social media

How and when to use hashtags to grow your social media audience

Every Tuesday in my free Facebook group I share a tip to get your business noticed, through social media, blogging, your website or by getting into the press. This week I shared an easy to action tip about hashtags – how and when to use hashtags to grow your social media audience.

How and when to use hashtags to grow your social media audience by The Indie Practice

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are a way of grouping similar content together to make it easy for a reader to find that content. For example, on a Saturday night thousands of people take to Twitter to chat about X Factor, all using the #xfactor hashtag. If you then want to go and see what everyone is saying, you can simply search for it and every tweet appears. It is a great way to find product, services, news and more.

Where can you use hashtags?

Hashtags work on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest but not Facebook. Facebook is not a place you go to, to search for something. Here you want to procrastinate looking at your friends cat or the like. But on Twitter you often go to search for news so the hashtag helps – simply type in something that is Trending (popular) and you will find out what is happening in the world, often faster than from the actual news. People use hashtags on Pinterest and Instagram to find inspiration such as wedding dresses or kids birthday cakes.

How do you use hashtags?

On Twitter you only get a small number of characters so you should focus on using key words that people are likely to search for. This is great when linked to special days such as World Baking Day or the like. For example, if you wanted to share a cake you had made on that day you would simply check the correct hashtag and write it into your tweet.

On Pinterest you should add hashtags into your descriptions of the pin (the image). It is best to add key word linked to the image NOT your business: for example, if the image features a pair of red shoes, I would add the hashtags #shoes #red #redshoes #fashion. These are all the key words that the reader is likely to type into the search bar. Once you have added these you may then want to add hashtags linked to your business but I would prioritise the image ones first.

Instagram is different. You can use up to 30 hashtags so it is a great idea to firstly add the key word hashtags – so if it was a paid of red shoes you would use the same hashtags that you used on Pinterest. But Instagram has other popular hashtags that are a little more unusual such as #shoesoftheday #shoeporn and #iloveshoes. These are what I would call creative hashtags that collectors, or real fans would know and search for. A great way to find these is to use a hashtag finder such as Hashtagify. – you simply type in your key word and they will suggest more unusual but popular hashtags. Another way is to look at other users that have nailed Instagram to see what hashtags they are using.

Hashtags aren’t something too complicated but some people make out that they are. The biggest piece of advice is to actually use them in the first place on the 3 social platforms.

And is it OK to use silly hashtags?

It is totally fine to make hashtags up or use silly ones, but I would suggest focusing on the key words first. No one is really searching for #sorrynotsorry but it is totally cool to use them!

I would suggest creating some for your own brand as it will help you to search for your content plus you may see others starting to use them too. We use #nobsmarketing and #authenticmarketing to summarise what we are about – while they won’t be what people are searching for, it is a great way to showcase what we are about.

And here I am with a bit more detail!

Want to get more advice on growing your audience on social media and get better engagement? Then have a look at my course Get Social – launching again in January 2019.

Get Social by The Indie Practice


7 huge reasons why every creative business should use Twitter to grow their audience

I get told a lot that Twitter is not a useful tool to grow an engaged audience especially if you work in the wedding industry. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. Just this week 3 potential clients told me that they either don’t get it or feel it is not “them”. I whole heartedly disagree, and know from my own results that Twitter is a very powerful network to get your creative, indie business noticed.  Here are just a few reasons why I advise all clients, that they should be tweeting daily.

7 huge reasons why every creative business should use Twitter to grow their audience

Creating Business to Business relationships (B2B)

Want to find a venue to host your event? Want to find a new print supplier? Want to find a business to cross promote your business with their customers? Want to get new advertisers or sponsors? Well the fastest way to get that without leaving your house is by Twitter. It is a great platform for B2B relationship building especially if you use the right hashtags, and as it is such a fast medium you can get answers and build relationships at speed.

However remember that it is not just businesses that hang out there (how often have I heard that brides or fashion customers aren’t on Twitter – er, they are!) and that our customers are there too. Make sure you tweet inspiring and educational tweets with them in mind too always with a great photo.

Engaging with journalists

Journalists hang out on Twitter over any other social media platform, as it is where the news happens and they can get what they want fast (journalists work at speed!) so if you want to grab an opportunity to get into the press, whether national or local then go and follow them. Start conversations with them by engaging with what they are talking about, answer them, spark up a new relationship. If you want to really find out what they need and whether you can help, look for the hashtag #journorequest as this is where they post what they are looking for, for an article or blog. When replying remember to be personable, approachable and that it is about helping them rather than pushing yourself and your business.

To understand the news

Twitter shares the news before the news channels – it is super fast, which is why journalists love it so. If you want timely things to blog about, share on social media or even to get into the press talking about, then look regularly to see what is trending.

Trending is when many people are all talking about the same subject, using the same hashtag.

When you see something that has happened and that everyone is tweeting about (therefore talking about) think whether you have a story to share on the topic. Then check #journorequest to see if any journalist is writing about it or pitch your story idea to a newspaper or radio show. This is called News Jacking and is a great way to get yourself noticed.

Being perceived as an expert

Journalists want experts. Your customers want to feel that they are buying from an expert. Twitter is the best place alongside Linked In to get your knowledge out there and to show you know a thing or two about your industry. To do this you need to share your thoughts and opinions even if they go against the grain.

If you see an article written about something you are passionate about, either agreeing or disagreeing, re-tweet it and share your thoughts. I did just that when New Look designed a T shirt, having a dig at women’s bodies so I shared my thoughts on it and it ended up being featured on the Metro. I have also been asked to appear on TV after I shared my thoughts on a subject – so if you want to be noticed, stand up and start sharing your voice.

Being able to multi share your message

Ever logged onto Facebook and felt spammed by the businesses that you follow? This is because they are posting too much for that platform – Facebook users like to slowly scroll and procrastinate there so it is not a good idea to post too much as a business. But Twitter is different. As it is fast moving, you can share a similar message over and over again to get maximum exposure. So if you have an event or a promotion on, get tweeting.

Few tips – don’t share exactly the same tweet as they will block them, create a tweet with a call to action or a headline that will make them click the link and use a link shortening app like Bitly so you have more space to write your message. Oh and add a photograph, always.

Conducting great customer service

One of the reasons that I love Twitter on a personal level is that all big brands use it for their customer service. I arrange my refunds and enquire about availability on Twitter as this is the fastest and cheapest way to get a reply from a customer service team. This has grown in popularity over the last few years, so most companies have invested in Twitter teams. You could do this too!

While you won’t want a Twitter team, why not offer the choice of communicating any issues this way so you can deal with them swiftly. Yes it is a more visible (remember you can always take it to Direct Messages) but if customers see you swiftly dealing with an issue they will have more faith in you.

Networking with your peers

Twitter is a great place to meet new people and network especially in Twitter hours. These are when someone hosts a special hour for their industry or location inviting people to come along sharing the same hashtag to chat, engage and make new contacts. A personal favourite is #weddinghour on a Wednesday evening.

However there are a few watch outs when attending these hours – mainly to not spam people. You know the kind of person that comes up to you at a networking event and only talks about themselves? Well don’t be that person in a Twitter hour (in fact don’t be that person at all!). Yes you want to sell your wares, but take your time, get to know people, don’t schedule tweets for this hour and ask others questions first. Oh and don’t remember to use the specific hashtag otherwise you will be chatting to no one!

On that note – guess what! I am launching my Twitter hour this week called #indieprhour. It is on Thursday at 8pm. Come along!

The Indie Practice with Kate Beavis

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