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Quick and Easy Hashtag Hacks

Make yourself visible with hashtags

In this week’s edition of “Tuesday Tips & Tricks,” I’m going to show you how to use hashtags to help boost your content visibility online. Think of a hashtag as a quick and easy way for people to sort social media posts by topic or theme. In other words, hashtags are similar to keywords, in that users will search on a hashtag in Twitter and other platforms to see what other people are saying about the topic.

Because of this, I have created a very practical set of guidelines collected form HubSpot and other social media resources to make it easier for you to start using hashtags.

Here’s an example of the hashtags I used in a recent Twitter post to promote a blog post on my website. I have the #Go4Broke hashtag that relates to the national day theme and my business hashtag #HCPDX. However, I should have added my #MarketingMeyvn hashtag!

Maja twitter post with hashtags

First, let’s start with what is a hashtag.

  • Simply put, a hashtag is an easy way for people to categorize, find and join conversations on a particular topic.
  • The hashtag is used to highlight keywords or topics within a Tweet and can be placed anywhere within a post.
  • The hash mark, or pound symbol, (#) is now known by social media users as a "hashtag" or "hash tag." Posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, making it easy for people to search by a specific topic that interests them. According to HubSpot and other social media experts, individuals can see 100% increase in engagement by using hashtags, while brands can see 50% increase.

After that, learn how to hashtag like a pro:

  1. Create your hashtag using only one word or phrase without spaces.
  2. Do not use or add punctuation.
  3. Include the hashtag within or after your message.
popular hashtags

How to find popular hashtags to use in your social media posts

Search on Twitter or other hashtag sites such as https://www.hashtags.org/ to find relevant hashtags for your posts. I recommend that you double-check the hashtag to make sure that you are not launching into something that is not appropriate fit for you, especially if you are using the hashtag for business postings. Above all, test, test and test! (See my general guidelines at the end of the post.)

For example, hashtags are often used to unite conversations around things like:

  • Events or conferences, like #TED2019 or #CES2019
  • Disasters or emergencies like #PrayForNice or #NotreDameFire
  • Holidays or celebrations, like #WorldNutellaDay or #NationalCatDay
  • Popular culture topics, like #GameOfThrones or #BostonMarathon
  • General interest topics, like #ChocolateLovers or #TaxDay
  • Popular hashtags, like #tbt or #MotivationMonday
Game of Throne Tweet

Recommendations on how to use hashtags

After you have created your hashtags, remember to use them sparingly. Too many hashtags on Facebook leads to fewer interactions. FaceBook posts without a lot of hashtags generally outperform those with lots of hashtags.

Hashtags on Twitter

A Twitter hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream. If Twitter users who aren't otherwise connected to one another talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream. As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your tweet.

Along with hashtags for events, campaigns, and promotions, there are these unique things on Twitter called Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are live Q&A sessions organized around a hashtag—either on the fly, or at a pre-arranged time.

HashTags on FaceBook

To use a hashtag on Facebook, all you have to do is publish a Facebook post to your Page or timeline that includes the hashtag.

Steps & Guidelines for creating a great hashtag

In conclusion, here are the steps and guidelines you should follow to create a great hashtag:

  • Hashtags should be distinctive and simple for followers to remember. Make your hashtags memorable, unique and relevant to your campaign.
  • Find a balance between generic and specific. Generic hashtags, like #food, are too broad and too hard to track.
  • Create at least 2 hashtags around your brand or business. Use your brand's name in one of them.
  • Look to your fans and your audience’s influencers to inspire and create new hashtags or use what they are using.
  • Steer clear of slang. Double check to make sure your hashtag isn’t being used elsewhere in an entirely different context.
  • Proofread and proofread again. If you are using capitalization, make sure the words in your hashtag do not create other words or messages if the capitalization is removed.
  • Test before you use! Check what your competition uses, what your industry influencers use, and how your followers react.

How to Build a Bullet-proof Brand: Part 1

BMW sedan

If you search online for the definition of “what is a brand” you will likely be very confused by your search results. Definitions such as “a type of product or service produced by a particular company under a particular name.” Nope. “It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers.” Close, but no cigars. Business blogger Allan Dibb’s definition of brand was short and to the point, a brand is the personality of a business.” I like this explanation a lot.

What is a brand?

Your brand is NOT just your name, trademark, logo, package or product.

Your brand is a collection of people’s thoughts + feelings about their experience with your brand. The ultimate goal of branding is loyalty.

Thoughts and feelings are intangibles.

As compared to tangibles…

Which you can see hear feel 

smell & touch

Intangibles you just…feel

Your brand represents who you are in the mind of your audience. It’s the sum total of how people think and feel about you. Your name, logo, trademark, packaging or products are a reflection of various aspects of your brand. They all need to be in alignment and harmony with your core values, mission and business purpose.

