Post by Loren Bartley
Hashtags are an excellent way of grouping social media conversations around a particular topic, whether that be a general interest topic, an event, a business, a product or something completely random.
A Hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash symbol (“#”).
Where Are Hashtags Used?
Although Twitter was not the first place to use Hashtags, it is where Hashtags first came into fame. Hashtags are commonly used within the platform to categorise Tweets to help them be found more easily in search. Trending Hashtags (hot topics being talked about right now) on Twitter help people discover the “most breaking” news from across the world, in real-time.
The use of Hashtags are also not confined to Twitter. In fact, they are becoming embedded in popular culture, both on and off-line, taken to the extreme in this video of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
In the later part of 2013 Facebook included the ability to search Hashtags on Facebook and most recently started featuring those Hashtags that are “trending” on the platform.
Instagram is presently the fastest growing social network worldwide and Hashtags are frequently used to caption photos and videos on the platform.
Hashtags work a little differently in Pinterest, as they are only clickable and searchable in pin descriptions. Clicking on a Hashtag in a pin’s description will not only result in pins that include that Hashtag but also in pins that include the same word or phrase in the description or associated URL for the pin, regardless of whether or not the # symbol is used.
LinkedIn used to enable a Hashtag seach function, but removed it when it retired it’s “Signal” feature in late 2013. It is unknown at this time if they will return to the platform in future.
Regardless of which platform you are posting on (where Hashtags are enabled), after you tag your post with a Hashtag, you’ll be able to tap on the Hashtag to see a page that shows all of the public posts (including photos, videos, etc) that users have uploaded with that Hashtag, making Hashtags a great discovery tool.
What Hashtag Should I Use For My Business?
There are a few options you can consider when choosing which Hashtag(s) are most appropriate for use by your business. They include:
- Using your business name or product/service name as a Hashtag (e.g. #Impactiv8) – By incorporating this type of Hashtag within your posts you can get people to search for your Hashtag on their social media platform of choice as a way of finding out more about your business from both yourself and your customers (assuming you are encouraging your customers to use your business’s Hashtags in their posts also).
- Using popular Hashtags (e.g. #BigestLoser) – By incorporating RELEVANT Hashtags that are currently trending into your posts you have the potential to gain greater exposure of your posts to new audiences that are interested in topics relevant to your business.
- Creating a unique Hashtag that is specific to your business, but not obviously your business (e.g. #GenBetter) – People may be more inclined to use a Hashtag created by your business if it doesn’t seem to be a blatant promotion of your business and is more about them than you, as is the case with Medibank’s #GenBetter campaign.
How Do I Get People To Use Those Hashtags Associated With My Business?
You need to extensively promote your Hashtag in order for people to start using it. This can be achieved by incorporating your Hashtag in all your promotional material about your business, including signage, brochures, on your website, etc.
Hashtags are still a relatively new phenomenon for many. Therefore, education around their usage and enticement to use them is necessary to encourage more people to include your Hashtag(s) in their social sharing. Your staff should explain to people what your Hashtag is, how they should use it and why they should use it.
We live in a WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) culture these days. Therefore you will get greater results if you provide an incentive for people to use your Hashtags. That incentive needs to be relevant, significant and relatively easy to access for your ideal customer. A Hashtag competition is one way to achieve this.
Hashtags Are Integral To On-line Conversations
Hashtags have become an integral aspect of on-line conversations. Therefore, developing Hashtags for use by your business and the cross-platform communities you develop should be key to your social media strategy in 2014. As too should be the use of those Hashtags that your community uses as part of their everyday conversations on social media.
Using Hashtags to create greater reach and engagement is a Facebook Power Strategy. Download a copy of the Facebook Power Strategies Toolkit for more tips on how to use the power of Facebook to assist in achieving your overall business goals.
Do you use Hashtags within your business? If so, let us know what has worked best for your business in the comments below.
Loren Bartley is a social media consultant, educator and coach, helping small businesses use the power of social media independently to grow their businesses. This is achieved by teaching businesses how to develop a social media strategy, build online communities, effectively engage with those communities and then convert them into action that aligns with overall business goals.
Loren provides the perfect balance between strategy, “how-to” and best practice, ensuring that her clients have all the necessary information and tools to develop and maintain an effective online presence. www.impactiv8.com.au