What the Hashtag? (How to use Hashtags and why you’d want to)

This week I’m talking about hashtags, they’re a bit of a marmite subject, aren’t they, you love them or you hate them, and you’re never quite sure where to use them or how to use them and when to use them!

I wanted to break it down in simple steps for you.

What are hashtags?

To the uninitiated, using a hashtag on whatever you’re posting on a social media platform groups together what you say with everyone else who’s used that hashtag. When you click on a hashtag, you can see who else is using that hashtag, nifty, huh?

Why is this useful to me?

We all want to feel connected, right? No more so than in running your own business and in wanting to join in conversations. You may have seen hashtags for particular news threads, for events, for topics, for scheduled conversations. By using the designated hashtag, you get to join in that conversation and add your tuppence worth. #ValuableFreeMarketing

How do I include hashtags in my updates?

You can either write a sentence for your update and then add hashtags afterwards like this:

I love cake so much. #cake #love

or include the hashtag in your sentence (but this can read poorly)

I #love #cake #so #much

If you want to add lots of hashtags, please make you delete the spaces between words. I cannot tell you how often I see wasted opportunities due to the spacing issue! e.g. #Marketing #SEO #YeahBaby

Notice I’ve deleted spaces between the words of multiple word hashtags e.g. #toomuchtodo (for ‘too much to do’)
and also make sure you add spaces after the final word before starting the next hashtag.

Should I be using hashtags? How?

That entirely depends on where you are. I’ve broken it down by social media platform to help:


Whilst Facebook confirms they technically help search results, the hashtags used aren’t generally the terms searched and they’re not actually clicked on or used to any large extent. I think the hashtag use on Facebook does help with branding (for example, with a particular campaign) or in a humorous way.

Verdict: No need to really use them on Facebook if you’re looking to improve engagement this way. But using them humorously if you know your audience will enjoy them does work! Example below ;o)


With only 140 characters in each update, the power of the hashtag can be used here to group your tweet with other tweets talking about the same topic. When you click on a hashtag, you see who else is using that hashtag. You may want to connect with these people by retweeting them or favouriting them. If you and others who are geographically near you all use the same hashtag then you can make it start trending, which essentially means it appears more in your feed, and the feeds of those who are also geographically near you or otherwise follow a lot of the people who are using that hashtag (for example, I get trending hashtags about wedding discussions that I’m not necessarily a part of)

Verdict: Yes, use them! But sparingly – 1 or 2 maximum.


Instagram how I love thee. The hashtag here is gold. You can use up to 30 hashtags, but let’s face it, that’s a bit much to look at and it will take up way too much space on your followers’ feeds. To get round taking up that much space, comment on your own posts with all the hashtags so that as soon as people start commenting on your posts, your hashtags disappear in the feed because previous comments are hidden, BUT the fact that they’re there does not and so your post is still searchable!

Make sure you put hashtags in your first comment and not your caption – watch the likes flood in!

Verdict: You should be using these! But which ones? Scroll down to get the freebie list of hashtags for your business.


Hashtags do not make the blindest bit of difference to search results or anything else. It’s a shame because I’ve seen Pinterest gurus out there telling people that you should use them but I’ve heard it directly from Pinterest HQ.

Verdict: Non.


You can of course use hashtags anywhere you like like I’ve done throughout the this blog post, but they won’t work anywhere other than social media if you want to join your conversation to the masses. Sorry!


Just for you, I’m offering a free copy of the Shine 10 Golden Rules of Using Hashtags if you sign up to my mailing list right here. You’ll also have the opportunity to download hashtags of the category of your choice but you’ll only be able to see those from a link I’ll send you in an email.

Have a fabulous rest of your week!

Muchos love
Maddy & Team Shine xo

P.S. Awesome video about hashtags right here ;o)

How to Install a Cookie Notice on your website (Not the eating kind, sadly)

So, now you’ve got Google Analytics all nicely set up on your website tracking the movements of your site users. The important next step that many people don’t realise is that you need to have a Cookie Notice set up on your site to notify users that you are collecting data from them. This is a requirement by law, but have no fear as this is very very easy to set up and we’ll show you how step by step.

