Social Media

How and when to use hashtags to grow your social media audience

Every Tuesday in my free Facebook group I share a tip to get your business noticed, through social media, blogging, your website or by getting into the press. This week I shared an easy to action tip about hashtags – how and when to use hashtags to grow your social media audience.

How and when to use hashtags to grow your social media audience by The Indie Practice

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are a way of grouping similar content together to make it easy for a reader to find that content. For example, on a Saturday night thousands of people take to Twitter to chat about X Factor, all using the #xfactor hashtag. If you then want to go and see what everyone is saying, you can simply search for it and every tweet appears. It is a great way to find product, services, news and more.

Where can you use hashtags?

Hashtags work on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest but not Facebook. Facebook is not a place you go to, to search for something. Here you want to procrastinate looking at your friends cat or the like. But on Twitter you often go to search for news so the hashtag helps – simply type in something that is Trending (popular) and you will find out what is happening in the world, often faster than from the actual news. People use hashtags on Pinterest and Instagram to find inspiration such as wedding dresses or kids birthday cakes.

How do you use hashtags?

On Twitter you only get a small number of characters so you should focus on using key words that people are likely to search for. This is great when linked to special days such as World Baking Day or the like. For example, if you wanted to share a cake you had made on that day you would simply check the correct hashtag and write it into your tweet.

On Pinterest you should add hashtags into your descriptions of the pin (the image). It is best to add key word linked to the image NOT your business: for example, if the image features a pair of red shoes, I would add the hashtags #shoes #red #redshoes #fashion. These are all the key words that the reader is likely to type into the search bar. Once you have added these you may then want to add hashtags linked to your business but I would prioritise the image ones first.

Instagram is different. You can use up to 30 hashtags so it is a great idea to firstly add the key word hashtags – so if it was a paid of red shoes you would use the same hashtags that you used on Pinterest. But Instagram has other popular hashtags that are a little more unusual such as #shoesoftheday #shoeporn and #iloveshoes. These are what I would call creative hashtags that collectors, or real fans would know and search for. A great way to find these is to use a hashtag finder such as Hashtagify. – you simply type in your key word and they will suggest more unusual but popular hashtags. Another way is to look at other users that have nailed Instagram to see what hashtags they are using.

Hashtags aren’t something too complicated but some people make out that they are. The biggest piece of advice is to actually use them in the first place on the 3 social platforms.

And is it OK to use silly hashtags?

It is totally fine to make hashtags up or use silly ones, but I would suggest focusing on the key words first. No one is really searching for #sorrynotsorry but it is totally cool to use them!

I would suggest creating some for your own brand as it will help you to search for your content plus you may see others starting to use them too. We use #nobsmarketing and #authenticmarketing to summarise what we are about – while they won’t be what people are searching for, it is a great way to showcase what we are about.

And here I am with a bit more detail!

Want to get more advice on growing your audience on social media and get better engagement? Then have a look at my course Get Social – launching again in January 2019.

Get Social by The Indie Practice


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7 huge reasons why every creative business should use Twitter to grow their audience

I get told a lot that Twitter is not a useful tool to grow an engaged audience especially if you work in the wedding industry. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. Just this week 3 potential clients told me that they either don’t get it or feel it is not “them”. I whole heartedly disagree, and know from my own results that Twitter is a very powerful network to get your creative, indie business noticed.  Here are just a few reasons why I advise all clients, that they should be tweeting daily.

7 huge reasons why every creative business should use Twitter to grow their audience

Creating Business to Business relationships (B2B)

Want to find a venue to host your event? Want to find a new print supplier? Want to find a business to cross promote your business with their customers? Want to get new advertisers or sponsors? Well the fastest way to get that without leaving your house is by Twitter. It is a great platform for B2B relationship building especially if you use the right hashtags, and as it is such a fast medium you can get answers and build relationships at speed.

However remember that it is not just businesses that hang out there (how often have I heard that brides or fashion customers aren’t on Twitter – er, they are!) and that our customers are there too. Make sure you tweet inspiring and educational tweets with them in mind too always with a great photo.

Engaging with journalists

Journalists hang out on Twitter over any other social media platform, as it is where the news happens and they can get what they want fast (journalists work at speed!) so if you want to grab an opportunity to get into the press, whether national or local then go and follow them. Start conversations with them by engaging with what they are talking about, answer them, spark up a new relationship. If you want to really find out what they need and whether you can help, look for the hashtag #journorequest as this is where they post what they are looking for, for an article or blog. When replying remember to be personable, approachable and that it is about helping them rather than pushing yourself and your business.

