3 Questions To Complete a 5-Minute Social Media Audit

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You post to it every week. You spend money promoting your content. You create and develop and monitor and optimize.

But have you ever really looked at your business' social media accounts?

If it's been too long since you scrolled down your page and looked at all your social media accounts and their content comprehensively, it's time to conduct a Social Media Audit. But before you pay a consultant to complete a massive deep dive, ask these three questions to complete a 5-Minute Social Media Audit.

1. Would you follow your own account?

Many of the followers you've acquired have stumbled upon your account some time or another and followed, liked or subscribed to your content. But would you? Take a serious look at your content and see if it provides immediate value to you as a potential customer. Do you post exclusive discounts? Do you provide value to your service clients for engaging with them on social media? Do you educate or entertain your followers? 

Solution: If you wouldn't follow your account, you need to create content that provides value.

2. Is your account visually appealing?

Gone are the days of selfies and low-quality video. Increasingly brands, even small businesses, are spending big money to make their accounts shiny, slick and superficially beautiful. Accounts now have curb appeal, and your account should, too. If you're a realtor, are the photos you're sharing of your homes for sale well lit, striking and eye catching? If you're a boutique, are you sharing clothes on a mannequin, or are you using models (your employees) to wear the outfits you create? Are you sharing videos that are well lit and horizontal? If your content doesn't look good, then people won't follow.

Solution: If your content isn't pretty, you need to invest in a better camera or a better content creator to ensure that accounts have great curb appeal.

3. Is your account consistently being updated?

The number of posts a day, a week you post on social media accounts varies, but in our experience, every social media account to be effective should be updated at least once a week. If you scroll through and see that your Facebook page has only two posts for the month of July, that's not enough. You need to create a plan or, even easier, a content to-do list weekly. The average Facebook post has a lifespan of less than two hours. Your social media accounts only work when you're posting regularly, consistently.

Solution: Create a plan to regularly post content on your business' social media account or hire someone who can do it for you.

You've just completed a 5-Minute Social Media Audit on your accounts yourself. But if you want a deeper dive and look into your business' social media accounts, contact Checkmate Consulting for a free consultation.

 

3 Better Ways To Respond to Negative Comments

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It comes out of nowhere, seemingly random. You don't see it coming, and it derails your every thought. It's an attack on not just you, but your reputation.

It sounds like a horror story, but it's every small business owner's nightmare: The dreaded negative comment.

If you're on social media long enough, this nightmare will become a reality for your business. A disgruntled customer, a former employee, a concerned patron or just an Internet troll will come onto your platform and spew negativity on a post or a page. You don't get a choice as to if it's going to happen to you, but as always, you get to choose how to respond.

Below are three better ways to respond to negative comments.

1. Do Not Delete The Comment

As tempting as it is to delete the comment and ban the user (so tempting), do not delete the comment. Do not ban the user from your platform. Why? Because negative people are surrounded with negative people, both online and offline. If you delete their comment or ban them from your Facebook page, more often than not, they will find out and then recruit others to go to your page and spew negativity. You've just gone from one bad review to 10, 20, 10,000 bad reviews in a few days. You've seen the stories before, how one small business makes a misstep on social media and then a frenzy of outrage in the national news. Avoid it all by addressing the comment in one of two ways.

2. Respond, Apologize And Offer A Solution

If a negative comment appears on a post about an issue with your business, follow these three steps: respond, apologize and offer a solution. 

Respond within 24 hours of receiving the negative comment or complaint, just like you would respond within 24 hours to any comment on your page. The longer the comment goes dormant, the more potential backlash from the individual or others they recruit to ask the same questions on your page.

Apologize for any specific missteps or mistakes that you or an employee made. Taking ownership of the issue and make the individual feel heard. Even if you didn't do anything wrong, an apology can provide some closure and neutralize the concern. "Hi Karen, Thanks for reaching out, and we understand your concern. We know how upsetting it must be that you didn't receive your package when promised, and we apologize for the inconvenience."  There's an apology in this example, but you're not taking responsibility for the failure. You're apologizing for how the situation made the customer feel, and oftentimes, that's more than enough.

