While hashtags are a relatively new buzzword over the last decade, it’s a word that most of us use frequently – even if just #ironically.
So we’ve all heard of hashtags but what the actual heck are they and how can they help in business? First, let’s take a look at the official definition of a hashtag.
Word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic.
Or, if you like, one of the (many!) Urban Dictionary definitions:
To annoyingly “tag” objects, emotions or feelings by adding a “#” (hashmark) and then the thing wanting to be said.
- “OMG. So excited for drinks tonight!! #happy!”
- “No one will talk to me. #depressed”
- “UGH! SO pissed! I guess I’ll just #hashtag #hashtag #hashtaggetytagatag!”
Hashtags have become a part of modern culture. Their place hasn’t been restricted to appearing just on our social media accounts; hashtagged phrases have been used on everything from t-shirts to mugs and cushions.
In terms of social media, hashtags were first found on Twitter and slowly have found themselves used on all other social media channels. Hashtags are great for both setting and finding the latest trends. They can be key to social media campaigns going viral.
The great thing about hashtags is that it’s up to you how you use them. You can find the latest trends and use one of those, or you can set your own. When a user clicks on the hashtag it will bring up all the tweets, posts or images that have used that hashtag.
Let’s see how hashtags are relevant to your business.
Hashtags for Your Business
Social media marketing is one of the top marketing methods for businesses right now. This is why hashtags should be playing a massive part in your business marketing strategy. Capturing the latest trend or even setting your own can drive visitors to your website, products and services each day.
What business can afford to ignore that sort of traffic?
There are various different ways of using hashtags for your business across a number of different social media platforms. You can use #hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok and they can bring great results on all these platforms.
However, before you even consider using a hashtag you really need to think about what it is that you are wanting to say. It’s pointless just throwing any old hashtag phrase out there. There are a few things you will want to consider to maximize the impact.
You will want to use hashtags that promote your offers or events, like webinars or sales. But that doesn’t mean you want to go with a hashtag as bland as #sales or #livewebinar. One of the first things to consider is that you will want to create something unique. You will want to use hashtags that stand out from the crowd, are instantly recognisable and promote what you have to offer. This might mean you have to get a little bit creative but it will be well worth it!
You could use the initials of the company in the hashtag or perhaps some other part of your branding or marketing. The choices really are endless. Just keep in mind you want your message to be clear and unique!
The next thing you will want to consider is that what you decide to use as a hashtag should be easy to remember. Think about how often you see a hashtag that appears on the corner of your TV screen for the show you are watching.
So always keep in mind what your marketing message is. Make sure your related hashtag is clear and easy to understand and remember whilst also being unique enough to stand out. Once you have your hashtags in place remember to use the same ones across all the social media platforms and then just wait for the traffic to start rolling in!
Researching Perfect Hashtags
So we have looked at how hashtags can help your business if you have a specific event or offer to promote. But what if you don’t have that and are just looking for a hashtag to help increase your brand awareness and drive more traffic to your website?
One of the key things you will need to do when it comes to using hashtags as part of your social media marketing campaign is research. What I mean by this is doing a little bit of exploring to discover what are the most popular trends in your niche. For this there are a few websites out there that can help by showing you what is trending and the hashtags that are most popular. You can even see which hashtags are popular where. Twitter and Facebook also have their own trending analytics that will let you see the most popular hashtags on their website that day.
Creating Relevant Hashtags
It’s amazing how many business owners find the thought of using hashtags as part of their marketing plan a bit scary! Then because they are a bit intimidated at the thought, or the thought of getting it wrong, they just don’t bother with them at all! Don’t be scared!
Hashtags are really easy to use once you have gotten the hang of them. That’s not to say you can’t get it a bit wrong and make some mistakes, but that’s OK! Even the biggest companies make mistakes – more on this is a moment.
So the first thing to consider when it comes to writing your hashtag is the length. Ideally your hashtag should be between 1-3 words, it shouldn’t be any more than that. Let’s face it we have all been annoyed by a hashtag #thatsreallyfartoolongtoread!
The next important thing to keep in mind, is do NOT keyword stuff. I know it’s tempting to hashtag your 14 keywords three different ways in the one tweet or post but don’t! It will look like spam and its unprofessional. Always keep the reputation of your brand in mind when you are creating your hashtags. You are trying to grow your brand image not ruin it.
You need to really think about what you are hash tagging and if it can be used against you. The most famous example of this was when McDonald’s used the hashtag #mcdstories. What they wanted to do was encourage people to share positive experiences of eating at McDonalds, but what also happened was that people used the hashtag to share horrible experiences. Whenever the hashtag was used the bad experiences came up as well!
There is always a chance a hashtag can be used against you, so you have to be prepared to turn a negative response into a positive one.
Tracking Your Hashtags
When you are using hashtags as part of your social media campaign its vitally important that you track their results, so that you can see what is working for you and what isn’t. Just like you would track Google analytic etc.
The best way to track these results is to use tracking tools in order to help you monitor and analyze your social media hashtags. Have a Google for the most up to date ones.
I hope you all have a better understanding of what hashtags are now and how they can be used to drive traffic to your business. Don’t be afraid of them, just be organised and have a strategy!
For more hints, tips and business advice and videos – with live Monday trainings – head over to my Business Group at Filter Free Business.