They've gotten so embedded in pop culture that they've almost become cliché, but depending on the social media platform you're using, hashtags can be invaluable. If you're not familiar with what a hashtag is, it's the same symbol seen on a standard touch dial phone button that is the "pound" or "number", and denoted by #.
At the moment, hashtags are by far most relevant on Instagram and Twitter. Facebook as a platform does make use of them, but most of Facebook users do not. Chalk that up to chaos theory, or that they enabled them a lot later in their life-cycle than the other two, as to why that is, but they are no where near as commonly seen on Facebook, currently.
While they were popularized by Twitter, currently, Instagram seems to make the most use of hashtags (or simply "tags", as they refer to them), and is currently the primary way of searching for photos on it.
The format for hashtags are pretty straight-forward. For example, if you want to post about something related to social media, you'd include it written either as: #socialmedia, or #SocialMedia, and people specifically looking for posts related to social media could potentially find your post. While capitalization doesn't matter, a space between the words will not work. So, if you do want to differentiate between a number of words, you can use capital letters.
Historically on Twitter, the most popular and relevant hashtags were all that used to be featured in their "Trends" section, though, currently, it's about evenly split between keywords (actual, unformatted words) and hashtags. If you use a hashtag in your tweet that's currently trending, it's more likely to be seen by a higher number of people, and in turn, interacted with by more people, so long as the tweet is relevant to the hashtag.
The platform where hashtags can make the most difference right now is on Instagram, where it could be the difference between your photo getting a significant amount of interaction, or none. If you don't use a hashtag, the only people likely to see your photo will be those on your friends list, and perhaps, their friends, if and when someone interacts with it. On the other hand, if you make appropriate use of hashtags (making sure to include only tags that are relevant to the photo, itself), anyone on Instagram searching for that tag at the moment could potentially see it - which significantly increases the size of your potential audience. What's more, it will primarily appear to people who are specifically interested in it.
We've seen people with amazing photos that have absolutely no interaction, just because they failed to use hashtags. Some people are "too cool" to use them, but if you want your photos seen by the most amount of people, we highly recommend using them, and as many as are relevant, at least while you're initially establishing your following. The current limit for number of hashtags you can include on an Instagram post is 30, so, make them count!
No, it's not paranoia... people on social media really might be seeing what you're thinking, to an extent. Any time you engage with any post; be it "Liking" it, "Loving" it, commenting on it or sharing it, there's a chance that just about anyone on your friends list, and even the general public online, could see it. It all has to do with the level of privacy both on your account, and the ones you're interacting with.
For example, on Facebook, if a post has a globe icon next to it, and you interact with that post, pretty much anyone typing your name in on a search engine could see that you did. It would also potentially appear directly in the feeds of your friends and family. Posts on Facebook that have a small icon of two people standing next to each other are "Friends Only", and would only be seen by anyone who's friends with both people. Posts that have a gear icon next to them are "Custom", and only the person who is posting knows who can view it, but interactions with such posts may still be shown to your friends and family.
As a matter of fact, you might be making all your posts unintentionally public, by accident. Be sure to take a look at your Facebook posts, to see if they have a globe icon (public), two people next to each other (friends only), three people next to each other (friends-of-friends), or a gear icon (custom), next to them. If you're posting publicly and don't want to continue doing so, see the Privacy settings on your Facebook account, and adjust them accordingly.
On Instagram and Twitter, any time you "Like" or comment on a photo on a public account, it too will be accessible for people on your friends list to see, again, potentially being shown in their feeds. The posts you interact with that all the people on your friends lists would not see, would be posts from private accounts on Instagram and Twitter. Only the people who are friends with those accounts would see them.
So, depending on the level of privacy you personally value, before interacting with a post on social media, take a moment to consider whether or not you want everyone on your friends list to see it - because, there's a better chance than not, that they will, and potentially, so will many other people that you don't know, too.
