Hilary's Social Media Tuesday Tip 002: Your 13-Second Hashtag Tutorial (Plus a Bonus!)

Hey guys! Back again with another Tuesday Tip! Today we're talking about hashtags and reach. If we're creating content for business we certainly want to reach as many people as possible. Are hashtags the way to go? Should you always slap on a hashtag just in case it helps expand your audience? It's important to know how hashtags work on each social platform. Here's a quick run-down of what you need to know.

1. Twitter. Hashtags can be very effective for growing your audience. I would encourage you to really only use them when they're highly appropriate for a certain audience. And more often than not add them on at the end. Because #nothing is more #annoying than a #tweet that looks like #this. #amiright?

2. Instagram. This is the place where you can really feel that hashtag freedom--especially if you put your hashtags in a comment below your caption rather than right in the caption. To each his own but I'm comfortable with seeing a good 9 or 10 hashtags if they are purposeful.

3. Linkedin. Leave your hashtags at home people because they don't do anything for you on this platform!

4. Facebook. This one is tricky guys. Hashtags do work on Facebook but they don't actually expand your reach. Facebook's algorithm actually punishes posts that include hashtags. So avoid, avoid!

And a bonus that didn't fit in my 13-second video:

5. Pinterest. Hashtags are only clickable in a pin description. Don't bother with them on boards or in your profile bio. Words without hashtags are just as searchable as words with hashtags on Pinterest. So unless you're creating a special hashtag just for your brand and you want consistency across Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, it may not be worth bothering.

I hope you've found this brief hashtag tutorial helpful. If you have any other hashtag questions feel free to throw them at me!

HSL Around the Web: October in Review

October came and went before I had time to blink! I finished up Little Mermaid, celebrated my mom's birthday with the family for a few days in Florida, celebrated my 2nd wedding anniversary with a trip to California and then celebrated my husband's birthday in Washington D.C. I'm afraid I missed some of Virginia's prettiest leaves but I think all that celebrating was worth it. In the mean time, here are a few pieces I wrote over the last month. Enjoy!

8 Surprising Lessons Running Taught Me About Goal-setting Have you ever worked toward and succeeded at a fitness goal? I'd love to hear your story.

8 Podcasts You Should Listen To This Week Truth be told: I listen to podcasts when I'm running and in the shower. Are you a podcast-aholic too? What are your favorites?

What You Can Learn from Taylor Swift About Killing It on Social Media Did you hear more people bought her record in its first week than any other album since 2002?

I've got some exciting pieces coming down the pipe in the next month so stay tuned!

Keep up with HSL Creative on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

What You Can Learn from Taylor Swift About Killing It on Social Media

If you've glanced at social media this week you're no doubt aware that Taylor Swift released her first official pop album. While I haven't listened to it (sorry, it's not on Spotify [yet]), I can't help but notice Swift's impressive public persona--especially how she is killing it on Instagram.

So what can other artists, leaders, and entrepreneurs learn from the way Swift makes social media work for her? Here's a few points.

How Taylor Swift is Crushing It on Instagram

1. She looks fun and accessible. Swift's Instagram is full of cute photos with fans, artsy shots of polaroids, and handwritten lyrics and videos that show that the artist who rakes in $64 million a year is just like us. See here for proof--because who among us has not gotten excited when we saw our friend on TV?

2. She posts regularly. Swift's campaign (yes, it's most definitely a campaign) leading up to her album release includes new content that was posted regularly. We're talking four Instagram photos a day. Each one was an insider teaser for a different song on the album. That sweet spot of not too frequent, not too sporadic posting is different for everyone. But Taylor knows her Instagram obsessed fans are on their smartphones all the time and want their Taylor fix. So she gives it to them. But notice--her face only shows up in 1 out of every 10 posts. Overexposure? Taylor's not having it.

3. Taylor's posts make you feel like you're on the inside. You're not a fan, you're a friend. One of my writing mantras is "write like a person!" and Swift does just that. Each caption sounds like she's writing to one of her best pals. Taylor isn't just "thanking all the fans out there," she is inviting them to her house for album listening parties, baking them cookies and looking person after person in the eye and showing them that she's noticing them. She communicates this same approach to her fans on social media by posting photos with them and writing captions as if she's friends with everyone who reads them. She is not high and mighty; she's the artist of the people. That's why her fans are so fiercely loyal. Tay is their homegirl!

4. She plays to her strengths. Swift's draw is that she is accessible in an Oprah, Jimmy Fallon, Neal Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres kind of way. She is not mysterious like Johnny Depp, Jay-Z or Angelina Jolie. Her strength is being warm, likable and relatable so Swift works that to the max. She is naturally charming and wears her feelings on her sleeve (or in her lyrics) for all to see. That is one of Swift's strongest advantages.

