Monthly Archives: January 2015

You’ve seen it all over the city: on TV and billboards, on Twitter and Facebook, on silly T-shirts and ball caps. It may seem confusing or unnecessary to a novice social media user, however, the hashtag (#) yields a great power that is more than just a fad. As early Twitter users intended, the hashtag—that pound sign that precedes short links—serves as an integral way to communicate with a vast and diverse audience online. The hashtag is a golden opportunity for established businesses and even small business owners to send out a message on all social media platforms in the blink of an eye. The hashtag allows business owners to build brand recognition and to reach and engage with potential clients and followers online.

Hashtag in a Flash

On Twitter, the pound sign turns any word(s) that directly follow it into a searchable link. This lets you organize content and follow topics based on keywords. If you wanted to post about the Breaking Bad finale, you would include #BreakingBad in your tweet to join the conversation. Click on it to see all the posts that have that hashtag in real time. Keep in mind that you can use the @ symbol before a person’s Twitter handle to tweet at them directly, rather than using the hashtag.

You can invent your own hashtag as well because there is no moment like the present! Place a hash before a series of words such as your business name or brand slogan and there you go!

Here is how to use the #hashtag on different platforms:

social-media-platforms

Twitter: Twitter is the birthplace of the modern hashtag and so the hashtags here are the most versatile. Denote a specific topic and look at the “trends” sidebar to see hashtags you might be interested in.

Facebook: Facebook only recently added hashtag support in June 2013. Clicking on Facebook hashtags will take you to a list of posts containing the same hashtag.

Instagram: Hashtags can be used to complement photos shared on Instagram and help you gain followers.
Pinterest: Use Pinterest hashtags to search for content. Click on the hashtag in a pin’s description to sift through results that contain the exact hashtag or similar words.

Want to know which hashtags are trending across social media platforms? Hashtags.org tells you which tags are trending in real time.

Hashtags for Business

hashtag

Many mainstream brands now have Twitter accounts, and many choose to create hashtags to promote specific events or marketing campaigns. If you want to use the hashtag as part of your business strategy, here are a few tips:

Consolidate your tweets: Use a specific account that will represent your business. Set up a business account and have an employee tweet on behalf of the company in a scheduled manner.

Use trending hashtags: See what hashtags other business competitors are using. If you’re promoting cheap travel deals, you want to use hashtags like #FlightDeals so  audiences can easily find you with those keywords. Make use of trending hashtags if they relate to your business. If you use something irrelevant in a tweet about your brand, you may look like spam and it will hurt your credibility.

Create your own hashtag: Don’t be afraid to create your own hashtag for a special event or marketing campaign. Remind your followers to share it in related posts. Use it on all promotions.

Be specific and keep it simple: If you’re using a hashtag to join a conversation, make sure it is specific to your topic. If you’re talking about The Ottawa Hospital, use #OttawaHospital instead of simply #hospital or #health. A vague or generic hashtag won’t do you any good. Neither will long links or hashtags used too often because they can look like spam. Three hashtags should be the limit for Twitter or Facebook. You can get away with a few more for Pinterest or Instagram. Don’t hashtag the same word more than once in the same post!

Keep in mind, your hashtag’s visibility will depend on your privacy settings. If your Twitter account is private, only those authorized to see your tweets will have access to your hashtags. If you are using hashtags to increase your business reach and gain brand exposure ensure your tweets are set to Public.

 

There are myriad benefits of having social media pages for your private dental practice. For instance, Facebook pages drive traffic to your webpages, increase the flow of people to your practice, just to list a few! If you have already gotten a Facebook page for your practice, then you are ahead of 37% of dentists out there! Now the question is, what should you post on your Facebook/social media pages so that you get the engagement you want?

