Hashtags are used in mainstream marketing on a constant basis. The ongoing joke with my friends is saying things like, “Hashtag want it” or “Hashtag awesome.” All joking aside, the use of hashtags in your social media presence can dramatically boost impressions. That’s why it’s so important you learn how to leverage hashtags. Check out these simple tips on how to use hashtags to benefit your business.
Use Common Hashtags to Help People Find Your Content
When a lot of users include a specific hashtag in their posts, it “trends.” Most platforms display trending topics, for example on Twitter you will see trending topics on the left sidebar. Trending hashtags can last for days or minutes, so when you see something trending that relates to your content, don’t hesitate to jump on it.
Using a trending hashtag can pay off to accumulate new followers and create a buzz outside of those already following you. The key to successfully using a trending hashtag is to make sure that is relevant to your brand, audience, and your content. Tapping into trending hashtags can be much easier than creating something new, but it still takes research and planning.
It should never appear like you are forcing your brand on the trend. You want to use hashtags strategically and purposefully to make sure your content doesn’t look like spam or blatant advertising. Think of content reflecting hashtags as a way of optimizing content for search. Audience members may stumble upon your posts when looking for the words you tag.
Here are a few tools you can use to find trending hashtags:
- Twubs.com: Lets you register and discover hashtags.
- Hashtags.org: Searches for hashtags and discovers currently trending hashtags.
- TrendsMap.com: Shows you trending hashtags based on location.
Anyone searching this trending topic can see your post, and if it’s witty, original or informative, it can generate further impressions, comments, clicks and follows.
Search The Hashtag Before You Use It
The most important part of using hashtags is to make your content easy for readers to find. For example, if you’re writing about a new cake recipe you could use the tags related to your post including #cake, #baking, #desserts, and so on. Using these hashtags will allow a broad range of people who might not be following you to find your post. Giving you a better chance of people liking, commenting on and sharing your content.
Make sure that you have researched each hashtag you are using. You don’t want to use a hashtag that pertains to something other than you think it does. For example, Digiorno, a pizza company used a trending hashtag “WhyIStayed” to promote its product. What Digiorno didn’t do is search what the hashtag meant, which was about domestic abuse. The subsequent use of this hashtag in their post made a social uproar.
One tool you can use to search what hashtags means is TagDef.com. TagDef.com provides an explanation of what popular hashtags mean, such as #tbt, which stands for Throwback Thursday.
Check Then Double Check
Mistakes can happen, so you want to make sure you check your posts and then check them once more. An excellent example of making errors and it coming back to haunt you is Sephora. Cosmetics retailer Sephora launched a hashtag around #CountdownToBeauty for store openings. Carelessness led to the first “o” being omitted from the campaign. Sephora wasn’t seeking the kind of attention the mistake gave them. Make sure to edit and reread before you post.
Keep it Short and Memorable
If you are creating or using a hashtag make sure that the ones you are using are descriptive and not too long. Using a few words for a hashtag is fine, but not a whole sentence. You can include hashtags in each message you post, but you should be using them sparingly.
The number of hashtags that you use can vary by social network. Facebook and Twitter, the number of hashtags per post, should be about 2. On Instagram using a bunch of hashtags, 11 or more, is common. You should be using at least two hashtags in your post on any social media platform.
Use Them Everywhere
You probably associate hashtags mostly with Twitter, which is where they first started out. However, hashtags have made their way onto all of the most popular social networks including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. You should be using hashtags on your social media platforms as well as in other forms of marketing and advertising.
Use a Brand Hashtag
After you have mastered using hashtags to connect with your target audience, it’s now time to create your own hashtag, unique to your brand. Using a brand hashtag is especially common for running a promotion or contest. You can think of it as your signature, and you will want to use it when you are sharing original content related to your brand or promotion. You can also use your tagline as your hashtag. For instance, Nike’s hashtag is #justdoit. Another great example of a brand hashtag is #MarvalHalloween, used to show off user-generated pictures of their Halloween costumes based on Marvel characters.
Brand hashtags should be used in these five main areas for your business:
- Promote contests, special promotions and increase sales.
- Educate users
- Promote events
- Make users aware of news related content
- Brand awareness for Advocacy
If you use a brand hashtag lay out a plan first. It’s going to take a little legwork to get it started. You first need to come up with something catchy that people will remember. You will also want to make sure the hashtag is not to obscure or too long.
There are many horror stories about brands who have created hashtags that were used against them to smear their name. Try to avoid this by setting up a tag entirely free of ambiguity, which allows you to effectively steer the conversation in a direction favorable for your brand. You don’t want negative feedback that you can’t control using your hashtag.
Make sure that your hashtag along with your campaign makes sense and ties to your brand or product. If it doesn’t you risk the chance of people using your tag, but no one talking about your product or brand.
You should include your hashtag in your email signature as well as on your website. If you are running a promotion, make sure users understand what hashtag they should be using. Also, use the hashtag across all your social media networks – not just Twitter.
Hashtags, just like likes, are only as valuable as the engagement that you get out of them. And just because you come up with a great hashtag and advertise it, does not mean users are going to engage with your brand. The best way to make sure you are using this hashtag correctly is to think of it as a call to action that leads to more brand engagement.
Measure Your Performance
You will want to gauge the performance of your hashtags along with your performance on social media. If you don’t know how to measure the above KPI’s, you can use social analytical tools to measure your businesses performance. To see how certain hashtags are performing you can also follow the conversations yourself or Google the specific hashtag.
Hashtags are perfect for finding which keywords and terms are associated with your brand. If you have an ongoing marketing campaign, tracking your hashtags is an effective way to see your re-tweets, social reach, and likes.
Applying the tips above can help you be well on your way to using effective marketing campaigns with hashtags. If hashtags are used appropriately, they can be a powerful tool you can use to gain impressions, viewers, and recognition. The use of hashtags can play a critical role in distributing your content to a broad audience. Hashtags are an easy way to distribute content to users who may not have been actively searching for it, which is why hashtags are here to stay.
How have you utilized hashtags to promote your brand? Tell us which strategies worked for you on our social media!
Photo credits by Quicksprout