Offer a solution to the customer if you did do something wrong. Offering a coupon for $5 off their next purchase to be sent via email or expediting the shipping of a product wasn't shipped on time are minimal monetary expenses in potentially salvaging a relationship with a customer. And even if that begrudged customer doesn't buy again? Everyone on your page can see how your business responded to their negative review. That builds trust and affinity for your brand with potential new customers.

3. Message Privately

On Facebook, you have the ability to message a user who has commented or reviewed your page. Respond publicly with one comment using apology language above. If the user still isn't satisfied, take the conversation off your page and into your Inbox. Send a private message and address the details with the user there. Once personally contacted and given the ability to chat in real time, upset customers are often satisfied that their concerns are being heard and that a real person, not a faceless brand, is helping to resolve their issue. That level of personal care can end the airing of your dirty laundry on your brand's social media platform.

Answering negative feedback is critical. With almost 70% of customers researching businesses on social media before making a purchase, it's more critical than ever to know how and when to respond to negative comments. If you need help responding to negative feedback or managing your social media accounts, contact Checkmate Consulting for a free consultation.

 

5 Ways To Stay Social On Your Business' Social Media (With Examples)

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Social media should be social.

It seems obvious, doesn't it? When it's up there, big and bold, it seems like the clearest, simplest thing in the world. But as content creators, so much of our work is focused on the 'media' of social media. We obsess about the right angles for our Instagram shots. We worry about the sound levels of our videos. We write, and rewrite, and rewrite the headlines of our blog posts. 

And all those things are important. Your photos should be high quality; your Facebook Live videos should be HD and horizontal. But there is a reason why social is the first word in social media, because fundamentally, social media platforms are for us to connect with others.

So that's nice and all, what does that mean for your business? When brands share content that's emphasized on building relationships with customers, not just promotional content, they get higher rates of engagement. The more your fans engage with your content, the more likely they are to engage with your content -- and eventually buy your product. Or better yet? They'll share your business' posts on Facebook, serving as ambassadors for your brand.

So now that we know the why for your brand to be more social, friendly, relational, how do you stay social on your business' Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Here are five easy ways to stay social.

1. Ask Questions To Drive A Conversation

What's your favorite color? I'm sure you immediately thought of a favorite color before moving on in this little paragraph, because even though this content is important to you, mentally, we're all programmed to answer questions when asked. Use this little psychological tick to drive engagement by asking questions that are related to your business. For a thought leader or service industry, it could be a motivational question. For a bakery, it could be asking what is a customer's favorite flavor. For a tire shop or travel agency, it could be asking what is your next destination. Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation.

2. Engage Your Fans In Comments

Once you've got a conversation going, then it's your turn to dive in. Join the conversation by responding to questions in the comments as your business page, making your brand look friendly, approachable, kind. Engage users by responding with their first names and a quick sentence as a response. "Hi Emily! Chocolate chip is our favorite cookie flavor, too." Use emojis or gifs if you're feeling fun, and use some word play. Keep the conversation going by responding to all comments if you don't have much conversation, or build on momentum by responding strategically to just positive or well liked comments. 

 

3. Host a Giveaway On Your Account

Your fans have liked your business on Facebook, but we want them to love your business. Spread the love to your hard-earned social media fans by hosting giveaways or contests on your social media accounts. Encourage users to enter by commenting on a post. Then, follow up with publicly announcing a winner in a separate post, while tagging the user in the initial post. All of these little extra steps give your account a personal touch, where fans aren't just talked to, they're spoiled with love, attention and free items of things they want. Read 3 more rules for hosting better Facebook Giveaways here.

 

4. Showcase The Faces Behind Your Business

Make your business feel more personal by showcasing the people who make it all happen. Host a Facebook Live event at your business showing all the beautiful holiday decor in your store. Record and post a simple weekly video that provides one tip to make your fans' lives easier. Have your servers share their favorite items on your menu at your restaurant. Don't force any team member to participate, but showing the real people behind your business can be a powerful empathy building tool. People aren't supporting your auto shop, they're getting an oil change from Tom and Steve. People aren't choosing your chiropractic center, they're going to visit Dr. Bryan. We trust people more than brands, so put your best foot and face forward.

