Monday, October 14, 2013

How hashtags make me happy (and how and why you can use hashtags)

What on earth is a hashtag?

If you've been wanting to ask me this question, you are definitely not alone.

Let's start off with the basics. A hashtag is like a topic marker, a way to describe in a word or short phrase what the topic of your post is about. And the point of using a hashtag is that people can click on it and then find lots of other posts about the same topic (usually from all different people).

Hashtags have a few special qualities:
  • Of course, they have to start with a #. (This has got to be one of the few recent examples of British English triumphing over US English.)
  • They can't have spaces. You can use more than one word but you have to join them together. For example, #AmandaKendleConsulting if you wanted to make a hashtag out of my business name. 
  • They're not case-sensitive so you could also use #amandakendleconsulting and if you clicked on that you'd get the same results as the one with the initial capitals. Sometimes I use the initial capitals just to make the phrase clearer. Sometimes I don't!
  • They are taking over the world. Okay, they are taking over the social media world. They started off on Twitter but have since spread to basically every social media platform there is, even Facebook. But if you click on a hashtag in Facebook, for example, you'll only see other Facebook posts that have the same hashtag. (A more advanced bit about this later.)
So then the next obvious question is why should we use hashtags? The main reason is so that more people can find the stuff we're posting on social media. So, for example, if you post a photo on Instagram of the beach and use a few hashtags like #perth #scarboroughbeach #workathome (see, that's throwing words together without spaces ... you get used to it!) then you might get the attention of people who don't actually follow you on Instagram. Someone who searches for Perth, for example, will see your image, and that might entice them to look around at your other pictures, and perhaps follow you. And it works the same way no matter which platform you're talking about - although it's fair to say that hashtags are more widely used on Twitter and Instagram at the moment, more than on other social media sites.


The other great time to use hashtags is so that people who know about the hashtag can use it to, so that you can all see what the others are doing. For example, at the Problogger conference last month, the hashtag was advertised as being #PBevent and this meant we all posted our thoughts and updates (and pictures of cake) using the #PBevent hashtag - and could then easily see what other attendees were saying about it, too. And of course with our #businesspics challenge on Instagram, our participants use the #businesspics hashtag and then anyone can tap on it and find all of the different posts from everyone.



I asked my Facebook page followers what their hashtag questions were, so let me answer them here:

Can you have your very own hashtag?
And related - how do you start a hashtag? Well, basically, a hashtag is public property. If you want to have a hashtag that gathers only your own posts together, then you want to make it pretty unique - #AmandaKendleConsulting would work here, #myhouse would not - but you can't stop someone else from using it as well. To "start" a hashtag, you simply use it. Once you post a hashtag it just becomes one, and it's clickable, even if it's only that one post you've done that will pop up.

How do you decide what hashtag to use?
This gets easier with practice but there are basically three different ways I decide which hashtags to add:
  • By guessing/using a kind of common sense - for example, if I'm posting about a blog post I wrote about Japan, I would use #Japan
  • By searching to see what exists already - I might search to see if #OsakaSightseeing is already a hashtag, or #OsakaSights, and if one of them has a lot of posts, choose that, in the hope that more people will see my post
  • By watching what other people do and copying them!
You can also research conglomeration of posts from different platforms that have been hashtagged with the same thing at a service like Tagboard.

How many hashtags should you use?
I tend to use a maximum of three or four regardless of the platform (often less on Twitter, they take up too many characters!). I read a Mashable report about Instagram recently which showed more hashtags are better, up to about five hashtags, and then from then on you don't get much benefit. And yes, to answer the person who asked me on Facebook, if you use twenty hashtags every time you may lose some followers, I know I for one get kind of annoyed when there is a mass of hashtags to navigate past.

Some other random bits and pieces about hashtags that might interest you:
  • You can put a hashtag in the middle of a sentence. This is especially OK on Twitter where you have to fit so much in to a small space. So I could say
  • On Twitter, people sometimes use hashtags to be funny. Or to try to be funny. Like me.
  • You can save hashtag searches for Twitter in particular so that you can easily click in and check up on your favourite topic (especially useful for conferences too).
  • Remember this is titled "How hashtags make me happy"? The main reason is that when I've got a few spare minutes to surf around then hashtags take me on weird and wonderful journeys around the internet. Weird, wonderful but focused journeys! Go hashtags.
Any more hashtag questions?
So, hopefully that's answered some of the questions but I'm sure there will be more. Ask them in the comments below and I'll take care of them. #ifican :-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Social media haters: what to do when people say mean things on Facebook or Twitter

When I'm helping clients set up their social media platforms, one of the most common questions I get asked concerns crisis management. What do we do when people leave horrible comments? they ask, nearly always. They're really scared of opening up the possibility for disgruntled clients or customers or nasty members of the general public to say something bad about them.


