How to Use Hashtags for Your #Business

Hashtag

rHow to Use Hashtags for Your #Business

Blair Callahan

The hashtag seems to be everywhere now that big-names like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+ have adopted it, and adapting to its growing popularity is important in the social media world. Businesses with Twitters aren’t the only ones using them anymore, so the hashtag can’t be ignored any longer. Here are some ways to use them:

  1. The most popular way to use hashtags is fairly straightforward—you hashtag a word or group of words to create a link that people can click on to see who else is discussing the same tag that you used. This is a useful way to track how many people are using your specific, original hashtag and what they’re saying. You can start a discussion as a business and people who follow your account can respond and use the hashtag that you promote. Remember that capital letters in tweets don’t matter for search results, but spaces and punctuation won’t register and will mess up the hashtag.

Example: “Food truck rodeo today! Visit us and tweet your favorites using #FayettevilleStreetRaleigh”

  1. If your business wants to give a discount or a deal to the users who use their hashtag in a tweet, it’s an easy way to confirm their participation and their use gets your business’s name on the timelines of their followers. You can also hashtag the name of an event or sale that your business is having, so that people who attend or have questions about the event can use that particular hashtag to discuss it with other attendees or to just show that they’re going.

Example: “Retweet with your favorite salsa flavor and you get one taco on us! Use the hashtag #TacoBellSalsa and show us your tweet when you come in”

Example: “Going to the #JCPennyFlashSale this morning with Lilly!”

  1. Humor and voice is another way to use hashtags. Tweets with clever hashtags by businesses tend to keep their current followers interested in the brand—it might not gain new followers the same way that a searchable, relevant hashtag might, but it keeps your current followers entertained. These can also help demonstrate your brand identity as long as it stays true what the business might possibly say. Following Twitter trends (as long as they’re appropriate) are also good ways to entertain your followers. The trending hashtags are on the left side of your screen, and you can set it so that it shows your area or the entire country.

Example: “We’re sick of this rain at El Rodeo, too! Don’t leave us alone with this queso #eatingitall #comeinandseeus #butreally #quesoisgone”

A good combination of these types of hashtags makes it so that your business’s page isn’t redundant or boring, and that you’re getting good use out of the hashtags that you use. The hashtag isn’t going away anytime soon—no more ignoring its many #uses.

by Blair Callahan on LinkedIN at: www.linkedin.com/in/blaircallahan

Aso see Martin Brossman’s book on How to Use Hashtags on Amazon at: 
http://www.amazon.com/How-Use-Hashtags-Martin-Brossman-ebook/dp/B00JCD1II4/

People Who Should Not Try to Market in Pinterest

Who Should Not Use Pinterest

Marketing on Pinterest can drive direct buying or lead-generating traffic to a commercial website. A Pinterest business account can function as a branding and image-building site to improve customers’ ideas about a particular company and what it does.

Don't Pin

People who shouldn’t use Pinterest

I can help almost any business owner or marketing manager figure out how to use Pinterest for their business. Sometimes, though, I’ll hear someone in business say something that makes me back away from suggesting Pinterest as a marketing channel. I stay busy enough preaching to (that is, educating and assisting) the converted that I don’t need to drag anyone into the Pinterest fold who isn’t already curious about what Pinterest can do for their business.

Comments from people who are not good candidates for Pinterest Marketing:

Social media is a waste of time

On one hand, you are completely right. Most social media draws you in to a time sucking black hole that spits you out the other side, full of gossip and irritation or resentment at what your so-called friends have been doing.

On the other hand, everybody shops, scans, and looks for new ideas, content, and concepts, even the most productive and schedule-driven executive. (Bet me? Are you still using the first golf clubs you ever owned?) In part because Pinterest limits direct contact between users (except for comments), the site provides more “exposure to new” than “gossip.”

If you get all the “exposure to new” you need in some other way, then you’re right, you don’t need Pinterest.

