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Keyword Archives: hashtags

Trending Topics that Talk Real Issues

Can schools talk about controversial topics on social media? Allerton Hill Consulting talks about social media in a real world

July 26, 2016

Last year when Starbucks announced its #RaceTogether initiative, the backlash was quick and relentless. The idea of having authentic conversations about race relations between Starbucks baristas and customers appeared to be contrived, a publicity stunt and an elitist, narrow-minded, savior-complex way of approaching a serious and complicated issue that requires the voices of people who aren’t spending $4 on a latte each day. The initiative was considered by most to be a failure and as public relations experts rehashed what went wrong, it was a clear that no matter how well intentioned the Starbucks initiative, there remained a disconnect in delivery, execution and tone.

So how do we talk about serious issues in this coffee-to-go, Twitter-feed world? Or should we even try? Is it possible to talk about race, class, gender and sexual orientation in a real way on a Facebook timeline or in a podcast? How do you balance speed with substance?


Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Social Media
Keywords: , ,

AHC on Social Media, Part 4: Twitter

September 4, 2015

When advising clients on social media, Allerton Hill always stresses the importance of Twitter. If you are going to post on anything daily, make it Twitter. While Facebook may boast more users, Twitter has a more active user base who access the site with more regularity. Over half of all Twitter users access the site 2 or more times a day and 30% use it for over 90 minutes a day.

An important statistic to remember is that 60% of Twitter users are accessing the network via their mobile device. What does this mean for you?
1. Make sure that any links you are using are mobile-friendly
2. Knowing that your users are consistently connected throughout the day, actively seeking new information, use Twitter for multiple posts, to connect directly with your user base and to reinforce core themes


What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media platform that takes full advantage of mobile browsing and today’s short attention spans. It limits your messages to 140 characters but instead of focusing on the restriction, consider how this criteria forces you to focus your message and get it out there. Tweets can include links, photos and short videos to emphasize your message and encourage engagement.

By following accounts with similar interests, you can collect information and ideas about topics that important to you. You should also actively cultivate your own followers to grow discussion and to help you share important information.

All of the Tweets from accounts that you follow will show up on your timeline where you can read them, follow their links, retweet the Tweet to your own followers, reply to the Tweeter or favorite a Tweet.

Tweet: A 140-character message.

Retweet (RT): Re-sharing someone else’s tweet.

Mention (@): A way to reference another user by his username in a tweet (e.g. @outreach_expert). Users are notified when @mentioned. It’s a way to conduct discussions with other users in a public realm.

Direct Message (DM): A private, 140-character message between two people. You can decide whether to accept a Direct Message from any Twitter user, or only from users you are following. Note: You may only DM a user who follows you.

Hashtag (#): A way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion (e.g. #backtoschool, #vote). A hashtag is a discovery tool that allows others to find your tweets, based on topics. You can also click on a hashtag to see all the tweets that mention it in real time — even from people you don’t follow.


Best Practices for Schools

Don’t only think about the appropriateness of your Tweets but also who you follow, Favorite and ReTweet. If your personal interests may be considered distracting or inappropriate for students, DO NOT interact with or even follow those accounts from any official school Twitter account. Be just as mindful as to how you and with whom you interact on your personal accounts if they are not set to private.

Variety is always the spice of life and the Twitter feed. Share content created by you mixed with content curated from other sources – just make sure it is all relevant and interesting to your followers. Also mix up the kind of content you are sharing use a healthy mix of videos, questions, links, photos and retweets to catch your users eyes.

Respond to any follower who @mentions you or retweets you. This might be as simple as marking those Tweets as a “favorite” but make sure to answer any questions with a public response and, if warranted, follow up with a private direct message.

Make sure that anyone who is given access to your Twitter account is well aware of key themes, editorial calendars and both your expectations and their responsibilities. Twitter gaffes go viral quickly so be especially careful about handing over the keys to Twitter.

Avoid negative tweets and do not engage with trolls (Twitter followers trying to bait you into a public argument).

While 140 characters can be limiting, resist using common slang and shortcuts – use proper grammar and capitalize proper nouns.

@mention and retweet to connect with your followers and grow your base. Use the @mention to get their attention but make sure your content is relevant and follower-worthy.


Allerton Hill Consulting on Twitter


District Twitter & Superintendent Twitter

We highly recommend not only using a district-wide official Twitter account but also recommend that your Superintendent has a separate account as well. These accounts should work in tandem to emphasize key messages, promote school events and retweet positive articles about the school district, teachers and students. However, the superintendent account should also integrate some of your super’s personality and include regular “asides” that connect with your user base. Commenting on local sports teams, favorite foods, big life events and more will help humanize your superintendent and make the entire administration more approachable.

The superintendent should also host monthly Twitter chats on their personal handle. Advertise the Twitter chat across social media platforms and also using “backpack express” for at least 1 week prior to the chat.  Choose a unique hashtag that will denote the chat – eg. #MPSSuperChat – and be ready to answer questions!

Open the chat for questions:

“I’m sitting down now with a cup of chai tea and am ready for your questions! Ask your superintendent anything with #MPSSuperChat”

Users will use this hashtag to send questions during the specified time. Answer questions with an @mention but keep them in the public feed rather than DM. Answer as thoroughly as you can but remember to follow up with more information for any questions that require investigation or a longer answer.