 

5. Know and Follow the 4-1-1 Rule

So those other four tips? They're nice and all, but how does me recording a video with my face or a doing a giveaway drive sales for my business? I hear you, and I hope you'll hear just one thing from me today: follow the 4-1-1 Rule. Considered the golden rule of social media lead generation, the 4-1-1 rule is:

For every one self-serving post, you should share one entertaining piece of content and most importantly, share four pieces of relevant content written by others. 

Math is hard, but if you follow the 4-1-1 rule, that means 84% of your content should provide value to your fans and only 16% of your content should be promotional. That means only 16% of your content talks about sales in your store. That means only 16% of your content is about tonight's specials in your restaurant. That means only 16% of your content should include the phrase 'BUY NOW!'

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Scroll through your business' Facebook page. If it's 80% promotional and 20% social (or worse), this is why you're not generating sales from social media. Your customers have tuned out your business, just like they ignore the ads they see on TV and the billboards they drive by. People don't buy from brands, they buy from people who build relationships with them. Start building a relationship with your audience.

If you're looking for a transparent digital marketing agency that will build relationships to turn your fans into buying, happy brand ambassadors, we're here to help transform your business or partner with your current agencies as a consultant. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. 

 

3 Rules For Hosting Better Facebook Giveaways

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Everybody knows how to host a giveaway on their Facebook page. Right?

Well, of course, you post some kind of a visual. But is it a photo of a product? Or do you share a graphic that has instructions on how to enter the contest? Shouldn't your business' logo be obvious in the post?

And what should they do to enter? To win, they should like your Facebook page, right? But how do you check that? How do you verify that someone has liked your Facebook page? And how long should you give your followers to respond to a giveaway? A giveaway should be urgent, like they get the prize soon, but how soon? Is two days enough, or should you do maybe, like, two weeks? 

But how do you get the prize to the winner?

What if you want to do a video contest? I saw that one Facebook page had a really cool video contest.

Wait -- how do you select a winner?! How do you let them know they won? Does the winner have to sign anything to accept the prize? Do they have to post that they won to receive their prize? Do you create a graphic announcing the winner? How do you announce a winner?!?!

Everyone knows how to host a giveaway on their Facebook page, until a business owner decides they actually want to host a giveaway on their Facebook page. 

In July, Checkmate Consulting created and began building a community of engaged followers for an ongoing client, Ozarks Technical Community College Technical Education Division. One of our first tasks after launching was to build a fan base on engaged users on Facebook. An easy way to do that is to host a giveaway. Our first giveaway went so well, we hosted two. But what defined the success of these giveaways is that we held fast to these 3 Rules for Better Facebook Giveaways.

1. Pick the Right Prize

For OTC Technical Education, we wanted to attract followers to the Facebook page that already like OTC, Missouri's largest community college, and would engage with content. So we chose a that reflected the values of the followers we wanted to attract. With the help of the college's corporate communications office, we were able to get a swag bag full of branded goodies. It was no cost, but it was something tangible that users would want. These weren't just pens and posts, it was a draw string bag, water bottle and more. We arranged it in a flat lay to clearly showcase the content of the swag bag.

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2. Ask the Right Ask

One of the primary goals of the OTC Technical Education Facebook page is to attract current and prospective students to engage with its content. Traditional college students, those 18-22 year olds, they communicate differently on the Internets. So we asked that users to comment with an emoji how they felt about back to school season. To enter was simply a tap and a second tap to enter, and we made it clear how to enter in both the post caption and on the giveaway graphic itself. No share, no like, but that engagement would drive it to be in the News Feeds of followers you already have -- and their friends. That drives more and more eyes and easy entries to your contest. Bonus: Comment contests are the easiest to determine the winner. 

 

3. Activate Your Base

You've launched your contest. Now what? Bang the drum and get the word out there! Giveaways are a great, appropriate ask of your employees to share a contest. A quick email out to the team with a link to the post you'd like them to share instantly gets your contest in front of more eyeballs, and your employees won't mind because one of their friends could win the contest. Plus, contests are great content to reach out to a corporate or business ally to share your content. More than 25 OTC Tech Ed staff members shared the contest on their personal accounts. And a quick note to a communications team at brand's social media manager that is in your page's family can amplify your contest instantly. With Tech Ed's back to school giveaway, we dropped a quick note to the social media manager for the entire college's Facebook page (and its 15,000 likes). The OTC main page shared our contest, and we doubled our page's likes in less than an hour. 