Facebook (or Twitter) works better

It is interesting that sometimes the same people who say, “Social media is a waste of time” will then say, “Twitter works better than Pinterest.” See the “Logic” paragraph below.

If you are marketing successfully on FB or Twitter, keep doing it.

  • If you haven’t been successful on LI, FB, or Twitter, you might want to give Pinterest a shot before you bail on all social media marketing.
  • If your marketing includes before and after photos, you may want to look at Pinterest, because images don’t “disappear” as a timeline scrolls away.
  • It’s quite possible that the bulk of the challenges you’ve experienced with Facebook marketing are as much a fault of the platform as they are of your ability to use that platform.

Women don’t buy my products, or, Pinterest only works for clothes and recipes and wedding stuff

In other words—Pinterest’s users are women, and women don’t care about anything other than retail shopping.

If that doesn’t send off warning bells, then you are right, Pinterest will not work for you. Go directly to Jail; do not pass Go.

An exercise: list five elements of your products of service, as far away from babies and clothes and weddings as you can think of. Search for them in Pinterest (box in upper left). See what you find. Consider your stance.

Google’s analytics are better

Yes, they are. Pinterest’s analytics aren’t as good as Google’s.

Q: Did you buy a thumb drive before they could hold as much data as a removable hard drive?

A1: “No, I always want all my data with me.” Skip Pinterest.

A2: “Yes, sometimes I want to give away just a few files.” In other words, a thumb drive offers you features (portability, low cost) you can’t get in a removable hard drive. Similarly, Pinterest offers features Google doesn’t have.

A2.1 If analytics are critical to your business, so much so that you can’t afford to spend time on any system not measured by tools as robust as Google’s, Pinterest is not for your business and you should wait. (Of course, you might want to make sure your competition places the same weight on analytics.)(And understand, new tools are showing up all the time.)

A2.2 If you place such a high value on analytics, why is your business buying brand advertising?

You can’t search in Pinterest

You can. You simply can’t duplicate a search from day to day, you can’t figure out what gets the highest ranking, and you never quite know what you’re going to get on the P-SERP.

  1. This will change. Search has been solved. Just like the 4-minute mile, once any one person proved it was possible, lots of people could run a mile in less than 4 minutes.
  2. Who cares? Because Google ranks answers in a linear fashion, they can only provide one best answer. What if the question your business answers doesn’t have “one best answer?”

Google “mother’s day gift ideas.” Then check Pinterest for the same term.

Mother's Day Gift Idea Boards in Pinterest

Mother’s Day Gift Idea Boards in Pinterest

Information marketers who have built an entire business funnel around answering targeted questions will have trouble marketing in Pinterest. Businesses selling tangible goods and delivered services will find it easier.

Pinterest isn’t logical

No, it’s not. Isn’t that glorious?

Isn’t it funny that marketers spend so much money and time learning about passion and story, and lizard brain, and neural and interpersonal networks, and multi-dimensional systems, and behavioral economics, and neurosocience, and then we take everything we’ve learned and stuff it back to a text-based SERP, organized in linear fashion?

Thirty minutes in Pinterest can tell you more about what your real-people clients and customers think and follow and how they organize information than your favorite keyword tool.

That said, if alogical processes drive you crazy, Pinterest is not a good place for you to be.

Need to talk?

If you find yourself questioning your certainty that Pinterest won’t work for your business, give me a call.

Pinterest Business Accounts

Great news, businesses using Pinterest for marketing don’t have to pretend that they’re “people” anymore!  Pinterest released a Business category of accounts today, and you can either create a new account under the Business type or convert an existing one to the business category.  Add a snippet of code to your business website (root directory) and get verified, and you’re set.

Mostly, nothing else changes, but putting yourself in the business category means you will receive different education material (short term) and business marketing opportunities (longer term) in the future.  You also get to use two very cool new widgets that allow you to display pins and boards on your own website, in real time (NOT screen shots!).

