Turning Profits with Social Content: The Recipe for Success

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f you want to make money as a digital marketer, expert Joe Pulizzi says selling a product should be at the bottom of your to do list. Content is king, and quality social content for companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo has become a steady revenue stream.

During a discussion on a September 2017 edition of The Social Examiner podcast, “How to Generate Revenue with Your Content,” Pulizzi dove into the value of social content for businesses.

“More important than products are content and communication,” said Pulizzi. “I believe that the time is coming where content will no longer be a cost-center but a profit center, and we as strategic communicators can monetize it without being limited to just products.”

The Recipe for Successfully Monetizing Content

As competition grows across industries, Pulizzi reiterates the importance of targeting the right audience. Emphasizing that products can be copied, but an audience of loyal fans cannot. Building up an audience takes patience, hard work and consistent effort and will be impossible without quality content. That, Pulizzi says, is the key: nurturing your audience with a steady flow of quality content and you have the recipe for success.

As your social following grows naturally, digital marketers will start to gather more feedback. With this information, digital marketers will have a better pulse or understanding of the content the audience is looking for. Then, with a better perspective on your audience, you will have the resources to give them the content they want– the only difference is you’ll charge a premium for it.

“Once you have your audience, you can sell them anything!” says Pulizzi.

Now that you’ve become focused on selling to people and not selling a product, there will be several other opportunities for monetizing in addition to premium content. Pulizzi recommends starting out with one or two of the following methods:

  • Selling ad space on your blog site
  • Adding subscription-based services to your content
  • Manufacturing merchandise
  • Leveraging additional paid services
  • Asking for donations
  • Publishing an eBook

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Evidence of the successful implementation of these monetization strategies is food blogger Chelsea Lords who made 40k in her first year of blogging. For Lords, building her following started with producing quality content.

“The internet does not need more content, it is extremely oversaturated. What it does need is better content,” said Lords. “I believe having a lot of content is meaningless and that superior, high-quality images are the first key to monetizing your content.”

Chelsea Lords stages a photo for her blog. Photo from Lords.

Lords knew quality started with her photography. Completely self-taught, Lords has blogged about her experiences outlining essentials for beginners when attempting to take their own high-quality photos. Her first tip is to start by studying and discovering different types of photography. Once you’ve gathered perspective, Lords says practice makes perfect as you genuinely strive to create your own style without mimicking the work of others.

Following these steps, Lords blog, “Chelsea’s Messy Apron,” generates millions of site visitors each month. With her increasing following comes an increasing amount of opportunities to monetize content. Like Pulizzi, Lords has leveraged opportunities to charge a premium for specialized content. In addition, as she continues to deliver high-quality content her inbox is overflowing with work requests.

On her site there are not any products for sale, Lords does not drive sales for her sponsors. To Pulizzi’s original point, her content has become a profit center. By doing something as simple as selling ad space, charging for premium content and selling sponsorships, Lords successfully turns profits each month.

For a food blogger like Lords it doesn’t matter the recipe, whether she’s making Cincinnati Chili, Sweet Potato Corn Bowls, or Lemon Parmesan Chicken the key is always the right ingredients. For digital marketers the recipe for successfully monetizing social content is a simple combination: build the right audience and produce high-quality content.

Written by Cory Gill


Google AdWords for Dummies

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oogle AdWords is an online platform where companies can utilize paid-search advertising to maximize profits. It is essential for all companies and brands to develop a digital strategic plan that optimizes both paid advertising and organic searches. Although there are many different routes and strategic methods related to Google AdWords, it’s important to first understand the basics so you don’t get lost in the complexity of Google’s real estate platform.

But first let’s talk about how Google AdWords works: Google AdWords lets you place search results for your website on a search engine results page (SERP) by paying for them. Essentially you pick keywords that you think will be searched on Google, and then create an advert for your website that will appear as a sponsored link in the search engine results page. Since multiple companies usually want the same keywords, rival companies can bid for certain keywords.

A sample search for housing in Provo, Utah shows the “sponsored ads” for the top 3 searches. The top companies were the highest bid for these specific keywords.

Online Strategy

A digital strategy is necessary for all businesses, and using Google AdWords can add a lot to your online presence. According to the blog Wishpond, for every dollar spent on Google AdWords, the average business generates one dollar in revenue. Additionally, 95% of Google’s total revenue comes from Advertising.

Jenna Lestarge, a beginner AdWords Specialist, has already seen enormous results in a short time.

“Google AdWords is essential for any type of business. It can be risky, but usually it is worth the risk” she said.

Google AdWords can give you a leg-up in your specific industry due to the online advertising benefit of reaching a larger audience.

Understanding the Lingo

Jumping into Google AdWords without preparation and research can be like jumping head-first into an ice-cold lake. It is scary, dark and you will probably struggle staying afloat.

