What's a Hashtag?

I discuss my experiences while exploring a career in Digital Marketing, as well as anything else that catches my attention.

I'm a Mainer, turned Seattleite, who then ventured into NYC. After 6 years of exploring I’ve finally come home to Maine.

You can learn more about me, Jennifer MacDonald, here: http://bit.ly/rkurJT
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Facebook donations are here, Twitter wants to see your photos & Vine moves to the desktop

The time has come; the first Social Media Recap of 2014 is here! It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve provided you with updates so I’ve included those that occurred more than more than just seven days ago.

Now when you compose a tweet your pictures will appear not the keyboard. I find this a little annoying but it’s a feature Google+ has been using for a while now. Change is inevitable I guess.

Facebook has made it easier for charities to get exposure on their network. You can now make a donation to a charity without leaving your newsfeed. This is an awesome new feature, and one that I think all users will welcome.

Facebook has one more update this week; they have expanded their “Facebook WiFi program.” Now it is more cost effective for small business owners to participate in the program and they could reap big benefits by doing so, click play to learn how.

My favorite update of the week goes to Vine with the new web version of their mobile app, which allows full screen video play on a desktop.

What has been your favorite social media update of 2014 so far?

Twinkling GIFs, share private photos on Instagram, Google+ Ads & more 

Hey, Hey, it’s that time of the week - Social Media Recap time! This week is full of fun, new updates for you and your business. 

Foursquare is now letting all businesses sign up for Foursquare ads, and they have updated their iOS app with a cool, new look. Go download it today.

Google+ keeps getting better and more attractive for brands. They rolled out their new +Post Ads to a select few this week. Brands will soon be able to “sponsor” their Google+ updates. 

Have you noticed any images on Google+ that have beautiful snow falling in the foreground? Here is another reason to love Google+, and it’s called “Auto Awesome.” The Auto Awesome feature is turning your photos that feature snow into an interactive winter wonderland. Check out how they made my photo automatically “awesome.” http://bit.ly/1bD2t90

The coolest update this week goes to Instagram with their new Instagram Direct. You can now send private photos & videos to people who follow you. However, you can reach out to someone who doesn’t follow you. You can send them a pending request to view your private content. This is absolutely awesome and a huge opportunity for brands to reach out to their followers.

What did you discover this week?

Facebook has altered EdgeRank again & you can now eat your Instagram photos 

You are in for a treat today. This week’s Social Media recap includes some great news for those of you who manage a Facebook Business page. Facebook is now placing higher importance/ranking on links to quality articles in the newsfeed, YEAH! 

Facebook is replacing the “hide all” button with “unfollow,” this was previously used to remain Facebook friends with someone but not see their status updates. Additionally, you might start seeing much older articles from your Facebook friends in your newsfeed due to changes in Story Bumping.

The time has come; you can now eat your Instagram photos by having them printed on marshmallows. ‘Tis the season! I don’t know about you but that would be a pretty cool and creative gift to receive. 

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you tweet/post pictures of that amazing turkey you cooked?  

Pinterest proves their worth, Facebook and Foursquare love Community Managers & there’s a new way to search on Twitter

Get ready there’s a new “big wig” in town for this week’s Social Media Recap. Pinterest takes the lead with two updates this week. One is strictly for ecommerce businesses, and one is strictly for your personal enjoyment.

Facebook and Foursquare have made the lives of community managers easier this week. Facebook has made their scheduled posts feature much easier to use and Foursquare now allows you to update your venue with tips and offers right in Hootsuite.

Although, they aren’t the only ones enhancing functionality in their applications, Twitter has improved their iOS and Android apps with a new search filter.

Which one of these updates is the most exciting to you?

YouTube fans are free, LinkedIn personalizes your content and what was SnapChat thinking

You’re in for a treat this week! Today’s Social Media Recap is full of fun, new things. YouTube launched “Fan Finder" to help channel creators bring in new fans for free. All you have to do is upload a video that welcomes your new fans and YouTube will turn it into an ad at no cost to you.