Rather than rewriting what a lot of more well funded bloggers have already written, I’ll simply refer you to Hubspot’s article about the change.  I expect they will keep it up to date as / if anything changes in the near future.

Two nifty new widgets are available from the Business Pinterest pages:

Pinterest Business Widgets

New widgets for Pinterest business users allow you to display pins and boards in your website, in real time.

Those last two are fun:  you can embed either a board, or your 30 most recent pins, in any page of your website.  You can embed each board on a related page of your website, if some of your boards relate specifically to work you create.

For my Karen Tiede Art Rugs account, I’ll be linking each color board to the appropriate page showing rugs in those colors. See the Purple Rugs page for an example of how it will work.

Karen Tiede is a rag rug weaver and reluctant social media marketer who discovered Pinterest for Business and lived happily ever after. Now she weaves recycled t shirts into beautiful rugs and teaches people in the portfolio professions how to use Pinterest to market their work.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact info@martinbrossmanandassociates.com.

Pinterest and Copyright Law, for Pinners

Basic copyright law

The basics the parts of copyright law that affect your actions on Pinterest, from a US perspective.

  • “In the public domain” means, “the creator has been dead for 70 years.” It does NOT mean, “on the internet already.”
  • Once created, any “original work of authorship” is copyrighted. The copyright is almost always owned by the person who created the object. In some very limited and specific cases, the person who paid to have a work of authorship created owns the copyright, called “work for hire.”
  • Copyrights can be registered with the US Copyright office for $35 and when they are registered, the owner acquires additional, more powerful rights, including the ability to sue for damages.
  • If your URL doesn’t end in *.edu, assume that “fair use” does not apply to you.
  • The Digital Millenium Copyright “Safe Harbor” provision applies to the host, not the user. In other words, it protects content sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest, but not you, the pinner or poster of copyrighted content to those sites.
Copyright for Pinners

Copyright for Pinners (in the United States)

For additional information and the actual text of the law, spend some time at the US Copyright Office’s website. It’s very user-friendly and pretty clear.

Applying Copyright law to your Pinning activity

Trace the source

Whenever possible, pin from the original source, rather than repining. Tumblr is almost never going to be the original source, and neither will goggle.com. When you trace to the original source of a pin, you can often get a sense of whether the creator has allowed, tacitly or explicitly, sharing and pinning.

  • One professional photographer on Flickr publishes the links to the picture to make it easy to link and provides information about how he wants to be credited in that flickr account.
  • Because Flickr has an easy-to-use copyright and permission labeling system, you can be reasonably sure he’s happy to share with credit, the images that are on Flickr.
  • A different photographer has a separate gallery of 30 different images labeled “Pinterest share.” In this case, I’d feel comfortable pinning from that gallery, and far less comfortable pinning any of his other work.
  • When you trace the source to a websites with a “PinIt” and/or a “follow me on Pinterest” button, you can feel comfortable about pinning an image. Understand that the website owner is nonetheless the owner of the content. Do not change the URL or modify the image and give as much credit to the site in the caption as you want to type.

If you don’t have time to trace a pin, “Like” it to save it until you can come research the original source of the image (using Google Image search).
If you find a site does not appear to support pinning, consider “Liking” the image to save it without it appearing on your boards. (Not clear if this would be considered a copyright violation that would charge to you.)

Pinning your own images

You can always pin images you created (as long as you’re not taking a picture of something that is itself under copyright protection, most often “art.”) The Pinterest app for your smart phone makes it easy to pin-on-the-run

  • I found one image of a chair that was painted with a copy of a famous work of art that is not in the public domain. (Da Vinci & Michelangelo works are in the public domain; Klimt’s work is, Picasso and Pollack are NOT.) I did not pin the image. The copy of the painting ON the chair is, probably, a violation of the artist’s copyright
  • If you paid a photographer to make the image (realtors!?!, interior designers with portfolio photography, brides), make decisions about who owns what and who can pin what when you sign the contract.
  • If you are the photographer, start discussing Pinability of your images in your contracts.