 

Follow these Three Rules for Better Giveaways, and see the results. And don't forget to comment on the post who won the contest and to have that person private message your Facebook page to determine how to best get the item they won to the winner.

Because without a winner, a giveaway is just a scam. Right?

Case Study: Why You Should Be Making Silent Video Ads

Do you remember when Facebook didn't have ads?

I do. When status updates were just text and the only thing you could share was one photo on your Timeline at a time. I remember when Facebook rolled out cover photos; what a day that was! 

It seems like a lifetime ago. But in reality, Facebook rolled out ads just seven years ago

But now, ads make up a large chunk of your News Feed. Nearly 1 in 10 items in your News Feeds are ads, and most ads? They only get an engagement from a Facebook user 1 percent of the time they're viewed. They're mostly photo links, or they're videos with no text overlay (99 percent of video views on Facebook are silent -- users don't unmute videos).

So what's a brand to do?

Animate a silent video ad.

Simply Health Wellness and Weight Loss in Chesterfield, Missouri became a Checkmate client on July 1. Prior to managing its Facebook page, Simply Health had an active but ineffective Facebook presence. The content it was sharing had an emphasis on quantity, not quality, with low impact and even lower conversions to clicks or appointments booked.

So Simply Health needed something simple: a bold, splashy ad to light up the News Feeds of its fans, since engagement on the page was almost nonexistant.

Checkmate created a targeted, highly visual, animated video ad, featuring flat emoticon-style illustrations and highly readable text. The video was short but clear: click here, get this. Plus, with a thumbnail of FREE, users clicked to watch the video at a much higher than industry rate.

The results of this ad are promising, with high rates of engagement and click throughs nearly triple initial expectations. Website traffic is up, and six weeks in, Checkmate and Simply Health together are building momentum to a high return on investment for Simply Health on Facebook.

 

 

 

Facebook Best Practices for Business Owners (Free E-Book)

 

Every day, there is a new gimmick for business owners to make money on Facebook. Add an emoji to your caption. Do a Facebook live video on a Thursday afternoon. Share a cat picture to increase your engagement. Dance in a giveaway video to increase your video views.

From our four years of experience, there are 9 Biggest Social Media Mistakes Business Owners Make. But what are the absolute, must-do action steps business owners should take to make their Facebook page profitable? 

We answer that question in our 12-page Facebook Best Practices Guide.

With this 15-minute read, you'll learn:

  • How to write Facebook posts that shareworthy for your customers
  • How to set a tone on Facebook that matches your business and your target customer
  • How to determine the right number of posts for your Facebook page every week
  • How to craft social media campaigns that make your customers ambassadors for your business

 

 

Case Study: 30 Days And 1000%+ In Higher Engagement

Since October 2014, Schweitzer United Methodist Church has been a social media management client of Checkmate Consulting. We've had a fun but strategic growth mindset with the church's digital communications, working with church staff to efficiently amplify messages churchwide with a mix of church and Checkmate created content.

Working together, Schweitzer has experienced significant gains to its audience and engagement on all of its social media platforms in the past two years, including quadrupling its engagement rates every year.

In addition to successful social media management every day, Checkmate Consulting has also served as a true marketing consultant to the church. Checkmate has partnered with the church's talented media department to develop a variety of marketing materials for the church, including a promo video for a Christmas Eve service campaign designed with social media in mind that received nearly 100,000 organic views on Facebook.

That's why we were no strangers to Schweitzer's efforts to engage with Millennials within and outside the church's walls. In January, the director of young adults Jake Hotchkiss approached Checkmate to begin managing social media accounts for the Schweitzer Young Adults ministry. We were excited to take over totally dormant accounts and bring to life the digital communications of a ministry that needed a way to directly reach Millennials. 

Over a couple of lunches, together we developed a strategy to reach out to Millennials in and outside the organization. Video announcements, GIF event reminders, a more conversational tone and consistent updates on strategic days were put into play. It was as if we turned the lights on for the ministry, and people who originally engaged on our platforms woke up with shining, bright new content. And wake up they did.

