Social Media 101: How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Audience

We’ve all heard of them. Many of us have even used them. But the real question is, how can we use hashtags to grow our audience?

First, let’s start with the basic definition.

Hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic.

But that’s not all. The implementation of hashtags is constantly evolving with social media platforms, and with technology in general. They extend themselves to a community of people who are searching for new, inspiring content on a daily basis, which is exactly why you should be utilizing them.

Like everything else, hashtags require research. But where do you begin?

Step 1: Identify your target audience. I may sound like broken record here, but audience identification and research go hand-in-hand, in more ways than one. You need to know exactly who you’re looking to attract before you can create effective content to do just that.

Step 2: Search hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. After establishing your target audience and the content they figuratively subscribe to, pinpoint the hashtags they’re using and searching for. Get in the mind of your audience. Think about what tags they might search for on Twitter or Instagram (Facebook doesn’t use hashtags as much). If you’re an author, #bookstoread and #bookstagram are popular, community-based hashtags that many bookworms use when looking for new reading material. Complete a search of your own to see which posts get the most traction.

Step 3: Analyze and implement. What hashtags seem to be working for other people in your niche? What patterns do you see? Do the tags pertain to your content? If so, adopt them!

It’s also important to incorporate as many relevant hashtags as you can find, according to Jumper Media. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, so don’t be afraid to use as many as you see fit. It will only widen your post’s reach and give you and your content more exposure.

The beauty of hashtags is the fact that they’re community-based; therefore, it’s up to you to figure out what community (or communities) you want to tap into. Although the specific tags may seem rather trite and adolescent, use them anyway. It’s simply the nature of the hashtag.

For more on content strategizing, check out our latest post.

Happy hashtagging!

Social Media 101: Content Strategizing the 2019 Way

If you read our recent blog post Social Media 101: Branding the 2019 Way, you’ll know just how critical it is to do social media marketing rather than banking only on traditional media to spread the word about your product/service/brand. You also might’ve been left wondering how to go about branding on social media. Well, we have you covered there, too—and the answer is content strategizing.

The most important aspect of social media branding is implementing a strategy behind the content you are going to put out in the world. Perhaps you are already plugged in to the major platforms but haven’t seen results in your engagement levels or follower count. Perhaps you’re starting from square one. Either way, it’s crucial to formulate a strategy before you post. Ask yourself:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What is that audience’s age demographic?
  • What social channels are they on?
  • Why should they care about me and my brand?
  • How can I showcase my brand in a way that will attract them?
  • What content do I already have available?
  • What content do I need to create for effective brand display?
  • What do I bring to the table that my competitors don’t, and how can I present that through my social channels?

It’s important to know your target audience inside and out. Having inside knowledge about key groups will tell you exactly what channels they populate. Here’s a breakdown, according to a 2019 study done by Sprout Social:

Users on Facebook: 74% female, 62% male

  • 51% of 13-17 year olds
  • 81% of 18-29 year olds
  • 78% of 30-49 year olds
  • 65% of 50-64 year olds
  • 41% of 65+ year olds

Users on Instagram: 39% female, 30% male

  • 72% of 13-17 year olds
  • 64% of 18-29 year olds
  • 40% of 30-49 year olds
  • 21% of 50-64 year olds
  • 10% of 65+ year olds

Users on Twitter: 24% female, 23% male

  • 32% of 13-17 year olds
  • 40% of 18-29 year olds
  • 27% of 30-49 year olds
  • 19% of 50-64 year olds
  • 8% of 65+ year olds

Users on LinkedIn: 25% female, 25% male

  • 29% of 18-29 year olds
  • 33% of 30-49 year olds
  • 24% of 50-64 year olds
  • 9% of 65+ year olds

Users on Snapchat: 31% female, 23% male

  • 69% of 13-17 year olds
  • 68% of 18-29 year olds
  • 26% of 30-49 year olds
  • 10% of 50-64 year olds
  • 3% of 65+ year olds

TikTok is also becoming a popular outlet for the younger demographic. Nonetheless, identifying and creating on-brand content that caters to a specific audience is the key to success in any niche. You want to highlight what makes your brand unique while keeping your audience’s expectations in mind.

