social media

Using Hashtags on Instagram is Must for Business

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social platforms, but do you know how to use it?

While many like to use it as it’s less crowded than Facebook to share photos with friends, if you plan to use it for business then you have to know how to use it correctly.

Using hashtags on instagram is a must.
Using hashtags on instagram is a must.

Instagram is a mobile app for sharing photos around common themes. You use hashtags aka the number or pound sign (#) to tag your images so others can find them.

If you have a brand or offer a service then your images need to be seen by people who could be your next client. How will they find you? You must know what hashtags they use commonly and are interested in.

Let’s take an easy one like travel.

While you can fill the status with “having lots of fun in Antigua”. If you are trying to promote your travel agency, hotel or some other travel-related venture , maybe even luggage then you need to include hashtags such as #Caribbeantravel #picoftheday #instatravel #instapic, #luxury, #luggage.

Make sure Antigua is written with a hashtag in front of it like this #Antigua. Key words should be tagged every time.

Do a search for the top Instagram hashtags in general and also in your area of interest.

Like Follow Lead

As you can’t include an active link in your status for people to click through to your site then you must capture their interest to encourage them to follow you and connect with your on your business platform.

Get more helpful tips on using the top social media platforms correctly in Like Follow Lead: Mastering Social Media for Small Business.

Find me on Instagram @trulycaribbean .

Making the best of your LinkedIn Page

linkedinLinkedIn is presently ranked as the number three most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter with more than 255,000,000 monthly users. While you may have mastered Facebook and/or Twitter, approaching your LinkedIn with the same strategy is not the best way to get the most of this platform.

LinkedIn’s primary focus is fostering connections for business. Its entire business model is built around this premise, with a premium service available which can give you instant access to more of the people you want to get to know to expand your company’s reach or find the next job.

Here are six things to do to make your LinkedIn page work for you.

Use a Profile Photo

Many people absentmindedly sign up for LinkedIn and never get around the including a photo. This is not the place to use a photo of your cat or pet snake. Leave your children out of this space and show us a professional shot of your face. We need to see your eyes, so side shots are not the best option. Your photo is the first impression we will have of you so make it count.

Fill out your Profile Details

Having a clear and concise description of who you do and what you offer is critical. Most people will only skim your profile at first mention so within that first three sections I should know what you do. Use the summary section to highlight your skills or the work area you are interested in pursuing. If you’ve published books, worked on significant projects make sure there are links to them.

Use the Blog Feature

LinkedIn has opened up its blogs so that every member can no position themselves as a thought leader on their area of expertise. Use it and use it often. Include an image that reflects your post’s subject area. Thankfully LinkedIn automatically gives your post an image if you forget to include one but this is only seen in summary mode. Read the blogs of others and share them as well on your profile.

Extend your Network

While it is nice to have all of your email buddies as LinkedIn contacts if you plan to use the platform to get new business or find your next job then it is critical you search out people not in your current circle. Groups are a good place to find people with similar interests but who are in different locals or niches which can be future prospects for collaboration. Commenting on articles being shared in your area of expertise or on which you have a general interest is also a good way to make connections and gives people a way to learn more about who you are and how you think.

Recommend Others

If you know of the good work that people in your network have done then share it. You will also need others to do the same so be generous with your praise and keep it truthful. Giving recommendations to others is an important way to show who you are but also your willingness to celebrate the successes of others. Use the endorsements option to indicate the areas in which they have specific knowledge. People are more likely to reciprocate when you do the same.

Unlink your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts

While it was considered a time saver and a way for you to be on all platforms at the same time, we now know that the culture and language of each social space is different and you need to approach it that way. We don’t need to know that you woke up with a cold or about the cranky customer you told off. Rather use LinkedIn as a space to share tips on how business people can have a better work-life balance to avoid pesky colds and minimize sick days. Share a blog on how you dealt with the cranky customer in a way that puts a positive spin on your customer service and what your company offers.

Taking the time to manage your space can help you get the results you desire to grow your business or find that new job opportunity.

Nerissa Golden is an award-winning Media Strategist, Business Coach who helps her clients accelerate their business growth by leveraging high impact communications solutions and income generating strategies. She is the author of Like Follow Lead: Mastering Social Media for Small Business and The Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Get tips on starting and growing a business at www.trulycaribbean.net. Follow her on Twitter @trulygolden.