If there is no connection, you will fail miserably to attract the loyalty of customers, partners and community advocates you need to succeed. Remember that your brand’s function is to link your brand principles with what you do. When your brand acts out of character, then your brand’s very essence is corrupted and such damage takes time to repair.

BMW sedan

Porsche launches new luxury sports sedan

Mercedes adds performance to their luxury brand essence. Take that, Porsche and BMW.

Audi moves into the luxury  electric vehicle space. Watch out, Tesla. 

MINI Countryman

MINI moves into Jeep's traditional branding territory with fun and adventure as a key part of their brand essence. 

BMW is a perfect example of how you should manage the essence of your brand. Their brand stands for "pleasure." Their slogan "Sheer Driving Pleasure" integrates this with their other key values: power, performance, innovative, aesthetic and dynamic. This manufacturer does not stand for "technology" (which is Audi’s brand essence), or for "longevity" (Mercedes), "sportiness" (Porsche), or "fun" (MINI Countryman). For giggles and grins, google each of these brands to see their brand essence pop up the search results.

Here’s how BMW describes their brand:

“What you make people feel is just as important as what you make.” 

Well said, BMW. An excellent example of a great branding philosophy demonstrated in practical, real-world application. It's spring, the weather is amazing, and BMW makes me want to own a luxury sports car so I can go out for a leisurely drive in the Cascades with my beloved. 'Nuf said.

Next week: Part 2 digs deeper into what is a brand. I will talk about how good branding keeps your brand from being viewed as generic kitty litter. eewwww...

Until then, feel free to do your homework. Download the presentation now!

About the “Build a Bullet-proof Brand” series

This series of blog posts is based on a branding masterclass workshop from last fall. The topic is evergreen, based on the number of brand-related questions my partner Robynne Davis and I field every week in our marketing meetups. This series is designed to bring all of these important elements into alignment with your authentic brand:

  • Your true brand essence
  • The visual experience behind logos, fonts and color
  • The emotional connections with feeling that happen with images and videos
  • The power of words to convey your brand promise and your brand essence
  • How you appear in the many worlds of social media – consistently and meaningfully.

Celebrate National Go for Broke Day

How to go the distance when the going gets tough

Got motivation? Sometimes when the going gets really tough, it is really hard for me to stay focused and keep taking those wretchedly hard baby steps to move forward. I know I need to, but there are so many fun, easy distractions out there. What I call the “ooh, shiny” syndrome—especially on those days where I’m tired from busting my ass and I’d rather be watching funny cat videos. Sometimes the difficulty and resistance come from my being stuck in fear, and not admitting that I don’t want to deal with it.

Here are some of my favorite tactics I learned from masters of motivation that really do work.
Tactic #1. 
Tackle the really big rocks first. And then reward yourself handsomely for taking care of them.

This one I learned from T. Harv Ecker’s seminars where he tells people to put a pile of rocks, smaller stones and sand into a container. All of it. Everyone takes a shot at filling the container, with hilariously messy results. The secret? Put the big rocks in first. Then add the smaller rocks to fill the gaps around the big rocks. And finally add the sand to fill in all the remaining cracks. Presto, a nicely filled container with no messy overflow.

Harv’s lesson? Each week, pick your top 3 big rocks, and work your butt off to get them done and crossed off your to-do list. I now have a monthly calendar whiteboard in my office that lists my 3 big rocks that I want to take care of, and the rewards for knocking them off the list.

This week my biggest priorities are finishing a marketing plan for a high-profile community project, nailing my new opt-in offers (my current module from Marie Forleo’s B-School program) and getting my newsletter out on time. ARGGGGH. I have a great list of ideas on how to use content I already developed. Now I get to actually do the work of repurposing the content. Not so much fun, and I am going to need some really fun carrots to bust through this rock. NO - make that lots of dark, rich chocolate.

Tip: find an accountability buddy to help you stay on track, provide lots of “atta boys,” “atta girls,” "atta theys" or "atta whatevers." I have two business partners-in-crime that are tough mothers, and a great FaceBook support group for Marie’s program. It’s like having kick-ass fitness workout partners for my business.

Tactic #2.
Fear busting.

Ask yourself honestly what’s holding you back. Lots of times I have big, hairy goals that I set for myself, and I scare myself to death just thinking about them. Smack the little voices inside your head that aren’t helping you move forward. These little voices are fear-based, and they are not interested in the least to help you become happy and living in positive energy. I have a friend who has even named all of her inner critics. I think I have twins for some of hers. “Negative Nellie.” “Numbing Norma.” “Good-enough Gertie.” “Judgmental Judy.” Whenever these diabolical hooligans start popping up and attempt to derail me, I know it’s time to “patronus.”