From there, develop a content calendar to keep yourself organized and pay attention to your social media analytics. It may be beneficial to look into different scheduling services like Hootsuite and Loomly (we have used both) that can also track engagement levels, relevant hashtags, and other important metrics. Knowledge is power.

Bottom line: You want your content to be true to who you are as a brand while capturing the essence of what you do and why you’re important.

To learn more about the importance of social media in business, check out our recent blog.

Small Businesses: Yes, You Need Social Media

Small business owners are jacks of all trades. You’re not only focusing on business development and big-picture items, but day-to-day operational needs. Your time is valuable – and you don’t have much to spare. Here’s why you should devote some of that time to building your online presence.

Everyone’s doing it. Regardless of your industry, it is important to know the trends of your peers to better compete and foster growth in your own ventures. In 2015, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Cheryl Sandberg reported that 50 million small businesses are using that outlet to connect with their clientele. Social media is now industry standard. Being part of the digital community also enables you to monitor your competitors via their own public pages.

Referrals. Ever the heart of small business, social media encourages client referrals. 71% of consumers who have positive experiences with a brand’s social media are likely to recommend it to others. Over half of these same consumers, 63%, are expecting that brands will offer some form of customer service over social media channels. Society has grown to use social media beyond entertainment. Users share news, exchange currency, and communicate this way. It’s time to join the community and meet the needs of your clients (DreamGrow).

Content distribution. If you have a blog on your website like we do, you want an ROI from the content in which you’re investing precious time. We share all of our blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. Pushing your content through as many well-maintained channels as possible will benefit your search engine optimization (“SEO” increases the likelihood that people searching terms related to your industry will come across your business) and get your website click-throughs beyond a simple Google search.

Having a so many accounts that you can’t keep track of their results is not useful. We recommend you pick 2-3 platforms, update them regularly, and engage with your audience. We know entering the world of social media can be daunting without help. You can learn all about the different platforms and how to use them effectively by signing up for the Claire McKinneyPR newsletter. Check out our free guide!

Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion

If you aren’t using it, you’ve heard of it. However, you might not know how to use it -or, you might not even know what it is. Today we will be discussing the underdog tool in your promotional belt. The overnight, 15-second sensation: TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a window to the latest pop culture trends among Generation Z. Gen Z (any individual roughly between 13-and-24-years-old) dominates TikTok’s user base; the same generation also happens to be the next large target group of potential consumers.

TikTok was created by the Beijing news-media tech company ByteDance. Often described as a combination of both Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is a video-only application that posts in 15-second bursts. The app hit over one billion downloads in February of 2019, exceeding its competitors up to that point (HooteSuite). Their net user and download numbers only continue to climb.

Needless to say, a large audience is there for the taking – particularly ripe for YA authors.

How do I use TikTok?

Currently, the application is only available for download on mobile device. You will need to download via smartphone or tablet. While this sounds limiting, don’t fear: TikTok has a host of editing tools in-app that enable you to create unique and original content.

  • Setup: The first prompt you get when logging in to the application is one asking your interests. Would you like to see comedy skits? Do you follow beauty influencers? What about dance performance? Your answers to these questions feed TikTok’s algorithm and influence what content you view under the “For You” page (one of two pages that make up your TikTok “Home” screen). The “Following” page consists of users you are subscribed to after tapping around the app and finding what you like. Each user has a page setup much like Instagram -a photo of themselves, their handle, a follower count, bio, and their content.
  • Creating Content: Similar to Snapchat, creating your own content starts with a simple point-and-shoot clip. As talked about before, you only have fifteen seconds to deliver your message. Spend more time focusing on visuals, use dialogue sparingly. Most users supplement sound clips from popular music or memes rather than talking in their TikToks.

How can I use TikTok for book promotion?

