Hashtags have become as common a marketing call-to-action as a phone number was in the days of the Yellow Pages. And why not?
Hashtags are an easy and trackable way to have a conversation with your key audiences. They’re most useful right now on Twitter, Instagram and Vine, but Facebook and other social sites are taking steps to increase the usability of hashtags on their platforms. Yet with such wide adoption and potential, many brands aren’t quite sure where, how and when to use hashtags to generate real awareness and action. Here are several ways to use hashtags, and tips to remember when doing so.
Use a hashtag to…
Start a conversation
Recently, Canada sent the U.S. a message with #TellAmericaItsGreat. Brands can use hashtags to send a message or start a conversation with their audiences, too. Nonprofits seeking to elevate their cause, technology companies looking to position themselves as innovators, financial services firms looking to share a perspective: These are all opportunities to use a hashtag.
To start a conversation that you can track, be sure to use an original hashtag that isn’t already followed by thousands or millions. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #IStandWithAhmed have shown us that the right conversation started at the right time using a simple pound sign can help incite real change. On a smaller scale, brands hoping to incite organizational change can use hashtags to simply gain customer service insights.
Join a conversation
Brands wanting to be viewed as thought leaders in a particular industry would do well to track popular hashtags in their industry and incorporate them in their own posts. This allows brands to engage with people who are already interested in a topic.
A great way to see what topics are of most interest is to make sure your brand follows key industry influencers on Twitter. Topics of particular relevance to your location and people you follow on Twitter will show on the right sidebar each time you log in. Or, check sites like Hashtagify.me, which shows popular hashtags related to a particular subject or industry.
Tips for making the most of your tags
- Get the wording right. Just like with SEO research, due diligence should be done with hashtags to deem those most appropriate for your brand or message. For example, note the slight differences in numbers of posts related to the word “brand” on Instagram:
- Brands: 1.5 million posts
- Branded: 2.9 million posts
- Brand: 7.5 million posts
- Integrate hashtags across media. Don’t just use your hashtags as a CTA online; incorporate them into offline media like print and outdoor for the best results. Hashtags often take up less space on a page than vanity URLs, and can be easier to say on radio and TV.
Don’t tag for the sake of tagging. Brands should genuinely have something to add to any conversation they’re joining in order to establish trust and credibility with their audiences.