Pinning with the PinIt bookmarklet

  • Use caution; consider whether the website owner is likely to benefit from the Pin / additional traffic; consider where you are pinning the image (what type of board?). Paste the URL in the caption as well as in the “Link” field. Use a helpful caption, rather than “cute” or “awesome” or the useless “.”, which gets you past Pinterest’s requirement to put something in the description field.
  • IF you have any doubts, email the website owner and ask for permission. As a group, photographers have a mixed response to Pinterest. Some feel they will lose sales; others believe that additional traffic will bring them more business. It’s their call, not yours.

In one case, I emailed a website owner and she told me she loved Pinterest, had an account under her own name which wasn’t the name of her studio, and simply hadn’t figured out how to put the PinIt button on her website yet. Now we’re following each other. (And I saved her email…)

Stock Photo, National Geographic, and other blocked websites

Pinterest helps website owners who don’t support sharing to block pins from a site. Many of the stock photo websites installed this code, as did the National Geographic website.
Pinning when you have to do something devious to get an image from a blocked, unpinnable website is the same as shoplifting.
Some clients may be more aware of this application of copyright law than you are. Like grammar, getting it right is invisible and getting it wrong offends. (That is, a client who recognizes that you pinned a protected image is more likely to put you in the “shoplifter” bucket than a “clever person!” bucket.)

Researching images

Use “save image as” to save a copy of the image to your hard drive, then drag that image to the Google Image search box. Google will tell you where that image has been used. If Pinterest is the only source, you don’t need the pin.

Review all pins occasionally

When you get more familiar with Pinterest, take 10 minutes to look at all your pins. Make sure they all have links and that those links are legitimate.

  • I missed some curse words in URLs when I first pinned, and I have since deleted those pins.
  • You’ll develop a feel for images that should be credited differently. Beautiful, well-photographed images that are “uploaded by user” on an account that is not full of user-created beautiful images are suspicious.
  • If you’re not sure about a link or a credit, delete the Pin. Something better will show up.

Non-participants

If you don’t want to play, put the “don’t pin from here” code into your website.
Search Pinterest regularly for your important images. Pinerest has a clearly defined system for removing pins that should not be on the site. Use Google image search to keep track of your own work—drag an image to the Google Image search bar, and Google will tell you what sites have used that image.)

Pinees

If you do want to play in Pinterest: add the follow me and Pinit buttons to your website.
Pin your own images to your own boards as a starter. Although Pinterest claims to not be about self-promotion, it also wants to see user-created content. Distribute your images across different boards, depending on your subject matter.
Decide whether watermarks are worth the trouble: it depends on your industry and your skill at adding watermarks to your images. (Photoshop will add watermarks, as will an app like PicMonkey.)

Summary

Pinterest is a fabulous tool for sharing images with your clients, your friends, and friends and clients you haven’t met yet. Share your own images, and images that have been clearly “permissioned,” and you’ll be fine.

*Notes:

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
I am not a lawyer, so I have hired them, and I have learned this: Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyers have a different focus than family practice lawyers. If you need to know more about IP law in a hurry, hire a lawyer who specializes in IP law. IP Lawyers cluster around research centers and universities.

Karen Tiede is a rag rug weaver and reluctant social media marketer who discovered Pinterest for Business and lived happily ever after. Now she weaves recycled t shirts into beautiful rugs and teaches people in the portfolio professions how to use Pinterest to market their work.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact info@martinbrossmanandassociates.com.

The Latest on Email Marketing Pricing for Startups

Are you starting out in business? You’re probably watching every $ you commit to spend, trying to keep your monthly expenses low while you launch your business. Keeping your expenses down prolongs the amount of time you have to get your business going.

Often people starting out in business think they don’t need to have an email marketing service. But once you start emailing for your business, there are laws you need to know about, like the CAN-SPAM Act. Read contributor Greg Hyer’s post about what to do before you start email marketing.

