How to know if your hashtag has purpose

Hashtags are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them. Whatever your opinion, they should be an essential part of your social media strategy.

Hashtags are largely perceived as youthful, informal and occasionally humorous, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them if that doesn’t fit your brand. Youth-orientated brands may choose to use them more liberally to relate to their audience, whilst other brands may only use a few select hashtags when relevant to get more impressions on their posts.

#Hashtag effectively - Lucy Lettersmith

Think carefully about how hashtags fit with your brand’s tone of voice and, if you have a social media manager, make sure you communicate this with them. It also depends on which social media platform you’re using. Here are my top tips for using hashtags effectively across Twitter and Instagram:

Twitter

Due to the character limitation, it’s usually only possible to use one hashtag in a tweet. Try to keep any hashtags you create short to make it easier for others to use.

Try finding brand-relevant conversations with potential followers through hashtags and join in by using it too. Look at your competitors’ feeds to see which hashtags they use that are popular. This is a great way to share your expertise on a subject. However, only use generic hashtags and be careful not to infringe on a hashtag created by another brand as this can be seen as rude and a conflict of interest.

Instagram

The quickest and easiest way to get ‘likes’ on your photos on Instagram is by using hashtags. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 on any one picture. Most common nouns and geographical locations are likely to attract visitors to your post.

However, the majority of accounts who find and like your posts through a hashtag won’t follow your account. As such, they aren’t very valuable engagements and it can be seen as tacky or ‘desperate’ to use a lot of hashtags to gain ‘likes’.

To be more discrete with your hashtags, submit them in a separate comment underneath the caption of your photo. This still works the same and makes your posts look neater.

Basic social media statistics every business needs to know

Familiar with Facebook? Is your business getting stuck into other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest? Taking the first leap into the social media whirlpool can be a bit scary – especially if it’s something you aren’t used to and you’re using it to represent your business online.

PAIRING SOCIAL MEDIA SITES WITH YOUR BUSINESS - LUCY LETTERSMITH
LinkedIn

Even though all professionals and businesses should be on LinkedIn for networking purposes, it isn’t a time-consuming social medial platform. Thankfully you only need to check-in occasionally, instead, focus on the platforms that will generate both business and interest, such as…

Pinterest

Great for those in female-focused businesses, such as fashion, design, jewellery, travel and photography. Users of Pinterest are predominantly women and 70% of them say they use the site to help them decide what to buy.

Facebook

This is the social media site that everyone is on – but there are ways to get noticed. Firstly, short posts with photos generate a lot more interest than long text. Posting on Thursdays and Fridays attracts more attention, and asking a question doubles the amount of interest a post receives.

Twitter

News, marketing and sports businesses do well because they can provide the ‘in-the-moment’ posts that are great for Twitter. If you can be the go-to source for developments in your sector, this will generate interest in your brand.

Instagram

Great for image-friendly businesses including fashion, luxury brands, food, retail and restaurants. Users are predominantly in the 18-29 age group so anyone wanting to target that audience should post items at evenings and weekends.

You may feel that you don’t have the time, or resources, to maintain your business presence on every available social media site. The best thing to do is decide which social media platforms pair up best with your business. When you have done this, concentrate on presenting yourself well on them so that you can engage effectively with your audience.

How to hire a best-fit social media manager

Looking to outsource social media for your business? To hire a best-fit social media manager, start your search close to home. In short, ask your peers.

Fact is, people like to use a product or service that’s been endorsed by someone they trust. It’s a great way to ensure you’re hiring someone who’ll be a great fit for your business. (It works both ways too; over 80% of my  business is via client recommendations. Generally it’s a winner; nice people = great clients – and they tend to hang out together in the same circles!)

Owners of small to medium businesses understand how outsourcing works, and that freelance contractors regularly maintain more than one client. As such, (unless they’re your closest competitors!) many business owners will actually recommend the best of the best to you, knowing you will return the favour in some way when the time comes.

So…just ask!

If the ‘endorsement’ route for hiring a best-fit social media manager is proving a dead-end, you can also put the word out—and specifically ask for recommendations:

At local business organisation meetings.

Within niche-specific forums or membership sites you belong to.

Within closed Facebook business groups you belong to.

From your business coach or mentor.

Failing this, spend some time researching possible candidates on Google. (Hint: Look for websites rather than people).

A social media management website can allow you to check out criteria without the need for initial contact first. You can check out rate cards, look at portfolios to see if that person or company is a good fit, and read—and check out—testimonials.

When you are finally ready to contact that person or company, you will have a clear picture of what to expect and how much to budget monthly.

Social media management companies abound online—and fit almost every budget and company size. If you are going to go with a company that specialises strictly in social media, you will want to match the size of your budget, company and goals to the scope offered by the social media management company. (For example, if you’ve only just been in business a couple of years and you typically make about four thousand pounds a month, you can pretty much bet that a company who charges a flat fee of three thousand a month is too much fire-power for the way you operate: they are looking for larger celebrity marketers or bigger brands.)

