Hashtags vs Tagging

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Lately I have had a few people tell me they were confused about hashtags and tagging someone so I decided to write a quick post to refer people to.

to tag or hashtag? That is the question.

Hashtags

hashtagHashtags (#) are used to categorize content so that when someone searches by that hashtag it pulls up every post on that social media that someone has added the hashtag for. There are two reasons to use hashtags on social media:

1 – The first one I call a branding hashtag like #FallonTonight. If you type that into the search field on Twitter you can see all the tweets with that hashtag. If I were tweeting about something I saw on his show that I thought was hilarious, I could add #FallonTonight and it would show up in that search. While still used for a topic, the topic is a certain brand.

2 – The second one is more purely for categorization. For example, a lot of interior designers add #interiordesign to their posts to add it to the stream of other posts on that topic.

Hashtags are popular and recommended to widen your audience reach on both Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram, if you type, for example, #interiordesign into the search field, you immediately see it, along with other variations and how many posts are currently using it. And when you click enter, you can actually follow the hashtag just like you can follow a person on Instagram. There are lots of strategies on how and when to use hashtags and if you are serious about your hashtag strategy, you can always subscribe to Hashtagify.me for about $20/month.

While some people add hashtags to their Facebook and LinkedIn posts, it hasn’t really gained popularity like Instagram and Twitter. I use it on Facebook and LinkedIn when referring to a partner or influencer that has a branded hashtag. I read recently that the use of more than 1-2 hashtags actually reduces your audience reach on Facebook – so be careful when cross posting from Instagram.

Hootsuite has a great article on How to Use Hashtags.

Tagging Someone

tagged tweet sample

In the product tweet seen here, simply tagging two B2B partners (influencers) who retweeted this post bumped the impressions and engagement up above other posts.

When you tag someone you use the @symbol. This is basically a shout out to the person you are tagging to either start a conversation or promote them in a post.

I use tagging as often as possible (never more than 2 in one post) on all Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Sticking with the same example, @FallonTonight is the official Twitter and Instagram name for The Tonight Show. If I want to link to their account or give them a shout out or endorsement I use their @name and they will likely get a notification. Then they can either like, comment or share your post. It is a great B2B marketing tip that both sides benefit from.

In a similar way, you can tag someone in a photo but that is a different topic for a different day.

Five Twitter tips to up your marketing game

5 Twitter Tips

New to Twitter? These basic twitter tips will help your company:

  • Increase visibility
  • Promote loyalty
  • Increase engagement
  1. Keep tweets at about 100 characters (enables people to retweet without editing)
  2. Post during holidays and season events using key hashtags and promoted tweets
  3. Use hashtags but 2 max.
  4. Include links to maximize retweets
  5. React fast to big events with a hashtag

Create a Twitter Strategy

Make a plan.
For example, for one of my clients the plan looks like this:
– Every day – 1 original tweet, 1 retweet, 6 likes
– Every day Tweet “Thanks for following” with the handles of a few of your new followers
– Add “Please Retweet” to 2 tweets per week
– Follow 10 new people each week (follow your followers, follow industry leaders from Buzz Sumo)
– Best times to tweet (get free Tweroid analysis of clients followers): Monday 1 p.m., T-Fri 3:30 p.m., Sat 3 p.m., Sun 4 p.m.

Know your audience
While everyone’s followers are different, in general Twitter users are:
– about equal numbers of males and females
– average about 700 followers
– about 40% Millennials, now ages 22-37 (avid consumers, less disposable income, shopping for the deal, optimistic, self-confident, fun-centric, extreme tech savvy, highest ed level)
– about 30% GenX, now ages 38-53 (cautious spenders, more disposable income, shopping for what lasts, pragmatic, skeptical, self-reliant, work-fun balance, tech literate, 2nd highest ed level)

Plan what type of content you will post
– make a content calendar with key holidays (add some silly, fun ones in the mix just to make people smile)
– promote blog content that solves the users problems
– always use an image or video (check out Canva.com for affordable, easy, compelling graphics
– user centric questions and surveys

10-minute marketing tips

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10-minute marketing

The other day I was talking with a client who said: “I just don’t have time for marketing!” I immediately started in on what I knew to be true – 10 minutes a day can make a  big difference. Then I realized I was guilty of ignoring my own advice because I had as much work as I could handle. I took a look at my own social media accounts and … yep … they were starving for real, useful content.

Six (6) effective, 10-minute marketing tasks

We are all busy so I’ll just give you the list and suggest that we strive to do at least one of these things six days a week. These are basic brand marketing ideas, not really intended to drive traffic to your website. That is a different post for a different day.