Understanding the lingo and what all the terms mean can greatly help you and your business as you are starting out with Google AdWords. According to Google resources, understanding the lingo and terms can help improve and specialize your bidding strategy.

Some terms that are important to know are:

  • Impression: A measurement of how many times the ad has been shown.
  • CPC (cost-per-click): The most common type of bid on Google. You pay every time a person actually clicks on your ad.
  • CTA (call to action): The action you want the consumer to take away from the ad.
  • Quality Score: Google’s measurement based on the relevancy of the ad’s headline, description, keywords and URL.
  • Ad Rank: The value that is used to determine where your ad shows up on a page, based on the bid amount.

Focus on the Basics

Although Google AdWords tends to be complex due to the multiple various and strategies, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with the basics, and then gradually broaden your horizon.

“When I first started learning about Google AdWords it was easy to get confused with all of the topics. Once I decided to only focus on the basics, it became much easier to understand,” says Jenna Lestarge, who works with Google AdWords daily.

According to the blog Wishpond, over 1.2 million companies advertise with Google AdWords. Understanding the fundamentals and basics will greatly help in utilizing this dominating online platform.

Use the Online Resources

You need to pass two of the six exams with at least an 80 percent or better to become AdWords certified. You will need to take the Google AdWords fundamental exam and then you can choose between search advertising, display advertising, mobile advertising, video advertising and shopping advertising as your second exam.

Preparing for the Google AdWords exams can be stressful and time-consuming Make use of all the online resources to help you study.

There are countless resources available online that can help you understand the basics of Google AdWords and help you prepare for the exams. Even Google offers study guides and video tutorials that walk you through AdWords.

The online resources are quite helpful with introducing you to the different aspects of the platform including pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and strategic bidding.

Utilizing Google AdWords can be very beneficial to any online strategy. Not only does it help with online advertising and promotion, it helps reach your desired audience. Understanding the lingo and focusing on the basics is the best way to ease your way into Google’s real-estate platform. Although the online resources are extremely helpful, the best way to learn how to use the platform is to do just that — use it!

Written by McKell Staheli


Build your Social Channels from Scratch in 5 Steps.

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ou may feel like a deer in the headlights when given the task to create social media channels for your organization, but here are five steps to help you out:

1. Discover your vision

What is the purpose behind your social media accounts? BYU Sports Information director Lauren Holbrook describes why seeing the big picture matters, “If you don’t have a vision for your social media campaigns, it just becomes some fun posts that don’t contribute. You may earn lots of engagements and traction from a post or campaign, but if it doesn’t contribute to your brand then it’s done nothing for you.”

Once you’ve created your vision, be prepared to give your audience a taste of what they should expect to get out of following you.

2. Prepare your platform

Don’t invite the neighborhood over for a barbecue before you buy the supplies. At least be prepared to feed your audience some “content bites” before they enter your channels. Have a bank of posts that highlight your vision about your brand and what the followers can expect to get out of it. Below are some examples of such posts:

– Create an introductory blog and link posts to where it’s posted

– Create giveaway contests for your followers

– Create videos that quickly explain the purpose of your brand

– Showcase some highlights that your brand has had in the past and what is expected in the future

3. Build your audience.

Now that you’ve created something worth sharing, the invitations can be sent! This is where your audience research comes in handy. The welcome wagon to your pages can be sent in many forms, but they must connect with the audience that you’re trying to reach. Here are some helpful tips:

– Start posting and commenting on other bigger brands and influencers’ social media accounts

– Create Geofencing around areas that contain your audience

– Generate contests that relate to your audience and require them to like your pages

– Look at who follows similar pages and invite them to your channels

As you utilize these tips, interrogate yourself with questions about the demographics and psychographics of your audience. All questions can come from the big two:

  1. Who cares?
  2. Why do they care?

Once your channels are ready to go, start seeking out the followers and prepare relevant content.

4. Generate your Content

Content is the glue that keeps your followers attached to your channels. Remember this rule: Be human. Produce something that others feel comfortable contacting, engaging and following. Keep your branding professional and loyal to your vision, but be humanistic as you follow these content creation principles:

Branding: Be consistent with your messaging. Use similar themes and images according to each platform. Take pride in your content and strive for high-quality media to help build your reputation.

Content Calendars: Find four to five hours each month and brainstorm a month of content. Iron it out on a simple Google Sheet and have a second pair of eyes look it over for errors or offbeat content ideas. Commit to the calendar and be consistent!

User-Generated Content: Give your followers a voice! These “Brand Champions” or better known as brand lovers will bring more credibility to your brand than anything you could find. Share their content and create spotlights, features and anything else to showcase your gratitude for their loyalty.

Spontaneous content and current events: Keep watch for any kind of new content that could build your brand. Never be afraid to edit the content calendar with new and improved content, but maintain a fluid level of consistency.

These are a few of many principles to keep your content sharp and relevant. I recommend looking at relevant blogs and other brands for more specifics on content curating.