LinkedIn replaced their news curation feature, LinkedIn Today, with Pulse, which they purchased earlier this year. LinkedIn continues to push forward to offer more personalized content for their users.

Pinterest has finally opened its API, and now brands can embed popular pins directly on their websites. The API also allows Pinterest users to re-pin the images on a brand’s website without having to visit the Pinterest application. Great news for those of you in ecommerce!

Twitter launched Custom Timelines this week. “The feature lets users organize tweets by other users to show what they consider the most important tweets about a topic or event.” I’m anxious to see if anyone will actually create these custom timelines.

Lastly it was the news heard round the world. SnapChat turned down a 3 BILLION dollar offer from Facebook to purchase their app. You’ll have to watch the video to hear my take on that!

What shocked you this week in the online world?

32 years and counting…

Today I celebrated my 32nd birthday, and the day has not ended, I am still receiving birthday wishes from around the country. 100 Facebook Posts, 10 tweets, 2 videos, and 1 SnapChat, these messages sure do show a girl how lucky she is. Most importantly it reminds me of how grateful I am.

I am grateful for growing up in a small, remote town in Maine, for going to college in the White Mountains, for living the swanky lifestyle in the Old Port, for becoming a Seattleite, for getting a taste of the NYC lifestyle but I am most grateful for being able to return home after all of these journeys.

After 32 years I am back where it all started, almost, surrounded by family, friends and the amazing outdoors that I love to escape to.

I look back at the last six years most of all, and I am so grateful for everything that I have experienced; to have traveled the country, even outside at times, and for those amazing friendships I have built with all of you, online and off. That is what I am extremely thankful for. 

Thank you for letting me into your life, and for sharing those intimate moments with me, especially those of you who I have never met in real life. That is the greatest gift I have received, and that is what has helped me return home. I am also excited to say that those online relationships have landed me my new marketing role, which started this week. (More details to come)

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, even if we could not be together today, or speak on the phone, I know that you are there and I look forward to seeing/chatting with you again. 

xoxo

Google+ is now iMovie, Helpouts, Pin it to win it, and the Facebook like button makeover

This week’s Social Media Recap includes the biggest social updates from the last two weeks. Twitter is now more visually appearing by featuring photos & videos in your newsfeed.

Google+ launched two big updates in the last 14 days. There are now photo and video editing capabilities in Google+. The video editing mirrors iMovie controls, which are great for brands using Google+, you no longer need to go to YouTube fist. Their second update is “helpouts,” which are live video chats with experts regarding a certain topic of interest.

Facebook updated their iOS app to allow you to edit and delete comments using your smartphone, as well as updating your privacy settings. 

Pinterest has updated their terms of service regarding “Pin it to win it” contests. Make sure you read their latest blog post if you promote your brand on Pinterest.

Lastly, the Facebook like button received a makeover and no longer includes the thumbs-up icon.

Are you excited about being able to edit your videos in Google+? I know I am!

Vine just became a rockstar video app, Instagram wants your personal data & a Tweeting Bra

Get your tablet ready, you’re gonna need to take notes! This week’s Social Media Recap is a little long but I had to update you on all of the good stuff that went down this week.

First up is Facebook, they are working on an algorithm to keep users from seeing violent content, and warn them before they see it in their newsfeed.

Instagram made the news today when they announced that sponsored posts will be rolling out to users this week, and advertisers will be able to target users by using Facebook profile & user data.

The biggest announcement for me this week is the new Vine update. There are two new features, Sessions & Time Travel, and you have to check them out!

My geek out session this week focuses on a new “tweeting bra.” Ladies if you can’t remember to check your breasts once/month then you should download an app to remind you. Hey that’s what I did!

A special shout out to Social Media Breakfast Maine for introducing me to Klixel8, if you’re a marketing professional in the retail industry or you’re involved in ecommerce, you need to visit http://klixel8.com.

Are you excited or annoyed about seeing Instagram ads in your feed?

 

There is no more privacy on Facebook & Twitter DMs for everyone.

