Today, a hashtag is a label used on different social media platforms to make it easier to find posts or information about a certain theme or which contains specific content. It is created by including the symbol “#” in front of a word or word combination, without spaces.
The pound symbol —also called an octothorpe— was initially used to mark numbers. The first use of hashtags in the form it is used today dates backin 2007, when web marketer Chris Messina walked into Twitter’s offices with an idea. He suggested the company start using the pound symbol to group related Tweets together.
This was the first-ever use of the hashtag:
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
Twitter Hashtags are important for helping users organize their tweets around a certain topic, being a great indicator of the relevance of your tweets in front of a certain audience.
If they are used correctly, Hashtags can help your small business get discovered and grow organically. If you are planning to launch a marketing campaign centred around a hashtag, to avoid confusing your audience, first you need to search for that hashtag to make sure it hasn’t been used in a while or in a way it could confuse your audience. Use short and distinct hashtags which can be easily added to Tweets.
Instagram hashtags can be used to increase brand awareness, offering your audience a way to discover your content. If you don’t have a community of followers yet, using hashtags is a good idea for expanding your reach, especially if you don’t spend money on advertising and you don’t tag other accounts into your posts.
Finding influencers who use certain hashtags to get traction on social media and collaborating with them may increase your chances of reaching your audience and creating a beneficial buzz around your business.
Hashtags on Facebook
Most people don’t use hashtags on Facebook, because it is believed to be detrimental to your reach and engagement. However, experts advise you to include hashtags in your marketing strategy, especially if you are also using them on other platforms as well.
“Use hashtags (1 or 2 only) when they make sense and when you use something relevant that people can filter or to find more relevant conversation” – Ian Cleary
“As a business, cross social platform branding is important” – Collin Cottrell
Obviously, hashtags will increase your chances of being found by your targeted audience. Whenever you include a hashtag into a post, you are creating an opportunity for potential customers, clients, or followers to find that post.
Hashtags on LinkedIn
Hashtags on LinkedIn are used as a way to engage and network with other users. As with the other platforms, you can either create your own hashtags and hope other users will pick up on your trend, or you can use popular hashtags to help you appear higher up in search results.
Since 2019, when hashtags started being used in LikedIn, we’ve seen some hashtags that reached more than a million followers.
Top LinkedIn 5 hashtags in 2019
#innovation – 37,683,010 followers
#management – 35,270,217 followers
#digitalmarketing – 27,286,973 followers
#technology – 25,231,754 followers
#entrepreneurship – 22,221,557 followers
Hashtag Best Practices
Hashtags start with # and only work if you don’t include spaces, punctuation or symbols
If the account is not public, the hashtagged content won’t be seen by followers
Best hashtags are short, so don’t try to use a long string of words which can be hard to remember
A large number of hashtags would look spammy, so it’s better to use a limited amount of hashtags per post
People won’t start using your brand slogan in their Tweets unless it fits naturally or you offer them some incentive to do so.
Check what hashtags people are already using to talk about your brand, and capitalize on those. Also, make sure to check if your desired hashtag is already being used. Ask yourself if it’s still relevant to your brand.
Partner with influencers which can help gain exposure and visibility for your hashtag.
Are hashtags really useful for my small business in Surry Hills?
Often, people on social media use hashtags just to look cool. But hashtags can actually be used to help brands become more visible within a certain professional community, to encourage people to discuss specific topics and to create engagement organically.
People are actively searching through hashtags on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. So, using the right hashtags may result in a larger number of followers, likes, comments and shares, boosting your brand’s social media engagement.
The use of hashtags may have an important role for promoting small business in Surry Hills, as it creates awareness and drives social media engagement which can turn into a powerful branding tool.
The Faculty of Engineering is a faculty of the University of Sydney, Australia. It was established in 1920 and is Australia’s oldest engineering school and one of the most prestigious.
The school has an excellent academic reputation with its programs being ranked in 2011 by the QS World University Rankings by Subject at 21st in the world for Civil Engineering and 27th in the world for Mechanical Engineering. Programs at the school are accredited by professional bodies including Engineers Australia, The Australian Institute of Project Management and the Australian Computer Society
In 2011 it had a student enrolment of 4,645 (9.5% of all students), thus making it the University’s fourth-largest.
