Hashtag Best Practices for a Wider Social Media Reach

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 31, 2015 9:30:00 AM

images-6It began as a writing style popular in the Twitterverse but now the use of hashtags is seen across social networks. In fact, the hashtag’s popularity has grown so much that the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year.

Hashtags are handy tool to broaden your social reach. Words or phrases affixed with a hashtag allow for the grouping of similarly tagged messages to be found in electronic searches, which means anyone interested in the topic can find you. Your messages are not just limited to your followers.

It’s no surprise that hashtags are especially useful on Twitter.  A study by Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags get 2X more engagement (clicks, retweets, favorites and replies) than tweets without them.  Research from Twitter itself found that brands may see up to 50% more engagement by using hashtags (100% for individuals). 

Google+ automatically gives posts hashtags depending on their content, but users can edit or add more.  Hashtags can be especially important here since hashtags are now included in Google searches.

images-5The jury is still out on whether or not hashtags provide any benefit on Facebook.  Research from EdgeRank Checker found that using hashtags has no effect on reach and posts without hashtags outperform those with hastags.  However, many social media experts believe that hashtags should still be used on Facebook as long as they’re used correctly (see this helpful article from our friends at PostPlanner).  We’re inclined to agree.

Tips for Using Hashtags:

1.  Don’t Go Overboard  

Buddy Media’s research found that 2 hashtags are the maximum number that should be used. Posts that use more see an average of 17% less engagement.  Another study from Social Baker had similar findings when it comes to hashtags on Facebook:

  • Posts with 1 or 2 hashtags averaged 593 interactions
  • Posts with 3 to 5 hashtags averaged 416 interactions
  • Posts with 6 to 10 hashtags averaged 307 interactions
  • Posts with more than 10 hashtags averaged 188 interactions

Instagram is the lone exception to this rule. Posts will 11+ hashtags get the most engagement.

2.  Double Check the Meaning of Your Hashtag

Before adding a hashtag to any post, do a quick search and see how it is currently being used. There is no benefit to choosing one that is being used elsewhere for an entirely different topic or has an entirely different meaning.

3.  Do a Little Homework to Find the Best Terms

Use tools like to find other trending terms related to your post.  You can piggyback on other hashtags to increase your visibility and reach.  However, make sure the hashtag is relevant. 

images-74.  Be Careful with Placement

Don’t put a hashtag in the middle of a post.  It’s disruptive. Place your hashtags at the end of your post as to not interrupt the flow of your message.

5.  Be Consistent Across Channels

If you are using a specific hashtag on one network, then use it on all your networks. You can “brand” your hashtag this way, encouraging fans and followers to use it on whichever social network they are engaging on.


Topics: SEO and Content Strategy, Best Practices for Businesses, Content Marketing, Social Media Best Practices

Not Actively on Social Media? It May Be Costing Your Business More Than You Think.

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 16, 2015 12:59:59 PM

Billions of people around the world use social media and the conversations they have in their networks matter enormously. That is because people trust the opinions of other people over traditional sales and advertising messages.

As a result, businesses that aren’t engaged in social media may be putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage, not only because they lack a direct connection with customers but also the sources that influence their customers – friends in social media networks.

The cost of being absent from social media, or as Trevor Young says a disconnected business, is already apparent but likely to grow in the coming years for a number of reasons:

  1. Older consumers are becoming increasingly Internet savvy and influenced by social media content.
  2. The billions of new consumers emerging onto the market have never lived without social media and expect to engage with companies across multiple social media networks as well as other digital and real life touch points.
  3. Content generated by the users of a product or brand (rather than experts or company-generated material) is becoming an even more powerful form of influence as people seek the most relevant opinions. That means connected strangers could become the power influencers of the future.

Let’s look at why these trends make the development of a social media strategy critical.

1. The internet-savvy older consumers

It’s a myth that social media is a young person’s game. Globally, older users are becoming more and more Internet savvy and are currently driving growth on social media platforms. For example, a study by Global Web Index last year found a 46% increase in users age 45 to 54 years on Facebook, 56% on Google+, and Twitter users aged 55 to 64 grew nearly 80%.

Insider Retail says some 58% of Internet users aged 50 to 64 now use social media and almost one third of those online aged 65 and over use social media.

Given that we have a large, cashed-up older population and that the population overall is aging, this is an important trend. Even those brands that claim their business is with older people can no longer use this as an excuse to stay away from social media networks.

