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Where To Find Hashtags

Something about seeing the pound sign in front of a word can make the smartest of us feel a little stupid. Is this something I should know? Is this another language?

Hashtags help us organize information. Nothing more and nothing less.

Let’s say you posted a picture of kittens on Facebook you want to help find homes for. Now in the caption you could say “These Maine coon cat kittens were born in January. They have arrived at the Hancock County SPCA animal shelter very recently. If you know of someone looking for a kitten, send them over!”

While this is a fine caption (and you probably tagged the animal shelter’s Facebook page so people could easily get in touch), how will this picture be found on Facebook by potential adopters? Also some people may be saying ‘maine coon cat’, ‘maine coon’, ‘coon cat’ or some variation.

Searching for ‘maine coon cat’ will bring up any post with those words in it. It will not necessarily bring up pictures of coon cats looking for homes. By putting #mainecoon and #adoptme into the search, I am suddenly getting much more relevant results.

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So hashtags aren’t meant to be confusing or exclusive but the opposite of that. In particular, hashtags help with organizing groups of information in what is often limited space.

The pet thing is one application of hashtags but no doubt in your industry or interests, you can think of ways a hashtag would help you either get your information in front of the right set of eyeballs or curate useful information.

Alright, so I’ve convinced you to use a hashtag (or several). How do you know which ones to use? You have some options.

Option 1: Make Up Your Own

We’ve heard about this going badly but don’t let this stop you from starting your own hashtags! Just 1) do your research to make sure your hashtag doesn’t have a previous history and 2) make sure you communicate this new hashtag to the people you want to use it.

The way I’ve seen this be really successful is at conferences. Joomla Day UK is coming up soon and people are already tweeting about it:

joomladayukhashtag

Once the conference is in full swing, attendees and interested people will be able to follow what’s going on in an organized way.

Option 2: Ride The Trends

Most social networks that support hashtags will have a list of what’s trending on that network. Here’s an example from Twitter (well, the day I took this screenshot anyway):

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Now if you don’t necessarily want to talk about something trending but want to talk about a popular hashtag in your niche, you can use a resource like Hastagify.me to look up the popularness of certain hashtags:

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As you see, #mainecoon is the most popular hashtag so if we were limited on space, we’d want to pick that one and ride that popularity trend.

Option 3: Go Tried And True

hashtags-of-central-maineThis is the internet equivalent of buying a classic pair of dark jeans or a crisp white shirt.

Hashtags for days of the week (ex #WCW for ‘woman crush Wednesday’)
Hashtags for (some) industries (you can look yours up on the Google)
Hashtags by geographic area (You can see, stage right, some popular hashtags in my corner of the world when I took this screenshot.)

If you want to completely overwhelm yourself or really geek out researching popular hashtags, this post is for you: https://www.marketingtechblog.com/hashtag-research-tools/

Is it important to get hashtags exactly right? Probably not. But as you start using them and getting more confident, you’ll see which ones work well over time. #seeyouonline #social #marketing #goyou

(Pro Tip from my Instagram enthusiast husband: Have a note on your phone with all the hashtags you use in it… then you can copy and paste the whole thing into Instagram and just delete the ones you don’t need.)

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Periscope After: How Your Videos Live On

periscope-iconNot sure how many of you are into Periscope but I kind of love it. To those who haven’t used it, Periscope is a live video app/social network that is tied to your Twitter account (though since launching you can now use the app without Twitter). You film live video and people can leave comments, send you ‘hearts’ (if they like it) and more.

Some of the things I have watched on Periscope:

  • Quebec preteen answering questions about her life en francais
  • Skateboarders in Iran
  • Part of someone’s birthday party in France

Of course, beyond the day to day stuff, people are also using Periscope to build their brand, holding live Q and As or sessions about certain topics of interest. Honestly, if you are comfortable on live video, it’s a pretty cool way to connect with people.