Caribbean elections will be won or lost with Social Media, says Media Strategists

MONTSERRAT/UK – Two digital media strategists believe that how Caribbean political parties use social media in the coming years will impact their chances at the polls come Election Day. Nerissa Golden of Goldenmedia and Ursula Barzey of Moxee Marketing say over the next 18 months more than 10 Caribbean countries and Overseas Territories will be heading to the polls to elect new governments, and not including a definitive social media strategy in their campaign could mean a loss of power for incumbents to parties prepared to win by any means necessary.

Nerissa Golden is a media strategist and business coach based on Montserrat.
Nerissa Golden is a media strategist and business coach based on Montserrat.

“Social media has become the most immediate and affordable means of communicating. While Caribbean governments have initiated the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, there is this sense that it is to follow a trend without understanding it is the space in which the electorate will deliberate on whether they want to reelect the same team or put new people in power. The present governments have been in power for four or more years and within that time, the power and influence of social media in the region has been amplified significantly. This means you can’t use it on the fly hoping for the best but be very intentional about the goal,” explained Golden, the author of Like. Follow. Lead: Mastering Social Media for Small Business.

According to Internet World Stats, the Caribbean has an estimated 13,480,693 Internet users as of June 2012, with 6,674,100 using Facebook – the most dominant social platform with over 1.15 billion active members. Facebook remains the most popular platform for Caribbean nationals with Twitter in second place. The nation of St. Kitts & Nevis was found to have the highest internet usage for the region with more than 79% of residents online, according to World Development Indicators.

Ursula Barzey, who recently launched the luxury brand portal Caribbean & Co., said in 2004 Barack Obama, then a long shot candidate for the US Presidency, developed an effective online/digital campaign which made heavy use of social media. They repeated and expanded their social media campaign with his second run for office, which was again successful.

However, as most candidates won’t have the financial backing or extended team like President Obama, they should consider a few things before campaigning on social media.

Ursula Barzey heads Moxee Marketing, a digital media company based in the UK.
Ursula Barzey heads Moxee Marketing, a digital media company based in the UK.The strategists suggest that political parties should ask and answer the following questions:

1. Do we have the required expertise to launch an effective social media campaign?

“A poorly executed social media campaign can do more harm than good,” says Barzey. “Having someone on their team who actually understands how to use online/digital marketing tools effectively is critical. With that person in place, two things should then happen. First, the entire team should be briefed/trained on what’s required to effectively implement social media as part of the campaign. With that training complete, the online strategy should be enhanced to include social media.”

“Being on social media doesn’t preclude maintaining a traditional website and other communication mediums, adds Barzey. “As the campaign trail heats up, all related content should be curated on the website, and then shared via social media. Curating on the candidates own website ensures that potential voters and donors can easily learn more about the candidate and their positions on the issues. Also journalists and bloggers covering the campaign have a reference point for background information.”

2. Which social media sites should we be on?

“Maintaining a successful presence on social media sites means being an active participant. It’s not just about pushing the candidates’ message out but being responsive to queries from voters and journalists,” notes Golden. “To ensure that it doesn’t become overwhelming, the social media manager should launch on the two main social media sites: Facebook and Twitter which are massive hangouts for potential voters, donors, journalists, and bloggers. Add YouTube to the mix for showcasing video recordings of political speeches, statements, campaign rallies and campaign advertisements. With an expanded team, candidates can consider establishing on other social media sites like Instagram and Flickr for images.”

The more platforms you add, the more support you will need, the strategists agreed.

3. What is the message to be communicated and how often?

“It’s important that the social media presence for candidates remain active throughout the campaign. So don’t just build up to the launch and then go quiet. Create a content/social media calendar for distributing the campaign message consistently via social media channels. Also, be part of the conversation and remember that once you place something on social media, you really can’t take it back even if you delete. This means, the person assigned to communicating the campaign message must be polished but also personable,” Barzey says.

4. How will the campaign handle a crisis?

“In an ideal world, things will go smoothly with the campaign and there will be no gaffes or scandals to speak of. However, social media can sometimes make a mountain out of a mole hill, so candidates need to be ready with a plan of action to move the conversation along and ideally back on message. That all starts with being empathetic and responsive,” says Golden. “You don’t ignore a negative comment, see it as an opportunity to engage in positive dialogue to clarify your position as the problem solver.”

