Social Media

We’ve all seen those people on social media who overuse hashtags. You may have even met someone who speaks hashtags in a face-to-face conversation. And you’ve probably grumbled about hashtag use at some point in time because, let’s face it, hashtagging overuse can be annoying.

If you’re one of those hashtag over-users, not to worry. There’s an intervention waiting in your near future.

Annoying Hashtags

Hashtags are meant to be used to add categories for your social media posts, adding your posts with the posts of others who have used the same hashtag, so you can all get together and see what everyone’s talking about at the same time. For instance, say you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, and you want to live Tweet your reactions as you watch the latest airing and gripe about any idiosyncrasies that don’t coincide with the original plot in the books. You might add the hashtag: #GameOfThrones. Then, you can perform a search on your social media platform of choice and see what everyone else is saying.

You can use hashtags to find others with similar interests, join in a conversation, or just snoop around on a subject (or person). Hashtags take all the social media posts with the same hashtags and throws them into the same conversational bin so you can wallow in the hashtag topic of your choice without the irritation of extraneous conversations. It’s great if you tend to obsess over something and want to garner as much info as you can in a short period of time.


Want to know what’s happening with a particular news story right now? There’s a hashtag for that.

Need to know who’s winning a sporting event? There’s a hashtag for that.

Looking to connect with people who have a similar interest as you? There’s a hashtag for that.

Want to know what a your favorite celebrity is up to this week? There’s a hashtag for that.

Wondering how prevalent cheating on your spouse is? There’s a hashtag for that, too.





Hashtagging is meant to categorize your social media posts, to index them, so they can be searched more efficiently. Consider them the phone book and card catalog of the Internet’s social media sites (for those of you who are old enough to have used a phone book and/or card catalog). Hashtags are great for those people who like to sort their M&Ms by color and prefer to work on a perfectly clean desk. They’re also great for those people who mix M&Ms and Skittles in the same bite and work in an utter landfill of chaos. Hashtags don’t judge.

Hashtagging done poorly can irritate those who take the time to read your social media feeds. Here are a few do’s an don’ts:

  • DO use hashtags if your social media post contains something of interest to others, such as a popular TV show, pictures of cats, or industry-specific news.
  • DON’T use never-ending hashtags, like this one: #addinganentiresentencetoahashtagisnotonlyannoyingbutitssuperconfusingtooandnoonewillreadthisallthewaytotheendanyways.
  • DON’T create your own random hashtags that will never apply to anyone else: #mycatisblueandtheskyisred.
  • DO write creative hashtags that others will love.
  • DO put some thought into your hashtags.
  • DO limit your hashtags to no more than five per post
  • DON’T post personal information you don’t want the Internet the know and include hashtags.
  • DON’T use hashtags in face-to-face conversation unless you’re with really good friends who find you funny, love you, and overlook your quirks.
  • DO check your hashtags for typos.
  • DO check your posts for potentially offensive info before hashtagging. Those hashtags can be indexed years later, even if you delete the post. Manage your reputation and your company’s reputation responsibly online.
  • DON’T put hashtags where they don’t belong, like on billboards and written communication, unless you’re announcing a new hashtag as part of a promotional campaign
  • DO keep a sense of humor when it comes to hashtagging- someone is always going to annoy you by breaking hashtag rules.

You can use hashtags to help find new social media connections in your industry or to keep abreast of the latest on a topic of interest. Hashtags can help you keep the pulse of a hot topic and find out what’s trending at any given moment online. But clogging up your social media posts with unruly hashtags is the equivalent of spamming those you’re connected with online. It’s just not polite.


When in doubt, don’t hashtag, especially if you’re posting for a client or company, or if you care about your online reputation.

Hashtags and social media posts have cost countless people their jobs and probably resulted in missed opportunities for numerous others. When people want to check out a new company, employee, or even someone they just met, they turn to the Internet. And those hashtags can come back and bite you. And search engines love to index hashtags and social media posts. Even if you think your posts are “private” or shared with just a few close people, adding a hashtag can make that post accessible to the public.