If there's one thing we'll be reiterating on this site, it's this... in the world of social media, audience engagement is more important than the number of followers you have. Having a large number of followers is great. It can not only give you a potential built-in audience to speak directly to, but it can also improve your credibility and likelihood of gaining even more followers. However, a large number of followers doesn't mean much, if they're not interacting with you.
It could be because we're currently still in the early years of social media (think how long television has been around... how different is it now from the way it was in the 1940's? That's where we are all at in social media, at the moment), but we see so many established businesses strictly using their number of followers as a primary metric in their media kits, when in reality, they should be making sure they include what their actual recent engagement and reach is, too. That's their actual following. We hope and expect engagement and reach will be featured more and more prominently in media kits, as groups and businesses begin to understand the gravity of why they're so important. For example, if someone has 10,000 followers, and their posts are only being interacted with by dozens of people, to professionals in social media with years of experience, that doesn't reflect well on the quality of their posts, and it certainly doesn't reflect well on the quality of their social media presence. When approaching or being approached by another group or business to collaborate, feel free to tell them what your engagement and reach is, and be sure to ask them what theirs is. The more consistent the engagement and reach is, the better.
Certainly, focus on growing your base of followers, but pay equal, if not more attention to how many people are interacting with your posts, and how many people the posts are been seen by. These numbers might be vastly different than what your following is. This will mean so much more in the long run. There are social media accounts with more than a million followers, who only get several hundred reactions per post, sometimes much less. Then there are accounts with less than 100,000 followers, who are getting thousands and thousands of reactions per post, and those posts on accounts with less followers are actually being seen by more people. Which sort of presence would you like to have?
How do you get more engagement? By making posts with short, relevant, appealing content that your audience will have a reason to react to. Think about what you would want to see, and think about what your audience would want to see. Remarkable photos can go a long way, solid, short videos can, too. When your audience interacts with your posts more, those posts are in turn seen by more people. That's one of the beautiful things about social media!
A username can be one of the most valuable assets of your social media presence. It's one of the first things a person may see. Depending on your username, people may be more likely to follow and engage with you. In this post, we'll outline a few general guidelines for creating one.
1. Try to keep it as short as possible. The less anyone has to type in to interact with you, the better. Shorter usernames, like many things in life (license plate numbers, domain names, etc), also appear to be more authoritative.
2. Aim for something memorable, and easy to type. Using non-alphabet characters can be an avoidable hindrance. Always keep in mind that phone-friendliness (i.e. real life conversation appeal), can be a major plus. If you meet a contact, it will be much easier saying a word or two or three, rather than having to say "underscore", "dot", or any numbers (which can get more confusing if you spell them out, instead). If the username you want is taken, take the time to think about ways to express the same idea, that still sounds natural. It's worth it.
3. Continuity of branding can be invaluable. If at all possible, especially if you have a website, try to have the usernames match the website address, across as many social media platforms as you use. This may take more creativity on your part, to get a domain name that's unique enough to be available on social mediums - but it will establish another level of authority for you. Best case scenario, the words in your URL will also be your username. It will make finding your social media presence exponentially easier.
A display name or simply "Name" on most social media formats is actually different than a username. A username is more like a specific address where people can find you, and typically begins with an @ symbol. A "Name" is what is displayed on your account, typically somewhere above your username, usually in just letters. For example, your username on any given social medium might be @genericexample, but your display name would be Generic Example. Some people do have display names that are completely different from their usernames, but many individuals and groups of authority have both their display name and username identical (with the exception of a space or two). Again, that falls into the concept of continuity of branding. Take note of it, next time you check out a brand you like, on social media.
In the event you absolutely could not get the username you wanted, you can compensate somewhat, by setting your display name to be it. But, if it varies too much from your username, you may risk losing credibility, especially when first establishing your social media presence.