In 2019, UTS FEIT (Faculty of Engineering and ITS), approached Pulse for a great project: Promoting a suite of very interesting short courses as part of their continuing education strategy and offering,
The biggest challenge was how to market and differentiate the UTS offering of high-calibre premium courses in a highly cluttered and noisy market ranging from face-to-face events through to free tasters, blended learning options and high-volume, low-cost online alternatives.
We conducted thorough initial research in conjunction with the client’s internal stakeholders to gather insights, stats and all possible factors that could inform our strategy.
As a result, identified user personas, audience acquisition strategies and channels to deploy the campaigns which generated great traffic and strong engagement and click-through statistics.
Some of the stats can be seen below, the results are from actual figures blurred to protect the client’s information.
The image represents an example of the type of creative we tested throughout the campaign.
Actual figures have been blurred to protect information.
“We found Nico and his team very responsive and committed to the project during our time working together. In addition to the raw results in terms of site traffic and enquiries, we gained a lot of specific insights into digital marketing, our target audience, and the metrics and dashboards which the Pulse team developed and shared to help us monitor and manage the campaigns and our portfolio.“
Steve Crooks, Manager, Professional Education Unit,
UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT
Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Channel for Your Small Business
Making the right choice when it comes to digital marketing strategies can be crucial for your company, especially when you are a small business with a limited budget. Selecting the most appropriate channels to reach the right audience requires lots of research time, as well as in-depth marketing, digital communication and business management expertise.
Considering the multitude of choices available, even the most experienced business person may have difficulties finding the path towards business success. Every small business owner has probably dealt with these dilemmas: is it worth investing in SEO? Should I opt for Google or Bing Ads campaigns? Which social media channel delivers the most significant impact on ROI?
This is why we have gathered a few ideas and some preliminary steps for small business owners and marketers to take to choose the digital marketing channel that truly matters for their business.
Define your Audience
To present your products or services to the right audience, first, you need to define your buying persona (the profile of your potential/ideal client). Luckily, Facebook offers us some useful tools for that. Using Audience Insights, we can start building the profile of the type of person that may be interested in our products/services. To be able to use Facebook Audience Insights, you don’t need an advertising account — all you need is a Facebook profile. We can start with broad options and then narrow down the audiences based on the following information: age, gender, lifestyle, career, relationship status, education level, household, estimated income, interests, online activity, device usage, spending habits.
After creating a relevant portrait of the buyer, this person should be kept in mind whenever you create any content or carry out any type of marketing activities. The data offered by Facebook Audience Insights is just one of many research methods you should be looking to use to build audience personas. There are many other sources to use, such as Twitter profiles, Google Analytics demographic insights, or published research that has been previously carried out in your industry or niche.
After clearly defining your buying persona, it’s time to set your own business goals. Ask yourself questions like: How many leads or actual clients would I like to acquire every month? What’s the value of a lead? What sort of budget am I prepared to spend over a specific timeframe? Then, go on defining your business and marketing assets and your goals. After having a complete picture of your business and your targeted audience, it should be easier for you to define the best marketing/advertising channels to use.
Now that everything is much clearer, it’s time to consider your options:
SEO & Content Marketing
The process of optimising your website’s technical and editorial aspects so that it can be organically discovered by users when searching for specific keywords is called SEO. Unlike paid advertising, SEO takes time to work. Depending on various aspects, like domain authority (versus the competition), available assets such as a quality mobile website, link building opportunities and others, the results may vary, but they rarely happen before 6-12 months especially if the site is new, significant and has errors, or has been penalized by Panda or Penguin or any other algorithmic penalty or filter.
As SEO and content marketing are tightly connected, you may also need to hire professional copywriters to continuously create fresh content that can help your website rank for a wider variety of keywords. Whether it’s blog posts, white papers, webinars, videos, or e-books, content must be created according to a well-thought strategy. If you’re prepared to make this effort, invest in quality content and wait until results appear, content marketing is the right choice for your business. But, if you need fast results, you should better look into PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising) and display ads options.