Like any live event, though, there are only a certain amount of people who can be there as it happens. Some people want to watch it afterwards, or rewatch it. Here’s an example from my life.

I am on a local committee related to economic development in my town. They had someone come and present about tax increment financing (TIFs) from southern Maine, a good three hour drive away. The scheduled the presentation to start at 4 pm. Several of my friends couldn’t make it but wanted to see it and I immediately thought of using Periscope to capture the event.

I could almost feel the room collectively eye roll as I took out my phone and began filming. I saw people began watching. There were 25 people in the room that day but 52 people watched live. The reason I did it though was for the people like my friends who wanted to watch it after.

Periscope has recognized that both live and recent videos are valuable, which is why on both the ‘Home’ screen and the ‘Map’ screen, you can easily watch live videos (the red dots) or recent videos (in blue):

periscope-map-view

You may ask yourself, besides going on the Periscope app, how can people see my Periscope videos after the fact?

Make sure your Periscope settings for your account are set to ‘Autosave Broadcasts’. Otherwise they go poof.

If you need some help with this, click here. Anything you’ve recorded before turning on this autosave won’t be on Periscope anymore. Trust me, learned that one the hard way!

Decide if you want them on your device or online somewhere instantly.

So there are pros and cons to each of these. If you just have your broadcasts downloaded to your phone, you can put them in some video editing software and spiff them up before, say, uploading them to Youtube or your website where they will live.

I am more relaxed (or we can say lazy) and want this to happen automatically, which is where Katch comes in:

katch-screen

Katch is a service you can use that takes your video and allows it to go live somewhere besides Periscope automatically. As you can see, once on Katch, we get options about it. Here is the link to where this video lives online: https://katch.me/breakingeven/v/19807ccd-9fdc-3165-b923-c0c6b7bf8f80 (PS Periscope people get really annoyed when you don’t film vertically, regular video watchers get really annoyed when you don’t film horizontally. I switched to horizontal about 2 minutes into this broadcast. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles!)

You can sign up for Katch with a Twitter account and get this set up.

If you want about a bajillion other ways to save your Periscope video, this Quora post has them. 

I think it’s best to think of your Periscope video as having two audiences:

  1. The live audience that will ask you questions and give you feedback to roll with while you broadcast. For those people, be interesting and responsive.
  2. The replay audience who is watching it after the fact for information. For these people, wherever your video lives, give them a context and a reason to watch (what are the main points? who was your audience? etc.)

Thinking of both these audiences will give you the most bang for your buck. The revolution may be televised but a lot of people are still going to watch it after the fact.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Tech Thursday: Where Should I Blog?

This week, we’re discussing blogging! More specifically, we’ll discuss the “where”- that is, blogging on your own site or someone else’s. There are pros and cons to each option. Tune in to learn more, and as always, feel free to send us suggestions for future videos!

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Blogging 101: The Basics

I’m just going to say it: I think people get way too caught up on perfection and don’t just start things.

How many people do you know who are waiting on redoing their logo, designing a website, reprinting their business cards, whatever before they start blogging? I know a few.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Blogging is just writing with a few more technical things built in.

I got into blogging precisely for this reason. I wanted to be a writer. There seemed to be a lot of gatekeepers to me becoming that. Rather than jump the fence or wait around at gates, I built my own place. Over time, I fixed it up. I still feel like it needs fixing up! But nothing worth it is ever static.

I wanted to write this blog post about what you need to start blogging. No it’s not a domain name or branding guides or ‘SEO’. It’s easier than that.

1) You need a topic. 

Of course your Mom will read your blog… but unless you’re Oprah, no one is going to care about you just living your life. You need to weave your life into a topic. Ex: maybe you’re really into cooking paleo. Maybe you really like Italy. Maybe you want to make yourself learn more about running. Give yourself a general topic with enough room to move around that the topic can weave throughout your blog while being interesting and personal.