6. The Instagram campaign leading up to the album release was well thought out and planned. The days leading up to the album release included snippets of song lyrics written longhand on polaroids. These old school photographs are about as cozy and familiar as fans can get to Taylor through social media. Even before the countdown to the album was on, Taylor posted hints toward a big event, short videos and images to hint to fans that something was in the works.

The combination of Swift's warm persona, her face time with fans, a creative Instagram campaign and her commitment to posting consistently have made Taylor Swift a social media rockstar. The campaign has clearly been working for her. Her album is set to go platinum this week--a feat that hasn't happened for any artist since, well, Swift did the same thing two years ago with her last album. *Drops mic.*

6 Reasons Someone You Know Did the #ALSIceBucketChallenge

In the name of ethical journey I feel it is my duty to share that I did this to myself.
In the name of ethical journey I feel it is my duty to share that I did this to myself.

Did you see an ice bucket video this week?

How about tweets or Instagram photos about #Ferguson?

What about the Downton Abbey philanthropic photo response to its historical snafu?

You probably saw at least one of these--if not all three.

What do these three social media viral moments have in common?

A purpose beyond simply entertainment, attention, and 15 minutes of fame.

Let’s start by analyzing the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. Why did it work?

1. Whether watching or participating--it’s fun. Watching friends’ reactions the moment after cold water is dumped on them is priceless. And continues to be as long as people you actually know and like are participating. I’ve enjoyed watching the varying levels of theatrics that occur as people mentally prepare for the deluge and after it's been poured.

2. It’s a strange equalizer. Ok, so you’re not nominating Steven Spielberg like Oprah did. But this #ALSIceBucketChallenge is an opportunity for people to act out being the celebrity of their own social network for a day. How often do you and Jennifer Lopez and Bill Gates and Lady Gaga all do the same thing in a given day? It’s like a strange game of “celebrities, they’re just like us.”

3. It’s doable. The #ALSIceBucketChallenge is a fairly uncomplicated endeavor. What you need: a bucket, ice water, a friend with a camera, and the ability to name three friends to do it next. This mode of philanthropy may be mildly inconvenient (getting wet when not taking a shower can slow your day down a little) but difficult, it is not. Mark Zuckerberg can do it and oh yeah, so can you.

4. It’s for a good cause. Who doesn’t want to be a helper, giver, public servant, hero? Whether it seems obvious to you or not--this is a way to get the do-gooder euphoria without having to do very much (nope, you didn't dig a well in Africa, you poured water on your head). A lot of times philanthropy sounds like it is something for people who have all the time in the world or all the money in the world. But to participate in this, all you need is water, a bucket, and a camera (and hopefully a little cash to donate).

5. It’s goofy but has merit. Few adults would jump on the bandwagon of teenagers pulling pranks and posting them online (Planking? Hitting each other? Trying to drink a gallon of milk? Please stop.) But somehow the lure of a good cause (and the fact that nobody wants to wimp out on a worthwhile dare--especially if Matt Lauer was brave enough to do it) and your silly prank has gone viral.

6. People love their friends and doing good (and getting a little credit for doing good.) This is why Facebook has 1.23 billion active users--people want to connect with loved ones. The Ice Bucket Challenge pairs bonding with friends with doing something philanthropic and fun (and showing it to the world). So people get a trio of highs: shared experiences, doing something good for someone else and showing the world they are generous/fun people.

Whether or not you’ve embraced what some are calling “slacktivism,” the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has spread an astounding amount of awareness for the debilitating and fatal disease as well as raised millions of dollars. None of that would’ve happened without social media.

Bottom line: social media is THE way people are connecting with their communities and networks. They are sharing what’s important to them and hopefully beginning to realize that we can all make a difference--no matter the size of our platform.

So did you take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Were you a skeptic? Did you change your mind?

Will You Do Anything Social Media Free This Year?

The first lady celebrated her 50th birthday on Saturday with a secret, social media free, dance party at the White House complete with a Beyoncé serenade. While that sounds about right for Michelle Obama the part of that announcement that caught my eye was “social media free.”

I also just saw a tweet from a friend who said he purposefully left his smart phone at home when he went out last night. Happiness ensued:

https://twitter.com/jasongotay/status/424942101785493504

I don’t know about you but the idea of leaving my phone at home on purpose or not documenting one of the most epic birthday parties of the year on Instagram gives me the shakes a little bit.

And that’s not a good thing.

At the beginning of the year I made some decisions and goals for the year. Among them: don’t look at my iPhone during church.

Like seriously--how sad is that?

In this world of smartphones being an acceptable accessory just about anywhere, it’s easy to think we always need to check our phones or at least have them within arm’s length.

But what if you leave it at home so you can have coffee with a friend without mentally being pulled into the office?