The email marketing options talked about in the Raleigh area among micro business owners on the micro business owner professional network inside919.com are these:

Subscribers ———– ———– ———–
Provider Notes Under 500 501 – 2501 – 5001 – 10,000
MailChimp 

(15% Non-Profit Discount)

Has a Forever Free plan up to 2000 subscribers. $10 $15 to 1000 

$30 to 2500

$50 $75
Constant Contact 

(Non-Profit Discount)

Save 10 – 20% by prepaying 6 or 12 months. $15 $30 $50 $75
iContact 

(Free accts to NC Non-Profits, discounts to other Non-Profits)

Annual prepay discounts. $10 $19 to 1000 

$29 to 2500

 

$47 $74
AWeber 

Fee to use PLUS

Fee for subscribers

(Non-Profits get 3 months free, then 25% off)

Fee to use can be paid 

Monthly -$19

Quarterly – $49

Annually – $194

Monthly Rate of  $19 

includes up to 500 subscribers

Add $10 

/month

($29)

Add $30 

/month

($39)

Add $50 

/month

($69)

Disclaimer: If you discover that something here isn’t accurate, please add a comment here.  It is our intent that this be correct, though companies frequently change their pricing and terms.

Since this post is focused on startups and micro businesses, pricing for over 10,000 subscribers was not included, but is available. Plans also have different services, features, and discounts, which could not be easily represented in this post, so please study your proposed provider thoroughly.

3 Things to Do Before You Start Email Marketing for Business

Email marketing is one of the most effective and inexpensive digital marketing techniques available to businesses today. Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) in the marketing arsenal. According to the Direct Marketing Association in 2010, email marketing returned and average of $42 for every dollar spent. (Keep in mind that this is an average generated from a survey of top rated corporate marketing departments. )

Before you get going with email marketing you should do at least three things. Even before you select an email marketing service provider. These tasks should be done as part of your initial research. From these tasks you should be put on the right path to begin email marketing. [Read more…]

Quick Tips on Video and Audio Marketing

Beverly Mahone at the radio station

Beverly Mahone at the radio station

As a veteran journalist and TV and radio broadcaster, Beverly Mahone can appreciate the power of marketing through video and audio.

More and more people are discovering that they no longer have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a 30 or 60 second commercial. The growing popularity of social media now allows each of us to create our own advertising campaigns for the price of a video camera, plug-in headsets for your computer, and some creative imagination.

Video and audio marketing are great ways to get your name out there.

Here are a few video tips from Bev Mahone’s chapter.

1. Provide Quality Content. Offer resources or something else of value they can take away by watching your video.

2. Grab Attention With Your Videos. The goal is to attract your viewer’s attention, encourage them to research further on your site, and ultimately become a customer.

3. Take Advantage of All Your Social Options. Be a social butterfly. Connect with others on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Ryze, etc.

4. Show Your Personality. There’s nothing worse than watching someone who sounds like they’re uninterested in what they’re talking about.

Bev Mahone’s chapter in Social Media for Business also includes more detail and podcast tips.

There’s an old saying, “practice makes perfect.” The more you do it and work at it, the better you become. And always remember to enjoy what you do.

—-

What quick tip do you have for those starting out with video and audio marketing?

Brossman and McGaha's Social Media for Business Book

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations in Social Media for Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha with chapters by 20 contributors, including Bev Mahone. Written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help and guide you in using the Internet and social media to grow your business, referral partners and your reputation, this book will help you and your business.

Short chapters so you can find what you’re looking for and get what you need to know fast.  If you haven’t read it yet, order it now. Amazon for $16.52. Or apply  Discount code: C47P9D2V when you order on CreateSpace for $16.00.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear from you.

How Are Facebook and LinkedIn Ads Working?

What’s your experience with Facebook or LinkedIn Ads? We’d like to hear from you.