  1. Ask questions
    1. Asking questions on your Facebook/Twitter page is a great way to engage audience. However, one thing that should be kept in mind is that the customers/patients do not like to be deemed incorrect, especially on a social media site. So, in order to avoid such occurrence, ask questions that do not have a right/wrong answer. For instance, what is their favorite toothpaste? What parts of the routine cleaning do they like the most? What do they think of recent changes in your office, dental practice, webpage, etc? Social media users love discussing and potentially giving advice.
  2. Share stories
    1. This could range from sharing stories of success and photos of your staff members on special occasions such as Halloween, Christmas and New Year to sharing photos of patients who have given great testaments of your service. Photos of people are a great way to get quality engagement of audience to your social media page.
  3. Hold a contest
    1. Create a contest strictly for your Facebook fans. Maybe host a trivia contest were your fans are asked to guess something about their dental routine check-up, or even about the dentist and offer a prize to the winner. The prize could range from tickets to various places/events, or even dinners at quality restaurants. This will get the audience engaged in your social media site and will even attract more patients to your practice.
  4. Post content at peak times
    1. As trivial as this may sound, it is necessary to post your content on social media when people will be accessing it the most. Too early may prove to be disadvantageous as well as too late. However, midday may not be the best either as people are usually occupied in their daily routines. Therefore, the best times would be in the morning, or in the evening, around the times most people are off for the day.
  5. Offer dental tips, tricks and techniques
    1. This is a dental page after all! Once a week, try to input a set of dental tips for your patients. They could range from the importance of proper dental hygiene to information of dental technology around the world—there is really no limit to the amount of dental information you can have on there. However, when posting the information, ensure that the content is in simple laymen terms, as opposed to the language of a scientific journal. Simple tips go a long way, and can increase audience interest and traffic if they prove to be beneficial/ informative.

The above mentioned content can not only prove useful for a Facebook fan page, but also for other social media sites such as GooglePlus, Twitter,  Instagram and even Pinterest. The longer you wait, the more you have to lose. Social media marketing, when done right, can lead to more customers, more traffic, and more conversions, and it’s here to stay, for as long as we can think.

Why your business needs Google+

Harness the power of Google+ and see what it has to offer for your business. Read along to see how to gain more influence and exposure for your brand and your business.  The first step is to create a profile and to link it directly with your website. The Google+ badge allows you to do this. When you have the badge on your website, you will increase your chances of getting more audience from your website and search results to your Google+ page. There are many features that Google+ offers, so take advantage! Once you establish a connection between your website and your Google+ page, your followers will get the sense of your business as having quality and authoritative content. Keep your posts up to date so that first time visitors get a good impression.

Start using hashtags. They are a great tactic for getting your brand out there beyond your followers. Google plus recognizes hashtags and gets you more exposure so use them in all your status updates. The platform may even suggest some hashtags for your topic.

Google+ cover images are now bigger. Take advantage of this fact and go visual! Upload an impressive design with your brand logo. Showcase a new product, express your brand image, advertise an even tor share contact details. With great graphics, your opportunities are endless.

You can also host Google+ hangouts. This is a great free alternative to online meeting software. You can have   10 participants in an active video, however, you can stream it unlimitedly to viewers on YouTube.  Use Google+ hangouts for interviews, discussions, screen-sharing webinars or meetings.  Get to know your audience better by joining open invite hangouts.

Google+

Why your business needs Pinterest

With marketing leaning more and more towards the visual, you need to include Pinterest in your strategy. Your brand has a story to tell and visual content is the way to go. Start showing the online world your brand image through compelling graphics. Visual marketing is a huge trend and Pinterest has great potential. Photo sharing is second nature on this platform. The audience is engaged and active so it is easy to get your business noticed and passed around.

Pinterest is like visual storytelling. Share the feel of your company or your lifestyle as opposed to your product.  The most popular pins are fashion, food and home decorating. Tailor your activity to your audience. You want to showcase lifestyle ideas to allow your audience to imaging themselves using your product or service.

You can share a thank you pin to show appreciation for your fans. It’s a simple gesture yet says a lot and can gain you new followers. Pinterest also allows you to get closer to your fans because you can humanize the brand. No need for slick marketing tactics. Some rough-around the edges, homemade photography is all you need to capture some interest.  Ultimately, visual storytelling is the most popular way to reach your fans right now, and Pinterest is the perfect place to start. You are giving your audience a 360-degree view of your brand, products and service. If you aren’t comfortable with providing the glamorous pictures Pinterest craves, you can feel free to share other people’s images and re-pin. It is a positive image sharing site.

