Everyone is using hashtags. You’ll see them on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and, for those stubborn holdouts, on Facebook (which doesn’t support hashtags at this time, but may in the future.) But why are hashtags valuable for marketers, and how can you use them?
How to Use Hashtags for Marketing
Hashtags are a great way to search for what people are talking about in your industry or market space. They’re also great for monitoring mentions of your brand on social media platforms. But, hashtags only work well for marketing when there is a thoughtful, targeted strategy applied to them.
For example, creating a unique hashtag to draw attention to your brand name, a new product or service launch, an upcoming event, or a contest or promotion is a great way to increase engagement in a measurable, tangible way. In order for this strategy to work, you’ll need to promote the hashtag. Get the hashtag some more visibility by paying to promote tweets that mention it. Include it on marketing materials, whether they’re for print or online. Mention it on all social media channels, not just the ones that actively support hashtags, so that you can drive traffic to the correct social media platform.
Steps to Creating a Successful Hashtag Campaign
Of course, creating a hashtag isn’t as easy as just throwing out the first idea that you come up with. Hashtags need to follow some specific guidelines to ensure that they have a higher potential for taking off. Below are a few tips for using hashtags correctly in marketing campaigns:
- Do Your Due Diligence. Make sure that other brands or ideas/concepts aren’t already using your proposed hashtag. This could lead to an unintended association or identity, never a good thing when it comes to branding (consistency and attention to detail is key).
- Use Capital Letters. It sounds silly, but using capital letters to separate the words can mean the difference between a great hashtag and an unintentionally confusing and even insulting one (like the hashtag #nowthatchersdead that surfaced after Margaret Thatcher died. It was mistaken for “Now that Cher is Dead.” Not a good mistake).
- Use Different Hashtags for Different Events/Promotions. It’s easier to track hashtags if each hashtag is unique to a specific initiative. Just make sure they’re clear, otherwise they can confuse consumers (and you!)
- Don’t Hashtag Stuff. We all hate that Twitter user. The one that uses 120 of the 140 characters on hashtags. Tweets (or other social posts) with too many hashtags are confusing and look more like they came from a robot than a real person.
- Keep it Short. Short, sweet hashtags are memorable and easy to use, plus don’t take up the entire 140 characters in a Tweet.
April 30th, 2013
Rice Krispies had a problem. They had spent so many years marketing their cereal as perfect for making sugary, sweet treats that they were seen as an indulgence. Rice Krispies were perceived as treat, not an everyday breakfast option moms could offer to their children. To combat their public persona, Rice Krispies decided to go back to basics.
Real Moms & Kids, Real Results
Because moms had begun to think that Rice Krispies themselves were sugary and sweet, the cereal was no longer perceived the way it wanted to be – as an everyday experience that tasted good and was good for you. So, Rice Krispies decided to enlist the help of real moms to change other mom’s perceptions.
Rice Krispies took a look at how moms and children were interacting with Rice Krispies both on and offline. Of course, their first stop was their already-existing fan base on Facebook. They also tapped into their brand advocates in their CRM system. Rice Krispies made it easy for moms to share photos of their children enjoying Rice Krispies as a healthy breakfast. Rice Krispies then used these photos as part of a campaign showcasing real moms and kids that drove traffic to the Rice Krispies Facebook page (where more of this type of content was displayed).
This strategy was a ground-up, organic way to drive engagement and change perceptions. As Matt Jordan from Biggs|Gilmore points out, many brands rush into contests or giveaways to motivate followers to share and engage with a typically low-engagement brand. But, that’s not necessarily the way to go. The submissions and content that you receive is usually not authentic, as these consumers aren’t really brand advocates and are just trying to win something. Instead, it’s important to create a campaign with real humanity behind it, one that recognizes that your brand is a part of someone’s life. By engaging with fans on a more emotional level, you’ll encourage authentic sharing.
How to Create Authentic Engagement
As consumers become more and more empowered, brands have less traditional control over their image. Traditionally, a strong branded presence across platforms and a well-thought out, engaging message was enough. Now, however, what’s important isn’t what the brand says. It’s what the consumer interacting with the brand says. Consumers trust other consumers, especially friends, much more than they trust brand messaging and positioning.
