Why You Should Be Using #Hashtags

Why You Should Be Using #Hashtags

Dog Social Media

If you’ve spent any time on social media you’ve probably seen a hashtag. Each platform has its own hashtag culture, and some are better than others for growing engagement.

What is a Hashtag?

At its most basic, the hashtag acts like a preprogrammed search link. When you click it you are actually searching for multiple posts that have used that hashtag, whether you follow the person posting or not. The reverse is also true. If you post with a hashtag and someone clicks the link they will be able to see your post whether they follow you or not.
You can probably already see how you can grow followers and clients using hashtags. They allow you to reach new consumers.

There is a difference between a tag and a hashtag. A tag is mentioning another person or corporation or account on the social media platform you’re using. A hashtag is a sentence or sentiment in a string of words following a pound or hash sign: #.

Where can I use hashtags?

While Facebook allows you to use hashtags and have them work, they sort of counteract the privacy settings most users use on their personal accounts. In order for a hashtag to be seen outside your friends list the post has to be viewable by the public, which means changing your privacy settings or using them on your business page. However, studies show that hashtags on Facebook do not increase engagement, so best to spend time on other platforms. (Check out this eBook on Facebook Marketing Strategies to get the most out of that platform.)

Hashtags work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, and Google+. Choose one or two platforms to play with hashtags at first, otherwise it can be overwhelming. For instance Instagram adds “of instagram” to a lot of the hashtags. While Twitter might use #DeafDogs, Instagram will use #DeafDogsofInstagram. Spend some time searching for hashtags on your platforms and see how people are using them there.

Be sure not to overdo it. Hashtag soup is difficult to read and it can be confusing what conversation you’re joining. One or two hashtags is enough.

Let’s set some goals.

Promoting your own business. Promoting a cause or charity or sentiment. Promoting another entity like a school or member organization or corporation. The first two are probably self explanatory. Why would you want to promote an entity other than yourself? Because chances are pretty good that entity will retweet or share your post to their followers, getting you new followers.

Ways to use hashtags.

1. Get involved in an existing hashtag campaign.

National Day / Month campaigns are a great way to reach beyond your existing followers. Using hashtags like : #NationalPetDay or #AdoptADogMonth. APDT does their Train Your Dog Month in January. For 2017 they are promoting the hashtag #APDTTrainYourDogMonth2017.

You could post photos of classes, photos of training, posts promoting group classes, etc. and add the hashtag and join in the campaign to promote dog training.

Other events include AKC championships, national dog shows, learning and science conferences and webinars.

2. Create your own hashtag contest.

Photo contests are a tried and successful way to promote your business. That said, you’ll have a lot of competition in this arena. The idea is to promote a contest that participants can only join by using a hashtag. You can have entries use your business hashtag or something unique. #MyBusinessPhotoContest might get the job done, but if you want to think broader you might target your city location #AtlantaTrainMyDog or #AtlantaFreeGroupClass. You could target a type or breed of dog #TinyDogsAreAwesome or #PittiesAreAwesomeContest. Use your imagination and spend some time promoting the contest on your web page and social media channels for a few weeks before the contest begins.

3. Hashtag your location.

“Registration for Group Dog Classes in #Cincinnati starting today! Check it out!” And add a link to your registration page. In theory, you could also add a hashtag for #dog, however, remember the hashtag is a link to a preprogrammed search page, which means #dog and #dogs are two different searches. If you’re going to add a second hashtag you might need a few variants so you hit both result pages.

4. Hashtag for retweets.

This one is quite variable, so sit down and ponder a bit. Photos and positive mentions are more likely to be retweeted and shared.

