How to Use Facebook Insights

How to Use Facebook Insights

So you have your business page set up on Facebook, and now you want to see just exactly how well that page is doing. How do you do that, and what is the best way to use that information? That tool is called Facebook insights. Let’s go over all the ins and outs right now!

Why Should You Check Facebook Stats?

This is a great question. Facebook does block a large number of posts from Google, meaning that you have to login to Facebook to see much of the content. If the post is public, however, Google indexes it. Google will notice the number of links you have coming from Facebook to your website.

So what you must remember is, when people talk about you or your page on social media, you (or your pages) need to be relevant for a certain topic. If your page gets a lot of links to it, Google can favorably read that page on your website. By knowing about this and really digging into your Facebook engagement with your followers by using Facebook Insights, you can drastically improve your reach online for your business.

Facebook Insights Requirements

Get 30 Likes – You will not be able to access Facebook Insights if your page has fewer than 30 likes on it. You could buy promotions from Facebook to get to those 30 likes, but it is often just as easy to promote your business page on your personal Facebook page, website, and/or actual store to reach 30 likes that way (and don’t forget family and friends!) Within a couple of hours after getting to that 30th like, the Facebook Insights page will be available to access at the top of your Facebook page.

Historic Data – Facebook stores information about visitors for 180 days. If you want to keep track of the historic data past this cutoff, you need to be sure and export it now and then using the export function in the main Insights menu at the top of your stats.

Time Zone – Unless otherwise stated, Pacific Time Zone is what is used to calculate the data for Page Insights, so you want to make sure to translate that time to your own time zone if necessary.

Glossary – There is a glossary page on Facebook that will help you with all the terms it uses. Some of them can easily trip you up if you are new to all of the Facebook jargon that comes with a business page.

Facebook Page Insights

It is easiest when using the Insights page to open it up in a second tab, so you are able to check all of the stats on your own page. This Insights page will give you a lot of information about your visitors, and it may be more info than you are expecting. Most people voluntarily enter all kinds of details about themselves onto their social media sites. Facebook uses this info to target ads and lead users towards things they are interested in.

Having this information out there is a valuable thing for you and your Facebook page. The Insights page will tell you which posts had the most engagement from your followers and at what times of day most of your targeted audience is active on the social media platform.

Facebook Insights Dashboard

As you click on the Facebook Insights at the top of your page, you will see a set of graphs. These graphs tell you how effective your reach and engagement has been on your page. Just below these graphs, there should be a nice overview of your last five posts. If you are running a campaign, this overview will give you quick information This overview will include:

  • The post type (whether it was a video, link, or an image).
  • If you are targeting a specific audience.
  • The post reach (how many people saw it).
  • The engagement (how many click or likes it got).

If you want even more specifics than this, let’s go section by section.

Likes

The Likes graph shows all your likes and will tell you if your fan base has grown or not. Here Facebook Insights will tell you not only the likes you have gained, but also the likes you have lost. Losses can be due to people not liking your page anymore, or Facebook could just be cleaning up their database.

Facebook does periodic purges because they want to make sure all the members of the network are human, not bots. It is suggested that you make a business page rather than using a profile, since this affects these cleanups. That way when they do a database clean up, you get the most accurate likes for your page.

This page will also tell you the number of paid likes you received. If you want to grow your target audience and the likes on your page, you can buy Facebook ads. These are worth the money, as they allow you to further target and promote to the audience of your choice and can be adjusted per promotion.

Reach

The Reach section is similar to the likes section but will tell you about the number of people who may have seen your post. This means it counts viewers who opened a page from your post rather than just scrolling past it.

Within this page there is a graph overview of Hide, Report Spam, and Unlike actions. This graph can tell you which posts triggered people to move away from your page. This allows you to see how you need to adjust your posts to your audience and if your promoted posts are working.

Visits

When you look at the Visits tab in Facebook Insights, it will tell you which tabs on your page have been visited the most. This can be on your timeline, info tab, or videos tab. Most of the time it will show the visits to your timeline, but it can be nice and helpful to see that other tabs on your page are visited as well. You will want to make sure that there is enough content or information on these tabs in case they receive visitors.