But, this doesn’t mean that brands are completely out of control and at the mercy of consumers. It just means that authenticity and a great product/service are crucial to a brand’s success. As a culture, we’re moving away from branded messages and into branded experiences. When consumers interact with brands, especially online, they expect those brands to deliver content that’s shareable – whether it’s funny, heartwrenching, or exciting in some way. Then, of their own accord, consumers will share this information with their friends and will fast become your unpaid brand advocates.
Brands that are succeeding online already know that content and authenticity are the names of the game. Brands like Red Bull and Pepsi are focusing their efforts on creating really stellar content that gets a lot of shares. Companies like Whole Foods are providing helpful information for their customers, whether it’s recipes or health info. And, brands are interacting with their consumers in real time via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms.
In short, the new rule is to be authentic first. Blatant advertising won’t work. Don’t go off-brand message, but don’t make your brand message something that doesn’t resonate with consumers. And, most of all, remember that your customers are just people, like you. They want to know that your brand is backed by real people like them.
April 12th, 2013
Image Courtesy postdesk.com
Media publishing and consumption has changed drastically in the past 15 years. For children born in the 80s and earlier, a life without the Internet, smartphones, streaming video, and instant access to information was the norm. For children born in the 90s and beyond, expecting a device to react to your touch commands and Googling any question you have at any moment from any device is reality. They can no more conceive of a life without Netflix than they can a life with encyclopedias and dictionaries as the primary source of information.
The “Internet Native” digital generation, as they’re being called, consume and interact with information differently than their GenX peers. At last month’s iMedia Video Summit panel discussion, author Jack Myers centered the conversation around the generation he calls a “small band of impatient, empowered, multi-tasking, curious, confident, confused, sexually liberated, sometimes binge-drinking, and often fragile kids who were the first to be born into the Internet Age.”
Brad Fay, COO of Keller Fay Group, pulled together some data on the Internet Native generation (13-22 year olds) versus GenX-ers (30-49 year olds). Below is a summary of some of the most interesting takeaways and our thoughts on what it means for marketers.
13-22 year olds talk about brands an average of 120 times per week, compared to 70 times per week for their 30-49 year old counterparts. What this means for marketers is that 13-22 year olds are major influencers. They’re more likely to share brand content and recommend brands. When targeting the Internet Natives, be sure to create shareable, engaging content and focus on cultivating a relationship with those consumers. Then, they’ll become your brand advocates and suddenly your viral reach is exponentially larger.
All Media is Social Media
The 13-22 year olds are twice as likely as their GenX peers to leverage media content for conversation. Whether it’s sharing a magazine article on Twitter or posting a picture of a cool direct mail piece on Facebook, the Internet Natives are content curators and creators. Brands can leverage this trend by encouraging the 13-22 demographic to share content. This encouragement can be through a contest, a special offer, or by simply creating and pushing out content that just begs to be shared (it doesn’t have to be a funny cat photo to be shareable). A great example of this practice is companies like Gucci that are creating visually appealing banner ads with a “Pin-It” button embedded.
Social Media Participators
The Internet Natives have twice as many conversations online as their older GenX peers. But, what’s important to note is that these conversations are not replacing face-to-face interactions. They’re replacing traditional interaction like phone calls and even newer technology like emails. What does this mean for marketers? Keeping up with the Internet Natives means meeting them where they’re engaging in conversations – on social media. But, before diving into a social media campaign, take the time to understand your particular 13-22 year old demographic and their preferences and habits. Do they prefer Twitter or Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram? What type of messaging resonates with them and what imagery or videos are they sharing? By doing the research up front, you have a much better chance of creating a plan that will generate real results (viral reach and increased sales and brand awareness).
April 3rd, 2013
Image Courtesy Mashable.com
Last October, LinkedIn rolled out global video advertising. Before rolling out the video ads, users were only able to advertise with text ads. Both the text and the new video ads work much like Google ads, where the advertiser pays per click.
How Video Ads Work
LinkedIn video ads appear at 300×250px and compete for impressions the same way text ads do. The video must be 30 seconds or less. The video takes up the entire 300×250 ad unit and plays directly in the ad space when a user clicks on it. After the video is finished playing, users can click through to your company LinkedIn page or to your website/landing page.
Companies can either upload new videos or use videos from YouTube. Using videos from YouTube gives the added benefit of a “play” on YouTube, increasing your website’s SEO.