5. Analyze your progress

So did it work? Did the audience actually care about what you were saying? Analytics have all the answers. Each platform has a form of analytics that can help you understand how every post you made performed. It also shows demographics for all of your follower categories. Here’s what to look for:

  • Find out what you care about measuring (look back at your vision)
  • What type of content needs to improve and what type’s doing well
  • What direction your new strategy needs to take based on your results

Rinse and Repeat

Repeat this process as many times as you need to in order to shake up your routines. Instead of starting new pages, use new campaigns and new hashtag trends. Use this process to measure your progress and always strive to improve it.

Written by Jeffrey Dodenbier


Reach the 100K-Instagram-Follower Milestone

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o you ever feel like your Instagram account is stagnant -every few followers you gain you lose another? There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you are never going to keep growing. We have all been there, we can all relate. Growing a social media following can be an exhausting process. And with so many “quick and easy” methods out there that never seem to work, how can you possibly find real advice.

Theming your Instagram feed will be a valuable asset in growing your followers. Be consistent and follow your theme with every post.
Photo of @Cremedelacrumb1 feed.

Here are some sure ways to get your Instagram growing like wildfire.

  • Post on your Instagram every single day. While this may sound time consuming and exhausting, it is vital for success. Your followers want to see new content and if you are consistent in providing it, you will continue to grow in followers.
  • Like at least 100 photos a day. Even better, it really only takes about 5 minutes to do that. But by interacting with other accounts, you will become a more prominent account and get your name out there. Be sure to do this in your niche first and then begin expanding to new areas once you see consistent growth. Forbes interviewed Instagrammer Elliot Tebele and he said he would like thousands of photos a day when starting out.
  • Follow people! When beginning (an Instagram account), supporting other accounts will help your cause. Most people will follow you back once you give them a follow. Once you feel secure in your growth, you can slow this process down. But never stop following people, it humanizes your account.
  • Interact with other accounts. Whether it is a comment, a like or a share onto your Instagram story, do it. It helps people get to know you and your brand.
  • Brand your account. Find your niche and stick to it. If you have a consistent look and feel to your account, it makes it more appealing to the eye and you will see people gravitate towards your content. For more tips on branding, check out this article.
  • Pick a feed theme. Once you decide, stick with it unless you are going to completely change it.
  • Set yourself apart from others in your niche. Maybe you only use circle photos, maybe you have a color theme; try and find something to make your Instagram unique.

Tips can only go so far, but learning from someone who has experience can help you further. Raven, @TheDisneyDorm, has worked hard to gain a large following within the Disney Community. With currently 21K followers and 511 posts, she has some great advice to provide. She had her own personal reasons to begin down this path; her inspiration came from a 17-year-old girl who came into the bank she was working at to purchase her very own house. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing! The girl had a successful makeup channel on YouTube and was making a living already. That is when Raven decided she wanted to take a leap of faith and try doing this for herself.

Raven (@thedisneydorm) has grown an impressive 21K followers since beginning her Disney themed Instagram.

“I had zero clue what I was doing, I just knew I loved positivity and Disney and believed really hard in myself,” she said. “The biggest advice I can give is to not look at other accounts and think, oh I wish my account looked like theirs, I want my photos like that, or I want followers like that. I learned really quickly that it’s not about being as successful or savvy as others, it’s about finding your own niche and what makes you YOU! People will love you no matter what.”

Now with thousands and thousands of followers, Raven is very aware of the influence she has. She tries to be a positive influence within the community because that is what is important to her.

So whether you are brand new to Instagram or have been trying to grow a following for several years, have patience. You can easily get a large following with a little bit of work. Be consistent, be authentic, and show people who you are. Take these tools and start your journey to 100K followers today!

Written by Jaycee Brown


Chatbots fuel the future of communications

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t’s Friday night, which means it’s pizza night. That means dealing with an annoying automated phone system, navigating a website that isn’t mobile friendly or downloading an app that will only be used once in a blue moon. Whatever way you slice it, ordering a pizza can be a hassle.

To make things simpler for consumers, a more complex technology – chatbots – might be the answer. Chatbots are software programs that communicate with people through a messaging platform like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or iMessage. Using artificial intelligence, chatbots can be programmed to understand and respond to questions, comments and requests from users.

Chatbots from Marriott Hotels, Papa John’s Pizza and Whole Foods Markets allows customers to talk directly with companies through Facebook Messenger. Photo credit: Trevor Hawkins

“Even just a year ago, chatbots were just a beta technology,” said Adam Durfee, manager of Brigham Young University’s Y Digital lab. “But because consumers expect immediate access to brands, chatbots are becoming more popular since they can instantly keep up with the demand.”

Chatbots have become increasingly accessible, especially thanks to smartphones that use chatbots like Apple’s Siri, Google assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.  With apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp companies don’t have to be a multibillion dollar tech firm to build a chatbot.