Here is where you’ll need to get creative. TikTok is very similar to Twitter’s late application Vine -there is little to no text involved, and strictly video-based. In other words, TikTok users aren’t looking to read when they engage with the app.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your book.

  • Challenges: TikTok users generate a great deal of challenge-based content. An example of social media challenge is the ALS ice bucket challenge that took social media by storm in 2015. Users would dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in the name of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, then nominate fellow users in order to raise awareness for those affected.

TikTok is rife with similar challenges, distinguished by hashtags (much like challenges seen across other social media). There is even a “#bookschallenge” with over 109.2K views! Feature your new book in original content to spread the word. You can even create your own hashtag and start a trend by simply adding a # before your desired phrase.

  • Memes: Aside from challenges, memes spread like wildfire. Users essentially take a pop culture item and tweak it with their own personal style. From songs to live-TV bloopers, TikTokers take soundbites from these moments and make a 15-second video performing their own take. Like we mentioned before, it’s all about the visuals with this application. Having a stack of your own books as the background of a TikTok is the perfect subliminal marketing strategy.

TikTok has increased in notoriety to the point of Facebook imitating the application (Wired). It’s time for you to make use of the trend. Now you’re ready to TikTok with the best of them!

Social Media 101: Snapchat and Author Branding

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn have dominated the world of branding since Facebook’s JP Morgan and Chase ads in the early 2000’s (IAS Insider). We’ve discussed in previous blogs how valuable these markets are, but there’s a new platform in town. Better yet, it’s rather untouched by the saturation of advertisements the other media have today: Snapchat.

Snapchat is unique in that it is a hybrid social media platform and messenger. This medium is almost entirely visual, and only available for mobile device. These unique qualities require a creativity in branding that the other platforms do not. Because of this, while Facebook controls roughly 20.6% of the US ad market, Snapchat comes in at just 0.6% (Influencer Marketing Hub).

The application is intended as a messaging medium where users exchange photos, videos, or short messages. Photos and videos can have captions, but there is character limit. There is also a character limit for private messages. Reminiscent of the point-and-shoot model, to take photos, you focus the front (or back) camera of your device and hit the large circular button at the bottom of your screen. For videos, you hold the button down in 30-second increments. You can alter the amount of time users can view your content, set an expiration date for your private messages, and other nifty features that Accessar dives in-depth with here.

Sound familiar? That is probably because Instagram operates similarly, but in a much more public way. Snapchat is a majority user-to-user application.

Don’t let the unfamiliarity of Snapchat stop you. As of 2019, Snapchat has an astonishing 191 million daily active users, and climbing (Snapchat). There is an array of stickers, GIFs, geofilters (filters that are only available in certain locations), and many other interactive features that allow you to get creative with your Snapchat branding. Their demographic is in the 18-24-year-old range, so if you’ve been looking for a way to reach an overloaded Millennial/Generation Z audience, here’s your chance!

With the medium’s use-to-user atmosphere, you can form a personalized and meaningful relationship with your audience. You can find our shortlist of Snapchat musts to make this happen for your brand below.

Snapchat stories are a vital function of most popular platforms nowadays, and we’ve gone over them in great detail recently. Update your audience on the publication of your new book, introduce merchandise, and start conversations! Users can reply to your stories via private message. You can also link to the products mentioned above with our next Snapchat must.

Snapchat links or “swipe-ups” are an organic way to expose your audience to new and exciting content surrounding your brand. Simply take a photo or video, select the paperclip thumbnail to the right of your screen, and add the appropriate URL. This allows users to view your material with a simple screen swipe.

Influencer collaboration not only gets exposure for your author brand but builds a trustworthy sense of community which your audience values. Reaching out to fellow influencers about mentioning your work in a story goes a long way in broadening your own fanbase.

Armed with your new guide to Snapchat in the world of author branding, make the most of this untapped resource. If you’d like to learn more about traditional means of author branding on social media before the trickier methods, check out our recent blog posts.