We’ve all seen the mildly irritating popup notices on major websites where we’re told that we’re being tracked and we may click OK and move on. Actually, many of us may not understand what’s actually happening.

(Not this kind of cookie, sadly)

Cookies help websites remember who you are and store important information about you, an example being when you sign into your Gmail account and it says ‘Welcome Back…Maddy’.  Cookies are really important for marketing to people as it’s how we know more about the customer.

There are two types of cookies:

  1. First party cookie – the cookie data is only accessible by the domain name that’s throwing the cookie. These are “good” cookies.
  2. Third party cookies are a bit scary as you’re sharing your information with all your connecting websites (Google Analytics only relies on 1st party cookies.)

For WordPress Users:

  • In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins and search for Cookie Notice by dFactory. Cookie Notice is a great plugin as it allows you to customise your cookie notice to fit the style and layout of your WordPress website.
  • Download and Activate this plugin.
  • Go to Settings > update the Message box with We or I according to whether you’re single person or team business, and you can even customise the OK button (like our client Parrot & Pineapple did) to suit your branding!
  • Scroll down until you see Position and select Top or Bottom depending on whether you want the notice to appear at the top or bottom of the site
  • Select Colors > Text – choose the hex code to match your branding and the same for Bar colour
    Click Save Changes

For Squarespace Users:

  • In the Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then click Code Injection.
  • Add the following code to the Header Code Injection box.

<script type=”text/javascript”> Static.EU_COOKIE_POLICY = “top-left”; </script>

  • To replace the sample text in the banner, use this snippet and replace the message:

<script type=”text/javascript”>

Static.EU_COOKIE_POLICY = “top-left”;

Static.EU_COOKIE_TEXT = ‘We use cookies to help us improve, promote, and protect our services. By continuing to use the site, you agree to our cookie policy.’;

Static.EU_COOKIE_BUTTON_LABEL = ‘Continue’;


The default styling on Squarespace isn’t too pretty, and so if you want to get a custom styling for your cookie notice get in touch and we’d be happy to help you with a quote.

So, you’ve now had your eyes opened to the magic that is Google Analytics, you’ve created an account and installed your tracking code to your website. You’ve also installed a Cookie Notice to your site. Amazing!

All this talk of cookies has made us hungry. Grab a cookie and stick the kettle on.

If you’re thinking ‘I really don’t want to do this myself, I want you to do it plz’ then pop me an email and let’s get it sorted for you.

Maddy & Team Shine xo

How to set up Google Analytics (and why the hell you’d want to)

You’ve got a website and you may even be blogging. You want people to see it and you want to know who, when and how people are seeing it. This is useful to you so you can be more strategic with your content.

Obviously, you want to increase the traffic and therefore bookings through your site with the aim of creating income from these site users, but this can seem like a scary task when you have little to no information about who is on your site and what content they are viewing.

What is this ‘Google Analytics’ thing people keep on talking about? And why is it useful to me and my business?

Google Analytics is a free tool available from Google that allows website owners to track the website traffic on their sites and glean some useful information about your site visitors. It collects data on 75% of all websites in the world – that’s cray. There is a lot of information available to you when you log in to Google Analytics. It can easily become overwhelming but you’ll find that there are large sections of Google Analytics that you don’t actually need to pay *such* close attention to and we’re here to help you.

This is where Google Analytics becomes your new best friend forever, because as a site owner it allows you to answer these 5 important questions about your audience:

  • Who visits your site?
  • What are people doing on your site? What content are they viewing?
  • When do people visit?
  • How do people find you?
  • How do your viewers interact with content on your site?

It’s not surprising there’s a whole lot of fear out there about Google Analytics, because logging in can feel like a minefield, however have no fear because Google Analytics doesn’t need to be scary. I’m going to break it down for you into some easy to digest, bite-sized chunks!

