By now the use of the “#” symbol is as ubiquitous as the flurry of store signage along the freeway calling our attention on where to spend our money. Depending on the user, the hashtag can reach beyond its original purpose of pooling together like images and content to now dictating the current trending topics, or in a more flippant instance provide a sarcastic/funny call out in a tweet or post. Hashtags are now akin to a cursor directing us where to spend our attention as we browse online. They signal out what will be on everyone’s lips around the water cooler. How does the #hashtag trend relate to a company doing marketing for their brand? Well, “marketing,” as Seth Godin said “is a contest for people’s attention.”
No other social media forum can attest to this better than Twitter. Since 2009, Twitter has adopted to placing hyper linked hashtags in front of topics and filtrating the most popular ones to its homepage. They devised a way to find out where everyone’s attention was focused on. Now users of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are also taking penchant to them and conversations online are centering on these popular topics. This is where your company can come in to develop, track and engage the hashtags in that social space to capture the attention of your target audience.
However, just like driving, the use of hashtags must be used with precaution and measure to maximize a positive viral effect and minimize disastrous results. Think of a drivers manual you absolutely must crack open before you can even put the key in the ignition as we look at some of the best practices for the uses of hashtags.
10 Do’s and Don’ts of Hashtags in Your Social Media Strategy
The first rule of hashtags is to add them. To everything. You probably already know that Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all support hashtags but did you know Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr and even Kickstarter, among others, also support hashtags? Add your hashtag to every post, without exception, or you’re missing an opportunity to generate buzz and grow your audience.
2. Strategize Your Hashtags
Hashtags have become a part of our daily vocabulary, so much so that you’ll find hashtags used in everything from TV commercials to everyday conversations friends are having in person without even being on the computer. What you typically find on social media sites are people who just want to add their opinion or a witty remark using hashtags or, worse, a company that is missing out on an opportunity because it chose random hashtags that have no strategy behind them. You need a hashtag that’s more significant than #NotCoolMan, unless you also own an air conditioning repair service.
3. Use Short Hashtags
How often have you seen #HashtagsThatAreSoLongTheyShouldBeBanned? Use short hashtags that are easy to read and actually have a chance of being retweeted. The longer your hashtags, the harder they are to read and the more real estate they take up in your post’s character limits. You’re not trying to be funny just to get a quick laugh, you want to use a hashtag that will be seen, is short enough to make retweeting easy and could end up trending.
4. Don’t Use the Same Hashtags
If you use the same hashtags over and over again, you’re not going to gain as much traction as you would if you varied up your hashtags. It’s easy for a media company to slap #news at the end of a post. That hashtag will get lost in a timeline full of #news hashtags but it also dilutes the power of hashtags by not capitalizing on what the post is truly covering.
5. Don’t Use More Than Two Hashtags Per Post
Statistics show that posts with more than two hashtags perform worse than those with only one or two. As this infographic shows , tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those posts that are loaded with hashtags.
6. Break Out Your Hashtags on the Weekends
Surveys show hashtags are hot on the weekends, with engagement rates for brands being 17% higher on Saturdays and Sundays. However, most companies are missing out because they take the weekends off. If you can’t have someone manning your social media accounts on the weekends, use a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite to plan your weekend posts with hashtags ahead of time.
7. Take Advantage of Trending Hashtags
You know #AmericanIdol is going to be a trending hashtag on the nights the show airs. Take advantage of the trending hashtags. If your website has an interview with one of the contestants on your YouTube channel, promote it and tag that update with #AmericanIdol. Keep an eye on what is trending now to see if you can get your content in front of the millions of eyes watching for that hashtag too.
8. Interact with Other Users Using Hashtags
Want to expose your social media accounts to potential followers and fans? Join the conversation. Interact with other users using your hashtags and dive right in when you can contribute to a trending hashtag. Social media isn’t a one-sided platform. You will develop a more loyal, long-lasting following if you interact with your audience.
9. Ask for Retweets not RTs
You want your followers to retweet you so your hashtag gets passed around. Just ask … but do it properly. Stats show asking for retweets by spelling out the word “retweet” pull in retweets that are 23 times higher than the average. And posts that ask for an RT only perform 10 times higher.
10. Track Your Hashtags
You spent a lot of time coming up with the right hashtags so how do you know if your strategy is working or if you need to tweak it? Track your hashtags to see their peaks and plummets. This will help you see what types of hashtags are working for you and which ones should be #retired.