Are Video Ads Right For Your Company?
LinkedIn video ads sound like a great idea. But, are they right for your company? Below are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to advertise with videos on LinkedIn.
- Success of LinkedIn Text Ads. Has your company ever advertised with LinkedIn? If so, you’ll know how many impressions and clicks your ad received, as well as any leads that resulted. If you did not have any click-throughs, even after adjusting messaging and the audience, then perhaps LinkedIn is not the best forum for advertising your company. It may be best to try Google, Facebook, or Twitter. But, if your ads have gotten clicks and maybe clicks aren’t converting to leads or you want more clicks, than video ads could be a great experiment. If you haven’t used LinkedIn ads before, run both text and video ads simultaneously to see which performs best.
- Current Video Content. It seems obvious, but does your company have any video content currently? If so, you already have the content you need to create your ads. Even if the videos are longer than 30 seconds, you can always cut them down and upload them to YouTube or LinkedIn.
- Creating Quick, Cost-Effective Video Content. If you don’t have any video content but really want to test the effectiveness of LinkedIn video ads, consider making a video using a digital camera, Flip Video, or even a smartphone. Record a 30 second video of an executive giving your elevator pitch or talking about the exciting advancements in your product/service. Have them site against the wall with your logo on it or a plain, light-colored wall. Voila! You have a video to use for your ads.
- Demographics. Who is going to see your ad? Before setting up your video ad, you need to define what LinkedIn members will see the ad. Are they people with “Vice President” or “Chief Executive” in their title? Do they work at a company with at least 50 employees or more? Are they in a certain geographic area? It’s important to think about your ideal client or customer and tailor the ad parameters to that audience. You don’t want to waste money on clicks that won’t result in revenue.
- Ad Budget. It’s very important to define your ad budget on a per-day basis. Set your ad budget at a reasonable rate to begin with. Watch the ads every day for a week and see if and when you are reaching that budget. If your budget is maxed out by 9am and your ad is no longer being served, it makes sense to increase your budget or limit the parameters of the ad demographics.
We know that creating, monitoring, and adjusting LinkedIn ads can seem overwhelming. We’re here to help. Incitrio’s experienced online marketing team can create your LinkedIn text and video ads, monitor and adjust them as needed, all while collaborating with you and providing you with frequent updates. Call us today at 858-523-1822 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a LinkedIn ad strategy. We are a San Diego graphic design, branding, marketing, and web design agency that focuses on integrated strategies to grow our clients’ revenue.
January 23rd, 2013
Image Courtesy www.socialable.co.uk
2012 was the year of social media marketing. Now that 2013 is here, it is essential for businesses to include social media in their marketing plans to keep up with consumer trends.
Companies have the opportunity to join the worldwide conversation by communicating with customers through dedicated social media accounts. Social media increases consumers’ awareness and increases the amount of traffic to the company website. Plus, social media gives marketers a platform to reach their target markets directly. Social Media Today has created a 3 part info graphic based on the three s’s to follow when using social media.
- Make sure to provide the necessary, important information about your company on all of your social media profiles. It is important that users are able to understand your business and how it’s relevant to them.
- Search for likeminded people to connect with. Like Facebook pages that are relevant to your business, join LinkedIn groups, and follow industry insiders on Twitter. People in groups relevant to your business are more likely to be interested in your products or services.
- Interact with your followers. Post content on your social media sites that generates user engagement and then communicate with the respondents. This will keep users interested in your sites. Tip: photos and inspirational or funny quote are most often shared/commented on.
- Make sure you have great content. Creative headlines and appealing images go a long way in making sure your content stands out.
- Share internal questions and thoughts through your social media accounts. Asking questions and creating discussions will help you to engage users as well as better understand your target audience.
- Share content from other well-respected bloggers and social media superstars. Bloggers may return the favor and it will also help you to increase your following.
- Use tools that let you schedule posts in advance. There are many tools that can be used to set posts for certain times and days (like Hootsuite). Scheduling posts saves time and increases efficiency. In addition, it allows for posts to reach your target audience when is most affective.
- Share, don’t just promote. Users will stop following your business if all they see are promotions asking them to buy or do something. Sharing industry information that is not a direct pitch for your company will increase consumer trust.