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The numbers were staggering. In the first 30 days, reach for Schweitzer Young Adult's Facebook page increased by 1,420%. Post engagements went up by 439%. And my favorite number of all -- from zero video views to 1,477, an increase of 147,600% for the page. You can't make it up.

This was the difference in just 30 days with Checkmate Consulting's intentional and strategic social media management. But while our content shined and a lot of our targeted campaigns worked numbers wise for Schweitzer Young Adults, our first 30 day's success shows why it's so important to wake up your fans on social media. If you're not posting, start. Be intentional. Organizations have to develop a content strategy, even a simple one, and execute it consistently on social media. 

You'd be surprised what happens if you turned on the lights.

The Tale of the Snail

For brands on social media, there’s always a balance between sales and social.

You want to make personal connections with your followers, but you want to have them connect with products. You want to build communities, but you want your communities to be mobilized. You want a return on investment, but you don’t want to alienate your followers by pushing your products over and over again.

That’s why it’s so important to have a social media strategy that has a good mix of content featuring hard, soft and no-sales language at all. Consider it fluff, but it should never be considered filler. Content that engages with your followers authentically with no salesmanship, while speaking to the mission of your brand, can be a fun way to engage with your followers and build brand awareness. They’ll like and share your content without even realizing it’s a billboard for your brand’s logo and mission.

This concept, though, is so hard for some digital marketers to understand. If there aren’t clicks, if there aren’t sales, if there’s not a point of conversion, they feel the content is a missed opportunity at best and a waste of time at worst. But the next time I get into this ongoing debate with a digital marketing friend, I’ll have a secret weapon: a snail.

At Checkmate Consulting, I began managing Diet Center Cincinnati‘s Facebook page less than two months ago. The page’s presence was small: it only had 110 likes at the time of posting this graphic on Jan. 6. But although its presence was tiny, my goals for the brand on social were big. My No. 1 goal in my first 90 days was to help legitimize this brand in its local community, where weight loss center claims and services are automatically met with skepticism, and to increase brand awareness dramatically.

So, the first week of 2016, I made the above graphic in Canva (a handy tool) based on a suggestion by my client. She had seen a version of this graphic above online somewhere and thought it would be cute to post on Diet Center’s Facebook page. I created the above graphic and posted it on Facebook with this caption:

“We believe in you. Do you? #winatlosing”

The caption was short, the message was simple, and it got a response from Diet Center’s small but engaged community on Facebook. So, a couple of days later, I boosted the post for $25 and 14 days.

And the engagement started pouring in.

Hundreds of likes were made to the post, and people started commenting on the post as well bits of encouragement about their own slow but steady journeys to success. But most valuable, the post in 14 days received 73 shares and counting — with 52 shares originating from unpaid views of the post. Individuals who had never heard of Diet Center were sharing our content that shared Diet Center’s mission: that wellness in achievable, if you just keep trying.

By spending 10 minutes creating a clever graphic and $25 to promote this post to Diet Center’s target audience, more than 18,000 people in the Cincinnati, Ohio community ended up seeing this graphic that featured Diet Center’s logo and hashtag.

There wasn’t a conversion page, there wasn’t a sign up form, but we had more than 100 profile views while this post was being boosted. We received more than 20 page likes from this post (a 22 percent increase) and every person who shared this post was in Diet Center’s target demographic: Cincinnati area women, ages 25-60.

But most importantly, Diet Center in all of those eyes was seen as a brand that cares about people and their progress. Telling the story of a brand and making real, authentic connections with people makes turns them from followers to fans. And bottom line, for my sales-minded friends? Fans buy products, and if they receive a positive experience from a product, they become ambassadors for a brand.

Oh, and one last thing: One person who saw this snail messaged the Facebook page to get in touch with a representative — and ended up registering for a diet plan at the Center.

There’s a time and place for a snail for every brand on social media. What’s your snail content?

