How To Hashtag

Hashtags are an amazing tool when used right. On platforms like Instagram and Twitter, hashtags help people find your profile and posts. Hashtags can even be used to help you find your customers’ posts about you and add to your captions/tweets. But using them can seem intimidating so today I’m going to take you through the basics of finding and using hashtags.

You’ll notice I’ve left Facebook and Pinterest out of my opening paragraph. That’s because hashtag use is far less important on these platforms and can actually reduce interest in your posts. Pinterest discourages use of hashtags; instead, it’s advised that you use keywords in your photo caption, as the keywords can be searched. On Facebook, the best-case scenario is that the hashtag won’t reduce your post’s reach or engagement but you’re always safer avoiding their use unless it’s a branded hashtag for a multi-platform promotion (ex. “Don’t miss out on our semi-annual clear out sale #ShirtHutsSpringClearOut”). Using hashtags properly means knowing when not to use them. For platforms that aren’t hashtag-friendly stick to a great concise caption.

Back to hashtag use! Instagram is one of the best platforms for hashtag use. Instagram allows for up to 30 tags per post (if you exceed that limit your image will post without any caption at all, so be sure to count before posting). Instagram hashtags can also be easily hidden with a few empty lines between the caption and tags (example below)

Instagram caption example:

Summer is the perfect time to give your feet a little TLC with bright nail polish





#summer #nails #feet #selfcare #beauty #tlc #pedi #pedicure #nailpolish #nails #summer

These spaces keep the hashtags from crowding the caption and means you don’t have to pack the comments section with a hashtag post. If someone wants to see the hashtags they can click the “see more” button under your caption (Instagram inserts this automatically).

On Twitter, hashtag usage should be kept to a minimum of 0 to 3 per tweet. That’s right, sometimes no hashtags at all are needed, but that’s reserved for accounts with large, engaged audiences. Hashtags are also best left to the end of the tweet rather then the beginning or throughout, this allows your audience to skip the hashtags if they’d like and avoid the issue of tags uglying up your tweets. The only tag that should sit at the front of a tweet is when tagging a person to whom you are tweeting.

A claimed of branded hashtag is simply a hashtag that’s use is associated with a certain brand or campaign. There isn’t an actual way to claim a hashtag instead you choose a tag that isn’t in use currently and use it on your posts and encourage customers/followers to do the same. Claimed hashtags are often a part of social media promotions. Interesting examples of this include the TV show @Midnight who regularly share a funny hashtag during their show (ex “#RuinAKidsMovie” ) where after the show ends it’s fans tweet their funny answers ( ex. “Insides out #RuinAKidsMovie”) and the best is called out on the next episode of the show. They create funny hashtags that aren’t being used and so when they search that hashtag all the posts relate to them and their brand. To create your own hashtag have a brainstorming session of possible great hashtags and then search your chosen channels to see if your hashtags are already being used.

So now you know where and when to use tags, but what tags should you use? The easiest way to figure out which tags are right for you is to check out accounts you admire (they may be competitors or similar businesses in other regions) and check out the tags they use, then click the tags to see how they are used by others on the platform. Then, try them out and soon you’ll notice which tags work well for your content. This is also a great way to learn what your target audience is looking for. Because hashtags and their popularity are always changing, be sure to make checking out hashtags a weekly activity if not daily – just a few minutes a day can really improve your hashtag game.

Make sure to include popular tags instead of sticking to unique tags that only you are using. Although unique and branded hashtags are a great marketing tool it’s unlikely anyone will be searching for them, especially if you’re a small account or business. If using unique hashtags, they should be the first tags used (they can even be included in your Instagram caption) and then follow with some more popular related tags so the post and your unique tags get good reach and your unique tags can catch on.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media

social mistakes pic

1. Failure To Use A Social Schedule

Planning your posts in advance, by choosing what content will be posted on which platform at what time, means no more stressful content hunts to find something to post TODAY. You can even queue up posts in advance saving you time and allowing peace of mind.

