Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Brilliant Ways to Use #Hashtags in Social Media Marketing by Uri Bar-Joseph

I was watching the Super Bowl (#GoHawks) when my wife asked me about hashtags. Granted, I was writing down every hashtag that came up on the screen for an analysis I did later that night, but her question surprised me.

"What do you mean 'what is this?' It's a hashtag." I said, amazed by my wife's unfamiliarity with the topic (#DoYouLiveUderARock). "You use it to tag your tweets or other social media posts."

Now, my wife's social media activity revolves around reading other people's updates on Facebook and Instagram, so I wasn't mad or anything, just disappointed when she asked me "Why would you want to tag your posts?"

To be fair, it wasn't always that obvious that hashtags will change the way we use Twitter and other social media channels.

Hashtags were a user-innovation that was later adopted by Twitter as an actual feature when Twitter decided to hyperlink hashtags to search results. The rest of the socialsphere followed in its own pace, and Facebook, my wife's go-to social destination, only recently decided to give in and add hashtags as a feature. It's no surprise that for the masses over the age of 30, hashtags are still a novelty.

So whether you're in that group, or just want a short social history lessons, here's the brief history of hashtags. Then we'll look at a few recent examples of brilliant marketing uses of hashtags.

A Brief History of Hashtags

There seems to be a consensus on the origin of hashtags and most people attribute the proposal to use hashtags in tweets to Chris Messina, through a tweet dating back to August 23, 2007.
Chris Messina Tweet First Twitter Hashtag
But the first time a hashtag was used extensively as a way to categorize tweets and was adopted by the public was during the San Diego fire on October 23, 2007, when Nate Ritter used Twitter to report on the fire and included the hashtag #sandiegofire.
Nate Ritter sandiegofire Tweet
On July 2, 2009, Twitter officially embraced hashtags and hyperlinked them to search results. Tumblr was one of the early adopters of hashtags when it launched hashtags on August 18, 2009. A few months later, on March 30, 2010, in another homepage redesign, Twitter moved Trending Topics to its homepage, formalizing hashtags as a conversation driver on Twitter.
As Twitter users adopted hashtags as a normal part of the Twitter conversation, in a typical fashion to Twitter, hashtags stared in popular culture like TV shows, celebrities' promotions and mainstream media.

The pop-culture adoption of hashtags helped push hashtags into other social networks. Instagram adopted hashtags on January 27, 2011, Flickr added hashtags on March 17, 2013 and Facebook finally broke and adopted hashtags on June 12, 2013.

Hashtags Adopted as a Marketing Tactic

An analysis of the Interbrand 100 list (the world's top 100 brands) and their activity on Twitter, reveals that the world's top brands have adopted the use of hashtags almost completely. In Q4 of last year, 97 percent of the brands posted at least one tweet that included a hashtag. Out of the 34,707 regular tweets (tweets that don't include an @ reply or a retweet) that the Interbrand 100 companies posted, 45 percent included at least one hashtag and more than 67 percent included one or more hashtags.
Tweets With Hashtags

1. Drive Engagement: # + Link = More Engagement

These companies have realized that hashtags help drive engagement. When compared to Tweets without a hashtag, tweets with hashtags showed 12 percent more engagement (RT, favorite or @ reply). Tweets that included a link anda hashtag, showed the highest engagement rate of any other type of tweet.

2. Test Your Messaging: #SOTU

During the last State of the Union address (#SOTU), the White House media team prepared content and tested 26 different hashtags.
  1. #SOTU
  2. #StateOfTheUnion
  3. #OutOfManyWeAreOne
  4. #OpportunityForAll
  5. #CollegeOpportunity
  6. #MadeInAmerica
  7. #ActOnClimate
  8. #ActForOurVets
  9. #RebuildAmerica
  10. #ActOnJobs
  11. #InvestInSTEM
  12. #ActOnCIR
  13. #ActOnUI
  14. #ActOnPreK
  15. #ConnectED
  16. #EqualPay
  17. #RaiseTheWage
  18. #ActOnTenTen
  19. #GetCovered
  20. #ACA
  21. #PeopleOverPolitics
  22. #RightToVote
  23. #ActForOurKids
  24. #SaluteOurTroops
  25. #Iran
  26. #TeamUSA
  27. #ActForOurTroops
  28. #SOTUChat
The next day (January 29) the White House focused on only seven of these hashtags and the vast majority of its tweets promoted the top three hashtags:
  1. #OpportunityForAll
  2. #RaiseTheWage
  3. #EqualPay
  4. #ActOnJobs
  5. #ActOnTenTen
  6. #CollegeOpportunity
  7. #MadeInAmerica
They did so because those hashtags resonated the best with audience on Twitter.
Hashtag Volume During and After SOTU Speech
Hashtag Trends the Morning Following SOTU Speech
As evident by these charts, the White House team used Twitter to test the messages in the president's speech and the following day applied their lessons to emphasize and reinforce the ones that stuck.
The #SOTU campaign is a master class in digital media campaign management, and this was one of the best lessons from it.

