Search engines like tagboard.com enable you to type in any kind of hashtag and find out about topics discussed in a particular industry that your are interested in. Typing in hastags which refer to my key industry, like #sweets, #dessert or #candy, mostly pictures of private persons, posting the candy they consume on Instagram, show up. You are searching in vain if you are looking for valuable content of businesses of the sweet, dessert and/or confectionery industry, connecting their marketing efforts on social media with hashtags. More precisely tagboard.com shows no result for hashtags like #sweetsmarketing or #candymarketing.
All the businesses that I identified as key businesses for my industry do have their own hashtag but again they are mainly used by private persons and not by the businesses.
Discovering this, the questions arise what exactly hashtags are, how you use them on social media and how you can actually use them for your business. Michael Patterson refers in his article ‘How to use hashtags on every social media network’ to the definition, application and usefulness of hashtags.
1) What are Hashtags?
Hashtags are a word or phrase preceded by a hashmark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and to simplify the search for it. Hashtags are a way for social media users to tag their posts with keywords to make them easier to organize for social networks and easier to search for users.
Whenever a user adds a hashtag to a post it is indexed by the social network and searchable by other users. Clicking on on the hashtag will lead lead them to a page where all of the posts with the same hashtagged word are aggregated. Once it picks up enough momentum it becomes know as ‘trending’. However each users trending topics are different based on location and social connections.
2) How to use Hashtags?
You use a hashtag in a social post by simply adding the ‘#’ sign before a single word or phrase and without any punctuation or spaces. Using hashtags you have to keep in mind some advices:
- Don’t string too many words together with a single hashtag.
- If you tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for your that hashtag may find your tweet.
- Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t overtag a single tweet.
- Use hashtags only on tweets relevant to the topic.
3) Creating your own hashtag
Creating your own hashtag can be a powerful thing. Doing it right and with a lot of luck your hashtag might start trending among your circle and whenever someone sees that hashtag they will be reminded of your brand. To achieve brand awareness throughout a hashtag you have to write the hashtag free of any ambiguity. It is important to completely guide how you want the conversation to go. One example of a campaign that did extremely well was #lindthello. It was used to promote Lindt’s new edition ‘Lindt Hello’, the new, modern and enticing chocolate of Lindt which especially approaches new and young customers.
4) Advertising on trending hashtags
Instead of creating your own hashtag, you have the opportunity as well to craft tweets based around trending hashtags, to advertise your new product and in hope of getting more visibility from users searching that trend. Using hashtags for advertising, you have to keep in mind relevance. It does not make sense when a brand tries to force itself onto users through trending topics. You don’t want to be seen as an irrelevant ad.
5) Hashtags tracking and analytics
When you are thinking of hashtags that you could use to engage with your audience it is beneficial to look at your audience first. Find keywords and hashtags that are already asscoicated with your brand. ‘Sprout Social’s Trend Report’ helps you finding out which terms are being associated with your brand most often. These tools are not only good to find out about new things to tweet about but also to see how well your tweets are performing in general.
Hashtags work across all platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Youtube…) and most of them use them in the same basic way: to organize data and to make it easier for user consumption. However each network has a different tweak on how to use them. Michael Patterson describes the differences between the different networks and their application very well in his article – go and check it out if you do not know yet how to use a hashtag on one or the other platform.
Let me know what you think. Are you or your business using hashtags? Leave me a comment below and subscribe to my blog for more information.
If you would like to get more information about hashtags, check out the following articles:
#hashtags, #socialmedia, #business, #sweets, #candy