So far the only disgruntled client comments I've had have been from hungry bellies
wondering when the chocolate cake will be served at our workshops.

My answer usually goes something like this:

First of all, I tell them that if people have complaints about your business, they'll very likely talk about you online anyway, on their own profiles or platforms or wherever, so you're definitely better off having an online presence so that they can talk about you where you can see them and and do something about it.

Next, I tell them that they'd be surprised at how infrequently this happens. I've worked with all kinds of clients in all kinds of industries over the years and do you know how many have come back and actually said somebody had commented nastily on their Facebook page or sent them a mean tweet? None. Not one! That's not to say it doesn't happen. And in certain industries, of course, it's more likely to happen than others. I'm talking about unnecessarily nasty stuff, not just a complaint about service or product with some kind of legitimate (or at least vaguely reasonable) cause.

But, if it happens, then I tell them that the best strategy is not to engage with the content of the comment online, but to politely thank them and give them a way to take it further offline (like giving them a way to contact you by email or phone so you can talk to them privately). I've always said that deleting the comment is likely to get them further annoyed and do it again, whereas if you've acknowledged them and given them an opportunity to continue the conversation elsewhere then they look pretty stupid if they keep commenting. The other bonus of a social media community, assuming you've kind of been taking care of them, is that your advocates/fans will often jump in and tell them to shut up, basically!


(It's probably better not to use Basil Fawlty's methods of dealing with complaints, as in this video ...)

However, at the Problogger Event I heard a different answer from two very experienced people - Amy Porterfield (my favourite Facebook guru) and Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. Amy started off saying that she used to say pretty much exactly what I've just said - but that recently she's changed her mind. Kind of to my surprise, she says these days if nasty comments come up on her page - people who have said nothing constructive but just nasty or hateful things - she just deletes them - and bans them from the page! Trey Ratcliff agreed although he had a great alternative if you were after some more fun - let them stay on and "your community will have great fun tearing them apart!"

So basically, it's up to you. Reply or delete - that's the two basic choices - but the best news is that for most of you, you'll never actually have to decide.

But have you ever had anyone leave a nasty comment? What did you do?


Friday, October 4, 2013

How to: Link Instagram to your Facebook profile or page

I started the #businesspics prompts on Instagram for several reasons, but a key one is to encourage both my clients and other Instagrammers to use the images they produce to support their business - Instagram pictures can be a fantastic way to give your followers a glimpse into the everyday life of your business, especially if you share them beyond Instagram to, for example, your Facebook page.

And then one of our participants said - wait - how do I do that? And so of course I realised that I've missed a step. Fortunately it's not tricky but it can take a bit of hunting to find the connection so here's the method:

The first step is to head to your profile (the bottom right button in Instagram, which always reminds me of a microwave oven) and tap the cog wheel at the top right.

If your version looks a bit different to mine, fingers crossed it functions in the same way! I've updated to iOS 7 which might explain the difference if you're on an iPhone.



 The next trick is to find the share settings - scroll down first through the Options page first (keep going!):



Then find and tap on "Share Settings" under Preferences.

You'll get a few choices on the Share Settings screen but for now tap on Facebook (if you haven't connected yet, it'll be greyed out).


To configure it you'll need to tap "Share to ..." to take Instagram through to your Facebook login. You'll need to log in (even if you want to use a business page, you will log in to your personal Facebook profile and later you get the chance to choose to share to a business page if you want).

I highly recommend NOT agreeing to "Share Likes to Timeline" - this means that every time you like an image on Instagram this action will appear on your Facebook feed - yep, that would be pretty annoying for your followers or friends!


Once Instagram and Facebook have started talking (in other words, you've entered your Facebook log in details and Instagram remembers them) you'll have the option of sharing to your Timeline or to a Facebook page you manage. You can see in the diagram below that I've got my Instagram feed set up to share to my Amanda Kendle Consulting Facebook page. Once you've selected the right page, you're done, just hit another icon along the bottom (home, for example) and get back into Instagramming. 


Now that you're set up, when you post an Instagram picture, you can tap on the Facebook icon on the page where you type in your caption and it'll then share immediately to your Facebook profile or page (whichever you've set up).

One kind of annoying thing about Instagram is that there is no quick and easy way to change this - you have to go all the way through these menus if you want to change it and it's not something that can be done mid-post. Sometimes I'd like to share some photos to my personal profile but it's such an effort that I pretty much just leave it always set to post to my business page and only post some of my images (usually only one a day to my Facebook page - don't want to overload people!).

So - does this make sense? Yell if my step-by-steps aren't clear - it's easy to overlook mentioning something that is clear to me but not to a normal person! And finally, if you want to join us for the rest of October's #businesspics challenges, the prompts are below. It's never too late to start and you don't need to take part every day.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...