Giant Marketing for Small Business: Selfies, Videos, and Hashtags, Oh My!

Giant Marketing

If you think creative marketing that gets people talking about your brand is only for companies with big budgets and full-time marketing teams, think again! In today’s socially-connected world of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites, your small business now has access to the same online marketing tactics big brands use to build awareness, drive engagement, and even generate leads.

So, which popular big-brand tactics should you take advantage of for your small business? Take a look at three of the most popular online marketing trends well-known brands are using to drive awareness and social engagement for their products and services. Then, break out your smartphone, fire up your social media pages, and have some fun as you apply the same concepts to market your own small business online.

1. Take Smartphone Selfies

Chances are you’ve heard of selfies by now (and have even taken your own). If you’re not familiar with selfies, they’re simply photos people take of themselves — usually with smartphones — and post to social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Selfies are effective at driving likes, shares, and comments on the user’s photo, and brands using this online trend can increase both awareness and engagement from their fans and followers on social media.

Recently, brands, not just individuals, have used selfies to promote their products and services on social mediums. For instance, with more than 3 million retweets across the Web, the selfie that Oscar host Ellen Degeneres took at the 2014 Oscars holds the current record for most tweeted photo in Twitter history. Using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and the literal star power of several audience members this selfie generated huge online exposure for the Samsung mobile device (and temporarily crashed Twitter).

How To Do It:

While you may not have a live televised audience of millions or a handful of Hollywood celebrities at your disposal, you can still use the popularity of selfies to drive awareness for your own products and services. To create your own star-powered selfie, start by looking for big personalities in your town or city. For instance, politicians such as your mayor or state representative, well-known business people, and local celebrities (think popular bloggers, TV anchors and reporters, radio hosts, and more) can be great people to leverage. For example, you could invite them to a grand opening of a new location or to a charity event you are participating in as a great way to get them interested in supporting your business. Then, by taking your picture with them and sharing it on your social accounts, you can personalize your pages and create buzz among your social media followers.

Don’t have a local celebrity to share the spotlight? Don’t worry! Consider taking a selfie with your employees during a team outing, with a happy customer, or even with a new product and sharing it across your social presence. Just be creative and this simple online marketing trend can work to your advantage.

2. Create & Share Unique YouTube Videos

According to Nielsen’s 2013 data of top U.S. web brands, YouTube is the fifth most-visited website in the United States. And, it’s the top source for video streaming, with 128 million viewers watching video content on the site each month. With video’s immense popularity among U.S. consumers, this online marketing trend can help drive awareness for your business. Videos can also be a huge benefit for search engine optimization (SEO) both on and off your website, which can help boost your visibility on search engine results pages.

So, how are businesses leveraging video to drive consumer buzz and engagement? Big brands like Coca-Cola, Fiat, and Redbull have taken unique approaches to their online videos, which have gone viral and racked up millions of YouTube page views. What these three videos have in common is an out-of-the-box approach to their product positioning. Rather than delivering straightforward sales pitches about their products, these big brands focus on the experiences and personalities their products represent.

For instance, Coca-Cola uses a hidden camera featuring real students enjoying the surprises of free soda from a Coca-Cola machine. Fiat takes a lighthearted approach to motherhood with its own version of a hip-hop video, and RedBull’s compilation video glorifies adventure and extreme athleticism. And, each video closes with an important call-to-action message, whether it’s to visit the company’s Facebook page or to watch the next video on the company’s YouTube channel.

While there’s no way to ensure a video will go viral, these companies also drove YouTube page views by promoting their videos across their social media pages. For instance, Fiat has a dedicated “Motherhood” Facebook page that promotes their hip-hop video and gives fans a way to share the YouTube link and post comments. And, Coca-Cola has its own “happiness hub” Facebook page where viewers can go to post comments and watch additional hidden camera videos that feature Coca-Cola.

How To Do It:

The main takeaway when creating your own videos is to focus on the lifestyles and personalities behind the products you are promoting, just like these big brands have done. (Coke: youthful and fun; Fiat: hip motherhood; RedBull: extreme living). And, don’t to be afraid to be creative in your own video marketing. While making videos that take a straightforward approach to your products and services can be helpful to your target consumers, a more entertaining approach can help increase the YouTube page views you’re seeking to drive brand and company awareness.

Then, once your video is made and posted on YouTube, don’t forget to optimize the video for the products and services you want it to show up for in search. Also, make sure to include a CTA in your video like visiting your website or buying your product. Then, promote the video on your website, social media pages, and even through email to generate views, shares, and discussion from your target audience.

3. Leverage Hashtags in Social Posts

The hashtag is a curation mechanism that filters all the posts about a particular subject into one single feed on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. And today, a lot of famous brands are creating their own hashtags to promote their products online.

For example, Oreo Cookie, a popular brand on Twitter with more than 347,000 followers, uses these company-created hashtags (among others) on their Twitter page: #OreoDeepThoughts, #Ollusions, and #OreoSnackHacks. Each hashtag feed is filled with whimsical images and creative messages about Oreo cookies. By creating and sharing these hashtags with their followers (who can in turn share the posts with their own audiences or create their own posts using the hashtag), Oreo Cookie creates interest and drives brand awareness and engagement across Twitter.

How To Do It:

Use this popular online trend in your social media marketing by creating your own unique hashtags. You can start by creating a hashtag that’s associated with your business, a company event, or even a product or service. Use a word or words that are catchy and memorable, rather than a branded term. Then, write and share posts that contain that hashtag.

You can also leverage generic hashtags that are commonly used on certain social media sites if they are related to your post. For instance, the “throwback Thursday” hashtag (#tbt) is very popular on Facebook. So, if you can tie your company, products or services around nostalgia messaging, you might consider asking your social media fans to post their own “throwback Thursday” photos to your company page. For example, if you own a hair salon, you could post a photo of yourself taken 20 years ago with a message like, “Happy throwback Thursday! What hairstyle were you wearing 20 years ago? #tbt.” By opening up the conversation around the hashtag, you can encourage your fans to share their own photos on your site.

Keep in mind that you might not want to use hashtags for every post you publish, and that certain hashtags may work better on some platforms than others. Do a little digging on the different platforms you want to use and see which hashtags are popular with other users and brands on the site. Then, when you’re ready to share your post, don’t overload it with too many hashtags; three or less is best.

Now that you have a basic overview of how to use three online trends to market  your small business, go have some fun!

What kinds of selfies, videos, or hashtags are you using or do you plan to use in your marketing? Let us know with a comment!

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Amy Neeley

Amy enjoys helping small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) navigate the online marketing world with tips, trends, and best practices they can use. She has written for Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, and SMBs, and her articles have been featured on sites like Yahoo! Small Business Advisor,, and other industry publications. Amy can often be found walking her dogs, Lola and Marlo, and keeping up with the news via Twitter.

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