  1. Connect with new professionals on LinkedIn
    Use Search field to find groups of people you want to connect with and hit the connect button. It helps to add a personal note telling them why you want to connect but you don’t have to – they are busy too. Then choose the My Network tab and review and either accept or ignore any connection requests. Check your messages and respond. For example, if someone accepts your connection request, send them a standard reply (that you can copy and paste) giving them a link to your website or most recent blog post.
  2. Comment, Like and Share on all social accounts
    Login in and scroll for a few minutes on each account. This is the fun part. Comment, like or share whatever you are drawn to. Be sincere. Love what you love and ignore the rest.
  3. Share something you find useful online
    Write a few sentences and share a link to something you read recently that you really got a lot out of. This works great on all social media, except maybe Instagram who still doesn’t allow live links. For example, check out this great site for writers – Word Hippo. I love it.
  4. Retweet something inspiring


    This is easy, when something truly inspires you, just retweet it and simply say thanks for the #inspiration.

  5. Share what you are reading
    Post a picture of whatever you are reading on Instagram or Twitter and use the #AMReading or one of these popular hashtags for book lovers.
  6. Create a Pinterest board for anything you are researching
    Saving something to Pinterest is about as easy and fast as it gets. Just be careful on this one as you may find it so fun that your 10 minutes of marketing turns into an hour before you realize it. Learn more about Pinterest Basics.

The concept of 10-minute marketing is not new. The tips below are ones that I personally find fast, fun and effective. For more ideas, just Google “10 minute marketing.”

Summer along the Blue Ridge Parkway

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This summer we spent a week camping and hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Prior to this trip I used to joke that the only place I camped was at a 5-star hotel. While it wasn’t all smooth sailing … it was a blast. Here are a few of the highlights.

Camping at Mount Pisgah

We pitched our tent at the Mount Pisgah Campground, which is the highest elevation campground along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The temperatures were amazing. It was the last week in July and the temperatures ranged from 52-70 most days. It rained off and on and we learned the first night to always, always put all your gear away before you walk away from the site. All our gear got wet the first night and we had to go hunt down a coin laundromat about an hour away the next morning.  The showers were clean and hot water was great but there is no electricity or sewage hookups and virtually no cell reception – which was kind of our favorite part of the trip. But other than dinner and sleeping we didn’t spend much time at the campground. It was, however, very quiet and beautiful. Learn more about Mount Pisgah Campground.

Mount Pisgah Campground

Kayaking the French Broad River

We brought our new inflatable kayak along on the trip and tried it out on the French Broad River. We put in near Asheville and enjoyed a gentle two-hour float. Next trip we plan to camp at the Hot Springs Campground alongside the Appalachian Trail and a wilder portion of the French Broad River.

Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls

While their are tons of breathtaking waterfalls in this area, these were two of our favorites:

Looking Glass Falls

This was the easiest to get to – you park along U.S. 276 North and walk a few feet to see this:

Learn more about Looking Glass Falls.

Skinny Dip Falls

This was about a half mile hike but so worth it. Located at MP 417 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we got some great pictures and really enjoyed the little hike. BTW, clothing is not optional here — no one actually skinny dips but it is a popular swimming hole.

Learn more about Skinny Dip Falls.

Hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway

We did a lot of short hikes including the one to Skinny Dip Falls (above). But the two most interesting ones were hiking Mount Pisgah (thought I would die I was so tired) and the “car hike” along the primative Heintooga Round Bottom Road.

Hiking Mount Pisgah

Seriously, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was our 35th wedding anniversary and we wanted to do something memorable. We had been camping all week so the plan was to hike to the top, take some pictures along the way and spend the night at the beautiful Mount Pisgah Inn.

It started off great, the deep green of the forest, a quiet meandering trail with amazing wildflowers. The first half the hike you gain about 200 ft. in elevation and yes, that is the easy part. No matter how many people coming down say you are almost there — don’t believe it. Ha!

The second half of the hike up is really steep – gaining another 550 ft. I remember someone saying near the end it is like stairs. As steep as stairs yes, but it is better described as rock climbing as I often had to grab a tree to pull myself up. Oh yeah, and the rocks were wet and slippery. This young girl and her dog were a few steps ahead of us — actually only for a minute as she sailed right past us.

We met some new friends at the top (who were even older than we are) and they snapped this anniversary picture for us. It started raining soon after we got to the top deck so we climbed under the decking and sat and chatted with our new friends. The hike down was slippery and while my legs felt a bit like noodles it was easy. Altogether it was about a 2-hour hike and well worth the effort.

