The other day I overheard two teenage girls holding a conversation. Every other word included a hashtag before it. Really – in a face-to-face conversation. (#areyoukiddingme) I felt like I was in the middle of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s “#Hashtag” video spoof or the latest Subway commercial:
Granted, these two teens were probably playing off of these very same videos, but for me it reinforced the prevalence of hashtags in today’s conversations. While many people are really giving hashtags the business these days, the truth is, hashtags can be great for your business. It’s all about knowing why, how and when to use them.
There are many articles out there that dive deep into these areas. Some of the ones I’ve found useful include:
Mashable – The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtags
Social Media Today – A Rant About the Proper Use of #Hashtags
Marketing Profs – The Power of Hashtags in Promoting Music (And Just about Anything Else)
The Wall Street Journal – How Twitter’s Hashtag Came to Be
A quick synopsis of the basics:
Hashtags were created to help people find, organize and track content. While the hashtag originated on Twitter, several social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, now support this nifty tool.
When using hashtags for business purposes, as with all good communication, consider how your audience will use and engage the hashtag. For example, if you’re holding an event, a hashtag is a great way to link all news together and make the event easy to follow. You can also use hashtags to make your benefits or products more searchable. For example, #strategiccommunications could help others find Morningstar Communications in social media conversations. The key is ensuring the hashtags are relevant to your brand and your audience, and specific to the topic or event. Research what comes up when you search the hashtag you’re considering. Do you like what you find? Is it the conversation you’re looking to join?
At the same time, avoid overusing hashtags. Best practices show two to three hashtags are the maximum, otherwise your post begins to look like spam.
Don’t be afraid to use hashtags to help promote your business, but use them wisely and judiciously.Tagged Facebook, hashtags, Instagram, Morningstar Communications, social media, Tricia McKim, Twitter
What’s in a name? “Everything!” people often exclaim. Others talk about forenames, personal names, first names and given names, and the role they play in showing origin of words and entire families. There are pet names, nicknames, forenames and as many variations as you can dream.
Some argue that there are powerful forces that shape your life based on your name. Some think a bad name can ruin you or ruin a business. For example, the Chevrolet Nova, which didn’t sell well in Spanish-speaking countries because its name translates into “doesn’t go.”
Romeo and Juliet offer their thoughts on the value of a name with this well-known quote:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
This week, it’s not a flower, a baby or a car that we’re trying to name, it’s a few conference rooms. Nevertheless, it’s a very important decision. As many of you know, Morningstar Communications recently moved a few blocks south. Now that we’re mostly settled in and enjoying the new space, it’s time to come up with some names for the new conference rooms and general areas.
One location, the boardroom, has lots of trees, and it gives off the feeling that you’re in a tree house with really comfy chairs. That one is easy – we’ll call it the tree house. Everyone seems to be on board with this idea… but the other rooms and general community areas are proving to be a bit tricky. After all, our future juju might depend on these names. We’re busy throwing around options and trying to brainstorm a theme or names that spark creativity and even a laugh from time to time. For now, we’re in brainstorming mode. We’ll check back in once we’ve made a decision. In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts and ideas!
Visit us on Facebook to share your brilliant names for two conference rooms, our lunch/break area and the open space where the majority of our team sits. While you’re there, go ahead and throw in some ideas for Eric, Shanny, Sheri and Tricia’s offices – the more names, the merrier! If you need to come visit before offering names – don’t hesitate to reach out, we’d love to offer a grand tour to our clients and friends.Tagged Facebook, Morningstar Communications, new office, Susan Hinds
This isn’t your typical 2013 blog post, folks.
Everyone is blogging about how companies can prepare for the New Year, whether it be embracing new technology, adopting new practices, etc. Instead, I want to share some thoughts on how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram can step up their games in 2013. While these social media network giants probably won’t read this, here are some ways they can better engage and serve users:
Note: I’m sorry to all you Pinterest lovers. I am aware this network can be extremely addicting and time-consuming, so I have been trying to refrain from it despite my creating an account over the summer. I know, I know. I’m missing out on all the fancy art projects and delicious recipes, right? Perhaps one of these days…
By the way, according to a December 2012 social media report by Nielsen, Pinterest boasted the greatest increase in the number of audience members and time spent interacting with its boards. However, I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that Facebook is still the largest, most-visited social networking site.
There have been instances when I’m killing time on Facebook, and I think to myself, “I wonder if anyone has seen X movie in theaters yet, or if anyone bought Y’s new album?”
