If you’re active on social media, then you‘ve definitely come across a hashtag or two. Basically, a hashtag is a keyword or phrase that comes after the # symbol. Clicking on hashtags on Twitter, for example, displays a feed of Tweets that have also used that hashtag.
While hashtags originated on Twitter, they are now widely used on all of the popular social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and more. Hashtags are extremely important in digital marketing because they can broaden your brand’s reach. Using hashtags on Twitter is reported to double engagement. Using a tag that’s relevant to your business instantly links your post to a group of posts that are about the same topic.
A study done by Twitter reports that 34% of respondents use hashtags to search and follow topics and brands of personal interest. They help social media users easily find your content, expanding your reach beyond those who already follow you.
Using hashtags is very easy, but you need to first understand how to choose the right hashtags and use them properly on social media as part of your digital marketing strategy.
Here are a few tips on how to expand your brand’s reach by using hashtags.
Choosing Your Hashtag
A fitting tag can help drive brand recognition, boost reach and impact customer loyalty, it all starts with choosing the right one. Each business is unique, which means that different hashtags are appropriate for each one. There is no directory of hashtags, so being creative and doing research is key. Short and simple is best when it comes to hashtags because it makes it easy to remember and easy to fit in posts with limited character counts. Research trending hashtags used by your community and see what people are saying about them. Use hashtags to align yourself with your industry and products by choosing relevant tags that speak to your brand. Try different tags and see which ones give you the best results.
Join The Conversation or Start Your Own
Hashtags can be influential in establishing your online community. Look at what’s trending and figure out a way you can join that conversation – but only if it’s relevant to your brand. Make sure you research the topic so that you are clear on what the trend really is.
You can start your own conversation using hashtags by hosting a Q&A session on Twitter, called a TweetChat. Create your own hashtag, such as #AskLSDesigns, and respond to the tweets that ask questions using your tag. Engaging with users who use your hashtag will encourage more and more people to use it. So, respond, like and retweet.
Tag Your Event
Using hashtags to promote your event is a great digital marketing tactic. Create a hashtag that is specific to your event and use it whenever you post about the event – and encourage others to use it well. You can do this on the days leading up to – and in real-time, during – the event. It is also a best practice in the Twittersphere to repost and retweet any users that use that hashtag when posting a photo of the event or saying something positive about it. Other ways to use hashtags in this way is for specific campaigns, sales or contests.
Promote Your Hashtag
Make sure you craft your hashtag for maximum exposure. You can create stickers or banners with the hashtag and place them in high-traffic public locations. Humans are curious by nature and may become interested to learn what the tag is for. Billboards and television and other traditional media using hashtags can also be very effective, if that fits your overall marketing plan.
Because hashtags are so simple to use, it is easy to overcomplicate them. It is important to exercise caution and not overdo it. Using too many hashtags at one time can weaken your marketing message and devalues the strength of the tags you use. Twitter recommends using two hashtags per tweet, with studies showing that any tweet with three or more hashtags experiences less engagement. Using too many hashtags at once is hard on the eyes and looks cluttered.
Instagram is a different story, as interactions are highest on posts with 11+ tags.
Each platform has its own culture, which means different hashtag rules, so test it out and see what works best for your business.
Other mistakes that can be made with hashtags are using too many words in one tag; using a tag that doesn’t relate to your message or brand and using hashtags that are too common. If your company sells clothing, using the tag #clothing is too broad and can cause your post to get lost in a sea of thousands. Stand out by using tags such as #BohemianStyle, or something unique that describes your brand. Also remember not to use spaces or punctuation when hashtagging. And definitely do a quick search first to find out if your desired hashtag has already been used or not.
Hashtags may seem silly to some veteran marketers, but to younger generations, the use of hashtags is natural, so it is important to keep up. With the ability to reach anyone interested in the keywords that you tag, the possibilities are endless. Practice these tactics when using hashtags in your content marketing, and see your likes and follows soar.