Yeah it’s Friday, and it’s Social Media Recap time! I have three updates for you this week, two are important for your business, and one is important for your everyday life.

Facebook is now allowing advertisers to target people who have visited their company’s website or used their app. This provides you with a great opportunity for advertising to your current customers.

Twitter has added functionality to allow anyone to send you a direct message, not just people who you are following. Although, you must turn this new feature on in Twitter.

Lastly, teens that are using Facebook can now post public updates to the world, not just friends. This is actually a little scary; please talk to your kids about how important online privacy is.

Did you hear that Twitter now lets advertisers schedule Organic and Promoted Tweets up to a year in advance?

Facebook simplifies their ad process and Foursquare is recommending where you should go to dinner.

This week’s Social Media Recap focuses on three new updates to your favorite social networks.

Facebook has made their ad buying process easier for advertisers by rolling out an “objective based" interface. Now you create your ad based on the outcome you want your ad to achieve, such as receiving more page likes.

Facebook has made their new insights available to all page admins, and there are three new features that you should know. The most important new feature is “optimal posting time.” This data shows you when is the best time for you to update your followers on Facebook. However, I do not consider this a social media optimization tool like SocialFlow but it is a step in the right direction.

Lastly, Foursquare is now providing real-time recommendations to users. Make sure you are monitoring the check-ins at your venues, and most importantly the tips left by your customers, that is what these new recommendations are built on.

Did you hear any news about Instagram or Pinterest this week?

Before we talk about how you should use a hashtag, do you know why  you should use a hashtag? Hashtags make it easy to join conversations that are already taking place around a certain topic of interest. For example, if you search for #Maine on Twitter, Facebook, Google or Instagram you will be introduced to people tweeting, posting and blogging about Maine as a subject. You might even find a few of my posts in your search results!

 The benefits of using hashtags are:

  1. Find new people who share a similar interest, who you can follow and engaged with
  2. Increase your followers by showing that you are an expert in that subject of interest
  3. Be introduced to new events, experts and facts around a subject of interest

There are many reasons why you (yourself) or you (your business) should use hashtags but more importantly you need to make sure that you are using them correctly. Many people use hashtags incorrectly, and that will only reflect badly on you or your business.

The correct use of hashtags:

1. Search the hashtag before you use it

The most important thing to remember is to search the hashtag before you start using it. If you’re using a common hashtag like #Maine, it is not as important. However, if you are creating a new hashtag, such as Verizon did with #RealityCheck to promote a new promotion, you will probably find some inappropriate tweets that you would not want associated with your business.

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2. Use hashtags that people would most likely search for

I am referring to using a hashtag to emphasize the content you are promoting. If I tweet a picture of the fall foliage here in Maine I might use #Maine to emphasize what I am talking about. I would not however use #MaineTreesShedLeavesInTheFall. No one will ever search for that hashtag, and honestly it just makes you look stupid.

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3. Make sure that you are not using too many hashtags in one post

If I am writing a blog post about the Maine foliage and I include #MaineFoliage #MaineLeaves and #MaineFall it appears as if I am trying too hard. Yes, we all want to show up in search results but using all three hashtags is just silly, and don’t forget that hashtags are included in your character count, and you are only allowed 140 on Twitter. 

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So tell me, are you a hashtag addict?

DISCLAIMER: #3 above does not apply to Instagram. A recent study shows that when you use more hashtags in a post on Instagram, you will receive higher interactions on that post.

Hashtags invade the universe, it’s time to Pin your content, new Facebook features and more.

This week’s Social Media Recap includes updates from the last fourteen days. Grab your phone and get ready to tweet notes!

Facebook now allows you to edit your status updates. This feature is not yet available for iOS7 but you can use this feature on a desktop. 

If you’re a blogger your prayers have now been answered. Pinterest has rolled out rich pins for articles and have made them more visually appealing to your followers.

You can now retract tweets that you have sent which contained inaccurate information, as well as alert everyone who has retweeted that information. 

Lastly, Google has now jumped on the hashtag bandwagon.

What did I miss the last two weeks for social media news?