- Periodically post a call to action. Every once in a while, link to your blogs landing pages so you can convert followers to customers.
January 9th, 2013
Image Courtesy of Brandingeye.com
We talk a lot about social media and why it’s important for brands to start engaging with customers online. A new Forrester Research study gives hard data that supports what everyone already seems to know – that social media is becoming increasingly important for marketing.
According to the study, 45% of people that have social networking accounts have interacted with a brand over the last 3 months. Of that 45%, 7% have followed a brand on Twitter and 7% have posted feedback on a brand’s profile. Not surprisingly, the best news comes for marketers targeting the younger generation. The study found that 56% of 18-23 year-olds have “liked,” followed, or become a fan of a brand, product, or company. In 2011, that number was only 41%. But, only 3% have actually spent money on a social networking site.
But, “Gen Zen” isn’t the only generation getting in on the action. Social media users 68 and older like an average of 3 brands on Facebook. The average user likes 9 brands on Facebook.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR MARKETERS
Social media is not one size fits all. A platform that works well for a retailer may not work well for a B2B company. And, regardless of your target audience, aiming for actual sales on a social media site probably isn’t the best use of your marketing time and dollars.
What the Forrester research confirms is what we’ve already suspected. People are spending more and more time on social media, and in the process, they are spending more time interacting with brands on social platforms. This interaction can be anything from liking a Facebook post to retweeting to sharing or commenting on a photo. Regardless of the interaction, the name of the game is engagement.
APPLYING A STRATEGY
Today’s consumer is savvy. Traditional advertising is off putting. Social media allows brands to humanize themselves and engage with their customers on a personal level.
To engage with customers on social media, brands should consider the following:
- Target Audience – What social media platforms does your target audience spend time on? What kind of information do they like and how do they like to receive it?
- Overselling – Social media is not a place for traditional horn tooting and in-your-face advertisements. A successful social media strategy is one built on a strong content marketing strategy.
- Brand Consistency – Even though it’s more informal, your posts and interactions on Facebook should be treated as another arm of your marketing division. The branding should remain consistent across your printed collateral, packaging, and online presence.
December 21st, 2012
As we move into 2013, another year that promises an even higher rise of the social, we ask ourselves – why is it that social media is so addictive?
A Harvard University study says that self-disclosure causes the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feeling reward. According to the same study, 80% of posts on social media are self reflective, whereas only 30-40% during a conversation. So, social media allows us to be more self-involved than a regular person-to-person conversation. And, that’s addictive, thanks to that happy release of dopamine.
Online College Courses created an infographic to explain what happens to our brains when we surf a social media site. The basic breakdown?
- Sites like Facebook and Twitter are harder to resist than smoking, drinking, spending money, sleeping, and sex.
- 56% of people said that they wouldn’t take a job that didn’t allow them to access social media (even in today’s rough job market).
- The average Facebook user spends 405 minutes/month on the site, which amounts to 81 hours a year.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MARKETERS?
So what do these stats mean for marketers? Think about why people love social media. They like to talk about themselves. A lot. As a marketer, it’s important to work with this phenomenon instead of against it.
Use your company social media pages to encourage people to do what they like best on social media. Ask them to post their favorite way that they use your product or post an inspirational quote that they can share. No matter what it is, make sure that your followers can engage with your posts while being self-reflective. After all, that’s how they spend 80% of their time on social media.
Also, take into consideration that it appears that dopamine is released when you’re on a social media site. Dopamine is responsible for such feelings as reward/motivation, pleasure/euphoria, compulsion, and perseveration (repetition of a response). Your social media strategy should work within these feelings. Don’t try to break people out of the feelings, but try to have them include your brand within them. For example, compulsion is responsible for impulse buying. Posting a particularly irresistible image along with a 20% off code will most likely increase sales.
NEED HELP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
Want to create a social media strategy that works with the psychology instead of against it? Contact Incitrio at 858-523-1822 or email us at [email protected]. We are a full service branding, marketing, graphic, and web design agency in San Diego. We believe that every choice your brand makes – whether design or content related – has a direct effect on how consumers view your company. We focus on creating innovative solutions based on the human psychology.
December 17th, 2012
2013 is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about your social media goals for the coming year. The New Year is a chance to start with a fresh attitude and approach to marketing yourself on social media. The checklist below (courtesy of Mashable.com) can help you create a plan and stay on track.
