If e-mail was the electronic hallmark of the 2000’s, hashtags are the quintessential symbol of the 2010’s. What do hashtags do? Hashtags help social media users organize and explore content. Hashtags allow online information to be categorized and easily sifted through.
Originating on Twitter, hashtags are now widely used on nearly every social media platform. Hashtags aren’t just another passing fancy; they’re here to stay. So if you haven’t jumped on the hashtag bandwagon yet, now’s the time. Hashtags can increase social media engagement, increase your business’s visibility, and ultimately, help you find more customers, revenue, and success.
Why Use a Hashtag?
Hashtags are such a prominent symbol of our culture, that Oxford Dictionary officially recognized “hashtag” as a noun in 2010. You can use hashtags on Facebook, Twittter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and more, though they are especially important for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram marketing. Hashtags allow you to categorize social media content by sorting it by topic or interest. It makes your content more easily discoverable, as people with interest in those topics or interests can search the relevant hashtags and find your posts.
Related: Facebook Marketing in 2016
What do hashtags do?
Hashtags enable users to interact with each other and engage in content based on a common theme. For example, yoga enthusiasts can search #yoga or #yogi to find posts relevant to their interest in yoga.
Hashtags are an invaluable tool for businesses because it provides the opportunity for businesses to engage their markets at a very specific, intimate level. It shows customers that your marketing is streamlined and targeted towards them, that your content is specifically relevant to their life and interests. Moreover, by carefully curating and categorizing your content through hashtags, you give the impression that your offerings are innately useful.
Hashtagging, serves three purposes: it makes your content more valuable, it puts you in front of new users, and makes your audience feel more special. Overall, hashtag marketing is an excellent (and free!) way of growing your business.
Create a Hashtag for Your Business
No one has a patent over hashtags and creating a hashtag is as simple as typing a word or a few after the pound symbol (#). #YouCanHashtagAnything, but that doesn’t mean that you should.
Say, for example, that you own a successful martial arts studio, you may wish to come up with a hashtags for your business. Here are the three types of hashtags you can use for your business.
- Industry Hashtags: Hashtags that are specific to your industry, like #karate #karatekids #blackbelt
- Location Hashtags: You can use hashtags that tie your specific karate studio to your location such as, #LAkarate #karateboston #centervillejudo
- Business-specific Custom Hashtags: These hashtagss are typically a business’s name, a play on the name, or the business’s slogan or catchphrase. If your karate studio is called “Tiger Karate,” your business-specific hashtags could be #TigerKarate, #TKarate, or something similar. If your karate studio’s catch phrase is “tiger strong,” another great hashtag to use would be just that: #TigerStrong. You could also try variations like “#KarateFit or #TigerFit or #TigerWorkout, etc.
Encourage your customers and audience to engage with you by using your company hashtags and especially using your slogan hashtags. Slogan hashtags, easy to use and catch, have a nice ring to them and are a great way of increasing engagement.
When crafting hashtags, be sure to run a search for hashtags first. While no hashtag is copyrighted, you don’t want to use a hashtag that is already in use by another company. This will only confuse your customers. Plus, you risk rising ire from the competing company—no one, after all, likes a copycat. In creating a hashtag for your business, be sure to keep things simple and succinct. Don’t go beyond a few words for your hashtag—otherwise, it starts to look messy. Try to keep acryonyms to a minimum as well. Your hashtag should be clear enough so that those unacquainted with your company will be able to easily understand it.
How do I use hashtags?
Hashtags aren’t intuitive so here are some tips for you to get started using hashtags. For the uninitiated, hashtags may seem an unnecessary chore: a silly trend best left to younger generations. However, if you aren’t making use of hashtags for your business, you aren’t making as big of an impact on social media as you could—and should—be. Of course, hashtagging takes practice. Approach it with an open mind and be patient with yourself: In time, you’ll be hashtagging like a pro!
- Don’t Be Longwinded: The colloquium of “short and sweet” rings ever true here. No one will use a hashtag that is more than a few words long, because they simply don’t want to type in that many characters or use up so much space. Try imposing a maximum of three to four words to start with.
- Don’t Have More Hashtags than Words: Hashtags are meant to complement, not overwhelm. While using hashtags make it easier for people to find your content, don’t simply spew dozens of hashtags for the purposes of more reach and likes. No one likes “hashtag dumping.” Keep the number of hashtags reasonable; limit 10.
- Don’t Hashtag All the Time: Hashtag where it applies. Don’t tack on hashtags upon hashtags to every single post. Some posts don’t need one. If you do hashtag each post, sometimes be comfortable with simplicity. Every few posts, for example, tone done the hashtags to just one brand-specific one.
- Use Popular Hashtags: “Trending” and popular hashtags are a great way to get free visibility and engagement. Find popular hashtags and use them in your posts. People searching these hashtags or participating in conversations involving trending hashtags will find your post. From there, they can retweet your post, share it, like it, respond to it, etc.
- Use Hashtags Across Multiple Platforms: Be consistent. Use your brand hashtags across platforms, and make use of industry hashtags where you can. Hashtags aren’t going away—in fact, they are only becoming more popular. Use them wherever they may be used, but not, of course, in excess. So hashtag, hashtag, hashtag (but not more than that). And if you really want to kick up your social media engagement a notch, tag your followers, too.
Now that you know what hashtags do, get started using them!