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Using hashtags correctly to boost your business

Using hashtags correctly to boost your business

Hashtags! You see them everywhere, but what exactly are they, and how can they help your business?

In a world where socialmedia is taking over, hashtags are everywhere. You see them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, even retail shops are selling items with hashtags logos on their garments not to mention being used in real life conversations.

So what are hashtags and how can they can help you?

hashtags

Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash sign (#) used to identify messages on a particular topic on social media. They are a way to find like-minded people and groups who are interested in the same things. The hashtag was first introduced on Twitter back in 2007.

At first the idea of hashtags was rejected.  However, thanks to a group of journalists who started to use the hashtag #SanDiegoFire to report on a series of forest fires this phenomenon took off.

Hashtags don’t contain any spaces or punctuation. For example, if you wanted to create a hashtag for your company’s team building session, you would use (well, we would use) #JustApplicationsTeamBuilding. If you added spaces, then the hashtag would cut off after the first space. Using #Just Applications Team Building would only create a hashtag for #Just.

Where and why should you use them?

They are commonly used on Instagram and Twitter where users are able to follow specific hashtags related to topics that they are interested in. Simply clicking on a #hastag takes you straight to that topic.

hashtags

So in the news story about the Forrest fires creating the hashtag #SanDiegoFire allowed the journalists to add all the specific content/images/video as well as updates to be stored in one specific place.  This makes it far easier to track on the progress.

How many should you consider using?

While you can use as many hashtags as you want in a post we’d suggest you limit it to a maximum of two. In most circumstances they are best used at the end of the post rather than scattered around the content.

Studies have shown that using just one or two hashtags can increase engagement by around 21%. Using more than two hashtags has shown only an increase engagement by 17%.

What is Hashtag Marketing?

Hashtag marketing is the practice of using hashtags strategically to help your content reach your intended audience.

Choosing the right hashtags for any post can help it receive more traffic. Gaining more views, likes on Instagram, re-Tweets, and Shares. All of this social activity ultimately aims to give your content and your business more exposure.

Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to use hashtags in your posts. Furthermore using the wrong ones could prevent your post being found or reaching different audiences than you expected. Using the same hashtags in more than one post is considered spammy. Similar to the authority Google puts on the over use of keywords in blog content, and this is a great way of getting banned from the social media platform.  So don’t do it!

These are the types of hashtags your small business should know and keep handy in your marketing tool bag.

There are also niche hashtags, which are useful for small businesses. So, if you’re looking for ways to ease into hashtag marketing, niche hashtags for existing communities, fields and industries are great choices.

And keep this in mind, hashtags related to your industry or field probably already exist. You just need to learn what they are.

Brand hashtags

Branded hashtags are hashtags created by your business to represent your brand.

These hashtags require a bit more work to get off the ground. They rely on your own marketing to build momentum instead of piggybacking off of an established trending topic or campaign.

But, creating a hashtag for your business is well worth it. When done the right way, these hashtags serve as a direct pipeline for people to find content specifically related to your brand. The simplest version of a branded hashtag is your business name (#McDonalds, #ikea, #nike).

Remember that hashtags belong to the realm of social media. Being playful is good. But, unprofessional or accidentally inappropriate hashtags are always bad.

Campaign hashtags

Used as part of a marketing campaign or a contest, campaign hashtags have a start and end date. Brands create these hashtags specifically to track contest entries and measure traffic conversation around a marketing campaign. Whilst these hashtags may have the brand name in them, it’s more important that the campaign slogan or message is conveyed.

When utilising campaign hashtags, you’ll want to do some research with a tool such as social listening ahead of time.

Beyond the standard search to make sure the hashtag isn’t already in use, also check how the hashtag looks in various iterations. Combining words together in lowercase letters.  However, be sure they don’t spell an existing brand in a different spelling.

In Summary

Hashtags are great, if used in the right way! To see if you are correctly using them, feel free to use an analytics tool to help you. With analytics tools, you have more insight into what is working for your hashtag marketing strategies and how to improve future campaigns. For example, it’s easier to identify influencers based on their number of followers or other metrics after analysing your hashtags and social media posts.

Through optimising your hashtag strategy, you can grow the traffic for your brand message and have more meaningful interactions with consumers that ultimately go beyond social media platforms.

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