In our modern age of social media, small businesses can easily reach their target audience for cheaper than ever before. Instead of paying large sums for television ads or billboards, small business owners can reach potential customers directly through social media.
With a hashtag marketing strategy, business owners can market and grow their business for absolutely free. Hashtags are an easy way for business owners to target their posts, ensuring they are seen by those most likely to be interested in their product or service. By making hashtags a part of your online marketing, you can boost your exposure and build solid relationships with customers without spending a dime.
In this article, we will cover 3 hashtag marketing strategies you can use to market your business and expand your reach online.
What do hashtags do? Well, hashtags are clickable phrases that can be used to quickly organize, access, and discover posts by topic. Hashtags are great tools for making your posts easily discoverable and more visible on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
With a hashtag strategy, you can increase the reach of your content, be discovered by users interested in your service, and strengthen customer relationships by personally engaging with them on each of these popular sites. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all appeal to slightly different clientele, so business owners can focus on the forum where their ideal clients are spending time or cast a wider net by using hashtags across all 3 sites.
When considering how to use hashtags to promote your business, it is important to find hashtags that will be used by your target market but, at the same time, aren’t overloaded with thousands of posts, making yours difficult to find. For example, a yoga studio that tries using #yoga will be buried under 24 million posts on Instagram. To determine the best hashtags for your business, you can explore industry or content based hashtags, brand or business hashtags, and trending hashtags.
Industry or content based hashtags are those already being used by businesses and customers in your industry. These allow you to reach like minded people and potential customers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
One fun way to implement content based hashtags is by researching day of the week hashtags specific to your industry. A piano teacher may use #musicmonday, for example, to expand the reach of her Monday posts to users who are likely to be interested her content. A caterer, on the other hand, may add #foodiefriday to a Facebook post that links to a blog covering a recent event. This allows other “foodies” to find and engage with the post.
By using industry or content based hashtags, business owners can increase both the quantity and quality of their followers, as users who discover their posts are more likely to be potential customers.
A brand or business hashtag is a custom hashtag specific to your business. Each time you post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can use your brand’s hashtag to build excitement around your brand. Customers can also use your hashtag and will enjoy feeling like they are part of a community because they use your service.
It’s important to check your hashtag before committing to one to ensure it isn’t already being used by another business. Once you settle on a custom hashtag for your business, use it on each of your posts to add value and increase interest.
For example, if Paul is a painter in New Jersey, he may use #paintbypaul or #paulpaintsNJ. He and his customers can use that hashtag to share photos of his work. Sunshine Daycare in Seattle may use #seattlesunshine or #seattleslittlesunrays to foster community among clients and make it easier for clients’ friends to discover them online.
Encourage customers to use your business hashtag when posting photos of themselves enjoying your service. Check your business hashtag regularly and engage with customers who are using it. You can like and comment on a post to strengthen a relationship with a happy customer and use these consumer generated posts in your own marketing. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have ways to share or repost your customer’s post, an easy way to build excitement around your brand and display testimonials on your profile.
When planning a special event or campaign for your business, create a new hashtag specific to that event. This is an easy and free way to drum up excitement before the big day. Engage with participants during and after a campaign by commenting, liking, and reposting their photos and posts with your hashtag.
For example, a small gym named Main Street Fitness may host a 5k and use “runonmain2016” to increase exposure of their business and event. Solace Spa in Los Angeles may host a Mother’s Day special in the month of May and use “#mothersdayallmay or #LAmomsloveSolace. As participants use your event hashtag, their friends can easily discover your business, helping you grow your social media reach.
While industry and business hashtags are great for consistent, long-term use, trending hashtags are a perfect opportunity to capitalize on events and topics currently being spotlighted on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all provide ways to discover currently trending hashtags. Using a hashtag at its peak will allow you to get your posts, and therefore your business, in front of more people.
For example, #firstdayofschool may be a trending topic in the month of August. A hair stylist may post a before and after picture of a client and add the caption, “Jane is ready for the #firstdayofschool with this sassy new hairstyle!” Now, anyone scrolling through this trending hashtag will have the opportunity to see the post and can choose to follow the hair stylist for more before and after photos.
By using hashtags for marketing, business owners can expand their reach, add value to their posts, and strengthen relationships with existing and potential customers. Because hashtags are absolutely free and only take a few seconds to add to a post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, every small business owner can and should be using industry hashtags, brand hashtags, and trending hashtags on a regular basis.
Learn more about how to use hashtags for marketing by checking out our guide to Instagram marketing for small businesses.