Why Hashtags Suck & 4 Other Social Media Scandals

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Everyone loves a good scandal, so I put my sassy pants on for this one! Come along as I share 5 social media practices that I believe are absolutely sabotaging your social engagement and street cred.

Hey guys, it’s Alex! And this week I’m going to share my honest thoughts on some outdated social media practices that many people are still hanging onto, despite the MASSIVE changes in the way audiences are engaging with brands online today.

The first thing I’m going to say is this: no one you care about, cares about the size of your following. Yes I said it.

Think about it: Who do you care about? Well your family and friends, obviously. They don’t care if you’re a social media star, and if they do, you may want to get yourself some new friends. But I’m talking about your audience, your customers, devoted fans and students. You care about them, right? (Hint: you better) But do you think it really matters an ounce to them if you have 100 or 100,000 fans if you’re providing amazing value and support? I mean sure, they might care in a “way to go!” supportive kind of way… but trust me, their likelihood to love, or leave, has nothing to do with how many other people smash that follow button.

Follower count is no longer a measure of how successful your social media account is because it’s common knowledge that you can BUY followers. SHADYYYY! Instead, social credibility is all about how you engage and interact with your audience.

The truth of the matter is, the only people who care about the size of your audience are other businesses who are trying to get in front of it. You know how many emails I get a week from brands and companies trying to offer me a paycheck for a video review?… I say no every single time. Why, because I care about YOU. I would never do a paid review unless it was for something I really, really, REALLY believe can help you or I have personally used it and gotten results. I’m not saying influencer marketing is dead. It’s a huge and lucrative business, but it’s not sustainable if it’s your only intent or strategy. Which makes it even more important to follow the steps I’m sharing in this article.

Those of you who know me, know I’m all about creating copy and content that both converts AND connects. And today, I’m sharing how this applies in the social sphere. So if you’re not already part of my global posse, join us by clicking subscribe over on my YouTube Channel. I release a new video every week on copywriting, marketing, and branding techniques and strategies that are working today.

In the meantime, here are the five social media scandals that are ruining your rep with the people who actually give a shit.

Scandal #1. You Can No Longer Fake It Till You Make It

Ah yes, social media in the 2020’s. Welcome to the world of FAKE followers.

Yup, fake followers cost brands over $1.3 BILLION last year.

Which is why there are tools out there that will audit an Instagram account’s engagement, growth and credibility by telling you the percentage of REAL followers they have. Plenty of these tools will allow you to run a free report before you need to pay. So I quickly did mine. You can see the growth of my average likes, followers and my engagement rate. You can also see my credibility score which is around 94% – meaning I do have a few fake followers (it’s unavoidable) but for the most part my account is squeaky clean. I ran another account through this tool and saw this…. [25%]. Yeah, no bueno.

The truth is, there are a lot of ways to get more followers, some shadier than others, but if you’re so hung up on these tactics that you neglect to show up and engage them with a genuine personality…

That’s basically like inviting a big group of new friends to your house for dinner but you stay locked in your bedroom the entire time. They’re gonna wonder what the hell is going on and eventually leave!

The goal of growing an audience is to create a community and the best (and in fact the only) way to do that is to engage and connect with your followers. They are people too.

Now more than ever, people are seeking authentic experiences and holding brands accountable for their content. You shouldn’t just be about selling your product or service — or somebody else’s product or service – you should also inspire your followers, evoke their curiosity, start meaningful conversations and get them to have more fun!

Mix it up with content that’s relevant to your brand or your audience, such as an awesome quote, interesting facts, a funny meme and free training. There are 3 main types of value you can offer online:

Entertainment value, educational value and inspirational value.

So before you post, ask yourself: what kind of value am I providing here. If you can’t answer that question, rethink it.

When you focus on adding value FIRST, you make your brand relatable and memorable. And that emotional connection is going to influence their buying decision more than anything else.

And if you want to incentivize engagement through a contest, that’s cool! But consider whether your mechanics can create a valuable experience for your followers that will make them want to check back in.

We’ve all done it – you see a random Instagram contest online for a brand you loosely follow. It tells you to tag 5 friends and you get entered to win something. So what do you do – you tag your 5 besties, the ones who have all implicitly agreed to be each others’ Instagram contest crew. You know what they’ll do anyways, they’ll see it and likely ignore it.

I’m not saying this isn’t a great strategy to get impressions. But how many of you actually end up following those brands unless they immediately get your attention with something YOU care about. There’s a better way to do it…

Take Dunkin Donuts for example, who used their Halloween contest to get participants to create a doughnut-inspired DIY costume that they have to take a photo of and post to enter.

It sounds like a lot of work, but the experience itself incentivizes followers to create a fun and creative post that they’d totally and genuinely be up for posting anyway. And the results were pretty impressive! Tonnes of doughnut themed art! How committed do you think THESE people are to the Dunkin Donuts brand… yeah.

Ok moving along to escandelo #2.

Scandal #2. Hashtags Suck

Relax. I know I know. Instagram hashtags can be super helpful if you’re just starting out and you want to build a following. I mean, how else will you get attention right? Here’s the problem though…

Even if you do grow a following using hashtag plugging — most of them will likely pop in and pop back out without ever engaging because there was nothing meaningful or memorable about how they discovered you.

Not to mention, if you are stuffing your captions with as many hashtags as possible, you may be turning off the people who are genuinely interested or incentivized to learn what you’re teaching or sharing.

No one likes clicking “read more” only to have the caption expand into “meh” copy that provides no real value with exactly thirty hashtags underneath. Hey, I’ve been guilty of it too in the past!

And, because everyone is always looking for the quickest way to do everything, many people are using hashtag generators that spit out a collection of tags that have literally nothing to do with the subject matter. No wonder real people hardly ever search for content using hashtags – it’s a hot mess.

