The Hashtag how to use it on social media to engage with customers

Mike Hawkward of Amuzo Games

“The hashtag, is the biggest tool in cocreation.” So said Mike Hawkyard (pictured above), founding partner of Amuzo Games, Strategy Director of GAMEBRAIN when he presented at this year’s prestigious 13th Mike Warne CIM Bournemouth University Annual Lecture. This got me thinking about the humble and ubiquitous hashtag. I thought I would research it. Do an article. However, I am a pragmatist. Anything I write is about utility. To help readers and customers with stuff. This article is about the hashtag and how to use it on social media to engage with customers. However in this instance, frankly the job is done…By an article already written. You could call this a cop out. But I will add some value. In fact, I suggest if you get into this properly, you develop Hashtag Thinking. This gives better marketing focus across your commercial strategy planning – more of this later. As a serial social media practitioner myself, and hashtag user, there are highlights in the article and some extra points I think worth adding. Here goes. The article:

How to Use Hashtags on Every Social Media Network – view here by Maddy Osman of sproutsocial

Definition

A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.

Creator

@chrismessina

Chris Messina is a former Google employee who worked in developer relations and as a designer on Google+.

When and how to use

A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.

Tools to help with Hashtags

Find and search for #
https://hashtagify.me/
# Performance
https://ritetag.com/

Strategy

Work out hashtags for specific target audiences: your prospects and customers. This is crucial. Examples for Dorset Business Angels where I am a founder director, would be:

Targets

#HighNetWorth
#SophisticatedInvestors
#AngelInvestors
#Dorset

Customers

#DorsetBusinessAngels
#DBAMembers
#DorsetBusinessAngelMembers

Also have hashtags for your unique offers or selling propositions. So for example at Dorset Business Angels, we have

#DorsetBusinessAngelsInvestorDinners
#InvestorDinners

and so on…

Hashtag Thinking

In fact after a while I suggest, this approach like using keywords creates a focus in your work. I call it Hashtag Thinking for better marketing focus across your commercial strategy planning. It can be applied to business plans, marketing plans, campaigns, much of marketing and selling. It’s not restricted to the Hashtag and how to use it on social media to engage with customers. All the hashtag does is draw attention to one word, or phrase for your specific intended customer. Sounds like, 90% of what most of us our trying to do in business, most days of the week. Perhaps the hashtag isn’t so humble?

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Confused

But what exactly does your product or service do?

Do you ever get confused watching an advert thinking, but what exactly does your product or service do? You probably think, “it must be a perfume ad’ “. Or when a nuisance caller phones you up, it takes a while before you realise, it’s another offer for electricity or insurance protection. In this case, the caller is intentionally hiding their offer. However, in this blog, I am writing about how to clearly communicate your offer, how to tell people what your product and service does in a few compelling words. This may sound simple, but many businesses get it wrong. At our investor network and when we work with businesses producing new products at o i solutions, the is problem arises after we see a pitch when one still asks: but what exactly does your product or service do? Why does this happen and how can we avoid it?

Why does this happen?

I think this happens because the product or team designer become so engrossed in their work, the design and so on. We all do this and forget to remember the customer.

The Wrong People

When investors look at a proposition to invest into, it is about the people as well as the idea. That includes of course the lead person but also a good team. With apps, and tech, medical and engineering solutions to select just a few examples, it is critical to have people who understand the market. But important too, you need commercially minded people who understand investors, people, and marketing. And getting to the point of this blog, people on the team who think about checking not just is there are market for the product, but communicating in language and ways the target market will understand, visually, aurally, and verbally.

Making a Product is Simple – huh?

I looked at a wonderfully simple online guide called wikiHow To Develop a Product see here which covers the following simple steps:

Design a product

  • identify consumer need
  • collaborate with designers
  • come up with multiple options
  • get the funding necessary to make a prototype
  • create a prototype

Testing Your Product

  • use the product yourself
  • find an audience
  • do a series of test trials
  • gather criticism
  • revise the product

Developing Your Product

  • come up with an operational budget
  • write up a marketing plan for your product
  • present your product to investors
  • develop the criteria for quality control
  • continue evaluating and innovating your product

Video

How to create a product: steps to making it happen – here

Clear Branding

Branding is a way of identifying your business. It is how your customers recognise and experience your business. A strong brand is more than just a logo; it’s reflected in everything from your customer service style, staff uniforms, business cards and premises to your marketing materials and advertising.