It was so cloudy that the view from the top that day wasn’t great but you can visit this site to see what it looks like from the top of Mount Pisgah on a clear day. After the hike we checked into the Mount Pisgah Inn which has an amazing view of the mountains and a great restaurant on site.

View from the Mount Pisgah Inn

The Heintooga Round Bottom Road

A popular scenic byway, the Heintooga Round Bottom Road is a very bumpy, one-way single lane road that meanders through the woods for about 18 miles, starting near the entrance to the Smoky Mountain National Park and ending at the Cherokee Indian Reservation. It took about an hour.

Heintooga Round Bottom Road

Learn more about the Heintooga Round Bottom Road.

Plan a visit to HGTV’s Home Town, Laurel, MS

Laurel, Mississippi

Laurel, Mississippi, called The City Beautiful by proud locals, is more than just the inspiration for the popular HGTV series, Home Town, starring Erin and Ben Napier. This place is the real deal. A small town with a boat load of cool history, Laurel, MS, is experiencing a grand revitalization that began before the successful HGTV series launched in 2017.

Now finishing up the 2nd season of Home Town, the show’s growing national audience can’t get enough of the friends and neighbors who come together to show the world how cool it is to live in a small town.

And while I am a loyal fan of a number of HGTV shows, something rang so true to me about this show that I had to go see it for myself. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can binge watch episodes and see for yourself how the Napiers and company restore one house in Laurel each week.

It wasn’t until I arrived that I realized that the TV cameras can’t capture the texture of the old brick buildings and streets, the warm glow of the swag lighting and the lush parks shaded by stately old oaks. And you have to visit Laurel, MS, in person to experience the genuine southern hospitality and generous nature of the residents that make this town so special.

Laurel by the numbers

  • 15.8 Square miles
  • Population 18,540
  • Median age 33
  • 6,726 homes
  • Median home price of $114,500 ($66 Sq. Ft) up from $84,900 in 2015
  • 253 homes for sale

History of Laurel, MS

Founded in 1882 around the lumber industry, Laurel’s initial economy was almost exclusively harvesting the surrounding Yellow Pine forest. Watch this video to learn more about the history of Laurel, MS.

Laurel, Mississippi: A Story of Growth from City of Laurel on Vimeo.

Shopping in Laurel

Unlike many towns where local merchants compete against one another the merchants of Laurel, MS support and promote each other as much as they do their own business, knowing that it takes a community to prosper.  Here are a few of my favorites:

New Look Vintage Boutique

Just a few blocks west of downtown I found New Look Vintage Boutique, owned by Suzanne Williams. Her shop features a variety of vintage home decor and beautifully restored and hand-painted furniture. The finishes on her pieces are beautiful and unique. Visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/newlookforyouandhome.

New Look Vintage Boutique

New Look Vintage Boutique

Hand+Made

One of my favorite places in downtown Laurel, MS, is Hand+Made by the Clairmont Co. They describe themselves as “an interactive retail and DIY experience”.  A unique combination of shopping (all products are hand+made in Laurel by local artisans), DIY Studio and a place where locals gather for events, parties and classes. Stop in and see Amy Anding, the store manager.

Hand+Made

Visit their website and read their story. Not only are they a personal inspiration to local entrepreneurs, but the messages on many of their products also offer hope and inspiration. Probably my favorite part, however, is their Give Back products where a portion of the sales proceeds go to support a variety of needs worldwide.

Laurel Mercantile

A trip to Laurel, MS would not be complete without stopping in to the Laurel Mercantile, to browse the decor items featured on HGTV’s Home Town. Visit them online at www.laurelmercantile.com.

Laurel Mercantile

Laurel Mercantile

J. Parker Reclaimed

Oh my goodness, I could have stayed in this great store all day. Their custom furniture is made with local reclaimed wood. Do the talents of the local artisans in Laurel ever end? This shop is a must see. Get a sneak peek on www.jparkerms.com.

J. Parker Reclaimed Barnwood Island

Check out this J. Parker Reclaimed Barnwood Island and more on their website at JParkerms.com

Also loved visiting:

  • Southern Antiques
  • Adam Trest Home
  • Lott Furniture Company
  • Laurel Leaf
  • Patina

Where to eat

There is no shortage of great places to eat in Laurel, MS. During my stay I had dinner at Mimmo’s and The Loft, had coffee at Lee’s and Pause and lunch at Hog Heaven (just outside of downtown). They were all amazing.