2. Using The Same Plan For All Platforms

Social platforms vary so much in post life span (how long it takes for your post to be buried under newer posts) and newsfeed algorithms, so using the same plan for all accounts is a huge mistake! For example Facebook posts that get little to no reach or engagement can reduce reach and engagement on other posts by telling Facebook your page’s posts aren’t interesting. A Facebook posts life span can be as long as days. So you want to be careful how often you post as over posting and recycling content too much can annoy your following. Tweets have a life span of roughly 20 minutes so you can tweet much more often and even repeat content.

3. Ignoring Optimal Posting Times

Failing to post at the most opportune times is a far too common mistake. This means posting whenever you feel like it instead of at the times your audience is online and ready for your content. With platform tools like Facebook Insights giving us lots of information on when our audiences are online there really is no excuse for posting at bad times. There are many tools to help you do this like platforms own analytics and Buffer’s Optimal Timing tool.

4. Favouring Promotion Over Content

Social media can be a great way to reach customers but if all your posts are just promotion you risk annoying your followers instead of converting them into customers. Instead use great content to engage your followers and show authority in your industry. It’s also a great way to share the voice and beliefs of your company. If you create or curate interesting relevant content your followers will thank you for it by engaging. The general rule for keeping your accounts followable is 80% content and 20% promotion.

5. Buying Likes Instead Of Earning Them

Paying for followers is one of the biggest mistakes you can make on social media. All likes and followers are not created equal. Having followers that choose to follow you because they’re interested in your brand or company means having access to interested potential customers, bought likes/followers are unlikely to be customers and are often fake accounts. Large fake followings lower your engagement score (the % of followers that engage with your content) making your content look bad which on platforms like Facebook can mean reduced reach to followers for all posts. If you were to instead spend that money on ads or investing in content instead of buying likes you can grow an audience that is far more likely to turn into actual customers.

6. Ignoring Ads

Facebook ads, even with a small budget, are truly worth it when done right. Just a $10 budget can help you reach well-targeted potential customers. Although many platforms are offering paid services they’re not all created equal so be sure to do your research before beginning a campaign.

7. Poor Hashtag Habits

On platforms like Instagram and Twitter hashtags are how new followers find you, so be sure to use them and use them well. Research hashtags by seeing how many results they have when searched on each platform you’re using and check out the tags being used by successful accounts in your industry. On Twitter it’s best to stick to just a few key hashtags at the end of your tweet where as on Instagram you’re allowed up to 30 hashtags and they’ll be hidden by a “read more” button after roughly 170 characters so you don’t have to worry about lots of hashtags bulking up your perfectly worded caption.

Effective use of social media can help a business grow, provide great customer service, and provide insights on customers. Make sure to avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media to make the most of your brands social presence.

Don’t Rely On Sound In Video Content


Recently I was scrolling through Facebook and happened upon a strange video of a man painting a canvas yellow, holding his head oddly close to the brush as he painted. After watching the video for a while I decided to turn the sound on, and was shocked to find that the man was screaming into the paint. Without sound the video made no sense, with sound it made more sense (at least in terms of why his face was so close to the canvas). There’s two lessons to be learned from this: the first is that sound can play a huge part in videos and the second is that videos that depend on sound can miss out on an audience due to that dependence on sound. (check this video out here ) Videos that rely on sound are suffering on social media, due to that reliance.

Video is the latest craze in social media. Video content has the best ROI, and is being introduced and improved on many social platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. But just making video content isn’t enough, if your video content depends on the audience listening as well as watching you’re in for a big surprise. 85% of Facebook video content is watched without the sound on. This isn’t due to an active deaf community on Facebook, it’s due to our modern relationship to technology.