See our Pinterest page with lots of infographics and videos on branding here.

And view our Storify page on branding here.

Here is an excellent article and here are the main points if you are busy:

  • Sound Good – for example alliteration
  • Meaning and benefit – Dorset Business Angels – we say what we do!
  • Correct spelling – avoid errors
  • Avoid initials

I hope you never get asked, except in a positive way, (i.e. from a confused prospect), what exactly does your product or service do?

Good luck!

Peter

Peter Eales

Traffic Light Mantra

Traffic lights work. You see green, you go, red you stop, and amber, you prepare to go or stop. And if you don’t, you are in trouble! They were invented just 30 years after the light bulb (which Edison came up with in 1879), by Lester Wire, in 1912, a policeman in Salt Lake City, Utah, who also used red-green lights. On 5 August 1914, the American Traffic Signal Company installed a traffic signal system on the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. People obey traffic lights, I guess, because of the legal penalties incurred if they do no obey. There is also some degree of moral obligation. I find applying go, and stop to actions is helpful in personal and business planning. I call it the Traffic Light Mantra. I use the word mantra because this is a “statement or slogan repeated frequently” and it takes time, use and repetition for it to work for me. I will share this simple traffic light mantra with red practices for avoid, green do and amber is your toolbox. Use this to create your own list of do’s and don’ts.

In tennis, I use a traffic light principle: green to hit aggressively when everything is good, orange, to review carefully and red, means get out of trouble and beware. This same principle of risk and opportunity assessment/ management can apply to work and other areas of life, I think.

Let me give you some examples.

Red

Only Red-Traffic-Light

In simple terms this means do not do something. Or you do so at your own risk. It’s a bit like Room 101 on TV but for business. Here is what Entrepreneur Magazine said, What Not to Do:
“A seasoned entrepreneur reveals the 17 most common mistakes startups make and how to avoid them — plus, the 5 things you must do to ensure success. – here
My wife, and Pauline who runs the shop at West Hants Tennis shop both put the top item on their “red list”
Rushing – it looks unprofessional. The solution, just start sooner.
Here are a few more Red list items  – a mix of mine and some from colleagues, you will have your own!
End of the day decisions – avoid these.
End of the day letters and emails – avoid these.
Copywriting errors – as Drewry’s Wordsmiths advise, do two kinds of checks, 1. sense checks and 2. spell and grammar
Talking not listening – we all can fall foul of this, Susan Scott addresses this brilliantly in her “Fierce Conversations” book video
Over-eating – see new year resolutions people try to follow (!) here
Missing exercise
Missing sleep
Mobile while driving
(unless hands free)
Work / Life imbalance – see the five maps of adult territory and Nick Hixson’s video on aligning business and political objectives.

Amber

only orange-traffic-light

I am intrigued by how to make things happen. It’s why I love Dorset Business Angels and listening to new ideas. If Red in my Traffic Light Mantra is “avoid”, and Green (later below) is “do these”, then Amber is my Toolbox to review, check, prepare ahead of deciding to go or no go, recognise implementation is all important.

Toolbox

Be clear about your traffic light list
You probably have your own toolbox list, if so, use those tools
If not, these may help:
People, trusted advisers – for work and all aspects of life (see Five Maps of Adult Territory)
Project Management – become proficient at this using your preferred tool for example  – people are critical
Day to day work management tools such as:
OneNote or EverNote
Google G Suite Apps
Pocket
MD of Doodle, chooses top apps to help small business owners here – Doodle is also terrific!
Marketing – as a marketer where to begin? I will send you to our digital and social media page – see here
A finance person – be it accountant or FD. Where to stop? Cyber is so critical, IT and more, but a good accountantant, for example Hixsons who we work with have a full range of support services and partners.