To understand the news

Twitter shares the news before the news channels – it is super fast, which is why journalists love it so. If you want timely things to blog about, share on social media or even to get into the press talking about, then look regularly to see what is trending.

Trending is when many people are all talking about the same subject, using the same hashtag.

When you see something that has happened and that everyone is tweeting about (therefore talking about) think whether you have a story to share on the topic. Then check #journorequest to see if any journalist is writing about it or pitch your story idea to a newspaper or radio show. This is called News Jacking and is a great way to get yourself noticed.

Being perceived as an expert

Journalists want experts. Your customers want to feel that they are buying from an expert. Twitter is the best place alongside Linked In to get your knowledge out there and to show you know a thing or two about your industry. To do this you need to share your thoughts and opinions even if they go against the grain.

If you see an article written about something you are passionate about, either agreeing or disagreeing, re-tweet it and share your thoughts. I did just that when New Look designed a T shirt, having a dig at women’s bodies so I shared my thoughts on it and it ended up being featured on the Metro. I have also been asked to appear on TV after I shared my thoughts on a subject – so if you want to be noticed, stand up and start sharing your voice.

Being able to multi share your message

Ever logged onto Facebook and felt spammed by the businesses that you follow? This is because they are posting too much for that platform – Facebook users like to slowly scroll and procrastinate there so it is not a good idea to post too much as a business. But Twitter is different. As it is fast moving, you can share a similar message over and over again to get maximum exposure. So if you have an event or a promotion on, get tweeting.

Few tips – don’t share exactly the same tweet as they will block them, create a tweet with a call to action or a headline that will make them click the link and use a link shortening app like Bitly so you have more space to write your message. Oh and add a photograph, always.

Conducting great customer service

One of the reasons that I love Twitter on a personal level is that all big brands use it for their customer service. I arrange my refunds and enquire about availability on Twitter as this is the fastest and cheapest way to get a reply from a customer service team. This has grown in popularity over the last few years, so most companies have invested in Twitter teams. You could do this too!

While you won’t want a Twitter team, why not offer the choice of communicating any issues this way so you can deal with them swiftly. Yes it is a more visible (remember you can always take it to Direct Messages) but if customers see you swiftly dealing with an issue they will have more faith in you.

Networking with your peers

Twitter is a great place to meet new people and network especially in Twitter hours. These are when someone hosts a special hour for their industry or location inviting people to come along sharing the same hashtag to chat, engage and make new contacts. A personal favourite is #weddinghour on a Wednesday evening.

However there are a few watch outs when attending these hours – mainly to not spam people. You know the kind of person that comes up to you at a networking event and only talks about themselves? Well don’t be that person in a Twitter hour (in fact don’t be that person at all!). Yes you want to sell your wares, but take your time, get to know people, don’t schedule tweets for this hour and ask others questions first. Oh and don’t remember to use the specific hashtag otherwise you will be chatting to no one!

On that note – guess what! I am launching my Twitter hour this week called #indieprhour. It is on Thursday at 8pm. Come along!

31 simple things to grow your social media following this January

We are all so busy running our businesses, often juggling parenthood or a full time job, that the endless task of creating great content for social media can feel like an uphill battle. We are being told from every corner what to do and when to do it, that many just want to close their laptop or put their phone down and wish it would all go away. But social media is the most important tool in the world of PR and indeed business so it cannot and must not be ignored.

31 ways to grow your social media following

There are 1.86 BILLION people active on Facebook daily and 100 million on Instagram. Twitter enjoys 330 million users a month too – now that is a lot of people to talk to!

Today I want to to take away some of the fear and share 31, yes 31 (one for every day of January) simple things you can do to improve your reach and engagement. Some you may well already be doing, but why not take the opportunity to double check things or change what you have done in the past.