Hire a best-fit social media manager - Infographic by Lucy Lettersmith

Hire a best-fit social media manager for your business – Infographic by Lucy Lettersmith

In order to hire a best-fit social media manager, look for a goal-oriented approach when you’re interviewing. If your candidate talks about nothing but traffic, traffic, traffic (or engagement, engagement, engagement), then keep looking: Traffic is just one part of what a social media manager’s role involves.

If he/she talks about goals, sit up and pay attention. You may have a winner!

Remember, this person is going to be your voice on social media—so make sure he/she understands what you are all about to your followers and subscribers.

How to hire a best-fit social media manager -2 top tips by Lucy Lettersmith

 

Breaking free: is it time to outsource your social media?

As a small business owner, how do you know when it’s time to outsource your social media?

Let’s take a look at some undeniable signs…

  • You’re spending hours on social media every day, leaving money-making tasks undone.
  • You don’t have time to create social media tasks.
  • You are already diligently maintaining a social media presence, but you’re just not connecting with (a) many people or (b) the right people.
  • You’re unsure which social media platforms to concentrate on, and which types of content to post.
  • You absolutely hate interacting on social media (you’re just not social!)

If sign number one is your only reason (or your strongest reason), you most likely need to hire a social media VA (virtual assistant). If you “checked the boxes” for any of the other reasons, however, it’s time to hire a social media manager.

Er, hang on a minute. There are two options?!

What’s the difference in outsourcing to a social media manager or a social media VA (virtual assistant)? What do each of them actually do?!

  • A social media manager takes care of the big picture with minimal input from you, other than the goals and end results you want to achieve (overall and for your campaigns).
  • A social media VA performs social-media related tasks delegated by you.

Since VAs vary widely in depth of experience, sometimes there can be real crossover between the two, especially after you and your social media VA have worked together for some time.

Know which type of social media assistant you require, before you look for one. It will help you hire exactly the type of help you need.

A social media manager is responsible for:

  • Suggesting and brainstorming the most effective social media strategy.
  • Developing awareness of your brand on social media.
  • Suggesting goals and objectives.
  • Creating a targeted strategy for your social media content.
  • Increasing your social media reach.
  • Ensuring your social media communications reach the most targeted audience possible.
  • Increasing leads from your social media appearances.

And, of course, let’s not forget the most obvious difference: A social media manager actually manages social media VAs—both yours and (maybe) his/hers.

(For instance, she might have three VAs in his/her company: One who specialises in social media advertising development and upload, someone who specialises in Twitter, plus another member of the team who writes content for various social media outlets.)

A social media VA is typically responsible for:

  • Checking and monitoring your social media accounts.
  • Scheduling and uploading posts created by you.
  • Responding to generic, designated post types and answering common questions on your behalf.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER vs SOCIAL MEDIA VA by Lucy Lettersmith

Got a clearer idea of the type of outsourced help you’re looking for? Great stuff.

Look out for my next ‘social media’ categorised blog post; I’ll be telling you how to outsource help that’s the perfect fit for your business.

 

A productive rant about Lego

A productive rant about Lego

I was barefoot when I stood on Lego. The culprit? A lone blue brick which had bedded down for the night, concealed from view amongst the silvery, oversized tassels of the rug that sprawls across my lounge floor. My scream (which awakened both the dog and the toddler) was a result of creeping around in the dark, having continued a copywriting project just a slither over to the wrong side of midnight. Work-life balance karma indeed.

Stepping on Lego in the dark can be a bit like blogging for your business. It’s potentially the same shock you’ll experience if you’re not engaging in it properly. Darkness represents the initial uncertainty (possibly lack of confidence – even fear) of the unknown: will blogging actually work?

Top questions people ask me are: What positive impacts could blogging offer my brand? How would I even begin to raise my business profile using it? Will it actually get me more customers?

Fact is, it’s businesses that blog that have far better marketing results. Not getting involved can seriously hinder the development of your brand’s digital profile. Specifically, the average company that blogs has:

Perhaps you’ve never started the process of blogging for your business and have no idea how to begin.

Maybe you’re scared about taking the plunge. What if you pitch it incorrectly, communicate your brand all wrongly and do lasting damage to your reputation that you’ll spend ages trying to repair?

It could be that you’ve got things underway with business blogging but have now reached a crossroads. Perhaps you’re time-strapped, in need of inspiration and/or seeking fresh writing ideas and an approach that will really move your brand’s engagement up a level.

All the reasons above are pretty much why I get hired as a blog writer for businesses.

Which is why, alongside my new ‘shop window’ website launch, I am thrilled to bring you Lucy Lettersmith: a brand new lifestyle blog.

I was originally going to devote my time to blogging about the Oxford comma, good grammar tips and gifting you guides to content marketing. I’m still going to include all those things over time – but, in-between them I shall be featuring posts on culture, beauty, fashion, travel, interiors, parenthood, plus fine (and not so fine if I’m cooking) dining…all the things that I balance alongside my working life and which represent the real ‘Lucy’. Fancy the journey? I hope it won’t be as painful as stepping on Lego. But please don’t tread on any upturned plug sockets whilst reading. They definitely take the top prize.