One of the easiest ways to determine whether it’s worth investing in an SEO campaign or not is by checking your website’s ranking with tools like SEM, Ahrefs or Google Search Console. If the website is already ranking for some appropriate keywords, then it probably has the potential for further SEO development.
Do it if your website is already ranking for useful keywords and you are willing to invest time and effort into an SEO and content management campaign.
Don’t it if You want fast results without putting in much time and effort.
Email Marketing Also called eDM.
If you have a pool of customers or an opted-in email subscription list for newsletters, promotions or offers, this can become a real gold mine. Some studies claim that email marketing can provide a 4,300% ROI. E-commerce companies heavily rely on e-mail marketing strategies, but SMEs may also use email marketing to sell more to existing clients.
Do it if you have a decent opted-in email database.
Don’t it if you don’t have a pool of existing customers allowing you to send them your information, promotions, and offers.
Pay Per Click advertising
Whether it’s Google or Bing ads, paid advertising should provide highly targeted traffic very quickly. Both B2B and B2C companies rely on Google and Bing ads to get new clients within a short time frame. PPC campaigns are ideal for businesses which did not take time to create awareness through social media or email marketing campaigns and want to promote their new products/services with paid ads quickly.
Do it if the costs per clicks are affordable, and your product service is searched in Google/Bing.
Don’t it if you don’t have sufficient budget or your audience is not using Google/Bing to search for your products/services.
Social Media Organic Campaigns and Social Ads
Social media marketing is one of the most powerful tools you can use to achieve your marketing and branding goals. SMM includes posting regular text, image, or video updates on social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc.), as well as creating social media ads.
To improve your business’s social media presence and increase audience engagement, organic posting and paid ads should go hand in hand. A good social media marketing plan includes both a consistent posting schedule and running social ads for remarketing purposes. The choice of the social media channel also depends on the type of business you have: a highly visual business can rely on Instagram and Pinterest, while a B2B company might find Twitter and LinkedIn more useful for its marketing goals.
Do it if you get a lot of value from a strong social media presence.
Don’t it if your audience uses other channels to search for your products/services (Google, Bing)
Consider the Long Run
The purpose of a business person is to grow their business. But this might mean different things for different companies, and it is finally up to every person to decide which channel serves their business purpose best; for example, if you are focused on getting sales fast, PPC campaigns are probably the best choice. If your business is new and you need brand awareness, think about investing in content marketing or social media. You may also need to educate your audience through web PR.
Last but not least, always go with the channel where your audience spends more time. And, no matter what channel you choose for promotion, always think in the long run. People may click on your ads right now, but what if they want to know more about the business and they get to social media or your website to search for some information that isn’t there yet? After all, your online presence should be treated as a whole and should continuously be improving in all areas to provide good ROI.
If you are looking for shares and links, research suggests that the manner and form of the content seem to matter almost as much as the content itself. There are some forms that, although popular amongst content producers online, do not really appear to get the attention that must have been desired. Meanwhile, other formats undoubtedly hold the title for champion format.
Steve Rayson at Moz Blog (moz.com) recently compiled data from a retrospective analysis of one million articles online, including articles for some of the world’s most popular media websites (like Pew Research, and The Economist).
His conclusions are simple: most content is not being shared or linked, ‘listicles’ and videos are king and queen and, most surprisingly of all, long-form content may be worth the effort.
The sad majority
Now for the uncomfortable truth: for the most part it seems, online content producers may be wasting their time. Research suggests as much as 50% of content online goes virtually unnoticed.
Mark Schaefer, author of The Content Code, offers the particularly grim doomsday diagnosis that we may be interacting with “content shock” – the point at which the human capacity to absorb information is capped yet the production of content is exponentially increasing. There is simply too much out there.
If Schaefer is correct, then online content will go much the way of Hollywood: a few viral stars and many more struggling failures. The research compiled by Rayson appears to bear this out. According to Rayson’s research in a selection of 100,000 articles pulled from a database at random, around three quarters had less than 1 external link or referring domain link. This seems consistent with other more independent research conducted in this field. According to the data, looking at the database of one million articles compiled, 50% had less than three Facebook interactions and less than three Twitter shares.