This blog’s original topic? Personal finance. Sure, I tried to tell fun stories and include photos in but I also tried to have some knowledge to impart (I use that term loosely) so I wasn’t limiting my audience.

Let’s test some topics:

Water- Ok this could work. How to drink more, how to test it, how to conserve it, bottled water taste testing. Yup, I could write 50 blog posts on this and just be getting started. “Water Girl” or “Hydration Situation” maybe?

Art Supply Review- If I am keen on buying new stuff all the time, this could work. But review only? I may be pigeon holing myself. (The reason I never became a fashion blogger? Too much clothes to buy to have writing topics!)

Books- Who is my audience? If I’m going to be reviewing ‘Fault in Our Stars’ one week and ‘War and Peace’ the next week, that may be too much jumping around. This may be too broad to appeal to a specific audience.

You get what I’m saying. Don’t give yourself something so specific (four leaf clovers) that you’ll run out of material in a year and don’t give yourself too broad a topic that your audience won’t know whether they like it or not… though I will argue so long as you yourself are clear about what your blog is and isn’t, the ‘too broad’ will be less of a problem than too narrow. For example, I had a hard time coming up with another ‘too broad’ example besides books.

2) You need a name.

This is like your topic but you are going to be referring to this name all the time so don’t pick something you hate. In your chosen topic, a quick Google search will reveal what other blogs in your niche are called. How can yours be different? What ideas do you like from some of them?

OK so some in the personal finance niche at the time I started were:

Sense to Save
Budgets are Sexy
Almost Frugal
Get Rich Slowly
Counting Pennies
Wisebread
Daily Worth (ok that wasn’t a blog but a newsletter at the time)

Looking at these names, I knew what wasn’t me. I didn’t want to be frugal necessarily. I also didn’t want money in the title, in case I wanted to change topic later (which I did). Daily Worth was a sort of direction I liked best for myself. When Breaking Even got put on the list, it just felt right to me. But seeing other ideas made me realize what could work… and not work.

Make a whole list of names and sleep on it. Pick your favorite and go with it. Don’t worry if the .com domain is available. Just pick something you like and you can always make it work.

3) You need a place to blog.

Don’t stress out about software choice. You can always move it later. Really, I’ve moved this blog three times. (It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to hire someone to do this for you as more and more people blog.)

I like Wordpress.com as a free option. But if you like Blogger.com, Typepad, whatever better, I am not here to tell you there is only one answer. There isn’t. Just find something you like to use. Because you’ll be playing around a lot the first couple of months. (How do I add pictures? How do I make the font bigger?)

Just grab a template (all software comes with some choices) and start blogging. And if you don’t believe me when I say people don’t care what your site looks like, think of 2 or 3 of your favorite bloggers and try to sketch out what their website looks like. Can’t remember? Yeah, thought so.

Someday, if this goes well and you like it, you’ll want a custom design and you’ll start caring about things you NEVER thought you’d care about (How can I get more comments? What if I want to ad advertising?) But for now, just start writing.

4) Have a day/deadline for when you will blog (at least once a week).

Start out with once a week. Maybe Wednesdays are a good day because you get a long lunch break. Wednesdays is your deadline. Now every week, you have to write a post that goes online on Wednesday.

Your entries don’t have to be long or super deep, just get in the habit of it. Every Wednesday, write something.

Now you’ll see your blog traffic spike every Wednesday. This will either be rewarding to you or you won’t care. If it’s rewarding that someone is reading your work, you’re a blogger. 🙂

That’s it, you are blogging now! Next post I’ll get into more specifics but it this is the only post you read about blogging for the next six months, that’s ok. Just start. And leave the link here so I can start reading it.

Once you’ve been writing several months, you can move onto Blogging 201. 🙂

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Tech Thursday: All About E-Mail

One of our friends asked us an interesting question about email “How do you prevent email issues like emails not reaching clients or going straight to spam folders – even when clients give you their email address with permission to send them stuff?”