Using these platforms, consumers can order burritos via Taco Bell’s chatbot, buy movie tickets with Fandango’s chatbot or get beauty tips from Sephora’s chatbot. Even Microsoft’s Xiaoice, with over 20 million users in China, can become a friend and chat with users on almost any subject.

Skyscanner, launched in May 2016 on Facebook Messenger, checks on flight prices and tracks price fluctuations for flights to destinations around the world. Photo credit: Trevor Hawkins

The rise of chatbots comes as no surprise as consumers turn away from apps and turn to messaging platforms. According to TechCrunch, a majority of US consumers download zero apps per month as of August 2017. Another report on Business Insider found that messaging platforms like Apple iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsUp are used more than social media apps.

As consumers turn to messaging apps, so do companies using chatbots. Companies can communicate one-on-one with consumers, giving them a very unique opportunity, according to Rick Boyce, an early pioneer of internet advertising.

“If a brand can create a bot that makes me laugh out loud, that responds with clever insight and truly makes my life easier and my experience with the brand more effortless and meaningful,” Boyce said, “then that brand will have discovered one of the most amazing marketing tools ever invented.”

Now is the perfect time to create a chatbot. According to a survey conducted by Retale, a mobile app developer, over 86 percent of millennials say that companies should “use chatbots to promote deals, products and services.”

“Chatbots won’t be replacing websites or apps anytime soon, but they will become more common,” said Durfee. “Companies were slow to implement automated phone systems, too, but now you can barely find a company that doesn’t use one.”

Companies like ChattyPeople, Meokay and Bottr.me provide free platforms for anybody to easily create their own bot, no coding required. In Utah, companies like AtlasRTX in Park City can create more advanced bots for a fee.

[/vc_column_text][mk_blockquote style=”line-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last” font_family=”none”]“Chatbots aren’t going away. Creating a chatbot and getting that experience now will definitely be worth it in the long-run. Even if there’s a lot of front-end work.”[/mk_blockquote][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″ p_margin_bottom=”20″ width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

While creating a basic chatbot takes only a few hours to implement, maintaining it and tailoring it to consumer needs can be tiresome. But Durfee said the initial pains of creating one are worth the price.

“Chatbots aren’t going away,” Durfee said, “Creating a chatbot and getting that experience now will definitely be worth it in the long-run. Even if there’s a lot of front-end work.”

So while building a chatbot requires some work, at least ordering a pizza through one will be easy.

Written by Trevor Hawkins


9 Tips for Spotting and Fighting Fake News

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emocrats want to impose Islamic law in Florida. Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for President. An FBI agent investigating Clinton died under suspicious circumstances. Fake news stories like these and more swept the internet in the 2016 election—and people believed them.

Though the election has passed, fake news continues to circle the web as innocent readers fall victim to erroneous but captivating headlines. In this war of words, students and professionals can stand their ground and help promote real, uplifting content. Here are tips to spot and fight fake news as recommended by BYU assistant professor Christopher Wilson, and University of Oregon professor Seth Lewis.

How to spot fake news

1. Read the article. Before you can fight fake news, it’s important to recognize it. As reported by Business Insider, Twitter users only click through 59 percent of headlines before sharing.

Reading from a variety of news sources enhances readers’ media literacy. Photo credit: Roman Kraft, Unsplash

2. Think critically. Wilson said that the best tool for identifying fake news is to think critically about what you read. What one person may call fake news may simply reflect opinion. Lewis adds that readers must untangle the writer’s intent before judging a story’s validity.

“The first draft of history is invariably and inevitably a messy business,” Lewis said “The difference is that real journalism makes a good-faith effort to get things right or correct the record when it gets things wrong. Fake news, by contrast, has no interest in what is real and every interest in maximizing partisan advantage or click-driven profit or both at the same time.”

3. Find the original source. If the story is a repost, make sure to find the original source and author. NBC news cautions against stories with no byline or websites with only one author.

4. Inspect the URL. Business Insider warns that fake news purveyors often choose domain names that look identical to established news companies if not closely inspected. For example, abcnews.com.co mimics the logo and branding of ABC news, but the website is fake.

5. Check well-known news outlets. Lewis acknowledges the mainstream media isn’t 100 percent accurate but finds hope in its attempts to get the facts. When a fake news story claimed Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for president, the lack of reporting by The New York Times, Associated Press and The Washington Post made it likely the news was fake. Business Insider recommends, “if a story of that magnitude is legitimate, expect multiple news outlets to write about it.”

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]“The first draft of history is invariably and inevitably a messy business. The difference is that real journalism makes a good-faith effort to get things right or correct the record when it gets things wrong. Fake news, by contrast, has no interest in what is real and every interest in maximizing partisan advantage or click-driven profit or both at the same time.”[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

How to fight fake news

1. Stop it from spreading. What is obviously fake news to one person is not always obvious to another. Follow Facebook’s example and alert readers by pointing out fake articles in the comments section. Those who see friends sharing fake news can kindly alert them to their mistake.