And if you want to make it easter for hashtag newbies to “get your tags” try “CapitalizingEveryWord. It helps clarify what your hashtag is saying.

Creative Ways to Use Hashtags

Hashtags are great for live social media coverage of an event. If you’re planning a launch, premier, or other crucial event, consider brainstorming potential hashtags far in advance of the event. Your creative team can them decide which hashtags to use, and these can be released to the public a few days before the event. This can help control the flow of hashtagging so social media posts are funneled into the same indices and give the public a place to start when searching for related posts about your event.

Try to use descriptive words when coming up with new hashtags to make them easier for people to remember. Promotional hashtags are essentially mini-taglines that need to say a lot in a few words. Using rhyming words or words with a similar cadence can help your hashtag catch on.

Don’t forget to register your tag so people know what the heck you’re talking about it they see it trending on social media. You can define your tag here.

How are you using hashtags? What’s worked for you?

Finding the “secret sauce” for social media popularity is this century’s Holy Grail. Everyone wants it, few find it. But perhaps we’re looking at it the wrong way. Instead of looking for some cookie cutter formula we can mass replicate, maybe we should be looking at the psychology of what people actually do online. What really gets shared online, and why?

social media

Why Do We Use the Internet?

Using the Internet is a far different experience than it was in 1993. Back then, the Internet was vastly a place to get limited information. Now, you can do just about anything online, it’s like Vegas for media junkies. What happens here, stays here… forever.

There are basically two main reasons for going online: information and entertainment. You might pull up a webpage to find the store hours of your local home improvement store, or get a phone number for the nearest pharmacy. You may be researching the latest diet craze or that new medication your doctor prescribed.

The Internet helps you solve problems:

  • I need a good pair of running shoes.
  • How do I get my puppy to stop barking?
  • My computer is making a whirring noise.
  • Who’s running for president in 2016?
  • When is the next Game of Thrones episode airing?

These are problems that require information-based solutions. The Internet is a limitless resource for quickly garnering basic information about a problem. The best solutions to the biggest problems get shared the most online.

But the Internet isn’t just a tool for solving problems.

Enter the cats. Nearly every nook and cranny of the Internet is filled with cats, dogs, babies, people doing stupid yet funny stuff (-but mostly cats. Why? They got there first and claimed the best spots. It’s what cats do.).

And this (arguably) meaningless stuff gets shared like crazy. LOL CatZ do not solve any problems. They don’t tell you how to fix a stuck microwave carousel or why your right ribcage hurts after you eat a cheeseburger and milkshake from McDonald’s after the age of 40. But they do entertain us- and that’s where the magic happens.

You see, we’re media addicts. We carry around smart phones and tablets that are connected 24/7. We check our screens in the middle of the night and while we use the bathroom. We can’t eat a meal without a screen of some type glowing in our faces. The entertainment stream coming from our devices soothes our frazzled emotions and feeds our busy minds. The more we get, they more we want. So when something catches our attention, we share it with others, because we know they too are looking for a good entertainment fix.

Meeting the Need

Which of these two needs does your social media meet? Do you provide stellar information or star-quality entertainment? What gets shared online informs or entertains, or in the rare case, does both. And it does it well. If you want your media to be shared, you don’t need a secret formula, you just need to feed the beast.

Creating Shareable Media

Creating popular media isn’t rocket science.

Let’s face it, the strangest things tickle our fancies.

We like cute and funny things that distract us from our lives.

We have similar struggles and fears.

We have the same needs.

But not all great media goes viral. Why?

It doesn’t get seen by enough people and it’s “shareable hot streak” cools off when the next BIG THING comes along and replaces it. Its moment in the sun isn’t enough to microwave a leftover burrito.

Getting Seen Online

A few really phenomenal things go viral organically, like Charlie and his choppers:

But if you can’t get your kids to do something spontaneously adorable, and then find some way to monetize it, you’re going to need to promote your media.