Pause Espresso Bar

The coffee, decor and service were great at the Pause Espresso Bar. Free Wi-Fi too.

This is just a few of the local favorites:

  • Estelle’s Southern Cuisine
  • The Pearl Diner (Soul Food)
  • Mimmo’s Ristorante (Italian)
  • The Loft (fine dining)
  • Hog Heaven BBQ
  • Phillips Drive In (PDI)
  • Sweet Somethings Bakery
  • Southern Kernels
  • Lee’s Coffee and Tea
  • Pause Espresso Bar

Where to stay

1. Wisteria Bed & Breakfast

There is no shortage of places to stay in Laurel, MS. But if you are looking for a traditional Bed & Breakfast,  check out the Wisteria B&B. Located just across the street from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art (a must see), this stately home is listed on the National Register of historic places.

Hand made leaded glass doors at Wisteria Bed & Breakfast

Hand made leaded glass doors at Wisteria Bed & Breakfast

Peggy and Earl Schneider, the owners and innkeepers, made me feel like family. I was the only guest on a Wednesday night so after breakfast we sat and talked for more than an hour. They raised their kids in the house and the photographs and art reflect their family’s history. The walls are painted bright, cheerful colors and the art is an eclectic mix of local and personal. I found myself smiling as I browsed through the house. And the breakfast was a true southern delight. No dieters allowed. I ate every bite of the eggs, grits, biscuits, sausage and bacon. And the coffee was divine.

2. Laurel Cottage

After visiting a few shops downtown and having two different shop owners recommend renting a room at Laurel Cottage, a small house owned by “Bonnie”,a short two mile drive from the historic downtown, I pulled it up on my app and booked it. The price was only $58 and it was adorable. While I have rented with AirBnB many times, this was the first time I have rented a room in someone’s house, as opposed to the whole house. It worked out great.

Laurel Cottage, Laurel Mississippi

Check out this sweet room at Laurel Cottage.

The house was clean, the bed was comfortable and Bonnie, a recent transplant to Laurel, was so excited to drive me around town to show me all her favorite places. It was great getting to know Bonnie and her sweet dog Foxy.

What to do

There is so much to do and see in Laurel and the greater Jones County area.

  • Lauren Rogers Museum of Art – the first museum in Mississippi.
  • Veterans War Memorial
  • Stroll down 5th and 6th Avenue to see the amazing turn of the century homes.

Get all the latest news and events in Laurel, MS at http://www.laurelms.com/ and start planning your visit today. You’ll be glad you did.

Interior Design Style Basics Series kicks off featuring Rough Luxe style

Carolyn Kinder International

A few months ago I started working with Carolyn Kinder International, managing their website and social media marketing campaigns.

Last month we launched their new product portfolio. I am loving working with their designers to highlight the unique new products they design and produce. Their target audiences are wholesalers, interior designers and retail consumers.

New Design Style Basics series

Rough Luxe Lamp Carolyn KinderToday we started a new blog series: Design Style Basics, featuring an overview of different interior design styles and samples from their product lineup. Check out the first post:

What is Rough Luxe?

I won’t repeat what I already posted in the article so check it out and see for yourself. You can also visit their Rough Luxe Design Style Board on Pinterest.

Follow us for more updates.

 

What I love and hate about marketing

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ThisWhy Marketing is Lost morning I stumbled upon an article written by Mark Schaefer that I couldn’t help but share:

Why marketing technology is sucking the life out of the marketing profession

Like most people I have a love, hate relationship with technology but after reading Mark’s article today I am reminded that it is the intention of the professional that makes all the difference.

Things we all hate

Not planning to waste your time by summarizing his article (you should read it) but I did love this quote:

“In my own beloved profession of marketing, the primary application of technology is to find increasingly sophisticated ways to annoy people.”

Can we all just agree to ban the following things that all people hate and focus on what customers actually want. Everyone hates:

  • Pop up ads, messages, chats
  • Videos or sound files that play and you can’t find them to turn them off
  • Creepy retargeting ads
  • Spammy email campaigns
  • Insincere blog comments
  • Snarky, negative tweets

I am sure I have been guilty of falling down the black hole of just doing what works and forgetting about the people on the other side. But this year I plan to trust my instincts and work with clients who are brave enough to break from the pack.

Things I love

On the other side, I love and am inspired by marketing content that includes:

  • Beautiful images that you can zoom in on to see the detail
  • Concise, well-written content
  • Solutions to our customers problems
  • Giving kudos to the competition when they earn it
  • Great research
  • Links that work
  • Sincerity and honesty

OK, a little off topic but I also love buttons (I have a few jars of them around my house), lists, zero inbox, Prosecco and Hallmark movies.

