When it comes to social media marketing, using hashtags is a must if you want to increase your chances of having your posts found outside your existing network to be seen by a wider audience.
Introduced in Twitter in 2007 as a way of tagging and grouping tweets, the famous hash (pound) symbol has made its way into almost all major social media channels. The word hashtag became so popular in 2009-2010 that it was even added to the Oxford Dictionary.
Adding a hashtag or two in posts is easy – just add a “#” before a word or multiple words (no spaces) and it will turn into a hashtag. But choosing the RIGHT hashtag to market your brand can be a little tricky. Many small business owners and their webmasters and internal marketing teams are still confused by how to effectively use hashtags to market their brand, so we put together some tips on how to get the most out of hashtags.
What is a #hashtags?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a hashtag (on social media sites such as Twitter) is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. When you add a hashtag in your post you are basically categorizing it, enabling it to be found and followed by users.
Take Twitter as an example: people often use the hashtag #quoteoftheday whenever they tweet a quote. Then there’s #ThrowbackThurday (or #tbt in Facebook and Instagram), a weekly meme that encourages people to post their old photos. When other users click on these hashtags they are brought to a page with a list of all public tweets/posts that used this same hashtag.
Why Use Hashtags?
The hashtag is a powerful tool if you are marketing your products and services via social media. When used wisely hashtags can effectively expand your audience reach, especially if you are fairly new to social media and people are still not widely aware of your business’s social media presence. Hastags also encourage engagement with both your loyal customers and new ones. For many brands, hashtags have been used to create buzz around their products, events and promotions.
Ways to Use Hashtags
Promote your business using a hashtag that is unique to your brand. This can either be a hashtag that has your business name, name of your products or maybe your signature tagline. One you have a business specific hashtag, make sure to use it regularly across all your social channels so people will know and use this hashtag when they want to share something related to your brand.
Use hashtags for social promotions, contests and giveaways. If are running a contest over social networks, creating a hashtag associated with it will make it easy for you to monitor and track engagement. Here are a few example of successful hashtag campaigns.
Include already-trending hashtags in your post to widen your audience reach. Another way to use hashtags is to add already-trending hashtags to your post. Of course, you need to make sure you’re a posting something relevant and related to the hashtag to avoid any negative reaction from users who are using this same hashtag. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to ride into the trend.
Check out this post from Search Engine Watch to find out more brilliant ways to use hashtags.
Things to remember when deciding on a hashtag
A few basic guidelines to remember when creating a hashtag:
- Keep it short. It’s okay to string multiple words in your hashtag but keep it short to encourage people to use it in their own posts. This is especially important for platforms like Twitter that only allow a few character per post.
- Make it unique and memorable. This is especially important when you are using a hashtag to promote your brand, an ongoing event or specific campaign.
- Narrow down your focus keyword. Make conversation around your hashtag more meaningful and relevant to your target audience and avoid off-topic conversations by trying to focus on a specific keyword phrase.
- Research, research, research! Once you have a hashtag in mind for your brand or campaign, make sure to look it up online and see if it’s already being used and how. If you are just going for content hashtags (keywords that you wish to hashtag), doing some research will help you find other similar hashtags that you can use. You can research hashtags from each individual social channel or you use one of these hashtag research tools.
Hashtags are no longer just a way of categorizing social posts and conversations. Every day, marketers are finding new ways to use hashtags to get their brands out to larger audiences and encourage them to help them spread the word.
What about you? How are you using hashtags?