Less really can be more, especially when it comes to the size of your individual posts on social media. We might as well use this first entry to begin to tackle an issue that we encounter regularly while working with clients who are interested in increasing their social media presence. Lots of people write entirely too much when trying to promote something through their social media accounts. Many write more than most of their audience will ever see, or even care to see at one time. You might be unintentionally alienating your audience, without even realizing it.
There are so many downward forces that you need to attempt to fight against, while marketing on social media, don't let your own posts be one of them. People's attention spans are shorter than they've been at any point in history. To make matters worse for you, there's a good chance that the members of your audience are briefly glancing at their phone for a moment when they see your post, and you need to consider things like that when crafting one. What's going to grab someone's attention in one second?
To complicate things even more on top of that, platforms like Facebook have settings in place to specifically limit the amount of people who see a post, if it sounds too "markety", or is trying to implore the audience to do something. There are a few reasons for that, but certainly, if you're trying to promote something that may pay you, and you're doing it through Facebook, Facebook would like you to pay them for that opportunity to be there. If your page has an audience of 10,000 "Likes", and you're only seeing your organic reach for a certain post is a few hundred people, that could be part of the problem.
What's more, after a certain number of words, Facebook and Instagram automatically truncate text behind a "Read More" cut. So, on a user's feed, even if the post gets seen by them, they'll only see part of what you wrote, as they scroll through - which in reality, will likely be for less than a second. And you can't possibly assume that most of those people will bother to click "Read More", when there might be something far more interesting if they continue to scroll past your post.
Have you ever noticed that when you start typing a certain number of words or include a link in a post, that Facebook prompts you to boost it? That's not a coincidence. Have you noticed that Twitter is limited to 140-characters? That's not a coincidence either. Much of the draw of social media lays within the fact that what you see from any given person or group in your feed is bite-size, and if the audience doesn't like what they see for that second, they can scroll on by, and there's an infinite number of other flavors to sample.
If you are in fact seeing weirdly low numbers on your organic reach, we highly recommend to start engaging in small talk with your audience. Pretty much as a rule, really. You shouldn't always be marketing, you need to just talk to your audience. It's called social media for a reason. If you're having trouble, a good exercise is to think about what's most relevant to your audience, and ask them a question about it - get them to share their own experience with you. Get their input on what they're interested in. In doing so, you'll begin to build a better relationship with the people who follow you, establish an emotional connection with your audience, which can pave the way for gaining people who might really listen to you, when you are trying to market something. If you engage in enough small talk, it's highly likely that the friends of the people who are interacting with you, will also see the post. That increases the chance that they may end up following you, as well.
If you'd like to use way less text, ideally, if you have a fascinating, eye-catching photo to use, it could potentially get a far better reaction than almost anything you write. People understand and react quicker to photos, than they do text. Throw in literally a few words in the description, and a link to whatever you want the audience to check out, and that could do tremendously well. You'd even have the potential for a captive audience, if they're visiting your website (much like you're visiting our site right now - see how long we have your attention for here?), or something where there's more information that you want them to see. Plus, users who cared enough to click the link to leave whatever social media platform they were on, may be more likely to complete another action that could benefit you, once at the site you've directed them to.
In our experience, one of the the only places where incredibly long text posts work, is when they are completely original content, heartfelt, and are put in front of an audience that may be sympathetic to whatever the topic is. Even then, they have to begin with something that draws the audience in within two seconds, and maintains their attention away from the possible allure of whatever else might show on their feed long enough for them to want to click "Read More". If you write three or four paragraphs about trying to get someone to do something that will cost them money... it likely won't be seen by many people, unless you pay more for it to be shown.
In conclusion, if you want to get some better reach and engagement without having to pay more money for people to see it, seriously consider shortening what you were planning on saying. If you can say it in a sentence or two, instead of a paragraph, do it. If you can say it in three words, instead of five, do that! The harsh reality is, you might have a few seconds to grab someone's attention, give them time to process the post you've made, and react to it.
To maintain, engage and grow your audience, leave them wanting more.