Golden also recommends that politicians not overlook the Diaspora Effect. “Although they cannot vote in local elections, family and friends in the Diaspora can be a major influence in deciding who will win. The Diaspora use social media consistently to search, share and celebrate what is happening at home, often before many on the ground are aware. If they are able to grab the passion and purpose of a candidate and share that message within their network, the result is that those at home will give consideration to the officials whose names and images come up more consistently and effectively in the spaces where they spend the most time, which is online.”

Both strategists recommend that campaigns should have both a party platform as well as social accounts for each candidate. The individual pages should reflect the brand and message of the party but present a more personal look at the candidate running for office. These personal pages should then follow the politician into office.

Follow Nerissa Golden @trulygolden and Ursula Barzey @MoxeeMarketing on Twitter for social media tips.

Small Hoteliers Need to Get on Trip Advisor says Media Consultant

Media Strategist Nerissa Golden teaches Social Media for Small Hotel Properties on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Grand View Bed & Breakfast.
Media Strategist Nerissa Golden teaches Social Media for Small Hotel Properties on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Grand View Bed & Breakfast.

BAKER HILL, Montserrat – Small hoteliers, villa and bed and breakfast owners on Montserrat are being encouraged to get on the social media platform Trip Advisor.

During last Thursday’s Social Media session with media strategist Nerissa Golden, the more than 20 property owners gathered at the Grand View Bed & Breakfast were given information on the various social platforms available to help boost their business.

Golden encouraged the owners, who offered a wide range of accommodations on Montserrat to take the time to set up a business profile on Trip Advisor as well as a Facebook page. She also showed them the possibilities for integrating a website with other social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

“Travellers have become very internet savvy and they want to get as much information about a property before they purchase a ticket. They also want to know more about it than the pretty write up that is on the hotel’s website. Trip Advisor and other social spaces allows them to read the reviews of other travellers which help them to make a decision,” Golden explained to the participants. “A traveller can create a review for your property even if you do not have an official profile. It is important that you take a hold of the profile and manage it. This will allow you to respond to each reviewer and also add pertinent information about your property such as the types of rooms available, rates and promotional photos.”

“Getting on Trip Advisor and Facebook is free,” she noted but it was important that sufficient time be allocated to manage the spaces well so they can produce the results desired. Golden, who operates goldenmedia, a publicity and marketing firm, added that they should be intentional about their social media strategy, plan it out in advance and then be consistent about using them.

During the four-hour workshop the property owners were given a series of exercises after each introduction to a social media platform. They learned how to use Instagram and selecting appropriate hashtags; the importance of a Facebook space and how new changes affect the visibility of their page in the news feed; and using Pinterest to showcase the island and their hotel. Golden also presented examples of how other hotels across the Caribbean are using YouTube to generate interesting and unique content. She also offered advice on taking great pictures which is the foundation for increasing interest on social media.

Flo Griffith of the Old Sugar Mill said she realised that she needed to revitalise her Facebook page and also to set up a profile on Trip Advisor to take advantage of social media and connect with her customers. She admits that her schedule does not allow her a lot of time to be on social media and so will get her teenaged sons to handle that aspect of the business for her.

The participants crafted a standard review that could be used on Trip Advisor to respond to a positive reviewer. They also drafted messages to handle a review that was very critical.

“Always take the high ground even when the review is disparaging of your hotel,” she explained. “Say thank you for their visit and express how you are taking their suggestions or complaints to improve your service. Your response is not only for the one who wrote the bad review but for others who will use your response to see if they are willing to take a chance on your property.”

Participants were given the opportunity to share more about their property and the types of clients they wanted to attract. They then received advice from their peers on content they could create to showcase their product and the most appropriate platforms to share it on.

The social media workshop was one of several sessions being sponsored by the Caribbean Development Bank and the Montserrat Tourist Board for property owners on Montserrat who cater to the tourism industry. It is the intention that after the workshops end on Tuesday, February 18, each participant will be better equipped to draft a marketing plan.

Find out more about goldenmedia and using social media to promote your business by contacting gmedia@trulycaribbean.net or visiting www.nerissagolden.com.

Is Pinterest for You?

Pinterest-TCW-2It’s very easy to follow the crowd to the latest social media trend but is it where your business needs to be?

For some reading, you may be between jobs and just killing time online but you can actually turn the energy that you are taking to pin and turn it into a viable business for you.

Let’s discuss some of the possibilities.

Pinterest is the social media tool which is very popular, especially with women. It allows you to create boards in the theme of your choice and pin photos to share with your followers. Companies are also using this platform to promote their products and you can do the same.

So first up… Continue reading