There is a second graph on this page that tells you the referrals to your Facebook page. This is nice to know if you want to see if your visitors are coming from your website or other places. Monitoring this from time to time is helpful, as it will start to show you if you are getting visitors from Google or other locations. This is a great way to see if your advertising campaign outside of Facebook is working.

Posts

The Posts section of the Facebook Insights page is all about your content. It is not only about what content you post, but also includes an overview of how many visits you get in an hour.

This page is also set in the Pacific Time Zone, so you will need to adjust accordingly for calculating peak times for visitors to know when to post based on your location. This Insight also gives you impression counts per post, which allows you to analyze what type of post works best for your audience.

With all of these options to look at on the backside of your Facebook business page, you can see what is working and what needs altering. It is also a great way to take the guessing game out of some of the inner workings of social media. Facebook Insights is like having a marketing person in your back pocket! Speaking of which, if you want more Facebook marketing tips from Virtual Market Advantage, check out this blog that goes over the best way to write and design Facebook ads!

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Guide for Writing Facebook Ads

Guide for Writing Facebook Ads

You have just started promoting your business online, and you want to get your name and logo out there. It’s a good idea to get business recognition in the world of social media. With Facebook on pace to have over 2 billion users by the end of 2017, it’s a good idea to start there. But how do you write a Facebook ad, and what is the best way to get it done? We will go over the best and simplest ways to write Facebook ad copy and get your brand visible to the nearly 2 billion users ASAP!

Criteria for Successful Facebook Ads

It is visual. If you are going to market to Facebook, you need to remember that no matter what kind of ad you create, the image you use needs to have good visual appeal. A visual ad is more likely to be shared and remembered than purely written content.

It is relevant. You must remember that you are spending money to get clicks and views for your ad. If your ad is not relevant to your target audience, then you are wasting your money. As you create the ad, it is best to keep your audience and goals in mind before you put it out there.

It has enticing value. Giving the reader a reason for clicking on the ad to learn more about your product is key. You need to tell them why your product is different and why they should click on your ad. Your proposition to the reader needs to be believable and reasonable for you to follow through with, like offering 20% off a product or purchase.

It has a clear call to action. Having a good visual ad that is relevant is great, but with no clear call to action for your audience, they may not know what they need to do next. A good example of a call to action (or CTA) might be “Buy now to save 20%!” This adds a sense of urgency to the viewer of your ad and will encourage them to click on it right now.

Placement of Your Text Within the Ad

Where you place your text within your ad matters. You want your important messages where they will be best seen. If your audience is looking at the image, it only makes sense to put your key message on that image.

Having text within an image creates a great direct message to your audience, but Facebook will not let you publish or use an image where text copy takes up more than 20% of it. This includes not only what you have placed over your image, but also text-based logos and watermarks, as well as text in your video thumbnails.

Where you place the text on the ad matters too. Facebook uses gridlines for their ads, and if your text falls over those gridlines, it is possible that Facebook could misread your image as full of text when determining that 20% rule. You can save yourself the trouble my testing your image with this tool before you submit your ad.

Facebook suggests that you feature just one product in your image or use a plain blurred background. Also keep in mind that they will not allow you to use any “before and after” photos.

Keep Your Text Copy Simple

There is no need to be over the top and wordy on your Facebook ad. You will lose your audience if there is too much to read. You want to catch their attention with a clear call to action and relevant image; one that they will stop and click on as they are scrolling through their Facebook feed on their lunch break.

As you are creating that eye-catching call to action, do not be afraid to say something that may seem a little over the top. Also, sometimes people need instructions. It is fine to include something like, “Click here to sign up!”

Facebook likes you to keep your text copy at 90 characters or less. This should be easy, because this is a quick ad to get your audience’s attention anyway. Once they click on your ad, then you can give them more detailed information. This needs to be a quick “Hey! Look at me!” type of thing. Remember as you are creating your short simple text that it needs to be relevant to your audience.

Creating Facebook ad copy can seem overwhelming at first, but the key is to keep it simple with a great call to action and a great image. This is the fast-paced world of social media after all. Think of what would make you stop scrolling and click on something. Make it personal to you and relevant to your customers and the audience will follow.

If you want more information on using social media, check out Virtual Market Advantages blog about generating high-quality leads!