As in Professor Lupin’s training on how to summon my own protective, good energy to disperse my negative thoughts and get me back into the positive zone. These gremlins especially like to attack after setbacks, snafus and receiving negative feedback or criticism. Sometimes it’s hard being a human being. Use whatever weapons you have at hand to fend them off. Some of my favorite tactics include:

  • meditation for energy clearing and grounding
  • reviewing my big hairy, audacious goals to get me pumped up again (creative idea time with my vision or dream board is especially happy)
  • taking a time-out break with a favorite friend or family loved one at my beloved Umbria Café in the Pearl District. Bella vita!
  • going for a walk in a favorite park or working in my garden. My reward this Sunday is to visit Portland’s Japanese gardens now that the cherry trees are in bloom.
  • when all else fails, I take a bubble bath with a favorite book. No interruptions until my batteries are fully recharged.

Then get back up on your feet and keep going. Don’t waste your time on the nay-sayers. As my Kung Fu master always said, “Fall down 7 times. Get up 8.”

Tactic #3. 
Focus on what you really want.

This is the bigger picture for tactic #2. I recently completed an exercise from Marie’s B-School program that was a real eye-opener. The assignment was to come up with a comprehensive list of all the products and services that I could offer to help people. I had to account for potential revenue generation and the amount of my time and energy it would take to do. Standard Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) kind of stuff. No big deal—standard MBA school assignment.

However, Marie added two catches to the assignment—ones that no business school even thinks about addressing.

  1. I had to rate each and every item in my spreadsheet on a scale of 1 to 10 for how much joy it would generate in my life.
  2. I had to evaluate where each and every item fit in my long-term plan.

WOW. I suggest that you look at your goals and to-do list with the same mindset as Marie’s. Once I completed these two steps, I had a completely different perspective on what opportunities would be the best fit for me. I am going to revisit these on a regular basis, just to make sure that I am fired up about what I am taking on, and giving myself permission to let go of the things that are no longer serving me.

P.s. – For more help with gremlin-wrangling, check out Rick Carson’s book Taming Your Gremlin.

Other great resources:

National “I Am in Control” Day

Maja riding with Uncle Malcolm on Princess

Today is National “I am in control day.” Yes, there is such a thing. This day reminds me of when I was first learning to ride a horse on my own. My uncles used to take me riding double when I was a small fry. Eventually I grew in size and needed to learn how to manage a horse by myself. I already knew how to tack up and get ready. But being on top of the horse all by myself was a whole new experience. My uncle the horse-whisperer started by clipping a lead on to the bridle. He led me around the barnyard while I discovered how to connect with the horse through the reins.

Wow. I had no idea of all the talking back and forth he did with the horse while we were flying down the farm driveway. And I had to learn how to do all of that on my own. It was scary but exhilarating at the same time. We spent weeks walking in circles, making turns, and even backing up before he was satisfied that I could work together with the horse without yanking or tugging on the reins, and I could cue the horse with my cowgirl boots when needed. Working in partnership with the horse opened up a whole new universe to me.

Maybe you have experienced something similar, where you are in control but not having to be an absolute control freak about it. Maybe it was learning how to drive your first car, ride a motor scooter or train your dog. Maybe taking salsa dancing lessons.

scooter at the beach

Whatever your beliefs around control, let’s take some time to think about being in control from a different perspective. When people think about being in control, it usually has the context of getting their personal life under control. A call to action to get things in order.

I have spent the last two years in a monthly personal energy class looking at my own behavior patterns through the lens of Steven Kessler’s “The 5 Personality Patterns.” My learned, default patterns that I resort to when I feel out of control or backed into a corner. Best as I can figure out, my primary defense mechanism is usually responding rigidly, putting up walls and rules, trying to control things I can’t control. Which usually doesn’t work very well, hence my spending a lot of energy and time relearning better, healthier ways to be in control.

My new response to stress and unpredictability is now to just to take a deep breath and relax before I jump into response mode. During the breath, I assess what is actually going on. I look for the facts. I definitely do not let my monkey mind immediately start telling me some old, distorted story from my past. That’s like letting the horse grab the bit and take over control with it. When that happens, I am immediately out of control. The horse wins. Which usually means a wild race back to the barn instead of what I want to do. Not good if my plan was to trot down the road to visit my cousins and go out for a group ride.

The brutal reality is that we all have triggers, and the mind starts to pull us into familiar old response patterns. The same old dance that gets us into trouble every time. As good old Albert says, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Start here. Start Today. Use today as the first step to get things in order and under control. For business owners, it usually means looking at your to-do list and setting priorities and boundaries. What are your top goals for the next six months? At the beginning of January, I gave an informal talk at one of my business networking groups on the 6 basic principles of entrepreneur business building that I learned at Sandra Yancey’s RISE Conference to help you move your business forward.

Answering these six simple questions will help you identify where your business is stuck and show you the steps you can take to remove obstacles and roadblocks.