Individual media consumers have the power to share good news with the world. Photo credit: Jon Tyson, Unsplash

2. Get news from a variety of sources. Reading multiple news sources can broaden your perspectives and protect you from falling into the bias of a sole source, but it also helps you identify questionable headlines that don’t appear anywhere else.

3. Read trusted sources. Following multiple news sources will only help if those sources can be trusted. The increased potential for encountering false sources requires individual censorship by media consumers.

Wilson explains that though fake news has always existed, the internet allows for widespread dissemination of uncensored information. “[In the past], everything was aggregated into the hands of gatekeepers. Now, there is no gate.”

This article, by Market Watch, lists the most and least trusted news sources. Try reading daily updates from at least three trusted sources.

4. Care to share. Savvy readers shouldn’t underestimate their power to empower others by sharing news they know isn’t fake. The more real news people share, the less room there is for fake news to overtake newsfeeds.

For added reading, Wilson recommends Arthur W. Page’s “Seven principles that guide our action and behavior.”
Written by Becca Pearson.


How to Optimize Hashtag Power on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

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he #ShareYourEars Disney campaign for Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2016 invited customers to share pictures wearing Mickey Mouse Ears using the branded hashtag. Disney donated $5 to Make a Wish for every post with the hashtag on social media.

Worldwide Breast Cancer foundation surpassed fundraising goals by 317% with the #KnowYourLemons campaign. The playful hashtag spread serious educational information on signs of breast cancer for women.

NASA used #GlobalSelfie to collect photos of people’s posts of their environmental surroundings. NASA put all the photos into a stunning mosaic of the world to inspire enthusiasm for Earth Day.

This little symbol—known as the pound key ten years ago—has become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Yet some brands and companies haven’t fully mastered or comprehended the power of optimizing the hashtag.

The ten-year-old symbol is now a cultural phenomenon, used to increase organic reach of social media posts. Learn best hashtagging practices to fully maximize its potential.

After extensive research from leaders in social media marketing, BYU School of Communications has gathered concrete answers to the often-deliberated question—how to hashtag on social media.


1.6 million people actively use Facebook every single day. This makes Facebook the most prominent social platform right now. A solid hashtag strategy can increase the organic reach of brands on this huge platform. But with Facebook, there seems to be a love-hate relationship with hashtags for one main reason.

Hashtags on Facebook work differently than other social platforms. Most people set their Facebook profiles to private, making the hashtags on posts less accessible. As a result, hashtag usage is restricted to companies, brands and influencers whose public profiles allow them to be searched and seen.

But when searching a hashtag, Facebook also gives the option to refine results. It’s possible to opt to see only posts from friends or only posts from specific groups. Hashtags can also be searched by location or time frame on Facebook. Neither Twitter nor Instagram have that function, making the Facebook hashtag process feel more organized.

AdExpresso published an experimental set of posts on Facebook, featuring photos of Elizabeth Warren and Kanye West. One had a caption saying, “In an election unlike any other, who would you pick if it came down to these two?” The second photo had the exact same image and caption adding “#RunWarrenRun” and “#RunKanyeRun.”

The results showed that the post including hashtags outperformed the first post. Companies worry about using hashtags on Facebook, due to evidence that hashtags decrease engagement. But, clever hashtags with purpose have proven effective when used correctly.

Recommended number of hashtags on Facebook: No more than one.

Optimal hashtag length: Six characters



Twitter support says, “We recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per tweet as best practice, but you may use as many hashtags in a tweet as you like.”

The verdict?

Tweets with more than two hashtags see a significant decrease in engagement. Track Maven, a marketing analytics software company, analyzed 65,000 posts and found that Twitter engagement was highest among hashtags with three characters or 18 characters. This seems like two opposite ends of the spectrum.

Track Maven, a marketing analytics software company, analyzed 65,000 posts across social media platforms. Studies found that Twitter engagement was highest among hashtags with three characters or 18 characters.

How does that work? Presumably, users like short hashtags because they’re clearer. But, sometimes people need longer hashtags to give necessary context.

Recommended number of hashtags on Twitter: One or two. No more than two.

Optimal hashtag length: Three or eighteen characters


Regardless of length, relevance will always reign supreme. The best way to optimize hashtags is to choose hashtags that are specific enough to be seen by the right people, and broad enough to reach a decent number of people.

BYU media relations manager Todd Hollingshead said, “Great hashtags can create a sense of community.” Hashtags work when people are really using it. “If the hashtag is something irrelevant like #wokeuptooearlythismorning and #mycerealiscoldbutiwantitobewarm, then it’s pointless.”

One of the most popularly circulated hashtags around campus is #BYUBound for incoming students. The day freshman receive their acceptance letters, BYU promotes the hashtag on social media. A couple of years ago, two students using #BYUBound found each other online and ended up becoming roommates.