1. Get Internal Alignment
Before you charge ahead with a social media plan, make sure that your internal team is on board. Everyone on your team, from the marketing team to the sales team to the operations team needs to understand the vision and plan for the company’s social media. Whether you’re a small or an enterprise level business, you need to make sure that all employees/departments understand the plan and have a chance to voice their opinions. That way, the entire company is presenting a united front.
It’s a good idea to assign a point person/people that are in charge of the social media accounts and can acts as liaison between departments.
2. Collect All of Your Company’s Customer-Facing Assets
Gather and collect all marketing and sales assets that your company has, such as whitepapers, datasheets, reports, videos, and presentations. These assets can help you understand what you have been promoting the past year and if you want to change that message or refine and expand on it. These assets can also come in handy for generating content for your social media sites.
3. Look Back at 2012
Take a look at your company’s 2012 social media activity. Compile a list of all of the social media accounts that your company has and analyze what you posted, how often, and what kind of engagement your posts received. Then, you can decide which platforms work best for your company and which you should think about deleting. It’s important to focus your resources on the platforms where your customers spend time and where you get the most engagement.
4. How Does Social Tie Into SEO?
Social sites matter more and more in search engines. How have your company’s social media sites affected your SEO efforts? Are you tracking social mentions and follows at the same time as you’re tracking SEO effectiveness? By tracking both, you’ll have a better idea of how social effects your company’s online presence.
5. Have a Plan
Your 2013 social media goals need to resonate with your customer base. Put in the time now to think about your business goals and how they can relate to your social media goals. Then, come up with a plan of action for the New Year.
Here are some ways that social media can work for your company:
- As a top-notch customer service platform
- As a way to update customers on new products/services
- As a way to offer promotions
- To educate customers on your company’s value
- To take your brand viral
- To inform your audience about changes to your product, company, industry, etc.
- To act as a thought leader in your industry
Do you need help defining and executing a 2013 social media plan? Incitrio can help. Call us at 858-523-1822 or email us at [email protected]. We are a full-service branding, marketing, graphic, and web design agency in San Diego focused on creating integrated, big picture solutions for our clients.
December 10th, 2012
Instagram, the social media app craze sweeping smart phone users everywhere, can actually be used for business. The app might seem like a place just to share pics of your awesome dinner out or that great sunset, but it can actually be an efficient way to market to potential and existing clients.
What is Instagram?
Instagram users take and share pictures on their smart phones and follow other users’ photostreams. Users can ‘like’ or leave comments on other users’ photos. Instagram gives companies a way to add personality to their image. Posting pictures of office events and new products let users go behind the scenes and get a feel for the culture of your company. Instagram can tie to your Facebook account, so photos are automatically shared in 2 locations.
Why Your Company Should Use Instagram
A Facebook study concluded that photos receive 50% more ‘likes’ than text does. Pictures of new products or campaigns appeal to users and are more affective than text postings. Plus, you can engagement between your company and users. Ask questions in the “caption” of the photo to increase engagement. Or, ask users to comment on the photo for the chance to win a prize.
Instagram allows you to share images on other social media sites by allowing you to track images with a hashtag. It also is a great tool for event marketing. Taking pictures of events and posting them on Instagram generates buzz about the event and can increase attendees.
The Ever Changing Instagram
This week, Instagram announced that it would be introducing a profile feature for users to access their accounts from computers. The profile page will display who is following, liking, and commenting on photos. It will make it easier to see and keep track of your account. Instagram (who was recently purchased by Facebook) realized that keeping track of an account via a mobile device is difficult since the screen on phones can be hard to see and typing is a pain (we’ve all had an embarrassing auto-correct moment!)
What does the new desktop-accessible profile mean for your company? People are generally more comfortable making purchases on laptops and desktops over smart phones. This makes Instagram a more appealing place to engage in e-commerce. As the site moves online it is likely to attract new users that are looking to purchase items they see on Instagram feeds. Very soon, Instagram could become the next best selling tool.
Need an integrated social media strategy that utilizes Instagram? We can help. Incitrio is a marketing, branding, graphic, and web design agency in San Diego specializing in social media strategies for small and large companies. Call us today at 858-523-1822 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.
November 8th, 2012