How to setup Google Analytics for your website

  • Firstly, you want to sign up here for a Google Analytics account. You’ll want to sign in with an existing Google account, or if you’ve put this off until now, set yourself up a free account!
  • Once you’ve signed in you’ll come to a setup screen.
    • For Website Name- you can simply use your URL
    • For Website URL – just type in your website address!
    • For Industry – we’ve found most of these options don’t apply to the clients we work with – if you’re having trouble picking one, we recommend “Online Communities.”
    • For Pick your time zone – This is super important so make sure you check your specific time zone.
    • For Account Name – feel free to use your company name. You can have/monitor multiple websites in one Analytics Account, so make sure this name will be appropriate if you plan on adding multiple websites.
    • Data Sharing Settings – completely optional. Select and deselect as you feel comfortable.
    • Click the ‘Get Tracking ID’ button and install on your website
    • Under ‘Tracking Info’ then ‘Tracking Code’ you’ll find a page which says ‘Website Tracking’ and then has a piece of code below. Copy and Paste this code.

WordPress users: Head into your WordPress account Dashboard and under the Plugin section, search for the ‘Insert Headers and Footers’ Plugin. You’ll want to Download and Activate this plugin. (Although do check your theme settings as there may be an area under Appearance > Theme > Theme Options where you can add your Google Analytics code. If you’re not sure, check with your theme support)

Squarespace users: In the Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then click External Services. In the Google Analytics Account Number box, enter your tracking ID, and then click Save. It may take up to 24 hours for site statistics to populate in Google Analytics.

Upon activation, you’ll need to visit the Settings > Insert Headers and Footers page. This is where you’ll paste the Google Analytics code that you copied into the headers section.

You’re done congratulations! Stick the kettle on. Eat a celebratory biscuit or 3. Nom, nom. Speaking of cookies, now that you’re stalking your website visitors, you need to install a Cookie Notice.

Now you’re ready to analyse the shiz out of who’s coming to your website and how often so you can monitor just how well your website content is doing. Want to know more about this? Download the brand spanking new Shine Guide – “How to Use Google Analytics aka WTF Am I Looking At?” right here. It’s £30 to everyone else, but use the code WTFYES to get your copy for free.


What a Two Day Journey Down the Mekong Taught Me About Running A Business

Facebook memories – it’s a little bit weird sometimes to look back and think “WTF was I doing putting that on Facebook?!” but this summer has reminded me of all the adventures I had the summer I lived in South East Asia in 2013. I remember so well that I basically lived off Pad Thai, spicy papaya salad and beer Laos. Nom, nom.

But essentially what I remember the most was the fact that I was writing and building a business all whilst on a tiny little travel laptop, traipsing round on buses, planes, taxis and yes, boats.

It was whilst I was on a two-day boat journey down the Mekong, the river that looked like it was made of chocolate, that I was forced to switch off, not browse the internet, not check my emails. There was nowhere to go, and all there was left to do was drink a beer and watch the world go by.  I was forced to reflect on where I was, what I was doing and recognise that the much-needed break. Travelling was hectic and I was nomadic for many years, to-ing and fro-ing from Goa to everywhere else. But really, this is something I need to remind myself of, and if I need it then I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

This is what I realised and enjoyed remembering: it’s OK to switch off and not check Instagram (I’m looking at you fellow Instagram-aholics) and it’s totally OK not to take selfies whilst you’re doing something awesome. It doesn’t mean you didn’t do it. It very much means you did.

(Photos are my own – apparently the only two photos I have of this time – which is a good thing)

Ultimate Hashtags for the Wedding Industry

Sign up to my mailing list now to receive the Ultimate Hashtags for the Wedding Industry PLUS 10 Golden Rules of Using Hashtags (proven to double your following and triple your engagement within a month)

Woo! The Hashtags are on their way.