Stay Social

Spanish Banks
Spanish Banks

In order to get the most out of your online social networks and social media, just remember that the word social always comes first.Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are communities built on the principles of give and take, and if you expect people to take the time to view your content you need to do them the courtesy of giving them your attention as well. This is not necessarily a one to one ratio or an exactly even exchange, more of a way of operating. If you just blast your info and message out without considering or connecting with your audience, they will quickly tune out. The great thing about social media compared to traditional media is the ability to have immediate interaction with your audience, don’t let that go to waste!

Point Grey
Point Grey

If you want comments, likes and retweets, you need to be dishing them out as well. Plus, if you ARE getting all these wonderful things make sure you are showing your appreciation.  Sometimes I wait until Friday to thank a week’s worth of re-tweeters or new followers on Twitter with a Follow Friday tweet or two. Sending a thank you in a direct message may seem more personal, but getting a public shout out is usually considered more valuable.

Steps Away
Steps Away

Commenting on blogs that share a similar subject is a great way to bring traffic to your own blog and broaden your readership. Encourage more people to comment on your posts by replying to comments, even a quick “Thanks for the comment” will usually do. You may also have noticed the links to other related articles at the bottom of my posts, It’s simple to add these in WordPress, as recommendations are provided in a handy little box in the Edit Post screen. I’ve been introduced to some fantastic articles and incredible bloggers through this one little thing and I always appreciate (and comment) when other bloggers link back to one of my posts.

Sky framed by branches
Sky framed by branches

To increase viewership, when I post a new image on Instagram, I add several relevant hashtags so people who don’t follow me can find my pictures and maybe click the “follow” button. Then I will click on one of two of the hashtags in my comment, which goes to a search for other photos with that hashtag, and “like” or comment on the ones I admire. This generates many more likes and comments for my pics, it also causes more spammy comments, but those are easy to clean up.

It’s all about engagement and the best way to make people care about your message is to show that you’re listening to what they have to say as well.

How do you show appreciation to your followers and likers?

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Hashtag Hullabaloo

Pacific Central edited with Picfx, Instagram & Wordphoto
Pacific Central edited with Picfx, Instagram & Wordphoto

If you are on Twitter and Instagram, you have probably noticed, and hopefully used, hashtags (#). On your phone it’s known as the pound key and looks like a mini Tic Tac Toe game, apparently it is now a baby name as well. Hashtags were first used in the late 80’s within Internet Relay Chat networks to label topics and groups, and the practice was adopted by Twitter users in 2007. Chris Messina (@chrismessina) claims to be the #godfather as it was his tweet that started it all and Wikipedia backs this up. In 2009 Twitter turned all hashtagged words into hyperlinks to search results for that keyword, making it even easier to find connected tweets.

#blogherfood
Aki & Alex of Ideas in Food at #blogherfood

Hashtags are used on Twitter to highlight keywords to group tweets so that discussions, events, groups and trending topics can be searched. When I attended Blog Her Food 2012 in Seattle, the organizers chose #blogherfood as the official hashtag and listed it in all their media. This was adopted by most of the Twitter users when tweeting about the conference, but some attendees still used #blogherfood12 or #blogherfood2012. By using these hashtags, it was much easier to find, follow and ReTweet or reply to our fellow conference goers and made for lots of interesting and hilarious interactions.

Bay Leaf Bonanza by Kitchenette Finds
Bay Leaf Bonanza by Kitchenette Finds

Instagram also uses hashtags as searchable keywords that users can use to tag their photos. When I started using Instagram I didn’t use hashtags and I only received likes or comments on my photos from people who already followed me. Once I started using hashtags in the comments my likes and followers increased. My number of spam comments increased as well, but it’s easy to do an Instagram Comment Cleanup. I recently posted the photo above on Instagram and one of the hashags I used was #herb, as bay leaf is a culinary herb used to season soups and sauces. When I checked out the profiles of some users who liked THIS photo, to see if I want to return the like or follow their images, I found a specific segment of Instagram users was liking it: pot smokers!

Spotted #SouthGranville "whimsies" only $22 #seriously #forreals #justwrong
Spotted #SouthGranville “whimsies” only $22 #seriously #forreals #justwrong

Hashtags can also be used to add a touch of humour, emotion or context to a tweet or a photo with no intention of categorization or search-ability. Yes, you can just make up your own!

So, don’t be afraid to use a hashtag or two, just try not to go overboard on Twitter unless it is for comedic effect. The accepted etiquette on Twitter is a maximum of two hashtags per tweet, these can be added to keywords already used in the message or tagged on at the end. On Instagram you can go crazy with the hashtags, but I suggest creating a second comment to load up, especially if you are sharing to Facebook and/or Twitter. Hashtags are not that useful on Facebook for categorizing, but the humour does translate, just not to your grandparents’ generation… at least not yet.

What are the best/worst hashtags you have seen/used?

MT: Mountain or Molehill

In the Twitterverse, RT means ReTweet and MT means Modified Tweet. So, what makes a tweet modified and when should it be used? Good question so glad you asked. Since I learned about Modified Tweets, which is a higher level of Twitter etiquette, I’ve tried to use them whenever appropriate. To start, I’ll give you an example of when an I would have appreciated an MT instead of an RT.

Back when I attended Blog Her Food 2012 in Seattle, I attended a very interesting and provocative morning keynote entitled: The Intersection of Brands, Bloggers, Ethics and Opportunities. As with the rest of the conference, I used the tweets from Twitter account for my food blog @kitchenettefind  as a way to keep shorthand notes of thoughts and quotes I found insightful, useful or thought-provoking. It was an excellent way to interact with other attendees without being disruptive and to keep track of what was going on in the other areas of the conference as many people were tweeting throughout.

Though there were many interesting moments and thoughts, it seemed that Alicia McGlamory from Masterbuilt (makers of fryers, grills and smokers) stirred up the most controversy. She was representing the point of view of brands that are often approached by food bloggers and she generated quite  a strong response in the room and on Twitter. One of my tweets that quoted Alicia got a small reaction as well.

When @mizmaggieb quoted my tweet she took out “your blog”, but she also took out the original quote attribution to @Masterbuilt (Alicia McGlamory’s corporate Twitter handle). Now, all the people in the room with us knew that these were not my words. But, given that @mizmaggieb has more than 6 times the followers that @kitchenettefind has, there would be a lot of people who would read her re-tweet of my mangled quote and assume they were my words. Now this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, or even in the little petty plan of things, but if you want to make friends in the Twitterverse treat their words with respect and acknowledge when they’ve been edited.

When should MT be used instead of RT? Anytime the re-tweeter shortens, replaces, corrects or inserts anything into the original tweet. That way, if you have changed the meaning in any way (intentionally or not) you are taking responsibility for the adjustment. I use it all the time when I’m shortening a tweet so I can re-share it with an addition or if I’m only interested in part of the tweet. I also sometimes add hashtags or remove links or other Twitter handles. The MT also lets other Twits know to check the source material (i.e. the original tweet) before they take the quote as verbatim.

The strength of the online community is based on respect and the etiquette that we create and conform to as a group. I will always use MT when it is appropriate to show my consideration for other’s words, thoughts and ideas.

Have you been RT’ed when you should  have been MT’ed? Do you or will use MT?