  • The first “P” -- Priorities. This is the first part of your roadmap to reach the finish line. Your priorities define what your finish line looks like, where it is, and helps you build the GPS system to navigate there. Once you have figured out what and where your end goals are, you can get behind the steering wheel and drive.

What are the three action steps you need to take for each goal in order to reach them?  Narrow your focus down to these 9 action steps, and work on them every day, every week. Make them your top priority. You need to make space in your life to execute the urgent and important tasks that will deliver the results you want. Ask yourself, do you have the time and focus to be innovative and work on income-generating activities? If this area is a challenge for you, work with someone like Robynne Davis to help you develop a business strategy.

  • Which takes us to the second “P” – what’s on your plate? This is the second part of your roadmap.  To power through all the obstacles and roadblocks, you need to honestly identify the non-productive activities and commitments that are time-wasters or total distractions to the point that you will never get to the finish line. How many of you are feeling that you don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that you think you need to do? Do you have enough time to take care of you? One of my favorite sayings from the eWomenNetwork conference is “Do it, ditch it, or delegate it.” Sure, we all have tasks that we don’t like to do and we end up avoiding doing them. Also be honest and ask yourself what is on your plate that doesn’t belong to you, but you are doing anyways. Enabling other people by taking care of their problems may not be helping them in the long run and takes its toll on you. Take it from me – I spent two years helping a business partner build her dream that wasn’t mine, and she never learned to step up and take charge of her dream. I lost two years of precious time and resources that could have been devoted to my own dream. It’s like what the airline attendant tells you at the beginning of your flight, “In case of emergency, put on your own air mask first before helping other people.”  You want to feel good about the quality time you have for yourself, your friends and family outside of your business.
  • The third “P” stands for People. You need to get the right team in place to grow and play at the level you want in your life. Now is the perfect moment for you to look at the people in your life. What role will they play in the next stage of your business? What do you want from them? And what do they want from you? Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with – the smarter, the better. Go to the top.

Ask yourself, do you have the right people in place to free yourself to do only the things that you can do, the stuff that makes a real difference? Look at your pit crew – who is missing, or no longer a good fit for you and your mission? It’s ok to let go of the people who are no longer a good fit for you and your mission. Bless them, say thank you, and give yourself permission to make changes in your lineup. It could be finding a new mentor, collaborator, new networking groups or communities. List three action steps you can take to help you build your dream team.

  • The fourth “P” is your products or services. Think of these as the gasoline in your fuel tank. Where do your product or service offerings connect with what your customers want and need? Are your offerings high-octane booster rocket fuel that will power your sales, or low-grade, watered-down stuff that nobody wants or needs, and will fizzle out half-way through the race? Your task with this “P” is to get clear on your products and services, build your list of ideal customers/prospects, and fill your pipeline so you have the power to cross the finish line. Identify three areas where you have gaps in what you offer, or you need to improve to build your product and services power. Learn to have compassion for your customers and kill the stuff that isn’t working for you or them. Fire the customers who are draining you and your business, and not helping you grow in a good way. Here’s where I want you to list three action steps you can take to innovate better market offerings or build a better customer base.
  • The fifth “P” stands for processes. Many of us entrepreneurs have excellent fire-fighting skills, and precious few processes or systems to prevent the fires in the first place. We find ourselves desperate for help but find that it’s often easier to do almost everything ourselves than stop and try to explain or train someone to take care of this for you. This creates a business that is not scalable, repeatable and in the long run, not sustainable. Going back to “do it, ditch it, or delegate it,” these are the delegate or automate steps that we need to take to build momentum. Find some trustworthy minions. Build processes to streamline how you do things. I myself have been wrestling with finding the right set of entrepreneur tools to reduce the amount of time I spend doing admin tasks that are not the best use of my time. Book some time with Joan or Robynne to review and analyze what business processes or systems are really working for you, identify what’s not, and then fix them. Are there three action steps you can take to streamline how you do things more efficiently that will also make you a happier camper?
  • The final “P” is performance. Are you talking to your customers to find out how well you are doing by them? Have you done a survey lately to find out what they think about you and your business? To me, a great business is one that stays connected to and in touch with their customers. How can you make your customer’s day, so that they truly appreciate you and what you have to offer? If you have gaps or problems, what can you do to remedy them?

In the end, it’s all about delivering on what you promise. If you say that you want to be a successful business, and you now know what exactly you need to do to make it happen, how willing are you to commit to doing this in the next month, or the next year? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well you are executing each of these six principles. If you have areas that you rank 5 or lower, make it a priority to build these areas up through the action steps you wrote down. Put these action steps in your daily or weekly planner, so they get the love and attention from you that they deserve. In as little as a month, you will see momentum and break-through that will help speed you to the winner’s circle by the end of the year and set you up for a successful 2019.