Why your business needs Twitter

Twitter has a whole bunch of new stuff to offer for your business marketing strategy. Start seeing results! Twitter is unique because it is seen as a microblogging tool for sending short, disconnected messages or tweets of 140 characters long to your followers. You can include links to other web content, images or videos. Adding a visual greatly expands your message beyond the 140 character limit. You can follow others, even those you don’t know personally, and anyone can follow you so it is easy to retweet and share, expanding your potential client base.

Choose an account name that is consistent with your brand image. Start following others on Twitter. You are essentially subscribing to read what they share so be selective. Next it is your turn to start talking. Here it is different from other social media sites. It is much more fast-paced and it’s a stream of ideas and sentence fragments. It can be hectic but fun! You can send a tweet, @reply in response to someone, mention another username, direct message a follower, or retweet something you like. For your business, you need to find the ideal spot between what your audience wants to hear and things that promote your business. Focus on the benefits you can offer. Give useful information and you will be considered a valuable member of the community. The quality of what you share will help grow your following.

 

 tweet and pin

If you are wondering what 2015 might look like for social media marketing then read on. If the changes in 2014 are any indicator, there will be a lot more changes coming in 2015.

#1: Visual & Video Becomes the Content of Choice

In 2015, video is predicted to dominate as the social media content format of choice. Video segments and blog posts and podcasts will emerge as their own form of content that drives social engagement and marketing goals. 2015 will also be the year of the visuals! Marketers will take images and videos to the next level! Over the past few years visual based platforms such as Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram skyrocket in user engagement. Video has even been used more widely on Facebook. There has even been an outburst of visual creating and editing tools such as Canva and PicStitch which make it super easy to create interesting images and videos with the touch of a button.

High quality images and professional looking videos are no longer reserved only by businesses with big budgets or graphic design professionals. Businesses with smaller budgets can create images for their content just as easily without breaking the bank. Consumers in 2015 will expect higher-quality images. In the early days of Pinterest, any image would get attention but now there is so much competition that the platform is flooded with content. Not just any image will do much longer.

Dynamic visuals can help establish your business professionalism. If you do not use images in your content or you are using outdated ones, audiences will take note because this reflects negatively. You want to appear professional and reputable. Videos, on the other hand, may become more relaxed and natural. There is no need to set up a studio and use high end equipment because social media audiences are attracted to spur-of-the-moment content such as videos recorded on smartphones. These are more engaging because they can relate.

visual-content-marketing

#2: Information Density Creates Hurdles

There is one trend in the making that may be dragging us down: fighting through information density. It is predicted that by 2020,the amount of information on the internet will increase by 600% and some think this number is low! The challenge of cutting through this content shock and still being able to reach a customer’s attention span is the marketing challenge of 2015. This is the reality we have now and is contributing to various other shifts.

As the web adapts to this saturation of content, it will drive innovations to help businesses stand out. There are predictions for more interesting and engaging content forms. Videos will be more interactive and new types of short-form visual content will emerge. New apps and filters exist to help consumers make better content choices. We have seen countless examples of apps and sites like Facebook that filter content for you as they learn your preferences. Now marketers have to deal with getting through these filters.

#3: Paid Ads Become Impossible to Avoid

In 2015, social networks will continue loop businesses into their advertising programs. Facebook plans to limit organic promotional posts in the news feed starting in January 2015 and Twitter may be implementing a Facebook-like algorithm for their news feed. Instagram is still exploring their advertising platform, and since they’re owned by Facebook, an algorithm that suppresses organic posts from businesses could easily be added. This means that social media marketers that would have wanted to avoid social advertising in 2014 will be forced to embrace it in the future.

trend

#4: Paid Media Becomes Necessary

In 2014, several changes were made in the way businesses are forced to approach Facebook marketing. As previously mentioned, there has been a drop in organic reach and the upcoming Facebook plans to limit the amount of promotional content coming from brands in the news feed.

In 2015, we’ll see the rise of paid media. Small businesses will have to educate themselves on how to speed up the distribution of content if they want to compete. More businesses understand the need for a well designed structure that can bring specific content to selected groups at the right time on the marketing cycle. The best way to maximize the reach is through paid media. Paid media isn’t going away. In fact, budgeting for paid media will be more important than ever this year, as it will be more integrated with earned and owned media.