The Hollywood analogy continues when you look at averages. Apparently the distribution of shares, links and interactions is not well focused around the average; the whole picture has many underperformers with the occasional viral rockstar. You can imagine the effect that this will have on the average; according to Rayson, there are a few articles that were included in the analysis reaching millions of shares (with one even reaching upwards of 5 million) which can mislead those looking only at the average:
(Graphic courtesy of Moz Blog, moz.com)
So then… what are you left to do? Chase the dream of a viral article? Accept that most of what you write will not be read, and hope to strike link/share gold at some point?
It seems part of the answer will lie in taking a sensible approach to format, as well as the content.
It seems obvious that the nature of a share is actually significantly different from the nature of a link. The average punter is obviously more likely to share that link. By the same token, long-form content writers such as bloggers, are by their nature likely to link than share. Is there anyone that gets results in both categories?
Apparently – yes. While it may be that for the most part that there are no real or significant connections between shares and links, Rayson suggests that what correlation there is, it is shown for highly shared and highly linked articles more than usually found through major publishers and news sites, particularly the long-form opinion and editorial style content. That there appears to be some merit in the long-form, opinion-forming content. Similar results are obtained for research-backed content.
We will return to this later (which will give the hungry journalists a chance to rejoice).
These types of content aside, for the most part, there does not appear to be any significant correlation between links and shares.
One thing to note that isn’t covered by the research from Rayson is the extent to which the fame and clout of the author will impact upon shares and links. For instance, a New Yorker article authored by a popular comedian or famous social commentator may influence the number of shares and links, but that may not be fairly attributable to the format and may distort the averages. This is food for thought.
Content is good but format is great
If you have good material, then think long and hard about how you are going to deliver it. It appears the means by which you share your information is vitally important.
The recent data suggests that the list article or “listicle”, is the most popular format for achieving shares and links. There are other formats that also deserve attention.
Some content types, however, appear to be misleadingly popular among content producers but not too popular with the content-scrolling public.
Five reasons why lists are here to stay
Just kidding – this ain’t no listicle, fool. But according to the research, if it were more people might be reading it right now.
An article by the Guardian (18 human traits that explain why readers can’t get enough of BuzzFeed, 12 Feb 2014) suggests that there are some significant reasons that lists do so well.
One reason axiomatically stands out: we love lists. According to psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “they produce a fake sense of logic and rationality, as if they presented a formulaic argument or tautology”.
There are two other audience-oriented factors to which Tomas draws attention: first, we are bored – and a list gives you the dopamine hit akin the feeling of Facebook notifications or the vibration of a text message in your pocket. Secondly, as pointed out by the Guardian, while we are bored we are also busy and time-poor. Whether or not this is supported by the data is not certain, but it certainly has the ring of truth.
Exactly how many points should be in a list? It seems to be idiosyncratic to the topic of the list itself and depends on how long you want to spend writing it.
As noted by Holly Hartzenberg of toyourheartscontent.co.uk,
“… according to some alarmingly in-depth research … the most repeated Buzzfeed listicle lengths are 10, 15, 21, and 25. There’s also some industry hocus-pocus which suggests odd numbers do better”.
However long the perfect list, it appears they are here to stay. As against the other formats, lists had the highest average total shares (over 10k per article), closely followed by videos, after which the numbers show all other content types falling far behind.
Video (almost) killed the listicle star
Videos also do particularly well. While Rayson records average total shares per list reviewed as being 10,734, the same figure for videos was 8,572 (with the minor note that it appears there were slightly different sample sizes for each).
The popularity of videos appears to be a trend that is not going unnoticed, particularly by niche entertainment markets. For instance, the talk show circuit of the United States, most dominated by The Tonight Show and The Late Show under the stewardship of Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert respectively, have taken to ensuring that televised segments are able to be, and are, shared in the Facebook / Twitter-sphere. The Tonight Show has nearly 10 million subscribers to its youtube channel, and with the ease of transferring across platforms, this translates into a lot of Facebook and twitter shares.
