Hashtags are useful for businesses in many ways. While general and widely used hashtags can help you categorize your business and specify your products and services, custom hashtags can help to promote brand awareness and build your audience. Universal hashtags can help with this too, but it’s even more important for a business to have their own special hashtag for branding purposes. Here’s why you should be using custom hashtags and how to use them effectively in your social media marketing.
What is a Custom Hashtag?
Custom hashtags are unique hashtags that refer to something specific such as an event, cause, company or person. In terms of creating a business hashtag, a custom hashtag is one that relates to your business specifically. It may include your business name, your location, a slogan, a date, or a catchy phrase – details that ensure that hashtag is not already being used elsewhere on social media; and that when searched, brings up only posts related to your business. For example, if you owned a fashion boutique in Boston called The Glass Door, some general hashtags you (and your followers) might use on social media are #shoplocal, #boutiqueclothes or #boutiqueBoston. A custom hashtag, on the other hand, would be something like #shoptheglassdoor or #glassdoorgalore. While a search for the former hashtags will bring up posts related to any boutique in Boston, a search for the latter hashtags will only bring up posts related to The Glass Door.
Why Use Custom Hashtags?
Expand your brand
Custom hashtags create an extension of your brand’s reach on social media that is unique to the custom hashtag. Whereas regular hashtags like #smallbusiness or #food yield thousands of search results, custom hashtags like #smallbizbiglove will yield only the results specific to the unique hashtag. Custom hashtags can be used to promote new arrivals or product launches as well as promotions, sales, and events. You can also use custom hashtags to promote contests like Instagram giveaways.
Custom hashtags are a great tool to facilitate conversations with customers. Encourage customers to post about your business on social media using your custom hashtag. This enables you to engage in discussions with customers, creating connections and building relationships.
Making your own hashtag can also help build credibility with your business by becoming a trend setter instead of a trend follower. Of course it’s important to utilize all types of hashtags in order to broaden the reach of user engagement, however, using your own hashtags lets followers know your business is a modern establishment eager to engage with other users.
How to Use Custom Hashtags
The most important aspect of a custom hashtag is the emphasis on your company’s name. Branding is important when using custom hashtags. The best custom hashtags will incorporate your business name and mention something unique to your brand. Your custom hashtag should be relevant and specific to both the image your business displays as well as to your target audience. For example, #RoxburyStudios is the custom hashtag for the aptly named Roxbury Studios interior design firm. A search for this hashtag reveals only pictures posted by the firm.
If you’re partnering up with another business or company or part of an event, come up with a hashtag that incorporates both of your businesses or the name of the event. If that’s not possible, choose a custom hashtag that’s unique and explanatory so that users what what it refers to. For example, Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston event used #BestFest2015 for their hashtag. Users instantly knew what the hashtag described and engagement during the event was huge.
Do your research
Before you create your custom hashtag, make sure to research it in case another company with a similar name has used it. This can be done with a simple Google search or by searching the hashtag in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s important for your custom hashtag to remain original so that social media posts that use it pertain to your business and not another one as well. Since your goal is to push traffic to your profile and increase brand awareness, you want the hashtag to be unique and capture only the posts that use it for the intended purpose.
What to Do With Custom Hashtags
Once you’ve created one for your business, product launch, or event, promote the custom hashtag on social media to increase engagement with your audience. If no one knows about your hashtag, then no one will use it!
Use it or lose it
Explain what the hashtag means and encourage your followers to use it to engage in conversations together. Whenever you post about your company or event, use the custom hashtag. Users won’t understand how to use it or what it means if you aren’t explicit and let them know on every account you want them to use it.
Track and encourage engagement
Track user engagement with your custom hashtag and engage users who use it! When you click on the hashtag, you can view all posts that have linked to it. Make sure your followers know you see their posts and appreciate their support by liking, favoriting, sharing, or commenting on the post! If you’re at an event, engage people using the custom hashtag by asking them what their favorite part of the event is. This recognition further encourages the hashtag engagement.
Promote the custom hashtag
If your business holds events or promotions, make a custom hashtag for that event! This spreads the word of the special situation and gets people excited for the event. If an event is special enough to have a custom hashtag, it must surely not be an event to miss!
In order to promote your hashtag and get people to use it, make sure to include the custom hashtag in the event information. Post the custom hashtag wherever you can—announce it on social media, print it on flyers, use it in every social media post. Using the hashtag and posting it ensures that others will know to use it when they are posting to social media. If you are proactive about promoting the use of it, people will use it and the hashtag will be successful in generating an outcome for your business. If you’re truly successful with a custom hashtag, it may even turn up on trending topics for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter! Talk about generating a buzz!
Do you have a custom hashtag for your business? How do you use it?