An easy example of this one would be to post a photo of a team passing the Canine Good Citizen test. Along with the photo is “Congratulations to Riley on passing his #AKCCGC test! @AKCDogLovers” This one uses a variant of the CGC hashtag and tags the official AKC account. AKC retweets quite a few of these, so you have a good chance of getting shared with all of their followers. There are variations of the #CGC hashtag, #CGC, #CanineGoodCitizen, #AKCCanineGoodCitizen, etc. Do a search or two before posting. The higher tests can be more confusing, #AKCACGC or #AKCAdvancedCGC or #AKCAdvancedCanineGoodCitizen. Again, do some search and see which one has the most recent usage.

Another example would be to tag or hashtag a company which produces products you use and like. “Check out Riley rocking his #BalanceHarness and loose leash walking in class!” “Riley thinks peanut butter and #Kongs are a perfect match! @Kong” “Riley drools for the entire 3 minutes it takes to make @HonestKitchen #Zeal.”

You get the idea. The point of this one is to support those products you like by helping to promote them. Depending on whether or not they have a social media person that’s on the ball, your post may be shared or not. Give a tag or product hashtag a few a tries. If your post isn’t shared then move onto another entity to promote.

One of the easier ways to do this is to simply share posts from organizations. A share / retweet may get you a few “likes” and followers.

5. Promoting a cause or sentiment.

These usually have their own hashtags, but followers are loyal to these niche markets so some research on your part may be needed. #PibbleLove, #Tripawds, #DeafDogs #WhoAdoptedWho #RescuedDogsofInstagram are causes and sentiments you can use on social media. Do some searches of some of your favorite types of dogs to work with, some charities you like, some causes you support and make note of the hashtags they are using. This can be being part of a much bigger conversation, but your existing followers will get to see what you care about, what you promote, and that’s a good reason to hire you. You care.

A Few Final Hashtag Rules

  • Keep hashtags short. 20 characters should be the max.
  • Keep spelling accurate. Remember that things like contests may be passed verbally, so keep it “positive” not “pawsitive.”
  • If you don’t know what a hashtag is saying, don’t use it. You’ll see a lot of “trending” hashtags which are usually used for causes or sentiments. If you don’t know what it’s for either research it or don’t use it. Pushback for hijacking a hashtag is pretty brutal
  • Use tags and hashtags sparingly by switching between posts that use them and that don’t use them.
  • Join existing conversations. Participation goes both ways. If you’re just posting and not participating you probably won’t get very far. Share, reply, and comment on posts you like.
  • Be cautious of participating in political and religious causes.


RiteTag has a free search to check on how certain hashtags are doing. In-depth reports require a subscription, but the free version should get you started.

Dog Training Topic Calendar & Business Tips

Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer Blog to get our monthly dog training topic calendar for social media or blogging ideas. The calendar shows “National Month” and “National Days” so you can use those hashtags in your planning.

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An Introduction to Marketing for Dog Trainers

An Introduction to Marketing for Dog Trainers

marketing for dog trainers - tips!

Most likely, you became a dog trainer to help dogs. However, it is difficult to help dogs if your phone isn’t ringing and you’re not getting new clients month to month. In this introduction to marketing for dog trainers, I’m going to discuss 5 strategies you can implement this week to get more clients in the coming months.

Marketing for Dog Trainers

When most people think of advertising, marketing, or sales, they usually get a knot in their stomach. They have become “dirty” words that identify slimy sales people who only care about getting your money. Fortunately, times are changing and I couldn’t be more excited about it!

marketing tips for dog trainersAdvertising is mostly about interrupting someone’s online experience with undesired ads, pop ups, or auto-play videos. And I’m willing to bet that this kind of advertising doesn’t bug anyone more than me! Fortunately, modern marketing is starting to take a different path.

The approach behind marketing these days is to meet people where they want to be reached. Go where they are looking for help and provide something that they find valuable.  For example, if a potential client is searching “how to train my dog” on Google, a modern dog trainer would have an article that shows up on the first page of the search results with tips on “how to train your dog.” This approach offers something of value to a potential customer and will build trust, start a relationship, and drive a desire for more from that resource. Hmm… sounds a little familiar to modern dog training? Essentially, you’re starting to build a positive association for yourself in the eyes of potential customers.