Within the world of videos, it would also appear there are strange content-oriented trends. Research conducted by Reel SEO suggests that Facebook video shares are more likely to be concerned with food and news. As Mark Robertson of Reel SEO suggests,
“News and current affairs content always do well on Facebook, as users turn to social media to get the latest updates on breaking events. At #6 and#7 in the rankings for the most-watched video creators on Facebook, we have two news sites, all generating views in the millions for their current affairs content”.
Now for some of the poorer performers.
The data suggests that you shouldn’t really bother with quiz posts, or why or how-to posts, although there do appear to be times and places in which they are worthwhile. One matter to note is that why posts do appear to obtain relatively high domain link posts, although not so significant as to make these stand out above videos and lists generally.
By far the poorest performer would appear to be the infographic. If you don’t know what these are (courtesy of blog.visual.ly)
Go long, against your intuition
A surprising outcome of the research in this area suggests that were are divided in our approach to content absorption. First, we love lists, for their bite-size, dopamine-releasing info-gasms while at the same time we enjoy the long-form content that seems more akin to newspaper content than what one would expect from the online world.
The results of Rayson’s research suggests that as the word length of content increases, so too does linking and sharing. Rayson produces the following table summarising the results in this area:
(courtesy of Moz Blog, moz.com)
The full report of Rayson’s research suggests that the best performing content comes from ‘comprehensive and evergreen’ sources of content, such as serious publishers and news sites. This fact may stand behind some of the explanation of the shares and links.
This is good news, in a way, for the traditional media. Sites and organisations that have a significant amount of long-form content that can cheer at this point. Consider the fact that news sites and publishers are in the trade of long-form content – that is what they do best.
While bloggers are also in this trade, media sites have more clout and popularity coming into the game. They also have more human power to churn out content – to stay “evergreen”. This gives them a distinct advantage over the smaller content producers in the social space. That is not to say that there is no room for the little guy – only that the big guy has a head start.
Even if you are not a heavy hitter in the media world, you can still learn a lesson or two from the above details. Most importantly, resist the impulse to post frequently at the expense of research-rich and word lengthy writing. This, it would seem, is what people actually want to share and link.
Rayson points to the stat that 85% of articles that were reviewed in his research were at a word count of 1,000 words or less. Writing less than 1,000 words seems to be the wrong way to go about doing things.
Data compiled elsewhere would appear to support this hypothesis. In research conducted by Serp IQ, the top-rated content posts produced in response search queries were typically long-form as compared to their short form counterparts. This may provide a cautionary feedback effect wherein more shares and links will lead to a higher search ranking, and a higher search ranking will lead to more shares and links, although this hasn’t been addressed by the above researchers specifically.
(courtesy of serpIQ.com, Kevin Espiritu)
Data compiled and analysed by Quicksprout also supports this proposition, suggesting that research on the search behaviour shows that year on year we have been searching long and longer phrases, but also searching more compound phrases. The relationship with content is, that as content expands so too does its propensity to include longer word phrases which form the subject of searches. The more long-form content you have the higher your SEO.
At what time of the day
According to Gina Hwang at addthis.com, the best time of the day to publish content to social media depends on the platform.
(courtesy of addthis.com)
While Hwang suggests that Facebook posts do better on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings around the world, data compiled by Niel Patel at Quicksprout.com suggests that peak engagement actually occurs on Thursday and Friday as people enter the weekend with more positive and happy content being shared and engaged with on Friday specifically.
According to Patel, to get the most shares on Facebook the best time of the day to post is 1 pm in the target time-zone, right when people are on lunch from work. However, for Twitter, it is suggested that the best time to tweet is 5 pm when people are leaving the office.
Another tip from James Parsons at Inc. is to post your content several time to the social media platforms. This is one that will require some sensitivity and understanding of the policies of each of the sites, as each has different rules on when and how often you can post the same content.
Facebook is more restrictive than Twitter, with the latter allowing re-tweets of the same content on the same day.
So most importantly pay attention to the format, and if you can go longer and research on content – not short. It turns out that once you have someone’s attention they are willing to give you their friends. When you are researched, you are more likely to be linked. It all sounds like a meritocracy all things considered.
But if you can throw some videos in there for good measure, that may be a good idea too. Oh, and some lists, such as “10 best ways to conclude a lengthy editorial”.