How To Design A Website for Beginners

How To Design A Website for Beginners

With information at everyone’s fingertips these days, any successful business really needs a good website. You might be worried that setting up a website will cost a lot of money, but that is no longer the case. There are useful, easy-to-use, cheap tools and great tips out there available for everyone. With this information, even a person that has never built a website before can create a good one. If you’ve never built a website and don’t know how to code, here are a few ideas that will get you going, help you along the way, and keep you from walking into common mistakes. Even you can learn how to design a website yourself!

Good Hosting

What is hosting? When you create your website, the first thing you need is a place to put it. Information on the Internet actually takes up space, like when you install new software on a hard drive on your computer. This space is known as your website hosting. Think of it as a couch for your website to sit on with its visitors. With hundreds of hosting websites out there, you need to make sure you use a stable and reputable hosting account like BlueHost or Host Gator. Using a no-name provider could end up costing you a lot of downtime, lost files, and poor customer service. Picking the right hosting company is a crucial first step as you build your website.

Picking a Domain Name

So you’ve decided on your hosting, but what are you going to name your website? There are a few rules that are good to follow as you pick your website name, or domain.

  1. If the website is for your business, your domain should match your company name as closely as possible. Ex: YourCompanyName.com
  2. If the website is for yourself, then YourName.com is a great option.
  3. If the website is about something that interests you, try to come up with a name that makes the purpose of the website clear.

Domain names will commonly end with .com, .org, or, .net. However, within recent years, a large amount of domain extensions have arisen. Now your website can end with almost any word imaginable, with examples ranging from .pizza to .agency. The best thing to do right now though is to stick with the ones that are commonly used, as the extension of domains has not really gained ground yet.

A few things to keep in mind as you choose a domain are:

  1. Is is brandable?
  2. Is it memorable?
  3. Is it catchy?

Make sure that your domain is as short and to the point as it can be and that it is easy to add to a business flyer or card. Overall, if you like it and it fits what you are going for, then use that domain.

Content Management without Coding

After you have your hosting set up and your website domain in place, it is time to sit down and figure out just how you want to design your website. You want to make sure it not only looks great, but also that it is easy to mange once it’s set up. Some planning ahead will make it easier for you to keep your site up-to-date without taking up large amounts of your time.

The best way to go about simplifying your website is to consider using a content management system, also called a CMS, like WordPress. A CMS allows you to change how your site looks as well as update the content without having to have any knowledge in coding or advanced design. It is a simple way to update your text and images by easily setting up what you want to be featured. The CMS takes care of the hard work for you. What makes this even better is that there are thousands of users working in WordPress, so there are many tutorials, how-to’s, and troubleshooting guides out there for you to go to if you need help. WordPress is easy to install, and most hosting companies will even install it for you.

Designing Your Website

When you start designing your website, there are no real rules of the Internet. If it fits your style and what you want it to look like, then go for it. However, you might want to take a look at some popular sites and identify the common features that you may want to incorporate into your own site. Whether you are looking at themes and using a CMS, or designing it totally on your own, there are some great examples out there that can get you great results.

Keep Your Website Clean and Simple

Decide what information is most important to your users, and make sure that this information is prominent on the home page. Less important information can be placed on other pages that will connect to your home page.

Make sure the site does not look too busy or come across as confusing. Your main message should be clear to visitors coming to your site within 10 seconds of them landing on your page. A good example of this is limiting yourself to one or two easy-to-read fonts throughout the entire site. Decide on a color palette. Do not go for using every color in the rainbow. Simple and to-the-point all the way through is the best way to design a great website. Also double and triple check that your site doesn’t have any spelling mistakes, broken links, or other kinds of errors.

Easy-To-Use Navigation

If you want your visitors to stay on your website, you need to make it easy to use. Make sure your menu is easily found and the options are clear. You can use sub-menus as well to keep similar pages together without having all options on one page. Keep your information updated and clear.

Provide Contact Information

No matter what information you put on your site or how much information there is, your main goal should be to make it easy for the customer or visitor to contact you. Based on your business and website, this will look different for every site. You may only need an email address, while others may want to post an address and directions to a brick and mortar store. No matter what the information is, just make sure that you get your contact information on the website and that it is easy to find.