Promoting your media is a lot like coordinating a well-planned military maneuver. You need to strike the masses with your information or entertainment and generate enough heat to not only nuke that burrito, but burn it to a nice golden brown. If you gain enough momentum, your media will snowball into a shareable tidbit that generates lots and lots of buzz and traffic, which translates into revenue for you if you’ve set up your website properly in advance.

So what are you sharing today? What’s caught your eye and prompted you to give it that highly coveted click?

Twitter Power User

One in five Americans use Twitter. The luxury car industry recently reported a return of $17.80 for every dollar invested in Twitter marketing.

Yet three in ten small businesses have yet to join Twitter. And many more fail to use Twitter effectively.

If you want to stand out on Twitter, read on to find out what you need to know.

How to Make Your Twitter Followers Fall in Love With You

The more your followers engage with you on Twitter, the better their relationship with you, which gives them a positive impression of your brand. What can you do to make yourself lovable on Twitter?

Make your words re-tweetable. Dan Zarella of Hubspot has researched the 20 most retweetable words. Be sure to use them!

Avoid words that turn off followers. These include “bored”, “tired”, “sleep” and “watching”.

Be generous with the favorite button. Who doesn’t love to have their tweets favorited? Whenever you see a tweet you like, hit the favorite star. You’ll be asking your followers feel good.

Don’t be a Noisy Ned. Some people love the sound of their own voice – even on Twitter. If you’ve got lots to share, spread it out through the day. Using Twitter to splurge is a surefire way to lose followers.

Limit hashtags to two per tweet. Any more, and you’ll come across as a hashtag spammer.

Share lots of links. Around 20% of tweets contain a link. Yet over half of all retweets contain a link. Want to be retweeted? Share links!

Bonus Tips on Follower Engagement

Makes sure your posts are short enough to retweet. Can your posts be shared if your followers manually retweet them, and include your username?

Retweet your followers. When someone you follower shares something you like, pass it on to your own followers. It’s a simple way to share the love.

Let your followers see your @replies. Replies usually get hidden in the Twitter system. If you want everyone to see them, then start them with a period – the magic dot. So, if I was replying to myself, I’d start it with .@lorirtaylor.

Say thank you. When your followers retweet or favorite one of your tweets, drop them a line to say thanks. It’s only a few seconds of your time, but it will mean a lot to them.

How to Get New Followers

Follower-count isn’t everything, but you do need followers to get your tweets heard. Here’s what to do if you want to grow your follower count.

Follow people. Often when you follow others, they’ll follow you back. Hoping for a followback isn’t a great reason on its own to follow someone. But if you’re interested in a person’s profile – follow them. The more people you follow, the more engagement you’ll get on Twitter.

Share cool stuff. Getting replies and retweets on your tweets will bring attention to your profile. So make sure you’re tweeting stuff that your followers will want to shout about.

Join Twitter chats. You’ll meet a ton of interesting people and if you say some interesting things, it’s highly likely you’ll gain new followers.

Put your Twitter @username on your business cards. Meeting people in real life will almost always make for a stronger relationship than meeting on social media. So why not include your Twitter handle on your business card? That way you can grow your Twitter following at real life business events. Talking of events…

Tweet highlights from conferences. Attending a business conference? Why not share what you’ve learned? Be sure to use the conference hashtag in your tweets.

Make Sure Your Profile is Up to Speed

A weak Twitter profile could be your downfall. Here’s how to make it strong, so you stand out from the crowd.

Write your Twitter bio. Having no biography makes you effectively invisible. It’s only 160 characters, so there’s no excuse for not having one.

Make your biography keyword rich. What are your potential customers likely to search for on Twitter? Your Google Keyword research will help with knowing this. Put these keywords into your Twitter biography.

Use a real photo. Not your brand logo. Twitter is about being social and interacting with people. Got several employees who want to share on Twitter? Give them all their own Twitter accounts.

