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!
Happy Thursday, folks! Hope everyone is healthy and happy.
This week, we thought we would give you a break from our blabbin’ and share some words of other wise folks. Devastating, we know. Anyway – we’ve read some great industry articles lately and thought we would pass them along to all you in need of a good cup of a joe and a five-minute break from reality (that covers just about all of us, right?) Enjoy!
“A Post to Convince Dot Com Doubters” by Rudkin Productions. Has anyone ever heard of this company? We hear they’re the best around, are all good looking and have an insanely fabulous blog (and very humble too). Okay, okay, you caught us…we had to sneak this one in, couldn’t help ourselves.
Here at RP, websites are one of our most requested projects. We’re constantly designing and coding sites for the wonderful world wide web. New and existing clients call us all the time asking about how to increase their online presence, what content they should use on their websites and what a website would look like for their particular company/industry/event/non-profit/you-name-it. We also have new clients that come in and just aren’t convinced that a website is “what they need,” or “something that will be good for their business.”
So we hereby dedicate the post to the latter group mentioned above. That’s right, this one’s for you, dot com doubters. If you’re in the first group, and agree with what we’re saying, you can stop reading now, pat yourself on the back and go grab your afternoon cup of joe.
All others, read on…
Here are a few of the biggest defense tactics people use when we suggest it is time they jump on the website wagon, and our response to them.
1. “Websites are too expensive.”
Well, yes, websites do cost money, especially websites built by professional graphic designers and web programmers. They cost money because these people have highly advanced skills on how to make your website look appealing, function properly and most importantly, be seen. Once the website it built, the only cost involved is the monthly or annual cost of hosting your website online, and your annual domain registration, both of which are extremely minimal. With your employees, you give them a paycheck every couple of weeks. Think of your website as a 24/7 employee (one that takes no sick days, no vacations and acts exactly like you want them to) that you only have to give one pay check to. Sounds pretty good, eh? Also, your website will help you reach followers you otherwise would never be able to find, thus increasing your marketing presence, thus increasing your client base, thus increasing the profits of your business. See where I am going with this? Basically, yes, websites do come at a price, but that price is minimal compared to the return your website can potentially bring you.
2. “I don’t even know where to start.”
That is completely fine. The good news is, we do. Come on in, we’ve got you covered.
3. “My customers can just come in my store or call me if they need information. I have no need to put information on a website.”
Sure, we understand that. But don’t you want to make your information easily available to both potential and existing clients? If not for theirs, then for your sake. Do you have people calling and asking what your business hours are? The cost of certain services or products? What your services do/do not include? If you had a website with that type of information, I bet you all the George Washingtons in my wallet that your phone lines would be freed up a bit, allowing you and your employees to focus more on other, more beneficial, work.
4. “What if the website brings in too much new business, and I can’t handle it?”
That is what we call a GOOD problem, my friend. Cross that bridge when you get to it, and be thankful when you do! Success is not a bad thing. Don’t limit your potential by fear of success. (Should we put that last sentence on a fortune cookie or something?)
Not convinced yet? Well, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So here are a few of the websites we’ve built here at RP. Click on the pictures to take you to the actual site. Click through the pages of the sites, marvel at our designs, note the ease of function, and ask yourself: Does my current site work well, like these? – OR – Is it time for my company to jump on the dot com train? Enjoy.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” Well, we agree with Tom on that one. We also know money doesn’t grow on trees and in the current economic climate – budgets are tight. But wait! Don’t stop reading there. The goal of this post is not to depress you about the economy, that was just the opener. We just want you to know we understand and that we want to help our clients reach their advertising potential within their budgets.
Check out this article one of the lovely account executives of RP, Meg Guillory, wrote for the Boerne Business Monthly in May of 2010. Although it was written two years ago, it is still as relevant as ever. The article, titled, “Surviving the Recession with Marketing,” breaks down six simple steps to “maximize your impact within your limited budget.”
To read this article online and view the whole May 2010 edition of Boerne Business Monthly, click here.