Once simply known as the pound sign, and then reintroduced by Twitter circa 2007 as a categorization tool, the hashtag (#) is now a web marketing device that cannot be ignored. If you want to use social media best practices to promote your business on the web, hashtags are an essential addition to your messages.
When a word has a #Hashtag it becomes clickable. Clicking the hashtag lets users see all other public posts that contain the same hashtag; these key phrases can be included at the end of a post or within it. Using a popular hashtag increases the chances that people who donâ€™t already follow you may find you in a search.
With the introduction of hashtags on Facebook, Google +, and other social networks, you may be wondering how to best utilize them. Here are some ways to effectively use hashtags to increase your businessâ€™s reach and engagement.
Use the Right Hashtags
You can create your own hashtags or use existing hashtags. To enjoy a higher number of interactions with your social posts, find out what people are already talking about. A quick search on Facebook or Twitter with a generic hashtag, such as #Veterinarian, will reveal similar hashtags that users are also talking about in posts, such as #CuteCats. Find a few influential bloggers or Facebook users in your area to see which hashtags they have used on posts with a lot of comments and shares.
Timeliness is Key
Use current events in your industry to take part in important conversations. If you see a news story related to your businessâ€™s industry, for example, find out which hashtag is being used by news organizations and craft a post that includes it. This allows you to share advice, expert insight, and useful tips that relate to something people are interested in right now. Try to avoid a blatant plug of your business or product â€“ your useful post is enough to entice people to visit your profile.
Donâ€™t #Hashtag #Every #Word
Hashtags stand to increase your Twitter engagement by 60 percent, and can also lead to a higher number of retweets (Buffer, 2014). While 1 to 2 hashtags can increase engagement on Twitter, including too many hashtags can actually cause clicks and shares of your post to decline. Be judicious when you choose hashtags for any social network. Any single hashtag buried in a sea of 20 tags will not be noticed. Too many hashtags can also make your Facebook posts too long. If you identify more than 2 useful hashtags, split them between multiple messages posted a few hours apart.
If you are creating a hashtag to track a promotion related specifically to your business (i.e. #AndersonChiropracticDeal), think about the different ways in which it can be used. In 2014, the New York City Police Department encouraged people to use the hashtag #myNYPD to post images of themselves with local officers. Many Twitter users posted images of police aggressively apprehending citizens â€“ not the flattering, smiling photos the department had been hoping for.
Remember that any hashtag related specifically to your business could bring about customer complaints. Be prepared to respond promptly and respectfully. Avoid hashtags altogether that could foreseeably go wrong. Hashtags related to a service or product that has recently undergone scrutiny are especially likely to be reused in an unflattering way.
For more information about social media marketing for your business, call 1-800-IMATRIX. Our Internet Consultants are available to provide one-on-one online marketing consultations.