3. Tie Activity Across Multiple Channels: #SB48

During #SB48, ads included more hashtags than any other social signal including Twitter handles and Facebook account names. Brands used hashtags because of their cross-channel nature.
Since most social media channels adopted hashtags as an identifier, brands can now run cross-channel campaigns with one common identifier, virtually making hashtags the global connector of the social web.
Hashtagbowl Social Media Scoreboard

4. Create a Story: #esurancesave30

Following the Super Bowl, Esurance ran an ad promoting the hashtag #esurancesave30. Within minutes, the hashtag got tens of thousands of mentions and within an hour it racked over 1.4 million mentions. With a simple, albeit expensive, campaign, Esurance created a story that was featured the next day on media outlets, blogs, and last Wednesday on TV.
Twitter Volume for esurancesave30 Hashtag
The hashtag brought to Esurance more than just attention, it gave them a list of people who actually engaged with their story and brand.

In the minutes following the ad, the Esurance Twitter account added more than 40,000 followers, more than doubling its followers in a matter of minutes. And in the days following the ad, the account added more than 250,000 followers, almost 10 times it's audience size prior to the ad airing.
Esurance Total Twitter Account Followers

5. Track Results: #Whosgonnawin

Leading to the Super Bowl, the NFL and Verizon created a campaign to allow fans to vote on who they think is going to win the Super Bowl. By tweeting the team's name with the hashtag #WhosGonnaWin fans voted for their favorite team.

Verizon and the NFL created a special website to track the results in real time http://www.whosgonnawin.com/ every day a new question was posted and fans voted using Twitter. By the end of the day, the team with the most mentions got to light up the Empire State Building.


Hashtags have become more than just a way to categorize posts or add a narrative to your updates. Marketers have found new, innovative ways to use hashtags as a mean to drive conversation, harness the public support, and garner attention to their brands.

Courtesy of Incisive Interactive Marketing LLC.

Need help with Managing YOUR Social Media Campaign?
Contact us and visit: http://www.janetpennconsulting.com/social_mediamarketing.html

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Building an Email List From Scratch by John W Hayes

The money might well be in your list, but what if you haven’t got one?
Well, then it’s time to start building.

I recently helped a client build a list from zero to 2,000+ in just under a week. And guess what? The list is already driving leads and will soon be driving revenue.

So how did we do it?

A Great Offer: It all starts with a great offer. In this case, it was incredibly useful content that demanded attention. Not only did the client offer great content providing real value (do your white papers always do this?), we backed it up with a really cool competition. The prize might have cost a fair bit of money – but it couldn’t be ignored.

List Rental: This is not to be confused with purchasing a list (remember, we don’t like that). List rental is when you pay another organisation (normally a magazine publisher or a blog) to send a campaign on your behalf. Renting lists can be expensive – so you better make sure you convert as many opens and clicks to your own list as possible. This means having a great email, a great landing page and a great offer.

Social Media: Next, we hit Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – hard. We didn’t just broadcast. We encouraged debate, asked questions and pointed people back to our really great landing page, complete with great offer and cool competition (see points #1 and #2).

PR: We put the message out there via PRWeb (part of the Vocus family), which generated a ton of buzz on social media and helped generate press coverage for our content and our giveaway. We also phoned or emailed every blog writer and journalist we had a personal relationship with to give the story wider coverage.

Blogging: The client blogged about the offer on its own site – providing additional content for its social media activity.

Asked to Share: We asked people (colleagues, clients, prospects – in fact, anyone who would listen) to share the news – and they did. In fact, the campaign went viral, and that’s when the list really started to grow.

Building a list isn’t easy and it isn’t always cheap – but the potential return can be fantastic.