  1. Check your biography on every account is up to date. Make sure that everyone has a website address on (sounds obvious but so many don’t!)
  2. Be available! Check that every account easily shares how to get in touch with you; an email address, phone number and address too if you are a bricks and mortar business
  3. Communicate the why. Also check your “about us” part of the biography. It should say who you are and what you do but I want to task you to do more here. Think about two things – why you do what you do and what makes you special. Incorporate this into your bio so your readers and potential customers can see why you are different from the rest.
  4. Don’t rely on your logo. Check your bio photo for all channels which should be the same. If you are trying to get your personal name out there over and above your business, try adding your photo of yourself. If you create product, add a photo of it. People connect with things and trust other people so think about using this rather than logos.
  5. Show up! Post one daily on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but not the same words as the readers on everyone are different. You can post the same overall message but try and mix it up. As a guide: Facebook readers like to read, so tell a story. Instagram readers want to be inspired so be creative. Twitter users are fast so be concise!
  6. Post your content at the same time every day. This is to get a good habit formed for you, but also readers like consistency. If this is tricky for you, use a scheduling tool.
  7. Unlink your accounts so you cannot copy content from one to another (see point 5)
  8. Add great photos. Every time you post content add a good photo, even on Twitter. People are attracted to visuals so take the time to draw them in. Use a GIF on Twitter if you have not got a photo.
  9. Share multiple photos each time. When you write a blog post, share it on social media with a link to it. Add multiple photos too: this creates a carousel effect on Facebook and more interest on Twitter.
  10. Change your URL links on Instagram. When you share a blog post on Instagram, make sure you add the URL link to your profile and tell people it is there (this is because you cannot add clickable links on Instagram).
  11. Don’t just share content about yourself. Facebook rewards you for sharing other content as you are keeping readers on the site so try and share things you know your readers will love regularly.
  12. Retweet interesting tweets an stories on Twitter too, but take the time to retweet with a quote to share why you think they should read it!
  13. Inspire your readers by thinking about how else to engage with your audience. If they love vintage, then share nostalgic images. If they are brides, share more than what you just make. Inspire them!
  14. Ask for retweets and shares on content that you want to get out there. It is amazing how many people will share if you ask them!
  15. Add a competition to increase your readership by asking them to follow and share.Read here for some of the rules you need to follow.
  16. Ask a question in your post. Every time they reply with their answer, reply with another question to keep the thread going. The more comments you get on a post, the more the algorithms will reward you.
  17. ENGAGE! Go and find your potential followers and go and chat to them in a non spammy way. Use hashtags to help you search so for example: type in #alternativebride and all the people using that hashtag will come up. Click on them and go chat!
  18. Join Facebook groups to meet with new people. Again, don’t be spammy! Introduce yourself, offer advice, be nice and slowly share what you do.
  19. Join Twitter Hours to network too. Follow the rules of point 18!
  20. Create a good looking Instagram feed that represents your brand. Treat it like a magazine – the last 9 photos should work well together and sum you and your business up. Choose a colour palette or a theme and and then stick to it. You can use apps like Planoly to help you with this.
  21. Use Instagram Stories! As your Instagram feed should be beautiful, use Stories to share behind the scene action of your business. Share videos or stills of you making the cake, or creating the styled shoot. It could even be you walking your dog – whatever you choose, use it to paint a whole picture of who you are as a person and business.
  22. Add your location on Instagram Stories to increase your reach by adding your location as then everyone in that area will see it.
  23. Add a poll to your Story to ask a yes or no question – remember people love to share their opinion!
  24. Be original with your content rather than copying others. Go back to the biography detail of what makes you special and why you do what you do and use it to inspire your content.
  25. Share old content such as blogs that you have written or weddings you have worked on. Use Throwback Thursday to share old  photos of you but remember you can do this any day!
  26. Check your social media buttons on your website work and link to the right place (sounds obvious but so many don’t work!)
  27. Create live video especially on Facebook. Go live and share what you have achieved or what you are working on right now. If this seems a bit too scary, make a video and share that although the former gets more reach for you.
  28. Use relevant hashtags and use them on Instagram and Twitter. If you are not sure which to use, have a look at other people in your field of work and see what they are using.
  29. Try Facebook adverts – probably the BEST adverts you can use are Facebook linked to Instagram adverts as you can target your audience perfectly.
  30. Be topical! Be aware of what is going on the world and link your thoughts and business to it. If good news happens such as a royal proposal, share your thoughts and congratulations. Be careful of scheduled content during a crisis or tragedy; go online and turn them off. Watch Twitter’s trending hashtags to help with this
  31. Share real stories to connect with real people. People buy from people so be real and share what you are feeling or something that has happened to you. On Twitter try doing it as a thread (write a tweet, reply ti it, reply to that one and so on).

I could go on and on but that is it for now. The key things to take away from this is: Be Real, Be You, Be Timely and Engage.

Want to find out how I got my following to over 120K – then get in touch for a chat and to see how I can help you! I offer advice and delivery for social media as part of Indie PR in many ways. 


The Indie Practice with Kate Beavis

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