Maine, the way life should be (and now it will be).

As you know there’s no place like home, and after 6 years of exploring I’m finally back there. I’ve moved back to Maine, which has been my dream ever since I left, and I wanted to update you on what’s next for me and my career. I also wanted to say thank you to a few friends who helped me get back here.

 What have you been up to this month?

Facebook posts can now exist anywhere, Facebook ads are more appealing & Twitter goes public.

Get ready for this week’s Social Media Recap. On Monday, Facebook rolled out new tools for surfacing conversations on Facebook. The new Public Feed API is explained below.

"selected news organizations can begin to integrate Facebook conversations into their broadcasts or coverage by displaying public posts of real-time activity about any given topic."

Another release on Monday was the ability to report on how many public posts are being created around that same topic by using the new Keyword Insights API.

This week Facebook increased the size of their ads, and they are now 3.5 times bigger than they were before. This is definitely an advantage for advertisers, and also a reminder to make sure the image that you use in your ad is good quality and relevant to the message you are advertising. 

The biggest news of the week goes to Twitter however. Yesterday Twitter announced that they are going public after filling the biggest tech IPO of the year. In other words, we will now be seeing many more promoted posts since Twitter will have to prove their worth.

What did I miss this week? Any Instagram news?

A friend of mine recently started her own private practice in the health care industry. She said to me “I would love some business advice, I have some Facebook questions, etc.” 

Her questions got me thinking, if you are a small business owner starting out on your own, and your background isn’t in marketing, how do you know where to start?

I put together this list to help you navigate the seas of online marketing and to help you immediately start growing your customer base. 

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1. List your business on all of the online directories:
    I am referring to sites such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Merchant Circle and any that are prevalent in your industry. In today’s world everyone is searching for their next hair dresser or housekeeper online, make sure you are there to be found.

2. Create business pages on the main social networks:
     I am not suggesting that you start marketing your business on every social network out there, pick the major ones and start there. I’ve outlined the heavy hitters below. I always recommend that you start out small and build your way up, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Remember, if you’re not maintaing these accounts by constantly providing updates, and responding to comments, it will not represent your brand well.

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     a. Create a Facebook Business page, and start promoting local community events in your area, as well sharing information from other business pages that is relevant to your business. Sharing information and commenting on posts from other business pages will help you gain more visibility for your page and help build your community.

     b. Create a Google+ company page. This will be tied to the Google listing that you created for your business, which is called Google+ Local. By using your Google+ company page the same way you use your Facebook company page you will be influencing how you show up in Google results. You can learn more about Google+ here.

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4. Secure your business name online:
    For the accounts that you are not going to be active with today, such as Twitter, or Foursquare, you should create an account there anyway so you can secure your company name before someone else does, as well as your vanity URL. For example, twitter.com/jennimacdonald.    

5. Create a Blog:
    If possible create a blog to show that you are an expert in your industry. You need to be constantly updating your website/blog with new, relevant information in order to improve your google ranking. However, if you do not have time to start a blog today it’s ok, all of your social network activity for your company will help your Google ranking as well.

6. Be consistent with your marketing strategy:
    Try to make sure that you are updating your social accounts at least three times per week. I recommend publishing updates once per day. You need to be consistent in order to keep your viewers engaged and to keep them as a follower for your business.

7. Find influencers in your industry:
    Search for experts in your industry online in places such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc. Follow these influencers to start building relationships with them for your business. Also, makes sure that you find and follow major competitors for your business. Following competitors will give you great ideas for your marketing strategy, as well as what not to do. (This is my biggest piece of advice, and a must for your business)

8. Have fun:
    You need to be transparent, in other words be yourself. In today’s world you need to earn the trust of your customers, and by being yourself (the business owner) online it will make it very easy for you to be transparent. Talk about your challenges as a business owner, and your recent discoveries. People can connect with humans, they can’t connect with robots.

I hope you find this helpful, and you feel like it will be easy to get started. If you have any questions please post them below in the comments. I love talking with business owners about their marketing strategy.

Take the leap and get started, there’s no time like the present.