If you haven’t got a list, isn’t it time you started building one today? Share your advice for list-building strategies below:

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.
© Copyright 2010-2014 Business 2 Community.
Need help with Managing YOUR Email Marketing Campaign?
Contact us and visit: http://www.janetpennconsulting.com/email_marketing.html

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SMToolbox: Be More Effective on Google+ with CircleCount by Steve Rayson

How effectively do you use Google+? CircleCount is on a mission to help you better understand Google+ and improve your performance on the network. This week in the Social Media Toolbox we take a look at why you should be using Google+ and how CircleCount can help you use the platform more effectively.  
Why Google+?
Despite a tentative start Google+ is growing in importance as a social platform. At the end of October 2013 Google reported there were 300 million monthly active “in-stream” users. These are people that see or visit the Google+ content stream. 
Marketers and SEO agencies have found that Google+ helps improve SEO results. Google+ posts are indexed by Google very quickly and they are treated like any other web page; hence the posts gain page rank, give page rank and appear in search results.
Content creators understand the importance of Google+ in terms of authorship and authority building. Google+ is the backbone of the Google eco-system, which is seen most clearly through Google authorship, wherein Google+ validates your profile and helps you gain authority. Authorship also places your Google+ profile picture next to your posts in search results.
Those trying to build communities are finding success with Google+ Communities and increasing interaction through plus ones, sharing, comments and Google Hangouts. According to CircleCount, there are now over 200,000 Google+ communities.
As a consequence, Google+ is growing in importance as a social platform. The challenge is to make sure you are using it effectively.
How CircleCount Can Help You
circlecountCircleCount is a free tool that helps you understand Google+ and provides you with extensive statistics on your performance and influence.
Circles are one of the key features of Google+. You can create circles and include people in your circles to follow them. However, you can only have a maximum of 5,000 in your circles even though you may be followed by, say, a million people. CircleCount.com tracks these Google+ circles.
CircleCount shows you the most active, most followed and most influential people on Google+ for pre-defined categories. These tend to be the people with really large followings, and I personally think it would be more useful if you could search for influencers in more specific topic areas. However,  you can filter by region, which helps narrow your search. 
CircleCount provides a wide range of extensive Google+ statistics, including the highest ranking profiles, pages and communities on Google+. It also shows the posts that are the most reshared and which receive the most plus ones. However, for me the real benefit is in the personal data and insights that it provides. You can add your Google+ profile (using the URL of your Google+ profile or your custom Google+ URL) and CircleCount will track the circles you are included in. It will then provide you with detailed information about the following:
  • Your profile and followers
  • The performance of your posts
  • Your engagement and interaction
Your profile and followers
CircleCount provides you with a detailed overview of your profile, including a chart that maps the growth in your followers. I suggest you start with the Dashboard, which gives you your ranking in your local country and globally.
There are also a range of useful profile statistics about your followers, sharers and communities. You can also now get statistics for your Google+ pages. One of the many features is ‘Your Follower Map,’ which provides you with a nice heatmap of where your followers are located. Mine is shown below.
circlecount_social media tool
Performance of your posts
CircleCount helps you assess the performance of your posts and your influence on Google+. It does this by tracking your posts and the activity they generate, such as comments, plus ones and reshares.
I like the grid report it provides, which gives you a clear visual picture of the performance of your posts (see below). The red bar shows no activity, such as no plus ones, no comments, etc. You can easily re-sort the table by column for a more detailed analysis.
circlecount post activity
Engagement and interaction
CircleCount shows who has shared circles that include you, who is following you, and who is sharing your posts. This enables you to reach out to people that already like and share your content.
CircleCount also provides useful charts showing when people engage with your posts. By reviewing these charts you can schedule your posts at a time when you are likely to gain more engagement.
circlecount timing chart
How well did you use Google+ in 2013?
CircleCount introduced a nice new feature for the new year, which is your own profile infographic called “Your 2013." Click this option and you will get a complete summary of your activity in 2013, including:
  • how many public posts you made
  • how many plus ones they received
  • how many reshares they received
  • how your followers grew over the year
I suggest you start here, review your CircleCount infographic and then consider how effectively you used Google+ last year. If, like me, you need to be doing more, then CircleCount is a great tool to help you.
Courtesy of Social Media Today LLC

JPC does NOT rely solely on Google Analytics to provide website traffic reporting and analysis for their clients.  We use companies like CircleCount, Web-Stat and many more for FULL reporting!!
Contact us and visit: http://www.janetpennconsulting.com/website_traffic.html