Design to Find

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a system used to get your website ranked higher in search engines like Google and Yahoo. Even if you have the most beautiful, useful website out there for your niche, if you’re landing on the 100th page of a Google search for similar businesses in your area, your site isn’t being seen. There are tools within your CMS that can help you design a website that will rank higher in the search engines. One example for WordPress is the plugin Yoast SEO, which helps in numerous ways to manage your site and its content optimally for search engines.

Responsiveness

In the past, you could expect your customers to only visit your website from a desktop computer. In modern times, people visit all kinds of websites from many different devices with various screen sizes. From tiny iPhones to huge monitors, you have to think about how your website will respond to all devices. You can do this by cross-checking what your website looks like pulled up on each type of device. It should look like it is designed to fit every size of screen and not just the computer screen you used to design the site. WordPress and its plugins make it pretty easy to create a responsive site. Obviously it’s hard to actually own every type of device, but a quick check on a friend or family member’s tablet, phone, or desktop once in a while is all you need.

All of this information on how to design a website might seem like a lot, but with some planning ahead and basic research, you can be sure the website you build will be a great tool in getting your business off the ground. If you want more information on website design, SEO, and more, check out Virtual Market Advantage’s other blogs hereThis one goes over how to protect your contentwhen you put it out there on the Internet.

Using a Disclaimer on your Website

Using a Disclaimer on your Website

If you are running any type of online business, it is a safe bet that you need a legal disclaimer just as much as you need a privacy policy and a website terms of service. No matter where you go these days, there is almost always some type of disclaimer posted or attached somewhere. There they are, on the toys you buy or the wet floor you walk across. If you see them on things like that, you can be assured that you need one as you are running an online business too. It is no different from a brick and mortar store in the sense that you will have customers coming and going from your online store just as you would customers coming in and out of that front door. And if those customers end up feeling like they were harmed by your product or information you provided, you can end up taking the brunt of a lawsuit.

People are willing to file lawsuits for all kinds of reasons, such as using information they gathered from a website in a way that harmed them and blaming the business. So how do you know when you need a disclaimer, and just how do you write these one for your website? From blog posts, legal advice, and affiliate marketing, there are certain kinds of disclaimers needed. We will look at these now and go over when you need them and why.

What is a Website Disclaimer?

A disclaimer is simple legal statement that “disclaims” you from some type of legal liability. What you are doing is basically warning anyone that comes to your website that they could be harmed in some way by acting on your advice or by purchasing the materials or products you are selling. You are also letting them know that you will not be held responsible for those damages you just warned them about.

You don’t need to be selling something as obvious as sharp knives online for a customer to believe that your website harmed them. Ultimately, a disclaimer is your statement that you want people to know there are limitations to what they can and cannot do with the information found on your website or with the products you sell. You’d be amazed how people manage to hurt themselves on seemingly-harmless bits of advice or items.

There is not one set disclaimer that is perfect for all websites. What goes into your legal disclaimer will be set within the type of business you run. If you are a healthcare provider, your disclaimer will be different from the disclaimer of a bath products vendor.

What Should I Include in my Disclaimer?

Again, depending on what your business is, the disclaimer wording will vary with what you are selling or the advice you are handing out. What should be the most obvious at this point is that when you put your website disclaimer up, it will not be a one-size-fits-all notice. It may be best for your business to have a short and to-the-point disclaimer, or it may need to be much more complex and multi-paragraphed. If you are unsure of what to include within your disclaimer, it might be best to consult with an experienced attorney so that you ensure that all your bases are covered.

What Types of Disclaimers Are There?

There are some different types of disclaimers that should be considered for your website:

Opinionated Content: You will want to remind your readers that your site contains your opinion and does not reflect the opinions of any organization you are affiliated with. This helps to show that if you work with a certain company, you are not making official statements on the behalf of that company.

Nature of the Site: Let the readers know the nature of your website. This is where a blog will differ from a website, as a blog has a rotating door of changing content that usually includes conversations and comments. It is a good idea to make clear what type of site you are running, as your audience will differ based on what your blog is about.