 

DFTBA: DON’T FORGET TO BE AUTHENTIC

In July 2007, I stumbled upon a video of a guy with nerdy glasses singing a song about the very-near release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was 17 years old, and Hank Green sang and charmed his way into my heart as both a Harry Potter fangirl and a social media user longing for community.

And that day, I became a Nerdfighter.

Nerdfighteria is an online community co-lead by two brothers: New York Times best-selling author John Green (author of a little book called The Fault in our Stars) and his little brother, Hank, who just so happens to run a conference called Vidcon that hosted more than 10,000 Youtube creators and community members last year. These two guys began as just brothers vlogging back and forth to each other each day as a simple video diary to reconnect as siblings. But along the way, they developed an online community with their Youtube channel that I not only did but actively wanted to be a part of as a consumer of digital media.

Their many successes, from CrashCourse to DFTBA Records to blockbuster movies and both scoring interviews with President Barack Obama, showcase how to keep momentum going once you go “viral.” But, in my mind more importantly, these two brothers show how forging communities and being in the community business generate success inherently. These brothers model that by being true to your personal and professional values and forging and authentically building communities, those communities will become loyal and do what you kindly ask. I pre-ordered all of John’s books because I liked John, not because I liked the synopses or the covers looked cool. I wanted to know what my friend on the Internet, John Green, had written — just like how I buy pizza from a pizza shop because the owner is snarky on Instagram and buy my favorite cookies at a local bakery that shares baking tips on Facebook.

I spend dollars to support communities and brands that connect with me.

John in his speech above at this year’s Youtube #Brandcast, a TED-esque infotainment event designed to court traditional mainstream advertisers, talked about how young users are demanding connection and engagement online. Consumers aren’t just buying, they’re looking for brands that talk back, that build communities and enrich lives.

Millennials and Generation Z kids are looking for brands that are authentically engaged in the culture of young consumers, and as marketers, we have an obligation to drop the act and to begin building online communities behind our brands. We need to stop pushing and start pulling; we need to stop selling and start connecting.

If there’s a currency for this next generation, it’s authenticity. We crave it, and we make our purchasing decisions because of it.

Now, I’m 25. I’m one of the so-called original Nerdfighers, one of the first 1,000 subscribers that started watching in 2007, and Hank and John have retired those camcorders that recorded their first vlogs. I’m not a senior in high school, I’m a social media professional (really), and John and Hank employ 30 people to help create the videos, events and projects they love. Their videos have been viewed more than a billion times. Almost as an afterthought, they’re making (a lot of) money doing what they love and being who they are, engaging authentically with their followers daily on Youtube, Twitter, Tumbly and even Snapchat.

I connect with Hank and John, and there are hundreds of thousands of other Nerdfighters who buy products, attend shows and support financially and with their voices the projects that Hank and John lead. They have their own empire — forged organically from a place of love authenticity and transparency.

But the vlogbrothers’ success is also a caution for old-school marketers trying, desperately, to be cool. If traditional brands don’t start forging digital communities like Nerdfighteria, they will lose relevance as fast as you can say “DFTBA.”

Building better websites

For the last two years, we've been providing the highest caliber of content and customer service for our customers at Checkmate Consulting. We've been tweeting, posting, liking and sharing, while building brand awareness and creating authentic, engaged communities for our customers.

It's been an exciting journey so far, and we're thrilled to announce the next step in our journey to being a full-service digital marketing agency.

As of March 1, we'll BEGIN OFFERING Website Design and Maintenance SERVICES.
 

But we didn't intend to go down this road as a company. In January, Mike Luebbering Construction contacted us to design, build and implement a simple, functional website for the family-owned construction company. We were tasked to tell their story simply and completely in two weeks.

Mike Luebbering Construction tasked us with building a website for the family-owned construction company. We did it -- and we did it in a week.

Mike Luebbering Construction tasked us with building a website for the family-owned construction company. We did it -- and we did it in a week.

Our team of digital communications experts with years of website development and creation experience built MikeLuebberingConstruction.com in less than week, tweaking and teasing out content on appropriate channels and testing our content before its launch today. And in less than 24 hours, Checkmate Consulting is happy to report that nearly 150 unique visitors have stopped by MikeLuebberingConstruction.com.

