To #hashtag or not to #hashtag

hashtag-horseWelcome to the wonderful world of the #hashtag. What was once upon a time the key to press to indicate confirmation on a dial phone or representing a number in written text, is now THE symbol for social media communication.

#confused? No problem, here’s the lowdown on what it is, why and when you should use it, and … when to cool it on the #hashtag usage (i.e. when it becomes #awkward)

 

#WHAT

A hashtag is a type of label used on social media platforms which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the “#” in front of a word or unspaced phrase, either in the main text of a message or at the end.

#WHY

Searching for that hashtag will yield each message that has been tagged with it. A practical example, on Instagram, the hashtag #horse allows users to find all the posts that have been tagged using that hashtag.

#WHEN to #hashtag and #WHEN NOT to #hashtag

You can use hashtags on a variety of social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Pinterest etc etc. Let’s focus on two examples:

Twitter: This is really where the whole hash tagging phenomenon got started, and Twiter offers a bit more versatility in hashtags than with other social media. Twitter hashtags are used to denote topics of conversation, which can then become ‘trending’. In the ‘trending’ sidebar you can find a list of popular hashtags you might be interested in. Recent ‘trending’ hashtag examples: #trump, #beyonce or more relevant for equestrian businesses #horsehour.

Instagram & Facebook: : Hashtags can be used to complement photos shared on Instagram (& Facebook) and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers. Some hashtags were created specifically for Instagram photo challenges like #tbt (throw back thursday – THE retro photo #).

Hashtags can help you gain awareness and followers if used correctly, within context and sparingly: #do #not #over #do #it #because #it #makes #you #look #a #bit #silly….

In order to be successful with (Instagram) hashtags, it’s important to be strategic about your hashtag usage. The “most popular” Instagram hashtags are just simple words, and while tagging #love #happy #fun may get you a few more likes, it’s not going to do much for your growth long term. Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to use the top Instagram hashtags that have an engaging community behind them and are specific to your audience i.e. #equestrian, #oldenburger #dressage.

In fact, the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users usually are. You can even go as far as creating your own # and continue using it a on all your communication.

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-17-29-02The maximum hashtags you can use on an Instagram post is 30. But, 30 really is overdoing it a bit. Posting a wide variety of hashtags in your caption doesn’t look great, and could come across as a bit too promotional and slightly inauthentic. Instead, try choosing a few relevant hashtags that are most representative of your photo to use in your caption, and if you’d like to add more, then you could choose to add the rest in the first comment.

Here’s a list of a few popular Equestrian hashtags to get your started:

#equestrian #stallion #horsesofinstagram #andalusian #instahorse #horse #grateful #olympics #twohearts #horses #equine #horstagram #caballo #pferd #cheval #dressage #horseriding #pony #horselover #love #equinelove #horsetagram #horsebackriding #jumpinghorse #jumping #horselove #equestrians #equestrianlife

Still a bit lost? We can help you find the best ‘hash tagging strategy’ to build your business or grow your personal branding.

GET IN TOUCH

 

Tips on how to become an (equestrian) social media influencer

equestrian-social-media-influencerSocial media influencer marketing has become one of the most effective channels to reach modern day consumers. This tricky ones, that are increasingly hard to catch through conventional channels. Ironically, one of the oldest tricks in the book has become the key player in modern day marketing: word of mouth…. social media word of mouth that is: customers often prefer to research a brand on their own and only rely on feedback or recommendations from someone they trust. The impact of social media influencers on marketing campaigns is ever increasing as they are seen as experts in their particular field (i.e. Equestrian) and effective partners for sharing a particular brands’ message.

So, if you’ve been dreaming of becoming one of those respected social media influencers, how do you get there? Here’s a few top tips to get your started …

1.Be active, be selective and focus 

If you’re starting out with any social media channel, it’s best to have some content already up and running before your start ‘pushing’ your presence (for example 6-9 posts on Instagram). Post regularly to keep your followers engaged and interested and be active on the peoples accounts to show your own interest and alert them to your online presence. Keep in mind as a golden rule: quality over quantity. Don’t post for the sake of posting, rather wait a bit and post quality content of which you are proud, fits with your personal branding and really represents what you stand for. Only then will you be an attractive partner to the brands that feel like you could be a great spokesperson for their brand. Focus on finding your voice, your niche and speciality and stick with.