Terms of Use: You will want to indicate that any information you provide is accurate and true to the best of your knowledge, but there may be omissions or mistakes. This is a good disclaimer to use for either a website or a blog.

Not a Professional: You need to indicate that you are not a professional (if that is indeed the case). Whatever the topic may be that you are writing about, you must remind everyone that your information should not be seen as professional advice, unless you actually are a professional in that field.

I am a Professional, but… : If you are a professional on the topic your website or blog post is about, you want to make sure to share that information. However, you also need to remind your visitors that your content is for informational purposes only. State that even through you are a professional, they also need to consult directly with a professional before any action is taken for their particular situation, whether it be legal action or health related.

Hold Harmless Clause: This is a type of clause where you remind your visitors that the information you present is entertainment and/or opinion only. It should not be taken as personal advice, and you can state again that if your readers are relying on your website information and will act upon it, that it will be at their own risk.

Reservation of Rights: Here you should indicate that you reserve the right to change how you manage your website or blog, and that you may change its focus and/or content at any time.

If there would be a case for confusion from anything within your site, you want to really make everything clear. It is always better to be safe than sorry. You also want to make sure that your disclaimer can be easily found and easily understood.

If you want more information about Internet safety, check out Virtual Market Advantage’s blog about protecting your online content from being stolen.

How to Make Money … by Spending Money

How to Make Money … by Spending Money

It seems like no matter what website you visit, there is an ad there trying to sell you something. Do you ever click on it? You might (maybe accidentally), but most of the time you’ll pass it by. So how do you take your own website and turn it into a money-maker, if most of your visitors skip clicking on the ads? There are a few steps you can take to make more money, but it will require you to invest some of your own money first.

“You have to spend money to make money” is an old saying, but it’s true for many businesses. By investing in high-quality products, whether physical items or software, you can improve your business, draw in customers, and keep your clients more satisfied with your products or services. By spending some money on better equipment and tools, you can often save money by saving yourself valuable time.

Stand Out With Design

So you’ve decided to build your website yourself. Great! This is a fantastic way to save money for your business, as long as you get it done well. You are most likely using WordPress as your design platform. This is highly recommended. WordPress has so many great templates for websites that are free, but tons of other websites have already used these. While it does save money to use the free templates and WordPress on your own, this does not compare to a custom-built website that is designed specifically around your business. This is where hiring someone to custom design your site is worth the extra money if you have it to spend.

If you just do not have the extra money to spend on hiring someone, you can always buy a premium theme on WordPress. This is a great option for a couple of reasons. When you buy a premium theme, it will most likely come with support, whereas most free themes do not. It is also more secure and less likely to have someone hack into it. Considering these things, it would be well worth the $40 it would cost to purchase a premium theme.

Invest in your Website

Okay, it may seem obvious that you need to invest in a good website, since it’s such an important part of a modern business. Seriously though, it is worth your money to hire a company that will build you a great website that is easy to use and has everything you and your clients need. This takes the stress off of you for maintaining the site and lets you run your business from the other side and focus on what you are best at within your business.

Will this cost money up front? Yep. Should you pay a monthly fee to have the company keep it fresh and current? Definitely. If you do this, your website will stay fresh and current, which is very important for modern businesses on the Internet. An updated site will keep your customers coming back as well as draw in new ones. This in turn will bring you more profit and make the money you invested in a great website worth it. By using someone to custom-build your website, it will also help you stand out in the crowd of thousands of websites for similar businesses online.

Make your Website Mobile-Friendly

Making your website mobile-friendly goes along with the previous topic, but is equally important. This is another solid reason to hire a company to build your site custom to you and your business, unless you know what you’re doing in WordPress. Any great website-development company will make your site mobile-friendly. This is critical now that most people browse the Internet and even do their shopping from their smart phone or tablet.

Spend on the Right Technology

Which company you choose to host your website is very important. The hosting provider will play a key role in ensuring site speed and good performance. This is where many businesses make the mistake of settling on the cheapest hosting option. While the cost can be just a small difference, a cheap purchase here can be a costly mistake in the long run. Slower site speeds have proven to cut down on site conversions. Basically, a good web host will be the key difference in a site that takes forever to load or an easily accessible site. You must make sure your site is up and running fast at all times in order for you to retain customers and make more money.

