In June 2014, the word ‘hashtag’ was included to the Oxford English Dictionary. It was first used in Twitter in 2007. In 2009, Twitter began hyperlinking tweet-contained hashtags. However, hashtag is no longer confined on Twitter; hashtags are now on most social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.
Let’s take a look at how small businesses can make sense of hashtags.
Before we proceed though, it is critical to recognize that the branding experience can be easily drowned on newsfeeds if you don’t know how to hashtag properly. Here are some basic rules, so you won’t get lost.
1) Know the purpose of the hashtag. Hashtags are used for organizing and searching contents. They can be also used in managing and monitoring digital contents.
2) Know who can use hashtags. Anyone can use them. Huge firms build hashtags for the purpose of creating and monitoring conversations about a particular topic. Individuals can use a hashtag to participate in the conversation. They may also do so to start a conversation about the topic they want.
3) Know how to monitor hashtags. Hashtags can be simply searched using the search bar on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You can also use an online hashtag monitoring service.
4) Know the basic rules. There are important rules:
- Use the # sign before the keyword
- Don’t put a space or punctuations in a hashtag
- Don’t put a character immediately before the # sign
- Use characters and numbers together, not numbers alone
- Keep the hashtag brief, up to three words only (if possible)
- For multiple keywords, make sure they all flow together fluidly, or it will look spammy
- Don’t hashtag everything, up to three hashtags is okay
- Use hashtags sparingly
- Test the hashtags
For the small businesses, the rules also include:
- Use only the relevant hashtags to your business
- Use distinctive and creative hashtags
- Search the hashtags to ensure your rivals are not using them
- Don’t misuse and abuse hashtags
For small businesses, social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective strategies, if not the most cost-effective. These platforms provide an unlimited reach at a minimal investment. Online, however, you will see lots of businesses that’s been doing it wrong. For these businesses, hashtags can be used to target the right audience. Here are some ways to do so.
Create more searchable posts
Hashtags are not only a fresh element to your usual tweet, but they also guide the readers as to what the gist of the content is. Hashtagged posts also improves the findability of your contents during targeted searches. For instance, when a user searches for #webdesignphil, the name of your company will be included in the results.
Build business-centered conversations
Hashtags are used for conversations. If you want to know what people are saying about your brand and products and services, search for your #brand for more specific conversations. You cannot search for #smallbiz because of the volume of contents.
You can also create brand-centered conversations by introducing your own hashtags that your target market can use when addressing your business on social platforms. Keep the tags simple and direct such as #smallbiz #payrollapp, not #smallbusinessfinanceapps. Tags like this are not necessarily search-friendly.
Boost the participation rate
Hashtags make it easier for brands to locate events or contest participants. The process is simple – just use #thishashtag. For instance, Domino’s Pizza launched a Twitter campaign wherein followers can use the hashtag #letsdolunch. After reaching the 85,000 mark, the pizza company dropped is prices to more than 50% between 11am and 3pm on that day.
Create your own custom hashtags and encourage others to do the same. Eventually, you can measure the engagement the hashtag created.
Target the local audience
What is good about hashtags is they can be localized. Don’t hashtag London. Instead, hashtag the exact place (#CamdemLondon). Then, you can simply add #networkersmeetup #ukedition.
The concept behind hashtags is easy and simple. Understand what you are getting yourself into before putting a hashtag on your post. Misuse and abuse of hashtags can backfire, turning off prospects because of the spammy-looking posts. The least you can do is to provide value through the tags you use. Use it appropriately.