Although there is a difference in the level of social trust between generations, across all age groups, personal recommendations are highly valued. What’s shifted is that it no longer matters whether those recommendations are face to face or as a result of virtual connection.

Older people are increasingly influenced by the content they find in social media; this is whether it’s information on a retail product or professional and investment information. For example, Cogent Research found up to 70% of wealthy investors made personal investment decisions that were influenced by content they found in social media networks.

Businesses that want to reach this audience need to take into account that they are spending time on networks and respond to the material they find there.

2. Emerging consumers are digital natives

Many businesses still think social media is a fad but LinkedIn is almost 12 years old; Facebook has been around for a decade and adds about half a petabyte (or one thousand million million bytes) of data to its network every 24 hours and even relative newcomer Twitter is eight years old and manages 500 million tweets a day.

Social media has been around so long that the generation of consumers now entering the market can claim to never have lived without it. These consumers are a social-first generation and expect to find businesses online, engaged, and across multiple touch points as a matter of course.

The Engaging Millennials: Trust and Attention Survey from McCarthy Group is one of many in recent years that shows how little influence traditional marketing has on younger people, claiming up to 84% of millennials don’t trust advertising and sales messages. They do, however, trust their friends and here again we return to the conversations that these friends are having in social media networks.

Companies that want to reach them need to appeal directly to young people and the sources they trust – their friends – where they are and not where a company wants them to be.

To start, that means being present on social media, understanding what people are saying, and being willing to respond to their questions or concerns in real time.

3. Strangers – the emerging power influencer

Interestingly, new research shows that online, young people increasingly trust the views of complete strangers as much as friends if those strangers are commenting on a product or brand that they have actually used. What they really value is relevant experience.

Writing in Forbes, CMO of Bazaarvoice Erin Nelson cites research that shows for a majority of millennials the comments of strangers who have used a product are more likely to influence purchasing decisions than anything else.

“As they research and buy, most Millennials (84%) are comforted that they have access to the opinions and experiences of strangers, and a majority (64%) of Millennials believe that companies should continue to offer more ways for consumers to share their opinions online in the future.”

A business that provides channels for sharing and engaging is able to build an online footprint that gives it access to those people who are talking about its products and so be more likely to influence the conversations.

Given that the annual spending power of millennials exceeds $200 billion in the US alone and will soon eclipse that of the Boomers, taking buying behavioural preferences into account is critical for business strategy.

A dilemma faced by businesses is that they have to be online and aware of what is happening, but their influence is now secondary to those who use their products.

Nevertheless they have an opportunity to create relationships and an emotional connection with their customers by being online and engaging directly with them, rather than at hands length.

Having a strong online presence means companies can at the very least deal with misconceptions or complaints before they spiral out of control. They can also track consumer preferences and adjust their communications strategy in real time. For example, digital strategist Yeves Perez shows how holding a live Twitter Chat can not only lead to millions of brand impressions but also generate new prospects and warm leads. It can also be used for customer service.

Many things are possible but to influence conversations businesses must first be a part them. That means understanding why social media is important, how it fits into the $8 trillion dollar e-economy to determine how to properly invest in a strategy.

This article originally appeared in the Firebrand blog. Dionne Kasian-Lew is the author of The Social Executive – how to master social media and why it’s good for business (Wiley). Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter @dionnelew, email

Topics: Social Media ROI, Content Marketing, Social Media Best Practices

BIG Content

Posted by BSG Team on Feb 23, 2015 3:41:57 PM

If you read BSG’s marketing predictions for 2015, then you know our thoughts on content marketing.  If you didn’t, we’ll break it down for you: content marketing is here to stay.

A quick Google search will bring up numerous results that will let you come to the same conclusion.  A recent piece by Kapost had some especially interesting stats including:


  • 9 in 10 organizations market with content
  • 79% of marketers report their organizations are shifting to branded content
  • 72% of marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine advertisements, 69% say it’s superior to direct mail and PR
  • 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing
  • 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing


So what’s a company to do if they don’t have budget or manpower to write blog posts, produce newsletters and create other custom content on a regular basis? We’d suggest focusing on Big Content. 

The idea behind big content is quality not quantity.  It isn’t your average blog post.  Instead, it’s content that allows you to concentrate on one important idea in lieu of working feverishly to churn out daily or keep-calm-and-create-content-4-resized-600weekly posts.  Big content can come in any form:  ebook, blog series, infographic, video, video series, ecourse (we could go on and on).  No matter the form, all big content is USEFUL and because of that, big content has LONGEVITY.  It is a resource that people revisit.