Facebook should allow people the option to search for key words they want to know more about. So, I realize this would somewhat be ripping off Twitter, but it would be different because users would be filtering through friends only. Facebook revealed that any given post (whether by an individual or company) reaches approximately 16 percent of its audience. If Facebook added this extra search option, that percentage could increase, based on your friends’ and fans’ interests and how you cater to them.
Another thing – I was thrilled when the timeline came out. I had always wanted to look back on what I was saying when I first created a Facebook account as a high school student in 2007. However, it would be nice to have an easy-to-access calendar to seek out past interactions rather than having to scroll and scroll to get there.
When national news explodes in the U.S., I’m anxious to see whether other countries are talking about it. When my favorite professional athlete pulls off a ridiculous play, I want to see if another distant city recognizes my pro sports team. Not only would it be easier to check these other locations I may be interested in, but I could also compare the trend rankings across the board.
I’m impressed with LinkedIn’s upgrades to users’ profiles. It looks much more modern and polished. I applaud the people of LinkedIn, because the new layout just might attract users to interact more often. It’s important for LinkedIn to stay fresh, and I think they need to make these kinds of “look and feel” changes more than any other network to keep people coming back. Some professionals look at LinkedIn as a chore, especially if they’re happy with their careers and aren’t seeking a job. Nevertheless, it’s important to stay relevant within your industry and show your connections that you are – no matter how content you are with your job.
I just have one minor suggestion: Allow bullet points to be formatted into resumes once it’s been imported. Most resumes I’ve seen coming out of college have bullet points. It makes for a cleaner, more organized look.
Much to my disdain, Instagram wasn’t included in Nielsen’s report. I tend to think of Nielsen as a credible source, but perhaps they define social networking differently. This blogger compiled a report of the most-visited global social networks to the best of his ability. When discounting the other networks belonging to other countries, Instagram makes the top 20, but just barely misses the top 10.
Still, a lot of people haven’t caught on to the photo sharing application just yet. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering I have found myself trying to recruit my friends to it (with some successes, some failures). I do think there are some stigmas attached to the network, but I foresee its popularity increasing come 2013.
Instagram, I still have a message for you, as I announce my fandom: Stop cutting off my pictures! It’s frustrating when I’m eager to share a photo with friends, and it won’t fit to the screen. I always have to zoom in on an image (and therefore crop sometimes necessary objects out) so it doesn’t have black around the edges. There are times I try to settle for the black edges; and I’m serious when I say this – it’s a less than attractive border.
Instagram should also take Twitter’s approach in allowing lists to be made. I love browsing through Instagram when I have five minutes to do so, but having to keep scrolling gets tiresome, especially because I’m the type of person who I doesn’t want to miss a thing. I follow 143 users, and I’m hoping to limit it to that until a change is made. I know people who follow up to 500 users! It would be nice if users could separate followers into lists – from closest friends to acquaintances to celebrities.
What do you think about my suggestions? Are they realistic? Do you envision them being implemented at some point over the next year? What changes would you make to social media sites?Tagged advice, engagement, Facebook, Facebook Timeline, followers, Instagram, LinkedIn, Networking, photo sharing, social media, social networking, social networks, suggestions, Twitter
They say social media is an entrepreneur’s best friend.
And the small businesses’.
And mid-to-large companies’.
Who doesn’t benefit?
If you don’t know, now you know.
Here’s a video from HootSuite on how to convince your boss social media is worth the time investment, just in case he or she hasn’t hopped on board already:
If that doesn’t sell your boss, give him or her the lowdown about how these big-name brands have touted themselves as social media kings, in no particular order:
Zappos works hard to put its customers on a pedestal, as they have an impressive customer service department that aims to respond to customers’ needs 24/7. Another way it spotlights customers is through its ongoing “Fan of the Week” contest. Fans send in photos of themselves or something else with a Zappos box in the picture, then they have a chance to be voted by other fans for having the best photo of the week. This strategy keeps people coming back for more, as Zappos works to create real relationships with the people who matter most to them.
Kia launched contests in recent years to generate buzz. Once its Kia Soul hamster commercials went viral, Kia took advantage of YouTube. In the now-global car company’s recent contest the first prize winner will get a free Kia Soul for making the best 90-second TV commercial, then the second and third place winners will receive a Canon video kit and a Macbook Pro, respectively. I literally spent an hour surfing YouTube watching contestants’ videos, then I set a calendar alert on my phone to remind me which day the winners will be announced. Celebrity judges, then public voters, will determine the winners.