When the Twitter chat is over, close again so people know to stop sending questions.

“Thanks so much for your questions! I’m glad you are all as invested in our schools’ success as I am! See you next month! #MPSSuperChat”


Allerton Hill Consulting can help you craft a Twitter strategy that works with your school district’s core themes, that will share important news and connect you with your community on a daily basis. From finding your key messages to creating a weekly editorial calendar, Allerton Hill Consulting’s social media experts are here to help! For more information, please contact us for a consultation.



Posted in Community Outreach, Social Media
Keywords: ,

AHC on Social Media, Part 3: #Hashtags101

August 28, 2015

Organically developed on Twitter by its first power users, hashtags are now a ubiquitous tool on social media. They still have dominance on Twitter but are also used on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and many other networks. Hashtags are, most simply, a way for people to connect and search for tweets (or posts or pins…) that share a common topic. By instantly linking social media posts together, hashtags have helped fuel (and organize!) social media’s ability to disseminate breaking news with great efficiency, efficacy and engagement than ever before

The hashtag is a powerful and critical social media tool that should be a part of your strategy across all platforms. Proper use of branded and keyword tags will grow your community and your schools’ brand recognition.

The Basics

1. Although you can use multiple words, hashtags do not allow for spaces or punctuation.

Any easy way to make multiple word hashtags more readable is to capitalize each word such as #AllertonHillConsulting. Hashtags are not case sensitive so tags that are or are not capitalized will be included in the same search.

2. Hashtags can occur anywhere in your message – in context or as an addendum to your message.

Don’t forget tonight’s #MHSchoir concert in the Seewald Auditorium!

Sign up today to volunteer at our fall carnival. #helpwanted #MHSpride

3. Hashtags should be obvious, easy to remember and hard to misspell. This included watching out for adjoining ambiguous characters or using hashtags that are so similar to large brands that they will cause confusion and/or misdirection.


Hashtags 101 by Allerton Hill Consulting

How Are Hashtags Used?

1. Highlighting keywords for context and search results.

Connect with people who share your interests and who are invested in what you have to say. # to mark the word/phrase that is most important to your tweet/pin/post and when others click on it, they will be taken to a results page that shows other posts that have been hashtagged with the same term — and vice versa!

Think about the words that you want your community to use to find you — these are words that you will probably already be using in your social media. Hashtag these important terms to highlight and increase their impact.

2. Identify your brand – and help others align with you

You should create a hashtag that is applied to all official tweets to reflect your school’s brand. Typically initials or a school mascot/identity works best. Followers will take note and also use this hashtag when writing about events and issues important to your community.

#MHSpride #OPSpanthers #ParkwoodHS

You can also use this concept to create subgroups on your Twitter feed such as #MHSchoir or #igersohio (Ohio Instagrammers) to denote particular topics of interest within your district’s overall brand.

3. Promote Campaigns and Events, LiveTweet Events & Host TwitterChats

Taking hashtag-branding one step further, encourage the use of a particular hashtag to tie together tweets/photos/pins/posts that cover one particular event – #MHSBacktoSchoolPicnic – or that contribute to a crowdsourced campaign such as #MHSsummerphotos.

You can also livetweet an event by tying all posts together with a unique hashtag such as “#Parkwoodrelay4life”.

Superintendents should host monthly TwitterChats using a hashtag such as #AskDrSoandSo to field and answer questions from parents and community members.

4. Parenthetical Interjections

We really encourage schools to use social media to help humanize their staff and create emotional connections with their community. Using hashtags for their most casual purpose – asides and humor – can be tricky and takes nuance but also can help you get noticed in the onslaught of newsfeed posts. You can also participate in social meme conventions such as Throwback Thursday (#tbt) or create your own aside hashtags such as #gamefaceon or #FridayTreat or #PantherBookClub that can grow into regular “features” in your social media.

Best Practices

Find Your Hashtag Sweet Spot

Tweets that have 2-4 relevant hashtags yield 24% more engagement than tweets with no hashtags and 13% more engagement than tweets with 5+ hashtags. Moderation is key – hashtag to create context but don’t overfill your tweet with #hashtags or your #followers #will #stop #reading #or #worse #unfollow #you.

Don’t Spam Popular Hashtags

Just because a hashtag is trending doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon for exposure. Only use relevant hashtags – and check out the context for a trending hashtag before using it. Many gaffes have been made by major brands who use a trending tag only to realize later that it was trending due to negative reasons such as a crime or natural disaster. Using non-relevant hashtags is one of the quickest ways to turn off and lose followers.

Double Check Your # for #Hidden #Meanings

If you are planning to use a hashtag to brand your district or an event/campaign, test it out first to see if there are any hidden or double meanings that could be offensive or confusing.

Follow Leaders in Your Industry

Learn by participating. Take note of the hashtags that other educational and communication leaders are using and incorporate them into your own posts.

Don’t Make Your Hashtag Too Broad to Track

Using the hashtag #school might seem obvious but it also is such a general term that it ends up being useless in monitoring engagement or garnering new followers. Focus on making hashtags unique and easy to remember.

Posted in Community Outreach, Social Media
Keywords: , , ,