As some brands can attest to, jumping in too quickly on a trending hashtag without checking out what it’s referencing to can land you in some hot water. Using a hashtag representing say, a divisive political debacle or pressing social cause, to plug your brand can adversely create bad publicity for you whether it’s done knowingly or unknowingly. The kind of bad publicity where you have to continuously apologize to everyone, other media outlets pick up on your error and virally spread it, and you write a note on your desk in big, fat, red letters saying “#AlwaysCheckYourHashtags.” So, do a little research and map out where your tentative hashtag is coming from and use your sound judgment if it can get you to where you want to go to: at the forefront of your audience’s attention.
Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
We agree with old Albert, and we are passionate about finding ways to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge in the young people in our community. We are grateful for opportunities to teach, to pass along our wisdom and our love for the work we do, and we always end up learning along the way.
In the summer of 2011, we had the honor of hosting four young, talented students in a summer internship program, called Illuminate. It’s hard to believe it has been over a full year since they were here working alongside us. It was a joy to have them, to teach them and to watch them learn and grow over the summer. We love our work and we enjoyed having the opportunity to share our passions and talents with these students.
Kathy Rudkin, the brains behind this whole operation known as Rudkin Productions, was quoted in the Boerne Star, saying “The internship program allows local students, who have shown remarkable talent in the field of advertising or broadcasting, to hone in on their skills and work with an actual client while having access to an array of professionals in the industry.”
The mission of the internship program was two-fold: to give back to the community and introduce new talent to the advertising industry. The Hill Country Pregnancy Care Center (HCPCC) was chosen from an array of local non-profits to receive the benefits of the program. Our four superstar interns were on the project from day one, from the initial client meeting through the complete and finished campaign. Our team here at RP developed the campaign and put it in the hands of these talented students to make it come to life. From revamping the HCPCC website, brochures and other print materials to expanding fundraising efforts and creating a promotional video – the group covered it all. They conducted interviews, researched other pregnancy centers, wrote copy, shot video, edited and designed. The foursome became a part of the Rudkin crew from the beginning and were given full access to to the whole creative staff. It was a summer full of learning, engaging and growing. We were so happy to be able to host these young people as they spent the summer working alongside us. For more information on the internship program and the work done for HCPCC, click here.
Here are a few pictures of Hilary Commer, Ryan Travis, Emma Rudkin and Maddie Inglish, AKA our four superstar interns:
Fast forward to the spring of 2012, when we had another opportunity to take a break from our fast-paced days and spend some time engaging in the young students in our community. We had been approached by Boerne Middle School South teacher, Sandie Ford, about hosting a field trip for the students in her two Exploring Careers classes. We were thrilled to be able to give these students a glimpse into our industry. For two days in a row, we watched as a big yellow school bus pulled up to our building and poured out a handful of smiling middle school students, happy to be out of the classroom during school hours and on a field trip. Kathy lead the students through a tour of the agency and adjacent print shop, while giving project examples and answering questions from the attentive students.
It was such a fun opportunity for us to give back to the students of our community. We hope to see some of those students come back in a couple of years as interns!
Here are a few pictures from the field trips:
Reflecting on these experiences makes us grateful for the opportunity to invest in young people. We can all remember teachers, educational programs, mentors, internships, etc., that sparked a flame in our minds and kept us motivated to get where we are now. We are grateful for those people and experiences, and hope to have provided that for the students that have come through our doors. Looking forward to more!
Hi there. Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start! We’ve got a lot cookin’ over here at RP. Wanted to take a few minutes out of the daily hustle and bustle to give you a glimpse at what it looks like to plan a large out-of-state event. Enjoy!
One of our most exciting accounts we work on is Christians United for Israel (CUFI). The purpose of CUFI is to provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues.
For the past seven years, starting in January, we begin the long preparation for this three-day event that takes place in July in Washington, D.C.. 2012 Was our 7th annual CUFI Washington Summit. When the thousands of attendees arrive in Washington, they are probably not aware of the six months of work that happened prior to their arrival.
Under the supervision and direction of the CUFI national office and their incredible staff, we join forces to put together a massive event. While we make everything “pretty” and supply the end product, the CUFI staff does the intense work of content and physical coordination and preparation of this event.
The list of needs to put on an event of this magnitude is endless. In January, we start with website banners, postcards, invitations, ads, brochures, registration forms – all the paperwork that is needed and associated with kicking off a large event such as this. Next, we move into actual tangible needs for the events – registration information, folders, notepads, pens, tote bags, lanyards, badge holders, itineraries, maps, vacation information, signage and banners, informational flyers and the list goes on and on.
Also, during this time frame, we also put out three CUFI Torch magazines – the January, April and June issues all fall within this same time.