Consider that most users are mobile users, 56.6%, access Facebook on a mobile device rather than a computer, and 75% of video views on Facebook come from mobile devices. This indicates that many are checking Facebook while out and about living their lives. Whether you’re on the bus or waiting in line at the bank, checking Facebook is a great way to entertain yourself. Watching a video with sound requires either headphones or annoying everyone around you. And even when users are wearing headphones it would mean turning off whatever they’re already listening to to listen to a video. Most users are not willing to turn sound on. And since Facebook videos start playing (without sound) automatically being able to grab and hold onto your audience’s attention without sound can make a huge difference in the success of your content.

Watching videos without sound has become so common that captioning a video “turn sound on for this” for videos that need sound is growing trend, like the scream-painting video. Media outlets like Mic use videos with text on-screen paired with background music, so the video can communicate its message without sound but with sound turned on, you have the added treat of complimentary music.

Planning for soundless viewing can actually be a blessing. No need to record voice narration with expensive sound equipment in a perfectly quiet room. Instead, great video content can be created with beautiful visuals and a little typing.

I’m going to end this post with a few tips for soundless videos: First, make sure the visuals are interesting, attention grabbing images with easy to read fonts to help grab and keep the audience’s attention. Then, remember to be short and sweet a long video is likely to lose viewers part way through so try and get your message across without wasting your audience’s time with unrelated information or visuals. And of course, remember to keep the quality as high as you can get it.

*In February 2017 Facebook announced they would slowly roll out facebook videos automatically playing with sound, this feature will gradually roll out over the course of 2017. Have videos in your news feed begun playing with sound? Let me know in the comments!

Why Timing Matters On Social Media


Most social media users don’t worry about optimal timing, they simply post when they want to. This may mean posting images to Facebook or Instagram right after taking the picture or tweeting an idea as soon as it pops in their head. Sometimes to save data, users wait to post until they have Wi-Fi. For most social media users this is fine because most users are using social media for fun, but if you’re using social media to promote yourself, your business or anything else, optimal timing is very important.

The truth is most of your audience won’t see what you post on social media. This is partly due to algorithms and partially due to the sheer volume of posts on social media and messaging platforms. Algorithms curate our newsfeeds on sites like Facebook to make sure our newsfeeds stay interesting to us. These algorithms consider source and engagement to decide what will be relevant to who and engagement immediately after posting helps determine the relevancy of your posts. On platforms like Twitter, a fresh post has a lifespan of roughly 20 minutes before it’s pushed lower and lower in newsfeeds as thousands of new posts are tweeted. By posting at unpopular, non-optimal times you risk your posts not being seen.

Posting at optimal times basically means posting when your content is most likely to be seen by the right eyes. For example, if you’re promoting a cookbook on social media, posting at 3am means your post is unlikely to be seen by your audience as most people aren’t on Instagram at that hour looking for recipe ideas. Posting when your target audience may be commuting to work, eating their lunch, or any other time your target audience may be scrolling through their Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook newsfeeds would get your post much more attention, hopefully more engagement, and maybe even a few cookbook sales.

Planning when to post and how often also helps in creating a strong strategy. If you know you want to tweet five times every Thursday and pre-plan when and what those tweets will be it’s more likely that you will follow through and that your effort will have maximum effect.

Of course, the best times to post for each platform can vary, as does frequency of posting. For example the times when most of your followers are on Twitter may not be the same as when your Instagram followers are online. Different platforms attract slightly different audiences and are used differently so it’s important to look at peak posting times for each platform.

So how do you find your best times to post? Start by thinking about when you use social media. Do you scroll through Instagram on your lunch break? Do you check out Twitter while waiting to pick up your kids after school? When you use social media can be a good indicator of when your audience is using theirs. (Of course you should also consider time zones, as your 3pm isn’t the same as everyone else’s.)

There are also lots of tools to help determine the best time to post. Facebook Insights provides lots of information on when your followers are on Facebook, and tools like Buffer provide optimal timing suggestions. There is also a bit of trial and error when finding your best posting times. Maybe posting at 3:15 is better than 3:00. Also consider times to avoid posting, like when post people are asleep or on major holidays when many people are busy with family celebrations.

I’ll leave you with this: If nobody sees your tweet, was it worth the time and effort you put into creating it?