Investing into managed WordPress hosting will help you save time by having someone else do the troubleshooting and making sure you have the latest technologies available no matter how many plugins your site uses or how many changes are made to the site. Also, you wont have to worry about dealing with security breaches to your site, having to back it up, or doing the updates yourself.

It also a good idea to invest in good cloud storage. Free or inexpensive cloud storage is usually that price for a reason. Do not skimp here, and go for a good quality to ensure that your data is safe and secure.

Spend on Marketing

Now that you have invested in a professionally managed and custom built website, you need to draw your customers in. How do you do that when there are thousands of competitors attempting to do the same thing? You have to get out there and battle for every customer. This will include methods like utilizing search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and great content marketing.

Sure you can do your research on using SEO, and you can post your content to social media all day. But these things can end up feeling like an extra full-time job. Many people find that providing content, blogging, keeping current with SEO, and posting daily to social media is impossible to do while still running their business. Another option is investing in pay per click (PPC) ads, but this again will require the time to research and make sure your money invested actually brings you customers and a return on investment.

Content management and SEO are things your website and business will need to thrive online, but it comes at the cost of time to you, and I am betting this is time you don’t have. Here again is where it would be smart to hire an online marketing firm that will handle all of this for you. Luckily, Virtual Market Advantage can do this for you, with as much or as little input from you as you like. It may take some money to properly set up your website, but it is sure to being you plenty of money back to more than cover the costs.

All of these online factors will help your business grow and give you peace of mind. Using these digital marketing tools will give you an edge over your competitors. From social media management to email marketing, there are many avenues you can take to stay competitive and grow your online presence. Know how to make money by spending it wisely where it will make the most impact.

Strategies for Generating Leads Through Social Media

Strategies for Generating Leads Through Social Media

If you are looking to expand your business and get some customers and new revenue coming your way, you may want to consider generating leads by using a social media platform. There are several ways to do this, and of course there are multiple social media platforms to choose from. Below, we’ll go over a few lead-generating strategies that will have new customers and income flooding to your business.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

Once you have decided try generating quality leads through social media, you need to make sure that the platforms you choose are the right ones for your business. There are so many platform available, from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn and more. Making sure you know which one is the best to target your customer base will increase your odds of getting good quality leads.

A good start for learning which platforms to use comes from taking a look at B2B (direct business to business) marketers. Some surveys have shown that businesses find the most success with leads through LinkedIn and Facebook. If you are unsure about which sites contain your targeted audience, you can look at analytics data for each. This post lays the demographics out pretty clearly for the major sites.

Using Facebook

If you decide to use Facebook as your platform, the first thing you need to do is take your Facebook page seriously. Use it as a sales page, not a personal one. Host the free sample offers and giveaways here, as this is the platform that most people are likely to share your promotions on or compete with their friends in an online contest. Basically any type of contest or giveaway you can think of is a great way to get names and emails from potential leads on Facebook. It’s also super easy for your audience to share the promotion with their friends for even more reach.

You will most likely have to invest in some Facebook ads at some point if you really want to reach your target market on that site. The nice thing about this is that ads bought on Facebook are less than half the price-per-click than if you were to use AdWords (about $0.80 per click compared to $2.50). So if you want to use advertisements to generate leads, then Facebook is a relatively cheap option.

Using Twitter

Not as seasoned a social media platform as Facebook, Twitter is still fairly new to the game. This means that it can and most than likely will go through some major changes as it develops. Even so, Twitter can really help you generate quality leads, as it is one of the most-used social platforms out there.

To accomplish this, you should use Twitter cards. This is a similar system to Facebook ads. Take full advantage of these cards by choosing the best image for whatever you are promoting and be sure to keep the content short and sweet.

Another great option for connecting with your audience on Twitter is by using its Live Events, which is a way to directly communicate live with your audience. Maybe think about hosting a bi-weekly or monthly ‘ask me anything’ event. If you end your chats with a plug for your lead-generating campaign, it offers you a big value without directly advertising for your company.

Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the platform that gives you the most direct access to your peers. It is the option that gives you the most leads for B2B, so logically it is one of the first places you should start for generating leads. It was also recently acquired by Microsoft, so this means that even more professionals will be using the platform to network and connect with each other in the future.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn was built for professionals and business owners to connect. This differs from Facebook and Twitter, which were built for and are used mostly by people looking to casually connect with friends and coworkers.