For whatever cultural reason, (perhaps the same reason someone can get away with posting a bunch of selfies on Instagram but on Facebook that would be considered strange) Instagrammers have a lot more freedom with the hashtag.

Social media users engage with brands and companies that use multiple hashtags on Instagram. This strategy of multiple hashtags proves unsuccessful on other platforms. However, many businesses resort to hiding hashtags in the first comment section of a post, so they don’t distract readers from the real message.

Recommended hashtags on Instagram: One or two hashtags in the caption. Nine to 12 hashtags total.

Optimal character length: 21 to 24 characters.

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]”If the hashtag is something irrelevant like #wokeuptooearlythismorning and #mycerealiscoldbutiwantitobewarm, then it’s pointless.”[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Another way to optimize the reach of a hashtag is to use Instagram’s analytics tool which shows the times that are most popular for any business pages’ followers.

Studies used to argue about the best times to post online to get the highest engagement and reach. Now, the debate is officially over—because every Instagram business page has its own “Follower Activity” module. The tool breaks up the day into hours, and shows the typical times followers are on Instagram during an average day. Business can know when followers are most active on Instagram and optimize the potential to see any hashtagged posts.



The evolution of the Pinterest hashtag is both interesting and confusing. Users tried incorporating hashtags, a symbol that functioned similarly on every other social platform. But, they weren’t clickable on mobile devices. In 2015, pinners found that, though hashtags were now clickable on both mobile and desktop, using a hashtag didn’t guarantee that the post would be indexed into a specific, searchable, category. Ultimately, it made hashtags on Pinterest unhelpful and purposeless.

Pinterest finally published an official statement on September 29, 2017 announcing clickable and fully-functioning hashtags on their website.

Tiffany Black, Head of Content Business Development at Pinterest, said, “It is true that in the past, I think that we were dissuading people from using hashtags.” But with hashtags becoming a major language in the marketing realm, Pinterest decided to help brands and users benefit from its power. The company recommends adding no more than 20 hashtags per post and keeping them in the pin’s description.

Recommended number of hashtags: Using hashtags on Pinterest is so new that there’s no proper research for this. The best practice is trial and error, borrowing from what’s been working on the previous platforms.

Optimal character length: See above.


Helpful Hints

Don’t feel overwhelmed looking for the absolute best hashtags. Let free tools like Hashtagify.me help. This website finds the most popular hashtags for any keyword search.

With a recent revamp in interface this month, the free Hashtag Finder makes it easy to search the database of over twelve million Twitter and Instagram hashtags. Hashtags are chosen based on their popularity, associations, influencers and a few other metrics.

But, be careful. Because of the rapid rate at which new social media content is uploaded, popular hashtags can get content buried even more quickly. The solution is to stick with hashtags that range in the 50-75 popularity scale on Hashtagify.me. Get a good variety of both trendy hashtags and more niche hashtags.

Adjunct BYU professor and CEO of Wallaroo Media Brandon Doyle explains, “Best practices in social media marketing are always changing. That’s why I’m reading every single day about what’s happening in the industry. I always want to stay ahead of the trends.”

Though the guidelines listed in this article outline best hashtagging practices, there’s no doubt things will change. They always do. Here are some leaders in social media marketing that would be valuable to keep up with: Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today and the Moz or Hubspot blogs.

All the hashtag talk can be overwhelming. But when it helps people recognize a brand, finds a target audience and successfully drives company campaigns, then it’s time to learn to use it right. Stay updated on all the latest industry news, to continue practicing relevant social media marketing strategies.

Written by Kei Akoi Clark.


How to conquer the writing process, as told by Taylor Swift

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he phrase “writing process” often fosters many eye rolls and the feeling of dread among writers. The journey from pre-writing to publishing can seem like an uphill battle with no end in sight. Thus, it goes without saying that the writing process has a rough #reputation.

Taylor Swift will release her sixth album, Reputation, on November 10 of this year. The first single from the album, “Look What You Made Me Do,” broke chart and streaming records within days of release.

Pop icon Taylor swift can also sympathize with a bad reputation, or at least that’s what her new music says. On November 10 of this year, T-Swifts highly anticipated album will drop, exciting millions of fans around the world.

In the spirit of Taylor’s new album, here’s six tips to conquer the writing process, complete with some throwback lyrics from the artist herself.

  1. Overcoming writers block: “I’ve got a blank space, baby”

There it is. The dreaded blank page. The cursor blinks, and the anxiety of starting from scratch begins to set in. Ideas encompass your every thought, but the quest to create the perfect formation of words is debilitating.

The best way to overcome the paralyzing effect of writer’s block, is to free your mind from lockdown. An article titled, “How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tips that Work,” author Jeff Goins advises going for a walk, baking some cookies, or calling an old friend to get the juices flowing. Do whatever you must do to relax, and the words will come.

