As a full-time social media strategist and SEO blogger, I spend the majority of the day immersed in virtual communities. I am the online “face” of eight companies from across the country in a variety of states and cities from Texas to Colorado, and along the central coast of California.
I believe in the power of social media and how this innovative platform can be used for more than building a following or increasing sales. The power of social media lies in the connection you can create with someone whether they are a block, a state, or several continents away. When working with any of my clients, I stress the difference between working with Silver Light Media as opposed to other public relations firms is my insistence on Creating Inspired Connections.
Many people don’t know that I started Silver Light while enrolled as a full-time college student at Boise State University. I had a limited budget and minimal amount of time to dedicate to the marketing of my business. After graduating from college in May of 2014, I had time to start thinking about my marketing efforts like I never had before while I was enrolled in college.
I relocated from Boise, Idaho to Denver, Colorado and wanted to connect with new people through social media as well as in-person. During this time having people submit photos to a hashtag on Instagram was a somewhat new practice that was taking off. I decided I wanted to have a hashtag for my business that would be inviting enough for others to submit photos to it as well.
Crafting A Hashtag
If you are using social media for your business and don’t already have one, I invite you to consider crafting a hashtag for linking and community-building purposes. In case you don’t know the purpose of a hashtag is to link related content together for search purposes. Being aware of its use you can see how having a hashtag specifically for your business can help with user-generated content creation. Whenever I start working with one of my clients on a social marketing campaign, I always add in user-generated content if it is applicable because it is highly efficient and easy to generate if you take strategic steps, first. I will save those steps for my next post, but I will share a little more from my brainstorming session.
Many businesses use their company name as a hashtag. I thought about and often do use #silverlightmedia as a hashtag on some of my social media posts. The only problem with this hashtag was for me; it didn’t give anyone a reason to use it. So I started to think of ways to tie my business name to some action or feeling that other people could associate with when posting their photos.
Since my company tagline is Creating Inspired Connections, I pulled from my rhetoric. I’ve always loved the word inspire and its derivatives. To me, the word reflects positive emotions that captivate us to feel something. I began to think of how I could combine “Silver Light” and “Inspire” since I knew all the words, together, would be too long, so I took the first letter from each word “S” and “L” with the plural “Inspires.” It wasn’t my first instinct to use a character but the look of the tag “#SL_Inspires” seemed more ecstatically pleasing than “#SLINSPIRES.” I typed the tag into Instagram and found out no one had used it. My new hashtag and one of my smartest branding moves I’ve ever made for my business finally manifested.
Building A Social Media Community
I will be the first to admit the first month starting any content strategy campaign is TOUGH. Mentally prepare yourself if you are ready to take the leap. Social media platforms are hindering organic reach more each day so be prepared to revise your strategies if needed and don’t give up be consistent in your posting, especially during the initial stages of starting a new platform.
When starting my hashtag, I had seen countless of other posts that I was using as an example. It seemed easy, “Use this hashtag on your post for a chance to be featured.” Seemed to be the general breakdown of what every photo sharing platform was emphasizing, the trouble is how do you know when people are going to start submitting to that hashtag? If you are persistent, probably sooner than you think, I started using it on my posts and including a call to action at the end. One day I checked my #SL_Inspires hashtag and was excited to see another user had used the tag.
My First Tagger – Jacque B from Pagosa Springs, Colorado
If you are looking to build a hashtag interacting with the first few people that engage is critical. I was ecstatic the day Jacque B – @jacquebblackie on Instagram used my #SL_Inspires tag. Jacque B was the first person to use it apart from myself. I immediately shared her photo to my following thanking her with credit. When you are in the beginning stages, make sure to give as much praise as possible.
You never know if you say something the person likes they could “Regram” the photo sharing it with their followers in turn, or at least you will get the person engaged enough to use the tag again. This stage is where community building starts. If you are looking to build not simply a following but a “virtual community” you MUST be willing to be as active in that community as possible. After, Jacque B’s feature more users started to use my #SL_Inspires hashtag. My community grew with photographers taking gorgeous landscape shots and sunset captures.