Hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.
Hashtags: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re an integral part of using social media. With reams of content being produced and promoted on social media each and every minute, hashtags provide a simply way to search for specific, topical content.
With every major social network now allowing the use of hashtags, understanding why they’re such an important part of social media marketing is even more important.
They allow us to whittle down the thousands of updates we receive daily from friends, colleagues and businesses, as well to find new people to interact with and new conversations to follow. They give us the ability to track conversations about our brand and our products, and help us keep an eye on what’s going on in our industry.
Here are 7 why you can no longer afford NOT to use hashtags in your social media marketing!
1. They allow for highly specific audience targeting.
When you want to target your social media message to a specific group of people, there’s no better way than by using relevant hashtags. For instance, if you’re looking to market to people who have just had a baby, you could use the hashtag #newborn. Then, anyone who’s searching social networking sites for conversations about newborns has the potential to find you.
2. They allow you to monitor your reputation.
By monitoring hashtags related to your brand or products, you can always have an idea what people are saying about you. If you’re NOT monitoring these hashtags, the conversation’s still going to be happening….you’re just not going to know about it. And isn’t it always better to know?
3. They allow you to perform better customer service.
In the same way that tracking your company hashtags allows you to monitor your reputation, it also allows you to find and respond to comments, complaints and kudos quickly and efficiently. By monitoring mentions of your brand, you can make sure you always know what’s being said, and can respond as quickly as possible.
4. They allow you to keep an eye on your competition.
Want to know what people are saying about your competitors on social media? Try running a search for hashtags related to their business name or products. This can shed quite a bit of light on things like how often they’re receiving complaints, how they’re responding to them, and how you can set yourself apart from them when it comes to customer service.
5. They allow you to hear what’s going on in your industry.
Hashtags are a powerful way to keep track of what’s happening in your niche or industry. For instance, if you’re a writer, you may want to track hashtags like #Books, #WhattoRead, #WritingTip and #AuthorRT. This will give you the advantage of knowing what your colleagues are up to, and the opportunity to participate in the conversation.
6. They allow you to promote special events, contests or deals.
Come up with snappy, easy-to-remember hashtags for special events, deals or promotions to facilitate easy sharing, as well as easy campaign tracking. For instance, when the city of New York runs their annual photo contest, they use the hashtag #LoveNYC. This allows them to easily track contest entries (more than 10K last year) and conversations that are related to the campaign.
7. They Help You Find Relevant Twitter Chats.
A Twitter chat is a pre-arranged “meeting” on Twitter where like-minded people get together and discuss a topic. There is usually a moderator and sometimes a set of questions that help to guide the chat along. If you’re looking to engage with your target audience and show them what an industry expert you are, use hashtags to find current Twitter chats relevant to your niche and join in!
Hashtags can be an extremely powerful and efficient way to initiate, take part in, and track conversations happening in your industry. Now that you have 7 reasons why hashtags are a must in your marketing, the next time you’re looking for a social media conversation to join, why not try searching for one using relevant hashtags?
P.S. If you’re looking for more information on hashtags, please see my post How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Business.