(Updated September 21, 2011)

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are very exciting because of how easily you can specify who you want to target. The breadth of attributes that we have access to on Facebook is unparalleled, and certainly never been available at the low price point that Facebook currently offers. Do start by reviewing the Facebook Ad information on Facebook.

Facebook allows you to target the people who are connected with a certain Facebook Page. You can target interests that people have specified. You can target people who are not connected with a Facebook Page. Focus on a geographic area. Age groups. Relationship status. The choices are boggling, and exciting.

There are also several different types of ads.

Sponsored Stories which link to a post on Facebook.

Sponsored Ads which can link back to a Facebook Page or to an external website.

Facebook’s capabilities of offering viewers the chance to click and like an ad, or comment on it, add to the appeal, because it allows participation.

Though pricing on Facebook Ads is rising, there is still a world of possibility in this arena.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads are on the whole more expensive than Facebook ads, and have a much narrower spectrum of attributes to target. They only list certain jobs and professions, and didn’t have the wide spectrum of interests to draw from in targeting ads. For targeting professionals in traditional occupations and geographies, LinkedIn hits the mark. For more creative targeting, Facebook is a wonderland.

To learn about LinkedIn ads, start at this LinkedIn ads page. With LinkedIn you can target people by variables like these:

  • Industry
  • Company and Size of Company
  • Geographic Location
  • Job Title or Job Function
  • Seniority or Rank by Title
  • Age
  • Affiliations by LinkedIn Groups

 

Learn more about Facebook Ads:

There are several resources for you to pursue in learning about Facebook Ads.

Like the Facebook Ads Page.  Facebook Ads Resources.

Here’s the Guide to Facebook Ad Marketing.

The Facebook content is a starting point, but is not as in-depth as some of us would like. As we discover better resources for you we will post them here.

Brossman and McGaha's Social Media for Business Book

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations in Social Media for Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha with chapters by 20 contributors. Written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help and guide you in using the Internet and social media to grow your business, referral partners and your reputation, this book will help you and your business.

Short chapters help you find what you’re looking for and get what you need to know fast.  If you haven’t read it yet, order it now. Amazon for $16.52. Or apply  Discount code: C47P9D2V when you order on CreateSpace for $16.00.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear from you.

Web Video and YouTube for Marketing

Web video is digital video that is taken for displaying on the Web. It can be created as simply as through an off-the-shelf webcam or flip camera, cell phones, from digital photos, or, for a more professional look and feel, by working with videographers on location or in a studio.

The subject of the videos varies with your purpose. Commonly used lengths are from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Some of the common Web-videos our customers choose are:

  • Introductions
  • Addressing key topics about their business
  • Answering frequently asked questions
  • Testimonials from real customers
  • Highlighting their unique specialties

Using Web videos and YouTube add tremendous value to a marketing plan.

Here are five reasons why it’s so valuable.

1. Web Video shows you’re a real person

Video conveys authenticity and emotion in a way that text just can’t. Potential customers will get a much clearer sense of who you are, and begin to trust you even before you’ve met in person.  We recommend staying away from catch phrases and sales slogans – and just being real.

2. Everyone knows, trusts and uses YouTube

Everyone and their grandmother know about YouTube and have seen web videos on it. Even more than knowledge of YouTube, there’s the trust factor: clients will not hesitate to click on a link to YouTube. YouTube is a trusted tool that can be easily embedded in Web sites and blogs, linked to in emails and everywhere in social media.

For more from Alex Ferguson, please visit EpicRealm.net or his YouTube channel, or turn to the book.

Brossman and McGaha's Social Media for Business Book

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations in Social Media for Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha with chapters by 20 contributors. Written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help and guide you in using the Internet and social media to grow your business, referral partners and your reputation, this book will help you and your business.

Short chapters so you can find what you’re looking for and get what you need to know fast.  If you haven’t read it yet, order it now. Amazon for $16.52. Or apply  Discount code: C47P9D2V when you order on CreateSpace for $16.00.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear from you.