Offer free samples

One great trick for directly connecting with potential leads is to offer them free samples in return for some information. Everyone loves freebies! These types of campaigns are just the thing that people like sharing on their social media pages. Offering a quality sample with a quick form to fill out at the front to capture some good lead data is great. Make sure you have an option at the end of the form where they can then share the free sample offer on their personal page to all their followers.

Aside from the free sample offer, you can also run a giveaway campaign where the person is asked to enter some information in exchange for exclusive content. This can lead to success for both you and those who participated. The participant got educational or entertaining exclusive content, while you got new names and leads.

Discount Codes

Discount codes fall under a similar idea as offering a free sample or running a short contest. Try offering a discount code for a product of yours after the viewer fills out a short form. If you place a clear call to action or time limit on this discount code as you promote it, you create a sense of urgency for the person to fill out the form as well as share it with others, so that can choose to get the discount before the time expires. Many consumer companies are using this tactic as well, as it costs less than running the discount ads elsewhere. You can use this technique to easily generate leads that you can use later for email promotions and other outreach projects.

In short, knowing which social media platforms best fit your target market and which strategy to use while promoting is key. It’s always a great idea to try different methods and see which ones work best for you and your business. Also note that while generating quality leads is not fool-proof, by following these ideas, you will generate more leads and higher quality leads across all the social media platforms. If you want more information on SEO, social media, blogging, and more, check out Virtual Market Advantage’s blog here!

The Ultimate Guide for How to Use Hashtags

The Ultimate Guide for How to Use Hashtags

Hashtags are found everywhere in social media these days, and have even permeated into our everyday language. The symbol for hashtags was previously only known as the pound sign (#) on telephones. What does using a hashtag mean? Where does that hashtag go once you put it out on the Internet? Do they really serve a purpose? When used well, they are definitely very useful for spreading and finding information online and reaching out to your audience. This blog will go over how to use hashtags for your business while making them fun to use at the same time!

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or phrase with no spaces that has a pound sign in front of it. It is essentially a word, phrase, or sentence fragment that has been smashed together. The ‘hashtag’ has become so widely recognized that the Oxford Dictionary added the word to its dictionary in 2010 and Scrabble added it to their dictionary in 2014.

The hashtag was first introduced and most widely used on Twitter, but has since found its way onto Facebook, Instagram, and countless other sites. Now that so many websites use hashtags, the format links them together so that people using the same kinds of hashtags on one site can easily find more information on the other. All this sounds great, but #HowDoIHashtag? Knowing how to use hashtags well is important. The more specific you are with them, the more you reach out to your target audience.

For some formatting basics, you capitalization doesn’t matter too much when using hashtags for reach purposes. Here, we’ll capitalize each word to make them easier to read, which is a good thing to do for longer hashtags or ones that can be read multiple ways without clarification. Many people only capitalize the first letter, no letters, or whatever they feel like capitalizing in the moment. No capitalization is just fine for shorter hashtags. Also, remove any punctuation from the sentence, including commas and apostrophes.

Be Specific

So you think you are ready to use hashtags to start promoting and marketing your business. Great! First off, you need to know your target audience. Imagine that your service is dog grooming. You could use the hashtag #Dog, but that is way too general. By using something more specific like #DogGrooming, you would get a more targeted audience to what you are actually wanting to sell. If you are trying to promote something other than a specific product, such as a photo, make sure the hashtag is specific to that as well.

Relevant Hashtags

When you are using hashtags for your business, try and come up with ones that have yet to be claimed by another business. This is where it can be tricky. You do not want to use your actual business name as the hashtag, but you want something that is relevant to it. However, tons of hashtags have already been claimed by businesses around the world.

As an example of good branded hashtags, many cities use official hashtags for tourists to use when they are posting pictures from a vacation. This is a great way to promote travel to their city using people who have been there and are posting their own pictures. A few examples of this are:

  • South Dakota uses #HiFromSD
  • Florida uses #LoveFL
  • Disney World uses #DisneyWorld

By doing this and asking audiences to use these branded hashtags when posting to social media, everything from baseball teams to travel destinations to small businesses can reach a target market while creating a good research tool for its viewer base. It also gives them follower-generated content to use on their website and social sites. The initial branding may take some time and research, but will be a powerful tool in the long run.

