Hashtags for business are a great way to increase your brand awareness and exponentially spread your message to your prospects!
What is a hashtag? Historically, it’s been the symbol of the original pound or number sign. However, Digital Natives have grown up more familiar with the word “hashtag” than the former terms. We now hear it on phone prompts and see it all over social media platforms such at Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and it’s becoming more popular on LinkedIn.
It can be a bit confusing so let’s take a quick trip into it’s history so you can understand it today.
The man who kicked off the use of hashtags on Twitter has described the invention as “an accidental trip over a very simple idea.” He came up with the hashtag to find an easy way to bring together people discussing the same topic online. On Aug. 23, 2007, Chris Messina, a San Francisco techie and former Google developer wrote on Twitter, “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
He chose the # symbol because it was an easy keyboard character to reach on his 2007 Nokia phone and other techies were already using it in other internet chat systems.
Two days later, another techie, Stowe Boyd, suggested the # symbol be called a hashtag and Messina adopted that new term because “It just sounds catchier,” he said.
Messina started using the new symbol and convinced some of his friends to do the same. During the San Diego fires in 2007, to keep up with the news people began to use the tracking system Twitter had in place, but the spaces between the words San, Diego and fire made it difficult to track. Messina suggested using the hashtag without any spaces. It was a winning idea and soon, the trend spread more quickly than the wildfires themselves!
How can you extend the reach of your brand messaging when you post on social media? We can help so let’s get started with a few helpful tips!
Tip 1) Answer this question: What is the goal that you want to achieve with your post? Is it to
a) Increase your brand awareness?
b) Increase your followers?
c) Sell a product?
When you have determined your purpose, that will determine your strategy. In the meantime, research your competitors websites and social media platforms. Discover the most popular hashtags they are using so you can add your digital message to the conversation and also discover what is important to your potential clients by reading about what is important to them. Once you have truly listened to their conversations, you will be able to determine if your messaging and your products are in alignment with what your prospects say they need.
Tip 2) Create your own branded hashtag.
Try to keep it short and memorable with your branded name or a short, striking or memorable phrase. There is even the possibility that your brand has already been hash-branded by your fans. Do your research and see what association you might already have. If it’s positive, include it! But, if you’re a caterer, and you find #Dexter associated with your brand, you’ll need to drill down as to why you have that association. Its origin could be the result of an unhappy customer to whom you may need to extend some goodwill.
Use your hashtag on a regular basis. I can’t emphasize enough the need to keep your hashtags short for the following reasons: There is a limited amount of space on Twitter to convey your message (280 characters) so you don’t want to take up that valuable real estate with a needlessly long hashtag. Be concise. Also, Twitter hashtags that are 11 characters long get the most retweets.
Tip 3) Limit the number of hashtags per post to three or less.
IMO, nothing is worse when you are reading content and it’s bottom loaded with 50 hashtags. I understand why people do this – to hopefully extend the reach of their post but it actually clutters and dilutes your primary message on Facebook, LI and Twitter. Multiple hashtags are more acceptable on Instagram.
Tip 4) Do you have an upcoming event?
Create a special hashtag to generate a conversation around that occasion. Are you hosting a conference, open house or a special anniversary celebration? For example, #MGGMConf2018 would be my hashtag for a 2018 marketing conference. What would be yours? Live tweet during the event using the event hashtag along with a quick statement and a photo. Invite your guests to use that hashtag and post on their own timelines which will expand your brand messaging and create more interest and excitement! When attendees or the curious search the hashtag on that social media platform, all of the event posts will appear. For those of you who grew up with the Dewey Decimal System, card catalogs, and manila folders, another option is to think of hashtags as a filing drawer – a gigantic information retrieval system, that’s on the internet.
Important side note: When you post, create a call to action (CTA) for your readers to take the next step beyond reading your post to connect with you on the next level. The end result of the cultivation will be a new or strengthened business relationship. This is another way to add to your sales funnel. Include a hyperlink that drives readers to visit a specific page on your website. CTA’s are a very effective technique so be sure you are using a web statistic program to gauge your site activity and the impact of your hashtags and posts.
Tip 5) Trending hashtags: Should you jump in?
Trending hashtags are a great opportunity to expand your brand awareness in a rapidly moving, short-lived conversation. The payoff can be phenomenal! It’s impossible to predict everything that will trend so it requires daily attentiveness and most of all, some time and creativity to participate quickly as trends are fleeting. Your brand will not be a fit for every trending hashtag so be sure to first understand why the trend is occurring before jumping in. However, trends also provide you with the opportunity to see things differently and stand out from the crowd in a positive manner.
For example, every year #420day is a hugely popular trend. Around the world it’s a day celebrated by cannabis users and proprietors alike. With over 110 metric tons of marijuana being consumed in just NYC and Los Angeles alone in 2017, recreational users may also very well be your clients so don’t make assumptions about the private lives of your prospects. Unless you’re a purveyor of weed, edibles or other peripherals, you may not want to say, “Hotboxing with my dawgs on #420day in #Seattle. Please send snacks.” However, if you’re a lighting company, you can take the creative approach and say “Happy #420day! Let B&V’s Specialty Fixtures bring unmatched illumination to your world. Learn more! ► www.BryteSpotz.com #notlit”. Don’t forget to include a photo, if possible.
Notice, with this short post we’ve accomplished three items: a) We’ve entered and engaged in a booming conversation by entering their world b) created positive corporate brand awareness and c) drove readers to a CTA to learn more about the company and services provided.
After you’ve finished this article, test this out on your favorite social media platform. For example, go on Twitter and in the search bar type “#Free” without the quotation marks. Very shortly, every tweet where someone has used that hashtag in their post will appear. Next, try the word “#Breaking” or “#BreakingNews.” The latest news will appear along with prior breaking news, and, probably a few other topics. Is it starting to make sense? Try a few of your own and see how it works. It’s just a huge digital filing system for all types of information gathering and dissemination.
Posting will definitely increase your social credibility as well and raise your cool points among this consumer group. Remember, the first word in social media, is “social.”
That’s it for today folks! These are just the basics and we can help you create special campaigns to raise consumer knowledge and demand for your product or service. What would you like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section below.
Be sure to take advantage our our free, no strings attached business growth session. Call 888.303.0338, ext 232 or contact us. We’re here to help you succeed and make your passions, profitable!
See you at the top!
♛ Melanie Grace
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