  1. Prewriting: “Jump, then fall”

Even after overcoming writers block, starting from nothing can still seem overwhelming. However, Swift says it best when she advises, “jump then fall.”

In order to tackle the writing task at hand, Stephanie Wong Ken, author of the article, “How to Free write,” offers wisdom about how to tackle a fresh piece of writing. The best piece of advice she includes, is to take a deep breath, then jump into prewriting. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be organized, just write, and begin to fall into your story.

To help gather your thoughts, use bullet points, make lists, or even write out sentences that come to mind.

Just like diving into a cold pool of water, the best way to start the writing process is to go in headfirst. It may seem scary to begin with, however once you emerge to the surface, the direction of your paper will become clearer and clearer.

  1. Drafting: “The story of us”

The first draft is always a diamond in the rough, however it is up to the writer to figure out how to make it shine. The best way to do this is to tell a story that sticks.

Sticky stories are those that are relatable and that captivate an audience’s attention. Swift epitomizes this writing technique.

“You connect with an audience by showing them you’re just like them. That’s what brings them back,” said pop culture expert and BYU professor, Scott Church, “Taylor Swift connects with her audiences because she writes about basic emotions that are associated with everyday relationships. She is more authentic and less manufactured.”

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]Taylor Swift connects with her audiences because she writes about basic emotions that are associated with everyday relationships. She is more authentic and less manufactured.[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Swift has engaged millions of fans around the world and has kept them coming back for more through her relatable lyrics. She is singing about your love story, your heartbreak, and your best friends.

To keep your readers reading, find what makes your story stick to the audience you are trying to reach. Chances are if the story is meaningful to you, it will be meaningful to one of your readers as well.

  1. Revising: “Why you gotta be so mean?”

After completing what seems to be the perfect first draft, get ready for the twist of fate that comes next.

Cue the revision process, where the story you wrote “looks a lot like a tragedy now.”

Revision can be the hardest step in the writing process, as your beloved first draft is picked a part with red ink and an iron fist. However, the people editing your paper are not trying to be mean.

Yes, there are haters out there that are gonna hate on your writing, but peer revisers are not those people. Revisers are put in place to offer fresh insights and outside perspectives. With their help, your piece can reach its fullest potential.

The best thing to remember about this step in the writing process, is to not take anything personally. “Shake it off,” and take the criticism in stride.

  1. Editing: “Are we out of the woods yet?”

Finally, after many re-writes, a beautiful piece of writing has emerged. However, you are not out of the woods quite yet. Editing is the final step of the writing process.

Editing is like the final wardrobe and makeup check before your writing goes out to shine on stage. All the hard work has been done, except for the last bit of polishing. It is essential to go through any piece of writing with a fine-toothed comb to proofread, and to look for any errors in spelling, words usage, grammar, or punctuation.

One misspelled word or writing the wrong kind of “there” can instantly taint your credibility as a writer. No one wants a bad reputation for lazy editing, so be sure to be meticulous in this final stage of the writing process.

  1. Publishing: “You are the best thing that’s ever been mine”

In the words of Swift, “do you remember when you were sittin’ there” with writer’s block?

You put your palm to your forehead for the tenth time?

Well, you wrote a story out of cautious writers cumbered thoughts.

Now, the finished product is the best piece of writing that’s ever been yours.

After the writing process is complete, and your story is ready for publication, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. A publishable piece is a job well done.

Written by Brittain Steiner


NBC’s “This is Us” sets the standard for successful storytelling

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ne of the most important skills in communications is being able to captivate an audience. With the mass amount of entertainment and content being published daily, cutting through the noise is challenging. NBC’s hit show “This is Us has become the storytelling sensation of the season with almost 13 million people tuning in weekly, exceeding viewership of any other season premier this year.

“This is Us” gives communications students some valuable lessons as to how they can be better storytellers. The show has captured America because of its impressive ability to get individuals invested in a story. If you haven’t watched “This is Us”, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Grab a box of tissues and be ready for all the feels.

The show follows the life of the Pearson family, Jack and Rebecca and their triplets Kate, Kevin and Randall, through the different struggles of an average American family. The show flashes back and forth from the triplets birth and adolescence to the “present day” adulthood. With these heart-wrenching experiences at the core of the show, “This is Us” showcases three attributes communications students should apply in their storytelling endeavors.

This is Emotional

 There is a very fine line between high impact emotional content and cliché and sappy narratives when it comes to storytelling. Communications students must learn how to appeal to emotion without manipulating or coming across as overly dramatic. “This Is Us” takes the story of Jack and Rebecca and highlights the struggles and joys found in every marriage. It portrays the real pain Randall faces with perfectionism and the overwhelming disappointments of Kate’s weight loss journey. Viewers understand these issues all too well, because in these character’s struggles, they see themselves.