People don’t do business with businesses – they do business with people. Southwest Airlines understands that, as it works to put a face on its brand. Its blog is a prime example, as it shows the many faces of its many employees, giving their own insights on day-to-day stuff. The kicker is that the blogging leverages its employees, as they talk about things they’re passionate about. These people love their jobs, and the “Nuts about Southwest” blog is their hub for exchanging quirks and memories.
Southwest is also very responsive on its social media accounts. If someone has an issue, you can be assured that it won’t take Southwest 10 hours to respond to a concerned customer. Southwest is a good talker, but an even better listener.
You don’t have to be a big-name brand to employ any of these social media strategies. Tweak them, and make them your own.
I’ll leave you with a handful of tips for branding your business online:
What else makes for an excellent social media campaign?Tagged Blogging, Branding, Facebook, Hannah Babcock, Kia, Morningstar Communications, social media, Southwest Airlines, Twitter, Zappos
In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil threatened to hold the world ransom for… $1 million. Because Dr. Evil was thinking in terms of 1960s economics, he thought he was asking for a huge amount of money.
Today, it’s not $1 million, it’s one billion. Yesterday, there were three large transactions in the communications field — each worth about $1 billion. Cerberus bought a majority stake in AT&T’s Yellow Pages business, Microsoft bought 800 patents from AOL, and Facebook purchased Instagram.
On the surface it appears as if each of these transactions was over-valued, especially to those of us who weathered the 2001 Telecom crisis. However, if you dig deeper you can see the logic behind each deal. Daniel Gross with the Contrary Indicator wrote a great analysis about why these deals made sense.
Cerberus is a private equity firm. Their primary focus is on making cash now, not for the long-term. And as hard as it is to believe in today’s world, there are still people who rely on the Yellow Pages as their primary source of information when they are considering making a purchase. In 2011 AT&T’s Yellow Pages had EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of about $ 1 billion.
Microsoft has accumulated quite a bit of cash from its legacy business – to the tune of $19 billion dollars, and more is flowing into the company on a daily basis. Most likely the move to buy the patents is defensive. Microsoft may use the patents to further its own business, but their primary value is keeping the patents out of their competitors hands.
Daniel Gross called Facebook’s purchase of Instagram a “bolt of youthful exhuberance.” In Barbara Ortutay’s article she quoted Webush analyst Michael Pachter. He said buying Instagram, not only eliminates a rival but gives Facebook technology that is gaining traction. Facebook believes that it can turn the 30 million users of Instagram into revenues and profits. In fact, it’s not quite right to say that Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram, because a significant portion of the transaction is in Facebook stock, which doesn’t even trade yet.
So are these deals overvalued? To me it feels a lot like it did in 2001, just before the first technology bubble broke, but I’d like to think that we have learned from our mistakes the last 11 years. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future we will all laugh about how small $1 billion dollars is.Tagged AOL, AT&T, Barbara Ortutay, Daniel Gross, Facebook, Instagram, Michael Pachter, Microsoft, Morningstar Communications, Shanny Morgenstern, Yellow Pages
When we first started Morningstar Communications I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to measure the effectiveness of a PR campaign. Even fourteen years ago I knew that the number of clips, or column inches of coverage or even the number of listeners or readers wasn’t what truly mattered to our clients. What matters is how we change behavior. Do more people buy our client’s products? Do more people publicly recommend our client’s products to their friends and colleagues?
So it seemed strange to me that when social media started taking off, people measured its effectiveness by how many people saw their messages. It doesn’t matter if you have a million likes on your Facebook page if they completely ignore your posts.
A traditional marketing campaign should engage and attract new customers and so should an effective social media campaign.
As Michael Lazerow, the CEO of Buddy Media said in a recent article in AdAge, Facebook is now focused on helping businesses develop effective social media campaigns – by shifting from scale to engagement. Instead of being limited to the passive like button, businesses will be able to use a variety of expressive verbs such as “read, watch, listen, buy and more.”
On the surface this seems like a small shift, but it truly requires taking an entirely different strategic approach. In Ian Schafer’s article in the Harvard Business Review he talks about how marketing companies need to change their emphasis from nouns – “impressions, commercials, search results, clicks” to “making consumers’ connections to content and activities more meaningful… The dawn of the engagement age and agency is near, and the upcoming Facebook platform changes will only bring it about sooner.”Tagged Facebook, Ian Schafer, Michael Lazerow, Morningstar Communications, Shanny Morgenstern, social media