The Torch, January 2012
The Torch, April 2012
The 7th Annual Washington Summit was a great success! Guest speakers Pastor John Hagee, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made it not only memorable, but incredibly moving. It is amazing to see thousands and thousands of people united for their support of this Biblical mandate. Pastor Hagee and many of the other delegates were very poignant in their messages. He visited with many of the senators on Capitol Hill and relayed the same message… America must support Israel now! – “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” – Isaiah 62:1 Here are just a few photos from CUFI Washington Summit 2012.
Pretty cool, huh? Check out more photos from our Facebook album here.
Happy Thursday, folks. How is everyone doing today? All is well here at RP.
Wanted to share with you an exciting opportunity we were given during our 20th anniversary year (this year!). If you happened to read the April edition of Boerne Business Monthly, you already know what I’m talking about. That’s right, we had the honor of being the feature story for BBM’s April edition! In my head I’m singing (“…the thrill that will get ya when your get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone Boerne Business Monthly!!!!”)
The article, written by the lovely Denise R. Marcos, tells the story of RP and the dreamer that made it all happen, Kathy Rudkin. The article gives a great snapshot of and the ins and outs of our daily business, the mission of our company and the relationships we form with our clients. The article is also paired with some sweet shots of our building by Gary Perkins and lively photos of our crew by Mr. West Vita (we highly recommend both of these guys). The article titled, “Rudkin Productions Makes a Voice for Businesses,” is a great, easy read and we are so proud of it.
Have you jumped on the digital train yet? We suggest you do!
We are constantly having discussions with our clients on what a transition to digital marketing would look like for their specific companies and target markets. Taking on the ever-changing world of digital media can be a daunting task (to say the least). Trust us, we know that mastering the different forms of digital media from mobile apps and tablets, to QR codes, digital publications, websites, banners and social media is difficult, confusing and frustrating. And once you do get them all down, how do you measure success? By the number of likes you get on Facebook posts or mentions you get on Twitter? How does this convert to ACTUAL consumers of your brand and financial success for your company? Asking all of these questions can leave your head spinning and make you want to throw the towel in before you even begin. Don’t worry. Breathe. The post doesn’t end here…we are here to help.
At RP, we have jumped on board and fully embraced all things digital. We’ve recently launched a new custom website that integrates our blog and social media feeds. We build interactive magazines with features such as embedded video feeds, access to online shopping carts, links to social sites and more. Our social media presence is increasing daily, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. We’re constantly engaging new customers with eblasts and direct mail pieces with QR codes. Our web programmer is working on building our very own mobile app. Okay, you get the point… we’re investing into every digital marketing feature out there. Why? Because we believe it in and we want our clients to see our success and believe as well. Our goal at RP is to help you find the perfect mix of traditional marketing and digital media to accomplish your unique goals with what you need—and nothing you don’t.
So where do you even begin? We suggest with your website. If you don’t have a website, you need one. PERIOD. End of story. You want your consumers to find you, right? Well, guess where they’re going to look for you? The wonderful world wide web.
Step two? You can take your next step in a number of ways. Does your company produce a magazine or catalog? We can take it and make you a digital interactive copy to share on your website, social accounts or through e-mail. Another perk? These can also be viewed from smart phones, iPads and ereaders. No longer do you have to be constrained by your postage budget.
Next step? What about a mobile app? Well, since the percentage of people with smart phones is constantly increasing, making your website “mobile compatible” is a good idea. Your app can be as simple, or as complex as you would like it to be. Apps give you the opportunity to send messages and updates to your consumers, allow your consumers to purchase items or sign up for events through their phone, remind them of appointments, get directions to your business (because let’s face it, we’re often on our way there before we realize we don’t know where we are going), connect to your business’ social accounts… AND MUCH, MUCH MORE. Think about what type of mobile app might be good for your company. Then, let’s make it happen.
Then there’s social media. By now, you must know we can’t write a post without mentioning social media. (Refer to this post, and the one before that). Which social networks you should engage can be easily determined. Ask yourself, ‘where are my customers?’ and then go there. Facebook and Twitter are great networks for most companies. If your company is frequently recruiting new employees or looking for other professionals in your field, LinkedIn is a great place to start. Pinterest works magic with companies that have something visual to display (think designers, retail, food, flowers and gardening, fashion, architecture, event planners, etc.). One thing you should always do is look at what your competitors are doing on their social accounts. This will help you see what works and what doesn’t.
Other digital marketing outlets you might want to consider are: EBlasts, Banners ads, QR codes, SEO (search engine optimization) and PURLS (personalized URLs).
Take a few minutes and think about it. In what digital marketing areas can your company expand?