Smile! A good, close up picture as your avatar is a must on Twitter. Yes, it’s true, people judge on appearances, so make sure you’re looking your best.

Link to your website. There’s no point in putting hours of effort into engaging on Twitter if people can’t find out more about you, and check out your products or services.

Set Up Systems to Make Twitter Simple

Twitter doesn’t have to be a time drain. Most small businesses can do everything they need to on Twitter in just 15 minutes a day. Here’s where to start to streamline your tweeting.

Schedule your tweets. Our scheduling app of choice is Buffer. Hootsuite is a good alternative if you need a broader range of features.

Curate the best content. You don’t have to be original to draw a crowd, as long as you’re sharing good stuff. We recommend setting aside a couple of hours each week for content curation.

How to Connect with Twitter Influencers

Twitter power users aren’t afraid to rub shoulders with the good and the great. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons to use Twitter – there are no barriers to engaging with people at the top of the pyramid.

Follow influencers. It sounds simple, but it’s an important first step. They’ll receive a notification you’ve followed them, which puts you on their radar.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Find a range of influencers who can help you achieve your goals. Not all influencers are on Twitter to engage.

Retweet influencers. They’ll receive notifications about this too.

Reply to influencer tweets. This is particularly effective if they ask a question, but it’s also good to just jump in and start a conversation.

Join them on a Twitter chat. Look through their past tweets, and see if they use a hashtag from a Twitter chat session. If so, join the next Twitter chat with that hashtag – where they’ll be available to talk live.

What to Tweet About

Not sure how you’re going to keep up with Tweeting every day? Never fear! There’s plenty you can tweet about.

Ask questions. People love to be helpful. Questions are brilliant conversation starters. And they can help you get the information you need.

Don’t be shy of sharing your opinions. Controversy can help stoke up conversations. Plus it’s good to show you’ve got personality and soul.

Use the Google Keyword Planner to find out about the interests of your audience. Make sure you cover these interests in your tweets.

Find questions to answer, and answer them. Answering questions is a great way to be helpful and grow your fan base.

Share inspiring quotes. Try to be original and source your quotes from books and magazines rather than the internet.

Use Twitter to Gain Marketing Insights

Twitter is incredibly useful for getting insights into all your content marketing. Here are just a few things you can use Twitter for.

Use Twitter to generate content ideas. Want to know what to blog about? Come up with as many ideas as you can, then share each one in a tweet. The popular tweets are the ones you should blog about.

Test your headline writing skills. Headline writing is an art that can take years to master. Twitter is the ideal place to test headlines. Observe which tweets get the most favorites, retweets or clicks – and you’ll learn what gets attention from your audience.

Find out more about your customers. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to create products and marketing messages that resonate with them. Following customers on Twitter providers a broad insight into your customers and their needs, likes and dislikes.

Track your Twitter metrics. Want to know what’s working and what’s not on your Twitter feed? The best way to do this is to track your metrics. There are plenty of tools available that make it simple – even if math isn’t your strong point.

The Mindset of a Twitter Power User

Being a Twitter power user isn’t only about the tactics we’ve outlined above. It’s also about adopting a mindset.

Remember, funny is money. This is one of our favorite aphorisms. Having fun doesn’t only lighten your own road. It also makes you more pleasant to be around.

Keep it simple. Twitter isn’t the place to show off your extensive vocabulary. Short words and sentences are the order of the day.

You don’t need thousands of followers. Being a Twitter power user isn’t about the number of followers you have. It’s about using Twitter to achieve your marketing goals. As long as you’re headed to the right destination, don’t get hung up on your follower count.

Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Unlike Facebook’s newsfeed, Twitter’s homepage is a live stream of fresh tweets. It’s a good idea to share the same content several times to make sure lots of your followers see it.

Give it time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was War and Peace written in a week. It takes time to become a Twitter power user. Be patient, and know your hard work will pay off in the end.