Green

Green Lights

This is my list of things to do. My personal Key Performance Indicators KPIs. To some extent, it is the opposite of the “Red” list. But that only tells half the story, because this is about focus, and keeping it simple. So let’s start with,
Results – which is why I list everything and tick them off every day, week and project – or game and match.
You – it’s about others, it mustn’t be about “me”. My work with Steve Barker and all good marketing stresses this.
See, Hear, Feel – is how to stay alert in a meeting or event, and to afterwards recall details, it’s another mantra
Continuous learning – online, onsite, practical and in fact of an kind to fit one’s work, family and social plans.
Satisfy financial & personal objectives – as Herzberg identified it’s not all about the money, but it’s important
Stephen Covey’s 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE would be included in my “green list” ….
SUMMARY:

  1. Be Proactive – on your “Circle of Influence” the things you can change and disregard things you cannot affect.
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first – prioritise
  4. Think WIN-WIN ie solutions that work for you and others
  5. Understand then be Understood
  6. Synergise
  7. Sharpen the saw – keep learning

So there you have it your Traffic light mantra with red practices for avoid, green do and amber is your toolbox. Use this to create your own list of do’s and don’ts.

Good luck

Peter

dog-agile

Your agile game plan

Your agile game plan is to be lean and have a complete business plan as a strategy. Here is how with tools and templates to help you. The trick is to have tools and templates for specific tasks which helps you to get the job done quickly and easily. The definition of agile is to move quickly and easily: necessary in a competitive market. Your business is agile but have a complete business plan as a strategy, or series of strategies as your wider game plan. We supply a Business Plan template that you can use or adapt. Funding organisations still ask for business plans so however useless, theoretical, or silly they may seem, it is sensible to create or at least know what yours should look like. In short have an agile game plan.

Waterfall to Agile

Plans used to be sequential, lengthy, hard-copy, written by department and with a series of milestone dates, hence the term “waterfall” i.e. you had to wait for the whole thing to cascade to the end before it was finished. Now with the advent of software and rapid online services, it works best to create products that we get to market fast. Companies can constantly improve product in response to customer feedback. The tools we need in marketing therefore reflect this, tools which give us customer intelligence, reviews, and research.

Creating a Working Plan and Strategy

This is a key component of your agile game plan, creating the initial project plans, or indeed the complete Business Plan. Here are some tools we use and are highly popular in marketing.

  • Review and Research – Google Alerts
  • Specific Project, Product or Service Plans – Lean Canvas
  • Creating a Mind Map Marketing Plan, our marketing model here
  • The Chartered Institute of Marketing, CIM free Marketing Plan template here
  • Once into the plan, KPIs and specific Lean Tools here
  • Here is a classic Business Plan format from ex-Deloitte consultants – view
  • The UK Government template for Business Plans here
  • Plus Dorset Business Angels advice on Business Plans and presenting them here

Implementing Your Plans

Google alerts are useful not just at an initial planning stage. We use them to source content for social media or when research articles.

For social media updates and twitter targeting 

Hootsuite is the industry leader for posting and mention monitoring. Alternatives are Buffer and Tweetdeck. For following, unfollowing and targeting on twitter audiense is a great tool.

Finding Influencers

On social media, it is about who is influential and relevant for your sector or a sector or area or interest. Tools for this include Klout, Kred and Peerindex For LinkedIn – LinkedIn Advanced

KeyWord Planner

The Keyword Planner is another key element of the agile game plan, a more focused version of the Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator tool, and the focus is on doing one thing only: to make it easier for advertisers to get through the process of creating new ad groups and ad campaigns, which is the key to getting your PPC accounts off to a good start.

It differs from the existing Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator tools in that the old tools were more general purpose, unstructured tools. They could be used for just about anything, including Keyword Research for SEO. This new tool, on the other hand, is more like an ultimate AdWords campaign building workshop. Here is a helpful video on how to use the new Keyword Planner.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet. More here. How to use goals in Google Analytics – a very useful guide to using goals here. 10 ways to not use Google Analytics, very useful top tips here.

Need More?

For a complete agile solution, Hixsons business enablers & accountants Bournemouth, partners with Agility Insights when clients want a thorough, quick diagnostic tool to determine areas for increasing innovation and growth while reducing the risk associated with change. The initial dignostic is FREE and can be accessed here.

If you need more help on a specific marketing or business tool or putting a plan together then contact us using our contact us page.

Peter