Although producing an epic piece of content can be painstaking and time consuming, it’s also invaluable.  Big content establishes your expertise.  Big content cuts through the clutter.  Big content allows your voice to be heard.

Check out these great examples of big content:

Health Insurance Guide

The Best Time to Post on Social Media

Best Make Up Brushes-How To



Topics: Content Marketing, Social Media Best Practices

On Storytelling

Posted by Liza Rodriguez on Feb 18, 2015 3:31:00 PM

Even in today’s digital age, modern brands must still be great storytellers in order to attract and influence consumers and their habits. The difference, however, is both brands and consumers are part of the exercise creating a multi-dimensional storytelling exchange.

157335003_compSuccessful brands use stories to collaborate with their consumers, as well as to educate and entertain them. Consumer-generated stories play a vital role in the identity of a modern brand. This is due to the consumers need to tell their own personal stories, as well as those that do not originate from within the brand. They desire to work together with brands as a means of shaping something bigger than they are, as a means of self-expression and personal participation.

A great story can exist across multiple channels and multiple formats. Not all channels have to relay an entire story and content shouldn’t be illustrated identically across all channels. The truth is, there storytelling-18642are significant advantages to revealing different components of a complex story across linked channels. Each channel’s distinctive strength is leveraged to include additional detail or different importance.

A brand’s presence in the marketplace is dependent on its ability to tell a single story with strength in each main narrative element. Most importantly is the creation of the “big idea,” which serves as the glue that connects and organizes the immense amount of creative assets into a lucid narrative that can help shape and define a brand’s desired outcome.  In short, the general purpose of a story is to relate the events on the surface while promoting common experiences at the core.


Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation

The Science Behind Why Our Brains Crave Infographics (In an Infographic)

Posted by BSG Team on Feb 13, 2015 1:12:00 PM

Check Out the Interactive Infographic Here!

Topics: Content Marketing

Understanding the Science of Content Engagement

Posted by Danya Hejazeh on Jan 27, 2015 1:23:28 PM


Simply put, the amount of information delivered to consumers today far exceeds the amount we can process. The sum of media delivered daily will exceed 74 gigabytes in 2015. As the number of simultaneous media streams increases, our multi-tasking behaviors increase as well. This causes a great deal of content to assume a secondary role, often being pushed into the background. In this competitive content-is-kingconsumption environment, successful content marketing must effectively disrupt another task and also maintain attention. Only truly striking and persuasive content can emerge and become the dominant stream in a multi-stream world.

In this age of divided attention and simultaneous stimuli, achieving successful content engagement relies on more than interesting facts and useful advice.  It also depends on good design.

Compelling design is absolutely vital to content success, but is often neglected. All design elements have some measure of influence on how well a piece of content achieves the following:

  • Seizing the audience’s attention
  • Maintaining engagement
  • Eliciting emotions
  • Delivering a positive consumption experience
  • Can be easily scanned, understood and remembered

You don’t need to be an InDesign wiz in order to create compelling design (but it certainly helps).  Here are 3 design tips anyone can put to use to attract and seize the attention of readers.

  1. Encourage “F” pattern scanning: Studies have shown that people read differently on the web as opposed to how they read a book, for instance. Most people scan rather than read, and more often than not, their eyes read web content in an “F” pattern. Viewers only read below the threshold if they are adequately entertained by the part of the page that is visible.images
  1. Convey the arc of your story promptly. Text and visuals should be arranged so that universal eye patterns identify them. Headings, subheadings and leading sentences must present the essential content and act as a condensed storytelling arc. Typeface clarity and readability must be quality assured at first glance.
  1. Use visual shorthand. Images, especially moving images, are quickly registered by the brain and should be used to garner attention. Studies suggest that the human brain takes only about 13 milliseconds to identify and determine meaning from a visual cue. Visuals in today’s multi-tasking world are absolutely essential. Visual shorthand is taking on a predominant role in content creation. These include ubiquitous icons, signs and symbols that serve as tools for visual content.

   Let Us Help You Tell Your Story

Topics: Content Marketing

8 Content Marketing Tips For Startups To Use

Posted by BSG Team on Jan 5, 2015 5:09:35 PM





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Topics: Content Marketing

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