We're excited to be offering Website Design and Maintenance services for current and new Checkmate Consulting customers, who know the importance of a digital presence for their business and brand identity. But it's important to note that we are not web developers; we aren't creating a website from scratch. For our customers, we will be utilizing tried-and-true website management and online content management systems to create fully functional websites. We don't do the coding, we just provide the content and help you tell your story.

And your brand's story needs to be told.

3 Great Ways To Use An Event Hashtag

We live in a social world … a social media world, at least. When you’re out and about at events even in my small(ish) Midwestern city, you’ll see hashtags everywhere. They’ll prompt you on signs; they’ll be on the wall as Twitter feeds. They’ll be ever present on promotional materials and fliers; they’ll dominate the digital conversation. But how do you use them appropriately? Here’s a short guide to using hashtags while you out at events, just in time for all those corporate holiday parties.

1. Use The Hashtag!

It may seem obvious, but in order to increase your reach and be heard during an event’s digital conversation and life, you’ve got to use the hashtag. It’s always best to end a tweet or Facebook post with a hashtag so it doesn’t distract from your content, but always include them. By using an event’s hashtag, you’ll gain more followers and be able to engage with other attendees during and after the event. From your personal accounts, it’s a great way to network at conferences. You’ll never know who will start following you as a result of a simple 140-character observation. Note: Event hashtags can be used across all platforms, but attendees can best utilize them to encourage engagement on Twitter and Instagram.

2. Share Photos With The Hashtag

Tweets with images result in a 36 percent increase in clicks, a 31 percent increase in visits to your profile, a 41 increase in retweets and a 48 increase in favorites, according to a recent social media article by Fast Company. If there’s a keynote speaker presenting or you’re taking a selfie at a vendor booth, take a photo and write a short caption. Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and it’s important to take interesting, engaging photographs that are relevant to an event. Just post it to Instagram, and share it across your other linked platforms. A great one to do? Photos of the event’s opening or closing. Social media managers will be looking for content during those quiet times and are more likely to engage with you from the event’s brand.

3. Engage With The Hashtag

Once you’ve tweeted that quote from a presenter or shared a photo, click on the hashtag and start scrolling. Begin retweeting and/or favoriting interesting or noteworthy tweets or posts from other attendees using the hashtag. It doesn’t have to be a science – just something that catches your attention is all that’s necessary to engage in a digital conversation. Plus, your followers will know that you’re out and about learning things about an industry or organization with your sudden influx of content about a particular subject, which makes you a more relevant content creator and curator. 

3 Reasons To Have A Social Media Icon

For businesses that are consistently feeding information to their customers via social media, it's important that their brand identity doesn't get lost in the fray. Having a social media icon that has a simple, concise brand identity can help you break through the Twitter clutter. Here are three reasons why having a simple social media icon is important to your social media strategy.

1. Icons Are Recognizable

The resizing mechanisms on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms make your 6-inch wide logo a blip in your clients' news feeds. Having a single design element that can be noticed even when it's only 73x73 pixels (or smaller on a mobile device) is social media gold, leading to more clicks and higher responses.

Here are a few examples of effective social media icons. 

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You instantly recognize their brands, but no one of these graphics include an obvious or full company name. Your brand's social media icon should have the same qualities.

2. Icons Are Modern

Logos, although a necessary part of your business, appear outdated on social media. They should a lack of attention to detail and are the first indication that a brand that isn't interested in having a current or contemporary social media presence. If a business is targeted to reach social-media savvy customers, it's particularly important to have a bold, vibrant social media icon. Good colors to use are light and medium blue, warm, soft yellows and cool greens. Ask a graphic designer to create five options, and pick the best one for your brand.

3. Icons Are Urgent

Your logo for your letterhead can be relatable, powerful and friendly (or at least a branding specialist told you that in 2003), but your logo and slogan won't be read on a mobile device. Modern, simple social media icons make a user pause and possibly read to the message. Your eye goes left to right, and an image that is easy to consume on your left can lead your eye to the right to read your content more consistently. 

You can have the best social media icon that works with your brand standards, but if you don't have a compelling message alongside your icon, your gorgeous icon won't generate leads, an increase in web traffic or brand loyalty. Find out about Checkmate Consulting's social media management services here