2.Engage, interact and build meaningful relationships

Despite that fact that, or maybe because, social media is not live personal interaction, there is an increased need to create meaningful relationships. A great way to get loyal followers is to engage in conversations with other social media influencers, like peoples work, work on collaborations and follow others. Most importantly: be real and be you. Nothing beats authenticity and genuine interaction. Read more about this here.

3.Keep going!

What? Only 2 followers gained today? Don’t give up! Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Kylie Jenner’s social media empire. Give it some time to build up a credible quality presence across multiple channels.

Still a bit lost? Get in touch, we can help you with your social media presence and personal branding!

Size matters

size matters horse.jpg

Size definitively matters when getting the right social media influencer to represent your brand, but bigger is most definitively not always better.

The 300K+ Instagrammers and Youtubers of the social media world might seem like the perfect spokespeople for your product (shoutout marketing). You know that influencer marketing is the way forward, you did your homework, you found an account that has relevance to your brand, you agreed to a feature fee and boom, you’re in business.

But, what seemed like the perfect fit, all of a sudden turned out to have resulted in very limited return for your brand. Fine, the account you choose has over 300K followers, which on the surface seems huge, but the engagement on the posted content turns out to be very low and there is little to no additional traffic nor an increased follower count on your social media profiles.

What happened? Bigger is better, right? Not always. These mega influencers (300K and up) often have either artificially grown accounts with a generous portion of fake followers, or have started on an already established 100K+ account with non relevant followers. This results in a big followers count, but not necessarily followers that care.

Still, social media marketing and working with influencers is defectively THE way for forward for 2017 and onward. It could however be more effective to work with a few smaller, yet REAL and very specialised accounts with high follower engagement as opposed one big one.

Smaller ‘micro influencers’ (20-150K) will often have a more authentic and specific follower profile within a certain region or demographic that can be very relevant for your brand or product.

When choosing the right accounts to represent your brand look for signs of high engagement (likes, comments, shares), authentic pictures and a real person behind the account as opposed to ‘just’ followers.

Need help finding the right influencers to represent your equestrian business? Are you a successful micro influencer looking to represent your favourite equestrian brands?

GET IN TOUCH

Keeping it real

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-17-14-16

One of the most recurring questions that comes up when discussing social media marketing  is why some accounts ‘work’ and some just don’t. I was reading a few interesting articles on this topic as part of keeping myself up to date on the latest social media marketing buzz  and found that most of them agree that a major success factor to social media profiles is when they keep it real.

In a world of filters, photoshop and apps to pimp your insta pic, an overall appreciation for authenticity seems to be the way forward. Studies suggest that ‘behind the scenes’ posts, and pictures that include people in them get more likes than almost any other photos on instagram. Psychologically this makes sense because seeing other people allows us to relate to each other and connect. (We are social animals after all!)

This appreciation for authenticity rings true whether you’re a start-up, and established brand or are building a personal PR profile.

Yes you have to curate your content, you really should limit the awkward ‘I just woke up with a hangover and am eating a hamburger for breakfast’ selfies.

Yes, it needs to fit with the overall concept of your (personal) brand,  would you really want to see fishing tack from an equestrian brand?

No, not all quick snaps should end up unfiltered on your profile. A filter or two can really make you or your product POP, there is really no need to avoid the tools of the trade altogether in the search for authenticity, there is a reason why they exist.

Key is tough, to find the balance between what makes commercial sense while communicating in tune with your concept and going overboard to the point that you might not be approachable and authentic anymore.

An example of a very successful -REAL- profile is the one of my client Nicola Baur. Have a look at her Instagram, Facebook, youtube channel and website for inspiration.

Happy to help you or your brand find the right tone of voice for your social media profiles. Want to know more? Get in touch here!

Read one of the articles that inspired me here by Kendra on Mad Media