“Hashtag planting” for tweet-tastic exposure

Today’s topic is Twitter and the act of “hashtag planting.” I know what it is because I invented it according to www.urbandictionary.com.

Before we examine the act of hashtag planting and how you can use it to increase the exposure of particular tweets to a targeted audience, let’s first look at hashtags in general.

What is a hashtag?
Using a hashtag on twitter is a way for you to insert a keyword into your tweet.

Why use a hashtag?
Your hashtag keyword can be singled-out and followed or searched for via the Twitter “Search” function. You can follow a topic this way, or even insert yourself into a popular topic (for marketing purposes), which is what I call “hashtag planting.”

When you log into Twitter, you will see a menu on the lower left called “Trends”. These trends reflect much-used hashtags associated with the day for the location you’ve selected. Being a Long Beach girl originally, my list shows Long Beach trends.

Today’s popular hashtags for the Long Beach, California area are:

HashTagTrendsMay292013

Hashtag variety
Some hashtags are to associate tweets with a particular brand or celebrity (#Gap). Some are simply fun social experiments (#WhenIGetMarried), or set up to convey sarcasm (#whyiseveryonesostupid or #TeamSingle).

TeamSingle

hashtag #whyiseveryonesostupid tweet results

Hashtag Planting: Putting hashtags to work
Here are some tips you can follow to make hashtags work for you on Twitter:

  1. Compose your tweet and then go back and hashtag terms within the body of your tweet that are already popular or trending terms, and terms that are specific to your exact area/location.
    1. Good example: We r having a #MemorialDay BBQ today at our #CoastlineCommunityCollege campus in #FountainValley. Get a free lunch and tour our Vets Center.
      • Tweet is specific to a current and trending topic (#MemorialDay), a specific place (#CoastlineCommunityCollege), in a specific City (#FountainValley).
    2. Bad example: The #college is having a Memorial Day #BBQ today at our #Coastline campus in Fountain Valley. Get a free lunch and tour our Vets Center.
      • Tweet is not specific enough to the area and doesn’t take advantage of trending topics. #Coastline is too general and a search will pull up information about the ocean, sea, other businesses named Coastline, etc.
  2. Plant hashtags into your tweet to associate yourself with an already popular topic your desired target audience is following. For example, our college was hosting a video game seminar just one week after the popular Comic Con convention in nearby San Diego. The established, and already popular, hashtags for Comic Con were #comiccon and also #sdcc (for San Diego Comic Con), and thousands of “nerds” (our exact target market for this event) were getting real-time Comic Con news by following those hashtags. What better way to reach my target audience than to plant #comiccon and #sdcc into ALL of my own event tweets, even if my particular event wasn’t associated with #comiccon or #sdcc? This worked so well for reaching our exact target audience, our event was sold out almost immediately.ComicCon
  3. Follow, and use, trending hashtags. This is a type of hashtag planting, but usually to an untargeted audience. Still, it can garner you some good exposure due to the popularity of the trending hashtags of the day and shows that you are cool enough to actually pay attention to trending hashtags. For today, one of the trending hashtags is #tweatyourweakness. When I pulled up the feed for this, I came across this comical post:Screen grab of a twitter post for "Tweat Your Weakness" hashtag
    Since I work for a college, I couldn’t resist replying to this tweet with
    @_Snape_#TweatYourWeakness is trending. Obviously, Twitter’s weakness is spelling.” We have a class for that. http://www.coastline.edu/schedule .

So I’m curious, do you use hashtags in your tweets? If so, are they random, or is your use strategic? I’d be happy to hear about other ways to strategically use hashtags and if there’s such thing as hashtag analytics. Leave a comment below or contact me with your thoughts.

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5 simple rules every LinkedIn user should follow.

In my first blog post, I told you what a fan I was of LinkedIn. For professionals who depend on finding even the most minute connections and enterprising upon those connections–job seekers, PR professionals, fundraising guys and gals–LinkedIn is ideal.

However, I’ve found that the majority of users of LinkedIn are amateur users. So, if you’ve signed up for LinkedIn and are now wondering what to do next, I implore you to keep in mind these 5 tips:

1) Get a professional headshot
If you are old enough to use LinkedIn, you are old enough to invest in a professional headshot. I am so surprised by how many “professionals” touting so much work and life experience upload a quick selfie of themselves posed at their desk. This is your RESUME. Would you attach that same photo if you were mailing out a resume to a potential employer? Refer to this when considering a photo for LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile Pictures Gone Wrong.

2) Do not link your company’s Twitter account to your personal LinkedIn account.
LinkedIn gives you all kinds of options to add links. Of those, the Twitter link is the one most often misused. Your connections are your personal business connections. Your announcements need to cater to their interests. So, if you work at a college and you’re linking your college’s Twitter account to your personal LinkedIn profile, your contacts (from companies past and present) are hearing about free ice cream in the quad, parking lot issues, campus crime, etc. Unless your contacts are all students, THEY DON’T CARE about these tweets. If you must link a Twitter account, link your personal Twitter account where you post personal achievements that potential references and employers will want to hear about. Or, just simply log into LinkedIn and post a direct update as necessary.