So, thanks for your article @markwschaefer and here’s to a New Year Year of marketing the cool way. 🙂

Unplugged in the Smoky Mountains

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I spent three days recently in the Smoky Mountains near Bryson City, NC. The cabin was so remote we had no cell phone or wifi access. Being unplugged for a few days was heavenly. A picture really is worth a thousand words:

As the sun set on our first day, we inched our way up the long, steep, windy road, that eventually brought us to our remote cabin, aptly named Journey’s End. The mountain view was stunning and the cabin was first class. We were welcomed by the warm lights shining from inside the cabin and the steam rising off the hot tub on the front porch. To say it exceeded our expectation is an understatement.

If you love photography, the Smoky Mountains are a dreamy place to spend some time. The half day trip on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad took us along the Nantahala River and Fontana Lake. The weather was amazingly cool for July and we were glad we opted for the open air gondola train.

After the train ride, we strolled around the quaint town of Bryson City stopping in a few shops including a great little local bookstore.

Other than the half day trip on the train, we opted to skip all the rafting and zip lines to read, nap in the hammock, soak in the quiet and the view from the front porch.

Bryson City, N.C. to host crowds for total solar eclipse

In a few weeks, on Aug. 21,the sleepy little town will be filled to overflowing when the first total solar eclipse since the 1970s will pass through the area. From what we heard, the town will be packed beyond capacity and most places have been fully booked for months. While I am sure it will be spectacular, I wouldn’t trade it for our unplugged vacation in the Smoky Mountains.

For more information about Bryson City, N.C. check out this Smoky Mountain Travel Guide.

Work inspiration: “What’s the work you can’t not do?”

Looking for a little work inspiration?

I recently watched a great Ted Talk from 2012 by Scott Dinsmore on How to Find the Work you Love. He posed this question: “What’s the work you can’t not do?”

My personal search for work inspiration

For about a year I have been contemplating making a career change. After 10 years writing content for higher education I was ready to find a little more work-life balance. My goal – work part time so I can live more. So starting July 1, that’s the new plan. I can’t wait to spend more time with my family and friends and slow down long enough to live in and enjoy the moment. I am also on the hunt to be inspired by what I do, whether it is work for pay or the work of living and helping others.

Anyway, I am definitely not alone in this search for balance, meaning, inspiration in our work. It is a common topic of conversation with my friends and family.

Finding inspiration

In the video he quotes Jim Rohn:

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

He went on to say we should “find someone who is killing it at …” and hang out with them. He talked about helping people in a meaningful way. He also suggested keeping a of journal of things that inspire me. So, today, he is it. He inspired me to pay attention to:

  • My strengths
  • My values
  • My experiences

Don’t over think it

My plan is simple. Don’t over think it. It is actually more like a lack of a plan than a real plan. And after years of writing content and managing web projects full time, this will take some getting use to. Some days I will work on freelance writing projects, meet deadlines and dive deep into putting out some great content. Other days I may hit the road with my camera and a notepad looking for inspiration. The closer I get to June 30, the more excited I get.

Inspiring others

Ironically, a few years after recording this Ted Talk, Scott Dinsmore died while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. More than 4.5 million people have viewed it and no doubt found inspiration like I did. It reminds me that we all need to make every day count.

Can’t wait to see what is next!

Blog basics for the beginner

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BLOG basics

What is a blog?

A blog is a website that allows you to self-publish text, images and video quickly and easily. It can include a way to post comments, ask questions and interact with the author. If the comments are turned off, it can look just like a website.

Why blog?

Blogs allow subject matter experts to share knowledge and includes the interactive element that readers love. People create blogs for a variety of reasons:

  • Allows you to share your passion and knowledge
  • Establishes you as an expert in your field
  • Helps you connect with other likeminded professionals, community members and leaders

Blogging tips

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Know your audience. (i.e. current or potential customers, researchers, colleagues)
  • Know your keywords – if you were searching for this article, what would you google
  • Use media like images, videos, podcasts (copyright applies to web images too)
  • Write 300-500 words
  • Use headlines, subheadlines and bullets that include your keywords (people scan first and sometimes read on the web)
  • Use outbound links to reputable sources (.edu, .gov, trending sites)
  • Make your article useful
Having someone engage with your post by sharing it, commenting on it or liking it are the best ways to increase engagement. Share a link with a summary of your post and a branded hashtag on your personal or business social accounts like your LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter, InstaGram and Pinterest.