I'm sure you've seen them — those little phrases at the end of Twitter updates or Pinterest posts that seem to “tag” the post with a keyword like #marketing or #socialmedia. Hashtags are more prevalent than ever. Even the last episode of American Idol encouraged viewers to comment using no less than five different hashtags! Currently, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ all support hashtags and Facebook is rumored to be including them in the near future.
When you feel as if you haven't quite mastered social media, incorporating hashtags into your social media marketing campaign can feel like a bit of a mystery. It is worth mastering their nuances, however, because hashtags actually hold immense marketing power. When wielded appropriately, they not only help you connect with your targeted consumer demographic, but can also actually boost your business revenue.
Understanding Some Hashtag Basics
By definition, a hashtag is simply a phrase or specific keyword with a “#” placed in front of it. That's it. However, don't let the simple process fool you – that seemingly innocuous number sign can deliver some major promotional punch. Social media platforms use the hashtags to help online users follow trending topics, as well as generate and contribute to discussions about the specific topics that the hashtag is attached to.
For small businesses owners, hashtags can not only help you track and gather information from your followers, but can also offer countless other relevant online conversations to participate in to help further brand reach and overall exposure – a marketing win/win!
Tips For Successfully Using Hashtags In Your Online Marketing Campaigns
Some of the best ways to effectively incorporate hashtags in your business' online marketing strategy include:
- Find existing Twitter chats to participate in: 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. I recommend using an online app like TweetChat to follow along seamlessly. Are you ready to engage with your target audience and show them what an industry expert you are? Find current Twitter Chats relevant to your niche and join in. To get you started, Raven put together a list of the ultimate Twitter chats for marketers.
- Use them to search for topics related to your industry: If you want to know what your target audience is talking about, you can search Twitter (or other platforms) for the hashtag of your choice. The results will pull up all recent posts using that hashtag. This gives you ample opportunity to jump in on conversations, answer questions and generally provide valuable information — which in turn helps build your influence and boost your reputation as an authority in your niche.
- Use hashtags in your posts: Likewise, if you would like YOUR posts to come up in searches, be sure to include commonly used hashtags in them so they're easy to find! Before blasting to the masses, always do your research. Check out the hashtag you're considering to determine if there is already an extensive range of existing conversations using it. If your hashtag seems a bit overdone, modifying your post slightly may yield a better response from your specific consumer base. Most importantly, always keep your business hashtags simple and succinct to solicit the best results possible. If you want to really stand out, create a new hashtag specific to your business only!
Facebook Embracing The Power Of The Hashtag?
Another important reason to master the science behind this all-mighty online icon? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Facebook is testing whether or not to incorporate hashtags, giving business owners yet another opportunity to see, be seen and, most importantly, be found by the ever-searching consuming public. Hashtags, when combined with the new Facebook search feature, could be a powerful marketing tactic.
Have you used hashtags in your social media marketing? Do you use them more for searching or do you include them in your own posts?
Thank you Kim, As you mentioned, hashtags have been a bit of a mystery to me and consequently I’ve avoided using them for that reason. Your article really helped demystify the process. Many thanks!
I am so glad you found it useful Teresa!
Hashtags have changed my life and my business. They have made things soooo much easier. Thank you Kim for all your insight always.
They are an amazing little tool, aren’t they?
I know it’s silly, but I’ve felt like hashtags were a bit of a mystery. This post helps clarify not just how to use them, but why to use them — that’s the piece I was missing. Thanks, Kim!
I am so glad I was able to bring clarity!
Glad to hear that you learned something! Agree that hashtags on Instagram are out of control 😉
Don’t feel lonely…sometimes I forget too 🙂
I know, right?
You are right, there are some people who use way too many 😉
Do you find Hashtags useful in other areas of social media?
So glad it was of value!
I would love to see Facebook start using hashtags for search functionality.
Great insight Kim. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Kim for very helpful post on using hashtags.
I am a PR student. I have been finding it hard to understand the use of hash tags. Thanks. This article helped me.