3) Add as many contacts as possible, but make sure they are legit contacts.
Whenever I get a connection request on LinkedIn, I ask myself “Do I know this person well enough to feel comfortable introducing them, or even referring them, to one of my contacts?” If the answer is no, I do not add them. Your contact list can be filled with colleagues from past and present positions, connections you’ve met while conducting business, friends, classmates, etc. It’s nice to have a large number of connections–but remember, these connections are not really for your use, they are for the use of others. It’s quite possible that you will be asked to virtually introduce one contact to another, so be comfortable with your contacts and don’t add people you don’t really know. Conversely, don’t be one of those LinkedIn users that sends out connection requests to everyone you meet at a mixer, conference, casually on the street, or to those you “hope to do business with someday.” That’s a big no no. I get dozens after I attend business meetings and rarely do I accept. Nothing personal, I just don’t know you well enough.

4) If you don’t have any/enough contacts, you are of no use to me.
You and I may be good friends, but in the world of LinkedIn, you are of little use to me if you have no contacts of your own. LinkedIn is a two-way-street: I give you access to my contact list for access to yours. So, make sure you’re consistently updating and adding contacts (legit contacts) so that I can make use of them in the future. My husband and I aren’t even connected on LinkedIn and, until his profile and contact list is robust, it will stay that way.

5) Don’t use LinkedIn to do your cold calling.
Every so often, I get a random connection request from someone who has also sent me an e-mail solicitation at my company e-mail address. This is sometimes followed by a direct message via the LinkedIn message tool, or even to my personal e-mail address associated with my LinkedIn account. Ugh. I hate this and will delete, delete, delete each time. If you are one of these, I understand you are trying to make a sale, but you are going about it the wrong way. Alternatively, use LinkedIn groups to find groups of people who are within your target audience, join those groups or ask group organizers if there are any opportunities for promotional or even endorsed messages. Also, use the “search” function to seek out people you want to connect with through people you already know. Maybe you are ALREADY connected to me in some way (through a 2nd or 3rd degree connection) and can asked to be introduced to me via the LinkedIn Introduction tool, in which I would be much more likely to respond.

Final thought: Remember that your LinkedIn profile is all about you specifically, not your company (past or present)—use LinkedIn to market yourself for the benefit of your current projects and current company.

My LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/pub/michelle-sutliff-ma/5/97b/8b4/

Who’s an old person? Me.

Welcome to “Old people. New technology.” Many wouldn’t consider 36 to be old, but for the sake of this blog, I’ll illustrate why I feel qualified to be blogging as such:

  1. I remember making popcorn sans microwave, with this:Photo of old Jiffy Pop popcorn
  2. I laid out my high school yearbook and college newspaper like this:PasteUp
  3. And my first “cell phone” was this:Pager

However, I am also someone who learned how to type, very fast, using the first version of AOL Instant Messenger.

When MySpace launched, I embraced it to flaunt my college life, boast my achievements, post my best airbrushed pics, and stalk my ex-boyfriends (and sometimes my current boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends).

I moved on to Facebook when I realized how much time I would save in my week if I no longer had to agonize over choosing between “floral,” “logo” or “photographic” MySpace profile backgrounds. I was initially bummed though when I found out Facebook couldn’t accommodate a “theme song” for my profile like MySpace could. I quickly got over that, realizing that choosing an appropriate theme song to reflect my mood only took up additional hours. And apparently, Facebook is also for stalkers, so I’m still covered there. Whew.

When my professional life got impressive enough, I dove into LinkedIn. I’m so glad that I got on that bandwagon early. I started with a basic resume and a few jobs and contacts, and LinkedIn was simpler at its inception. But, for someone starting a new LinkedIn profile today, there are so many options and fields it’s comparable to an eHarmony screening that can last hours if not days (don’t ask how I know that). However, of all social media, I find this one to be the most valuable for business and I look forward to writing about LinkedIn and how to use it for your own personal benefit and growth, as well as for the benefit of your present company, on this blog.

And then there’s Twitter. As the PR and Marketing Director for a college, I manage our social media sites, including Twitter. I’ve established our presence and am working to grow our followers and engagement every day. I’ve used it to publicize events. I’ve “hashtag planted.” I’ve tweeted to celebrities and had them re-tweet my posts to hundreds of thousands of followers. I’ve taught local Chamber of Commerce members how to use Twitter for business and college faculty how to integrate Twitter into their courses. However, I have never had a personal Twitter account… until recently.

A member of my statewide professional group for PR leaders asked, “the queen of social media doesn’t have her own Twitter account?” He was (sarcastically, I’m sure) shocked.

“Ok, ok, I’ll set one up,” I agreed. I’ll set one up, I thought, but it cannot suck. My whole “queen of social media” image depended on it! What was I going to tweet about that was profound, life-changing, Gandhi-like? I decided that spurting out 140-character random statements just wouldn’t be enough. I needed room for some meat to go along with those potatoes. This blog is the meat. My tweets are the potatoes. Together, I hope they make a nice (and fatty) mid-western American meal.

Now  for the technical: My intention with this blog “Old people. New Technology.” is to reflect on real-world uses and users of technology, including social media and apps. Much of my “research” (and I use that word loosely) is done through observation and use. I am a user–an old user. I observe what my “old” colleagues and friends do (both good and bad). I report back. I also use my husband’s high school students (he is a teacher) as focus groups. Those responses are always entertaining. I’ve always wished I had somewhere to share them. Now, I do. For example, I gave a class of 17 year old students a list of popular Apps and Social Media sites and asked them to give me their honest, one-line opinion/description of them. What I got back goes something like this:

  1. Facebook: Lame, Don’t use it, Stupid
  2. Snapchat: 10 seconds of heaven
  3. LinkedIn: What’s that?

More on that highly scientific survey later…along with other posts that you, as an old person, can relate to.