There are, in fact, a few different reasons why this may be happening. The problems that we most frequently encounter include:

  • ISP for client and you (who is your server)
  • Web host for client and you (whatismyip.com),
  • You and your client’s email interface (try webmail)

We found this story from The Telegraph that asks “Why did this email take 3 weeks to arrive?” In the answer, the author explains how to check where an email got held up (very similar to tracking a FedEx package). As Nicole says, the cool thing about the internet is that everything  can be tracked. You can even find out who’s sending you email from an address you don’t recognize (similar to a reverse phone lookup).

Also discussed in the video: using email scripts in your networking efforts from Ramit Sethi and Kassie’s unintentional hacking experience.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

What Plugin Should I Use?

Building and maintaining websites is endlessly fascinating to me, because there are so many different routes to explore in terms of design and functionality. For the sake of narrowing down this topic (and because this blog post would be more like a collection otherwise), I’m going to share only things I’ve learned from a Wordpress functionality standpoint. The tools in Wordpress that allow for the extra stuff- online ticketing, robust form software, Instagram feed, and whatever else your heart may desire- are called Plugins. A plugin basically helps your Wordpress site “do almost anything you can imagine.”

Pretty wild, right? Your website is capable of quite a bit thanks to plugins, but they can be a bit daunting. Oftentimes, if you have a specific task in mind- streaming your business Instagram account on the sidebar in your site, for instance- there are often several plugin options. Which one should you choose?

Finding a plugin doesn’t have to be an Indiana Jones-style ordeal. Here are some things you can look for:

1) Does it work with your theme? Different themes in Wordpress play differently with plugins. BackUp Buddy works well on our site with its current theme, but if we were to switch to a new theme, it may not. The good news is that during your initial plugin search, you can actually see if the plugin is compatible:

Huzzah! A compatible plugin!

Huzzah! A compatible plugin!

This plugin "has not been tested" with our theme- this doesn't meant it definitely won't work, more like "proceed with caution."

This plugin “has not been tested” with our theme- this doesn’t meant it definitely won’t work, more like “proceed with caution.”

Theme isn’t the only important thing your plugin needs to play well with- if you’re using an old version of Wordpress but want to use a newly developed plugin, the two may not communicate. The good news is that updating your version of Wordpress probably isn’t a bad idea and it’s pretty easy (just remember to back up your site first)!

2) Does it have documentation? There’s nothing worse than getting a tool that has vague or useless information on how to operate it. When you’re shopping for plugins, make sure before committing that there’s a healthy amount of helpful information. Below is a screenshot of what appears when you select a plugin, and in terms of documentation, “Screenshots” and “FAQ” are often the best places to gauge how well a plugin is documented.

Plugin_Documentation

Screenshots show you what the plugin looks like in action-using real screenshots, they take you through operating the plugin (usually setup, troubleshooting, general how-to).

Plugin_screenshots

Checking out the documentation of a plugin before committing to it is a great way to assess the level of support available. People/companies who have taken the time to write up and share information about their product are more likely to care about customer service and a job well done. Ideally with a higher level of documentation, you’ll be able to install and solve any problems on your own, but if the developers are willing to document extensively, they’re likely willing to answer any additional questions you have along the way.

3) Does it have good reviews? Reviews are also good to look at- but some are best taken with a grain of salt. I like to look at the reviews to see if there’s consistent feedback, like “X works well if this setting is Y” or “Great support.” Every now and then, there’s an outlier review that doesn’t match up with what the others are saying. These are the reviews to be wary of- one time I saw a review that said something along the lines of “This plugin is the worst thing to have ever existed, doesn’t work” when all the other reviews said things like “Easy to use,” “Excellent support.” One of these things is not like the other…

When you’re looking for your next Wordpress plugin, don’t just download the first one you see. It only takes 5 minutes to do a quick scan for compatibility, support, and reviews, and boom- you’ve got your dream plugin.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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