Short and To The Point

It can be fun to get witty and creative with hashtags, but make sure you do not make them too long. For example: #DontMakeAHashtagAnEntireSentenceLong. Even with capitalization, is that pleasant to read? Sure, a longer hashtag may target a very specific audience and provide lots of information, but it will not trend or search well at all. Pretty much no one would think up the same long sentence in a search. Also, no one wants to type in that many characters, and this hashtag would take up most of the character limit on Twitter.

Being too clever in your hashtags may hurt you as well. You want people to naturally search for your hashtag, not have to be super clever to even find it. Being simple and short with the hashtag will get you more searches and more eyes towards your business.

More Content than Hashtags

When you are posting to social media, no matter which platform, make sure you have more content in your post than you do hashtags. A post crammed full of hashtags overwhelms and annoys many readers. Just because Instagram reportedly lets you use up to 30 hashtags in a single post, does not mean you should actually do that! It is hashtag overload, and often leaves you looking desperate. Sure it will gain you more viewers, but with this many hashtags, the visitors you gain will most likely be spammers rather than real people or people who are not in your target audience. If you like to use many different hashtags, make a list and spread out their use in several different posts over time.

If your post just repeats information and does not add to the general conversation of the topic, it is sometimes best to leave hashtags off entirely. When you are just reposting a breaking news story or a DIY idea you found online, there is no need to hashtag, since you are essentially just repeating something that isn’t your own content that was already out there.

Cater to the Social Media Sites You Use

Each social media site has its own preferred way to use hashtags to get the most out of them while using the platform. Do the research for each site to find the best way. Instagram tends to be more focused on the content description, while Twitter is more focused on the topic of the conversation. Take the time on each social media platform to look into what is the most relevant hashtag for your topic and go from there. If you use LinkedIn, keep in mind that that site does not like hashtags, so using them there can actually hurt your posts.

Hashtags on Twitter

For Twitter, the hashtag is used widely to tie everyone together in an ongoing conversation. For example, if you use #2016PresidentialDebate and click on the hashtag in Twitter, it will pull up all posts for that hashtag. This connects people who are not actually friends and allows them to all be a part of the bigger conversation. There is a hashtag stream that Twitter uses that allows you to connect with people in several ways within the same hashtag. It goes something like this:

  • Top: This is the stream of tweets that have seen the most engagement, usually those that have the most recent followers.
  • Latest: This is the live stream of those tweeting out a hashtag at that very moment.
  • People: This is a list of the top Twitter accounts that you can follow relating to the current popular hashtags.
  • Photos: This a collage of photos that are included in the tweets that use the trending hashtags.

Knowing this system for Twitter can help you find your best target audience and help you in figuring out the best hashtags to use. You can see what kinds of hashtags become the most popular and formulate your own hashtags in a similar way.

Hashtags on Facebook

Hashtags on Facebook are much like Twitter, where they tie together people who do not know each other. Unlike Twitter, Facebook profiles can be private, so when the hashtag is clicked on, the person’s information and posts may not be visible. Most hashtags used on Facebook are by brands, publishers, and influencers rather than individuals using them to connect to strangers.

Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags have the same effect on Instagram as they do on Twitter and Facebook, but the search for a hashtag is much easier. Just go to the search bar in Instagram and type in the hashtag you are looking for to find results including that word or phrase.

Hashtags in the Offline World

Can you use hashtags outside of the Internet for your marketing? Sure! They can be great on fliers to help with a promotion or fundraiser drive you might have. They are also great for weddings, since guests don’t all know each other but will all be posting photos. Having a unique hashtag will create an album of sorts for all customers, guests, or clients. The research may take awhile, but your business will reap the benefits of a good hashtag in the long run. #ExploreHashtags

Hopefully this blog helps you develop your strategy for how to use hashtags for your business or event. If you want more information about social media, check out Virtual Market Advantage’s other blogsThis one goes over how to use social media to promote your blog posts!