And therein lies the biggest reason why hashtags suck – they are BOT magnets. In fact they probably attract more bots and fake followers than they do genuine accounts! Bots go, great, I’m going to go follow or engage with every post with the hashtag #motivationalquote. Then you get all of those fake comments like “I love your content!” and “Great photo” when it isn’t even a photo and you’re like, huh? Then most of the time, they unfollow you anyways if you don’t follow back.

Now you might be thinking – whatever, I AM getting more followers so I still have a hard time seeing why hashtags suck!

Well, in case you weren’t aware, the Instagram algorithm now will only show your content in a small percentage of your followers’ feeds to gauge the engagement, BEFORE showing it to more. If the engagement is low that content is dead, and won’t be shown to anymore of your followers.

So, if your following is full of bots who don’t actually engage with your posts, you are desperately hurting your chances of your content being seen by your REAL followers.

One of the best ways to use hashtags is to use hyper-targeted or hyper-personalized hashtags that make it easy for people to share and find your content. Use 1-2 hashtags that are 10000% related to what you’re actually posting about. And stay away from the hashtags that EVERYONE is using because it’ll get lost in the mess anyways.

Or, you can create your own hashtag! For example, my buddy Mark Groves, the human connection specialist behind @CreateTheLove, grew his audience to now over 570,000 followers without relying much on hashtags. Yet his engagement levels are through the roof because he focuses on valuable content that resonate so well with his audience that they just LOVE sharing and recommending his stuff… And all he uses is a one branded #createthelove hashtag in every single one of his posts. That’s it.

Alright next up…

Scandal #3. It’s Not All About You!

If you expect your followers to leave comments and start interacting with each other, you best make sure you don’t leave them hanging!

I’ve seen so many brands make this mistake. They put a lot of work into creating a compelling and visually appealing post and a great caption, but then they pretty much ghost their community.

Take the ME outta social media, guys. Comments are not a one-way-street. It’s a two-way communication channel. Unless you’re Beyonce and you don’t need to follow nobody — you have to join in and facilitate.

You don’t just want to make your users feel like they can relate to your content, but that they belong in the community.

The best way to do this? Speak to your followers like they’re there right in front of you. Respond to comments on your posts! Tap the heart icon. Be a real human.

Make them feel heard so that they feel included, and ultimately — valued.

I try to respond to every comment I get on my YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Try it out…. Put me to the test! It feels great to interact with my audience and acknowledge the time they’ve taken to give me feedback or show me some support. It’s also the BEST way to see what your audience finds helpful and valuable, which is fuel for your business.

I also take the time to welcome every new follower I get on my @CopyPose Instagram account by tagging them in my comments! It’s not a big move, but it tells them that their presence and support are valued.

Next up…

Scandal #4. Static Content Is DYING

Guys, you’ve heard me say it before. The Future Is Video. There has been an explosion of growth in video traffic in the past few years.

Whether it’s a series of Instagram Stories, IGTV, Facebook Live, Snapchat or YouTube, it’s no secret that branded video has become a staple in our everyday lives.

Views of branded video content have increased 99% on YouTube and a whopping 258% on Facebook between 2016 and 2017. Even on Twitter, a video tweet is six times more likely to be retweeted compared to a photo tweet! The numbers are huge and undeniable.

And by 2021, it’s estimated that 82% of ALL internet traffic will come through video, and 13% from LIVE video.

Look at the amount of engagement and shares of the Tasty recipe videos. They’re short, easy to understand, and you just can’t take your eyes of them.

And then there’s Tik Tok — the social media video sharing platform has become a global phenomenon for interaction and engagement. It’s addictive!

If you’re looking to grow your brand well into the 2020’s you need to be on video. Period.

And lastly…

Scandal #5. Don’t Just Stand There and Look Pretty

You think you can just curate a perfectly posed, pretty feed and call it a day? Think again.

Listen, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t put some thought into a cohesive brand look and feel, but if that’s ALL you care about, you’re dead in the water.

I mean — look at the meme accounts like Lad Bible and The Fat Jewish that do so well. They provide unlimited value in the form of entertainment — and their galleries are messy as hell. You know what I mean!

But my point is that a great social media account isn’t just about visual appeal — it’s also about how you mix things up when it comes to engaging and incentivizing your audience.

Remember, you need to provide Entertainment Value, Educational Value or Inspirational Value. While a pretty aesthetic may be Inspirational for a hot second, it will lose attention fast when it’s no longer a novelty.

The great news is, you have so many tools at your disposal to help you keep your follower’s interest.

Most platforms like Instagram and Facebook are constantly updating and rolling out new features and tools to help you with your engagement and marketing – polls, filters, Q&A, gifs, countdowns, quizzes.

Guys, this is not just something they do just for the sake of it! In fact, Facebook spends millions of dollars on market research and creates these tools because they know that users want them and WILL respond to them. Facebook’s entire MO is to create a better experience for their users. So, take the guesswork outta your marketing and use those features!

It’s also no surprise that most of these features are being rolled out to the video side of these apps, like Instagram stories, and smart brands GET IT.

Recently, Elle Magazine used Instagram Story polls to engage their readers about an article they wrote on Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before rom com. In a series of Polls, they engaged their readers and provided cues for followers to swipe up and read the article in full. It was genius!

Watch This Instead:

And there you have it — my two cents on what you need to stop doing if you want to engage your audience and stay relevant. Leave me a comment below if you found this article helpful! And, if you want to see what else is in store in the future of digital marketing check out my video on the Top 4 Social Media & Digital Marketing Trends next. And remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Thanks so much for reading guys! Till next week, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!

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