Actor Gerald McRaney, who plays the triplet’s doctor in season one said, “At their core, these (the Pearson’s) are good, decent people. I think a lot of people in the country want to be reminded of the goodness that’s in us.”

Watching “This is Us” can be an emotional roller coaster- but it’s also showcases the best storytelling of the year. Photo Credit: Sarah matheson

“This is Us”fills a deep emotional need in society today. It is reminding viewers that despite the emotional struggles we all face, we can rise up and conquer.

 This is Innovative

Many think that to break through the noise of hundreds of movies and TV shows, you have to reinvent the storytelling wheel. Innovation in storytelling is strongest when it is built on the successful tactics of the past, but with a little twist.

Star Tribune TV critic Neal Justin said, “‘This Is Us’ breaks many rules: Jumping back and forth in time, leaving major characters on the sidelines for entire episodes, making time for long, uninterrupted monologues that a short-attention-span audience isn’t supposed to sit still for.”

Show writers Dan Fogelman, Donald Todd and Kay Oyegun string together the classic stereotypes surrounding family drama, but package it in a way that few have been able to master. Viewers understand more about the Pearson’s lives than the characters themselves do because of the way past and present are brought together. Innovative story telling is identifying ideas and principles that have captivated audiences in the past, and making slight adjustments to create a new kind of story.

 This is Mystery

You never know what you’re going to get in a “This is Us” episode, except for a little teary eyed and a whole lot of questions. The pivotal question that is currently captivating fans is the question of what happened to Jack. Like a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery, characters are constantly on the brink of making life altering decisions, and right at the climax the scene changes, leaving viewers gasping for a resolution. New York Times chief TV critic James Poniewozik wrote, “‘This Is Us’ used storytelling twists as a hook from the first episode, whose ending unveiled the flashback structure in the closing seconds.” Adding a bit of mystery to a story will keep audiences hooked until the end. If there’s one thing human beings crave, it’s a resolution. “This is Us” is slowly bringing together the pieces of the Pearson family puzzle, and people just can’t get enough.

Written by Sarah Matheson


Silicon Valley CEO unveils 4 tips to success at Y Digital’s grand opening

Carlos Garcia

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hen the CEO of a Silicon Valley company comes to speak at BYU, you listen. At the beginning of fall semester, the Y Digital lab was packed with public relations students eager to hear Carlos Garcia’s pro marketing tips.

Garcia is the founder and CEO of a digital marketing company called HYP3R. Y Digital students use revolutionary HYP3R technology to analyze data, engage consumers and amplify social media campaigns.

Carlos Garcia
Carlos Garcia, Silicon Valley CEO of HYP3R, speaks to BYU public relations students about best practices in digital marketing. Garcia believes BYU students have what it takes to change the marketing industry by keeping it “surprisingly human.”

Garcia’s technology is pivotal to the success of the Y Digital lab. He wanted to inspire the students who use it to take risks and land dream jobs in the marketing world. Here are four of the businessman’s essential tips for marketing:

  1. Make marketing delightful.

Garcia encouraged students to make marketing a delightful process focused on inspiring people, not just selling things. In his own words, “Marketing should be efficient for business and delightful for consumers.”

To be successful, students should create content that’s enjoyable to create and delightful for someone else to receive.

  1. Be surprisingly human.

No one likes to feel like they’re being sold something. The way to really reach people is to be authentic and relatable. Students should engage audiences by putting themselves in the consumer’s shoes. If the marketer doesn’t believe in their message, their audience won’t either.

  1. Choose your partners wisely.

Garcia explained that there are two kinds of partners who will make all the difference in a career: a business partner and a life partner. More than once while Garcia was speaking to students, he lovingly mentioned ways his wife had helped make some of the most important decisions in his career. The San Francisco businessman said, “I would not be here if it was not for her decision to say, ‘I’ll follow you.’” Students should choose a life partner who will support them in their endeavors and lend a trusted opinion when needed.

  1. Make shareable content.

Garcia explained that the most effective marketing is a friend’s recommendation. You should be producing content that people want to share. If someone doesn’t see your content and have the urge to say, “honey, come look at this!” then it probably needs rethinking. Simply put, “if it’s not being shared, it’s not good enough.”

As a self-proclaimed optimist, Garcia lives to take risks and encouraged students to do the same. “Don’t settle for what is quickly accessible to you, but live your dreams” he said. “Risk is measured by what you could regret, not what you can lose.”

Y Digital Lab
From left: Professor Joseph Ogden and students Stephanie Smith, Genny Hickman and Lauren Kutschke use HYP3R geofencing technology to analyze social media activity while working in BYU’s Y Digital lab. Y Digital is a student-run digital marketing agency specifically tailored to public relations students at BYU.

To learn more about HYP3R and the role it plays in the Y Digital lab, you can email director Adam Durfee, or enroll in the lab that is offered to all communications students every semester.

Written by Shannon Baird