every area of their business that they can. For the most part this can be accomplished by ‘mimicking’ what most successful online businesses have done and that is to tap into resources other than just their own ‘physical’ efforts. By improving upon your own work efficiency you will learn to become more productive and in less time as the 5 examples of doing so as discussed above have hopefully demonstrated! Most successful online businesses are not the result of simply ‘sweat and grit’ but more often than not have achieve their status by ingenuity and resourcefulness!

We hope this post brought you value.  Please comment or tweet below..your feedback is important to us..

 

Make it a great day!!

 

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

 

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Other articles that may bring you value:

https://econsultancy.com/blog/62479-seven-seo-tools-to-improve-your-online-pr-efficiency

http://blog.toggl.com/2013/11/top-3-best-free-online-timers-improve-efficiency-work/


Online Marketing: A Checklist for Struggling Businesses

Online Marketing: A Checklist for Struggling Businesses

checklist

For the past several weeks,it has been posted topics ranging from social media optimization to creating headlines for business blogs. We understand that most of these topics are overwhelming when taken individually, which is why we created the below checklist to help online marketers get their content strategies back on track for those struggling in business & avoiding burnout.

Social Media

Creating social media from scratch is one of the more challenging aspects of content creation. It’s essential, of course, especially when platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are capable of pushing your content out to more readers and potential converts (i.e., site visitors who sign up for newsletters, buy products, or perform any other pro-marketing action).

The first step for all of these profiles is to create accounts. Next, you need to fill out the various info sections (links to sites, “about us,” etc.) and use a profile picture that emphasizes brand awareness.

Facebook

  1. Post links to original content and info relating to your business on a daily schedule.
  2. Intermix “marketing posts” with outbound links to related articles, infographics, visuals, and anything else that could generate follower interaction.
  3. Find pages, groups, and organizations that align with your business. Share their content when appropriate.
  4. Like, share, and respond to followers at all times.

Twitter

  1. Start by posting several tweets a day with relevant hashtags and links.
  2. Follow industry-related businesses, organizations, and professional Twitter handles on a regular basis (Note: Your “Following” and “Followers” should be even).
  3. Repurpose Facebook-style content and don’t be nervous posting anything that comes to mind (as long as it’s appropriate for marketing).

Google+

  1. Emphasize the profile creation and make sure all open fields are filled out.
  2. Like FB and Twitter, add professionals and other businesses into your circles.
  3. Use G+ as a sounding board for the rest of your content, but make sure the posts are original.

Blog

Blogs are where everything happens. Whether you have dedicated pages on your site or run a blog through a WordPress platform, these are much different than everyday websites. For one, you always need to be creating posts. What kind of posts? Anything that is interesting, entertaining, and related to your business and marketing campaign. Here are a few tips for getting a blog rolling:

  1. Start by posting twice a day. One can be shorter, perhaps commentary on a trending news article, but the other needs to be highly informative (like a how-to) and lasting.
  2. Actively monitor comments, follows, likes, and re-blogs. Your first wave of followers will help your business blog reach new readers.
  3. Organize content into pages and comprehensive lists.
  4. Every post needs to be shared through social media.

Now, a few pieces of advice for maximizing the effectiveness of every post:

  1. Headlines need to be attention-grabbing and tease at what readers will learn.
  2. Use links to increase authority and exposure to other websites.
  3. Multimedia is a refreshing way to break up big chunks of content. Use pictures, videos, infographics, charts, and even cartoons to illustrate your articles.
  4. Always have a call-to-action or “About the Author” section at the end to help readers “learn more” (i.e., visit your business’ site).

Website

Company websites are what tie blogs and social media together. Without a solid website, businesses lose out on a huge chunk of marketing potential. Every site is different, of course, especially when businesses hire outside contractors to create them. Even so, businesses need to be on the lookout for a number of market-friendly tools, including:

  1. Obvious social media buttons leading to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
  2. A news-style section that links visitors to dedicated blog pages.
  3. A completely filled out About Us and Contact section.
  4. Easy-to-use navigation bars.
  5. A landing page plus a home page (one is for selling; the latter for explaining what a company does).

 

We hope you enjoyed this article on “Online Marketing: A Checklist for Struggling Businesses“.  We appreciate your feedback.  Please comment below or tweet.

 

Make it a great day!

 

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

 

STRUGGLE NO MORE!! Tools that can help you with your struggling Business:

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How Viral Marketing Improves Online Efficiency

 

How Viral Marketing Improves Online Efficiency

 

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Viral marketing is a promotional strategy that has been in use for quite some time and has transitioned over onto the internet quite successfully. The strength behind this particular advertising technique is in its ability to help businesses spread their marketing message a whole lot faster and with less effort. In this way it helps to not only boost your exposure but also your ability to work much more efficiently as well! 

Here are 3 significant ways in which any online business can expect to benefit by using this particular promotional strategy. 

Time Efficient 

Typically this advertising technique involves little more than sharing your marketing message with a relatively smaller crowd who then spread the word. Working online offers the advantage in many cases of automating your efforts even further resulting in greater savings of time! As any entrepreneur will tell you time is money and therefore a precious commodity that should be used wisely! 

Cost Efficient 

In most cases advertising in a viral manner online involves distributing free reports or leaving business links at social site, forums, bookmarking sites or even blogging. In every case there is little or no out of pocket expenses making this advertising technique very cost efficient! 

Energy Efficient 

By leveraging the efforts of others you are able to channel the energy you have saved into other areas of your business. As an entrepreneur this is extremely important since most functions and/or business tasks are left up to you to complete. Avoiding fatigue in this way helps you maintain a mental alertness that can be use in more constructive and creative ways. Your mistakes will be minimized and your ability to produce more and stay motivated will benefit as well! 

Remember when fatigue does set in your ambition will naturally decrease and as mentioned above and you will be more prone to making mistakes. What happens here is that not only do your miscues create business inefficiencies but they also require more time and effort later on to fix! 

The biggest advantage viral marketing offers a business or person is its ability to leverage the efforts of others to spread your marketing message. When this advertising technique is put to use online the benefits it offers magnify due to the automation and global audience the internet can supply!

The single biggest advantage this promotional strategy offers is the increase efficiencies a business can experience as reviewed above. It therefore stands to reason that if you can increase efficiency you will also boost productivity with Viral Marketing thereby leading to greater sales and profits. With that said there seems to be little reason as to why you would not want to include this very effective promotional strategy into your online marketing mix!

 

Hope this article brought you value.  Your feedback is important to us.  Please comment below or tweet.

 

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Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

 

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Here are some articles on viral marketing you may enjoy: