What’s a #Hashtag? And 5 Ways to Use Them in Marketing

July 25, 2013

Today we have a post from Rachel Kerstetter, Sonnhalter’s PR Engineer, answering one of the questions she’s frequently asked and sharing some tips on how to use hashtags.

The basic mechanics of making a hashtag include putting a pound sign (#) in front of a word, phrase, acronym or combination of characters (but not punctuation).

But beyond calling attention to the words in a tweet, post or whatever, hashtags allow you to join into a more broad conversation. Hashtags have become a standard part of online conversation and stretch across many social platforms. Hashtags originated on Twitter and very recently Facebook added hashtag capabilities to the platform, but you can also use hashtags on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and newcomer Vine.

There are many ways to use hashtags, but they all boil down to participating in public conversation. Here are some common ways to use hashtags in marketing communications:

  1. Promote engagement during events. Whether your event is online or offline, it will have a presence. When you create your own hashtag (and publically identify it) you can then monitor and interact with the conversation around your event. Most conferences, trade shows, webinars and other events announce the “official” hashtag, put it on publicity materials and have a designated person using it. Mostly this happens on Twitter but permeates into other social media use.
  2. Host or take part in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are a simple way to have a conversation with multiple people on the same topic. Chats are traditionally an hour and have a prescribed hashtag. Most chats happen weekly at the same time and center around a prepared set of questions, due to their growing popularity services have been created to help you participate more easily, for example Tweetchat is a Twitter application to organized the tweets on a hashtag and shows them in real time, allowing you to tweet in the action and pause the conversation to catch up.
  3. Run and follow a marketing campaign. If you have a campaign that will get people talking, adding a hashtag to it isn’t a bad idea. Often you’ll find ads that have hashtags to see more online.
  4. Contests. Hashtag-powered contests work the best for photos but can also be used for sharing experiences or answering a question. Just ask your fans/followers to post their entry using your hashtag.
  5. Research. See what people are saying or posting about a topic, brand, event or anything by searching hashtags. If you see a relevant topic hashtagged on your own feed, click it to see what else is being said.

If you still aren’t sure you’re ready to use hashtags, at least get your feet wet by identifying them when you see them and find out how they’re being used.

What are some ways that you’ve seen hashtags incorporated into marketing plans?


Major Trends in the B-to-B Space According to Google

July 9, 2013

Since Google touches us all, it’s good to get some trends from “Big Brother” especially when it relates to the B-to-B markets. emarketer.com recently had an interview with Mike Miller, director of business and industrial markets at Google, and some new market research they just completed.

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Here are some highlights that we, as B-to-B marketers, should consider:

  • Search - Still big and this should be no surprise. Internet usage among the B-to-B sector jumped from 71% to 88% over the last year.  Even more enlightening is when asked about how they used search to research business purposes; there was a 23% increase over last year from 67% to 90%.
  • Videos - More companies in the B-to-B space are creating videos. They range from how-to videos to thought leadership topics. Here’s an interesting stat – the C suite indexes very high on using videos to find info.
  • Digital marketing to reinforce the sales force - By the time a B-to-B purchaser actually engages with a company or sales rep, they’re 57% of the way through the decision process.

So with all our marketing challenges, hopefully these will give you some insight on what you might want to focus your efforts on.


Social Media, How Can Tradesmen Connect?

May 30, 2013

Mile Free, Director of Industry Research and Technology for the Precision Machined Products Association, is posting today with advice for connecting on social media. Miles blogs regularly on PMPA’s blog, Speaking of Precision.

As tradesmen, advertising used to be pretty easy to figure out. A yellow pages ad in the local phone book, small display advertisements in the newspaper and maybe some classified advertisements in the weekly as well. Near a big city? Maybe you would have bit the bullet for a display ad in their yellow pages too. As a customer, in the old days, that’s how I would have found you…

So who uses a phone book these days?

Who still has a land line phone?

How many folks with smartphones walk around carrying a phone book?

My latest phone book is still on the front porch

My latest phone book is still on the front porch

That’s a trick question. While no one is carrying a phone book, the fact is that when they need to find something, they go search for it. On their smart phone or web device. How easy are you to find on search? For what kind of things are you on Google’s page one?

I’m not suggesting that you need to pay for advertisements on Google to get to page one, but if you use  social media tools correctly, you can be found on Google for the services that you provide, and that your customers want.

While I am a staff director for a trade association of precision machining companies, the lessons I learned about how to increase visibility in online search are just as applicable to tradesmen to build your credibility, and thus your visibility online.

Here are 5 steps to increasing your online visibility:

  1. Make sure that your website covers the products and services that you provide. Having an up-to-date website with photos is key to engaging your potential customers and audience. Think of it as your online showroom. Make it look like a showroom, a place where people would like to shop. Nice photos on your website and in your blog get you found on Google too.
  2. Create a blog to share your expertise. It will only take an hour or two a week to create some modest posts about your specialty, or show pictures and discuss a job you just completed, or why you should use a professional to do ____. Share it on both your business and personal Facebook pages.
  3. Use LinkedIn Groups and Facebook to increase your credibility in Google and other search engines. LinkedIn Groups are where you can post your blog posts as news items to get wider viewership. As Google finds your content on places other than your blog and website, it boosts your trust factor and credibility. Find them for your trade, your customers and your locale. Facebook provides a great way to have a conversation with your “natural market”- the folks you already know- and gives them material to help generate word of mouth. Even Twitter can have a role in your tradesman marketing.
  4. Repurpose what you already have. If you already have a sales brochure, repost sections of it as stand-alone blog content. Take photos from your jobs completed book, repost them telling a bit about the back story- How by doing it with your approach, you saved the owner $XXX in time or dollars. Or why these materials instead of XYZ…
  5. Share your expertise. Keeping your expertise hidden doesn’t help anyone. “3 things that can go wrong when you pour Liquid Fire ™ down your toilets instead of getting professional help” may just save someone’s eyesight, as well as help people think about what is really important when trying to solve their problem.

You are an expert. You don’t have to tell anyone why you use 1-1/4” fasteners instead of the 1” ones …but what’s the harm in pointing out that as a professional you use the right fastener for the job, as opposed to just buying the cheapest ones down at the depot store? And then showing them a photo of a job you had to fix because the other guy didn’t use the right fastener?

As you share more and more of your wisdom and experience online, if you tag it properly, you will soon discover that Google has put you on page one for some of products and services in your area that you offer. Because you blogged about them with credibility. And it happened without an ad buy- because to Google, you have become the credible expert in your area.


How Are You Using Social Media to Find and Engage Your Target Audience?

May 8, 2012
Do you know where your customers and prospects are spending their time online? Wouldn’t that be an important part of an overall social media strategy to find and engage them?
share of total time spent on internetIf trends continue, social networks will soon surpass internet portals like AOL and Yahoo!

I recently read an article by Phil Mershon in Social Media Examiner that highlighted five ways to use market research intelligence on how consumers behave on social media networks. Although the article is focused more on the consumer side of things, he brings out some points that us in the B-to-B world should take notice of.

Here are some highlights:

  • Know where your customers spend their time - Over 21% of internet users spent their time on social networking sites. Do you know where your customers and prospects are spending their time? One way is to ask your current customer base where they find meaningful content.
  • Develop content that is relevant to your reader - Content is king and if you want to stand out in the crowd, you need to become a good source for not only product info, but for industry issues. Remember, content isn’t about you but how you can help your customer or prospect.
  • Take video seriously - Next to Google, YouTube is the most searched site. Video views have increased 43% and currently over 100 million videos are viewed daily. What are you doing to tell your story and points of differentiation?
  • Consider the role of Mobile - 8% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and that content is easy to consume and respond to.

Using key words and investigating sources on the internet, you can find places where your customers and prospects are spending time. Get there and start engaging them.

If you like this post you may like:

Why a Mobile Strategy is so Important in Reaching the Professional Tradesmen

2012 Trends of Smartphones and Tablets


Should Google+ Be Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy?

February 23, 2012

Some of you may have already jumped into Google+. According to recent stats, as of January 2012, there are over 90 million users (Twitter has 100 million active users). To put this in perspective, they launched Google+ by invitation in June of 2011 and opened it up to the public in September of 2011. Google is positioning Google+ as their Facebook for B-to-B.

Google+ is a great content sharing platform, and building an audience on it may be one of the smartest things you do as a content marketer according to a recent post by Brian Clark on copyblogger, Why Google+ is an Inevitable Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy. Here are two highlights on why:

  • Google+ is a part of Google – they do a good job integrating with Google docs, Chrome, Google Reader, Gmail and YouTube.
  • Search - Google is the king of search and now they announced the Search, plus your world which merges personalized search with social search.

Brian also discusses concerns about Google having a stranglehold on the market and what we might expect moving forward.

The key for those of us who write content is to understand the language of our audience and make sure we reflect that in our content. Search will do the rest.

If you like this post, you might want to read:

Suggestions on How to Make Sense of Google+

Google+ and B-to-B: How to Get Started


Suggestions on How to Make Sense of Google+

October 19, 2011

To listen to all the “experts” Google+ is the next best thing to come down the pike and will eventually replace Facebook in the B-to-B space. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but since they opened it up to the public a few weeks ago, there are over 50 million users and it’s growing everyday.

I have to believe that if Google is involved then it has a pretty good chance of succeeding. I’ve been on it and have started building my circles, but have yet to fully understand all the ways we can use it.

I recently read an excellent post by Debbie Hemley in Social Media Examiner, 20 Ways to Improve Your Google+ Knowledge that I thought was very helpful. She gives tips on how to get through the basics and highlights ways that you can use it in everyday B-to-B applications from setting up your circle to creating your profile, setting up notifications, plus much more.  Here are some highlights that I found interesting:

  • Engage and learn - go to Google+ tips on Twitter and see what others are saying and dive in.
  • Watch and learn - look at Google+ help and watch videos from people who created it.
  • Set up Google Sparks account- that way you can get the latest developments on what’s new.
  • Create a cheat sheet - to help you format and utilize hotkeys until you become more familiar.
  • Show off your Google profile – by putting it on your blog or website.
  • Go mobile - make sure you get the mobile app so you can use it from your phone. 

So I’d like to know if you’re on Google+ and if so, what are your thoughts?


Are You Promoting Your Facebook Fan Page?

September 29, 2011

I must confess that when it comes to promoting our Facebook page, we don’t do a good job. I guess in my case for the targeted audience we’re going after, I don’t know if this is the most effective place to do it. LinkedIn, Twitter and even Google+ probably are better venues for us.

But for those of you who are focusing on building your fan page, I came across a great article by Justin Wise in a recent post on Social Media Examiner that highlighted 20 ways to spread the word on your Facebook fan page by educating your readers. Here are the ones that stood out to me:

  • Put the fan page URL in your email signature - imagine that with the number of emails you send on a daily basis what kind of potential reach you would have.
  • Ask others in your company to do the same - put it in their email signature.
  • Ask your Twitter followers to join your fan page.
  • Put a widget on you website and blog - don’t assume that people know you have a fan page.
  • Ask fans to post a link - if they are truly fans, they will post a link on their personal profile.
  • Put a tag on your YouTube videos - great idea and a way to get people more engaged.

What are you doing to promote your fan page?

If you liked this post you might like:

How to get the most out of your B to B faceboook page

Tips on using Facebook as a good B to B marketing tool


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