“The Google”

google blog post-min

Where do you go to learn more about a certain subject? For most people, that’s a search on Google. Google has positioned itself as THE search engine people use to learn about a problem they’re experiencing. With dog training, problems could include chewing, barking, pulling, digging, etc. Understanding how Google works is important, if not the MOST important, marketing strategy a dog trainer could use. I have personal experience with this.

Late last year my husband and I decided to move from Texas to New York for a variety of reasons. Scary! I knew I had to master Google so that my business would show up in my new service area. Five months before the move I implemented several tactics to demonstrate to the search engine that my business was moving. The techniques I put into place meant I had clients calling me from my new service area within my first month of living there. In fact, I had a client booked before I even had time to file for my new LLC!

The benefits of mastering search engine optimization (SEO) are undeniable. SEO can help every dog training company stay ahead of their competition – new or old. Most of your future clients will find you through Google search results or paid Google Adwords campaigns.

Social Media

mastering marketing for dog trainers

Social media can monopolize your time if you’re not careful. Most potential clients will look you up on social media before they give you a ring so you can’t ignore it. A strategic approach is key to not wasting time on social media. Tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you mass-schedule posts on multiple platforms at once – time and life saver!

Social media is also picking up speed when it comes to searches. There are millions of searches performed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more every single day. Sites like Facebook will recommend friends of friends to like pages. Social media plays a crucial role in building trust in potential customers and most potential customers check out you social media to make sure your company is still active. Take some time every week to set up a schedule of posts to share on you social media accounts.

Blogging (and Vlogging)

starting a blog for your dog training businessBlogging has evolved into something more than an online diary of one’s personal stories. Blogging is now used by some of the most well-known brands like Evernote, SalesForce, and Etsy. A company blog helps you build rapport with current and future customers. A blog page is one of the most visited pages on a website as people research their potential purchase. This is one of the best places to share your company’s story, share success stories, and make announcements. Like social media, an inactive blog can signal to potential customers that you’re not available so come up with a strategy to maintain your blog if you start one.

Getting New Leads

Adwords for dog trainers

PPC advertising or “Pay Per Click” advertising is intimidating. Many inexperienced small business owners over spend very quickly which leads to a traumatic one-event learning experience. It can be hard to come back from (I should know, it’s happened to me), but PPC advertising with Google Adwords can be one of the fastest ways to get new leads. At first glance, Google Adwords can seem easy, but there are many detailed options you should know about to control your spending. Mastering Google Adwords can easily be the quickest way to grow your business so it is worth a second look.

Digital Marketing for Dog Trainers

Digital marketing is something that modern dog trainers need to learn about right now. Times are changing and business that don’t change won’t make it. Fewer people are relying on word of mouth and are turning toward Google and social media to find the help they need. Make sure you’re there when they’re looking for you!

I’m working on a new book on digital marketing for dog trainers. If you’re interested in growing your dog training business to the next level, going from part-time to full-time, or simply want to start getting more consistent client flow each month,you’re going to want to read this book. Sign up below to receive a notification when it is released and an exclusive discount for subscribers only.

“Digital Marketing for Dog Trainers” will teach you how to:

  • Show up on the first page of Google to get more clients
  • Get leads immediately with Google Adwords campaigns
  • Get more people to call once they land on your website
  • Create a blog that makes you unique & valuable to clients (and isn’t a waste of time)
  • Manage and automate your social media like a pro
  • Start an email subscription list customers will love
  • Track and measure your efforts to stop wasting time
  • And more because I keep adding to the list every day!

Let’s see how we can grow your dog training business to the next level. Whether you’re going from part-time to full-time or simply want to get new clients more consistently each month, you can benefit from a course I’m working on.

Check out the courses I’m producing to help dog trainers start and grow their businesses.

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