What if you can leave it in the car so you’re not distracted by notifications during the pastor’s sermon?

What if you can actually experience the feeling of being bored waiting in line at Walmart without giving yourself that mindless entertainment of scrolling through your Twitter feed?

While I’m obviously all for maximizing the potential of social media to improve lives, I readily recognize that boundaries need to be made and life is not meant to be experienced with our eyes constantly glued to screens.

I’m gonna try to be a little more mindful of that in 2014. I’m gonna let myself be a little more focused on the person in front of me. A little more bored in the grocery store line.

What will you do social media free in 2014?

10 Social Media Resolutions to Adopt This Year

The new year is upon us and with it is the opportunity to turn around some of our bad habits regarding our health, time, money and even social media. Yes, staggering numbers of people around the world have social media profiles but many of those people don’t have any kind of social strategy.

Social media just becomes one big time zapper when we don’t have any intention behind it.

So here are ten suggested social media resolutions for the year ahead.

1. I will know my privacy settings and make sure I’m sharing with the appropriate audience. As of last year 13 million people in the US had never touched their privacy settings on Facebook. That means you may be one of those people who is sharing content that is public for any identity thief, bot or creep to see. Get familiar with your privacy settings on all your social networks.

2. I will decide my intent for each social media platform I’m on whether it is growing my business network, staying connected to old friends, or increasing my platform as a thought leader.

3. I will only post content that is useful, uplifting or fun. Enough of the snark and the angry political posts. In many ways what I post on social media will be my legacy long after I’m gone. I want those messages to be inspiring. I will not use social media as a platform to be condescending, hurtful or whiny.

4. I will not overshare on social media. Whether it’s a family argument, details of an illness or my nephew’s bodily functions, I will not share anything that will gross out or embarrass anyone on social media.

5. I will not take myself too seriously on social media. Social media is the place to show the human side of my business. It’s also the place where I can share news about my business with my personal acquaintances. I will balance each business-esque post with other posts that show that I’m a human just like you.

6. I will be open to trying new platforms but I will stay focused. I will spend the bulk of my precious time focusing on one or two platforms that have proven to give me return on investment for my business but I will stay up to speed on popular apps and platforms. There’s nothing like being the last of your friends to log in to MySpace.

7. I will engage with others and respond when people communicate with me. Every comment on every photo posted to Facebook doesn’t necessarily merit a response but if someone wants to dialogue on Twitter it’s not beneficial to ignore him or her. Responses are a great way to show people you value them.

8. I will use social media to connect to leaders in my field and people who I admire. Social provides an incomparable opportunity to connect with thought leaders and great writers. This is an opportunity not to be wasted.

9. I will use apps like Buffer and Pocket to aggregate and share content that is useful to people who follow my accounts. So much interesting and helpful content is pumped through social media every day. With the right tools I can share the best of it with my tribe.

10. I will make private content more private and public content more public. I’ve decided to make my Instagram account private and be intentional about sharing photos through Twitter and Facebook when I want to share them with people I both know and don’t know. On the other hand my Twitter posts continue to be public and I’m hoping to increase my presence there by 30% this year.

Social media is all about being intentional with your time and the messages you send out into the world. In 2014 consider the value you want to add to society through your social media presence.

So here you have 10 suggested resolutions for the new year.

Tell me, what would you add to the list?

5 Easy Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Business’ Social Media Presence

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 8.58.45 AM

It’s a given that your business needs to have a social media presence. And you’ve probably got one. But what can you do to make it just a little better today without spending a lot of extra time and energy? Here’s five tips you can implement today to improve your company’s social media presence.

1. Ask questions. Social media is about starting conversations. When was the last time your business to consumer brand asked a question of your audience online? Even on a business page, you don’t have to be “all business.” You can recognize a current event or national holiday and ask people about their plans. ie: "Anybody out there got a case of the Mondays? Comment on this post and come in before 9 AM for a free drip coffee. We want to make your week a little better."

2. Put a face with a name. When it comes to a social media presence for a small business a logo is good but a face is better. Go ahead and put an image of the owner or an employee as the profile picture for your business’ social media account. This brings accessibility and a personal touch to your online engagement.

3. Respond within 24 hours. Have you ever tried to get answers from a brand via Twitter or Facebook only to never hear from them? Not exactly sparkling customer service. Commit to responding to messages, comments and @ replies within 24 hours. The sooner the better.

4. Add photos. With the popularity of apps like Snapchat, Instagram and even the social media giant Pinterest, there’s no denying that images are everything. Post photos from time to time that exude your company culture.

5. Show some personality. Feel free to express excitement over a new product line. Post an article that has a controversial perspective on a business trend. Do anything but be all self-promotey all the time. Contribute value to the online conversation and avoid being confused for a robot.

What about you? Do you have any easy solutions for stepping up a company’s social media game?