The How-To’s Of #Hashtag Marketing

Hashtags are immensely popular in social media today. They’re showing up on nearly every post, photo, video, survey, and opinion on most social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. Because of their prevalence, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know what they are. And they’re being used by everyone from large corporations to your Grandma. But even as most know what they are, many don’t understand how to use them in a marketing mix.

Hashtags originated as a way to effectively categorize content on social media channels so viewers can easily find posts related to particular groups, discussions, topics, or events. They allow you to connect and engage with users based on common interests or themes.

Learning to strategically implement hashtags into your posts is fundamental to success in social media in terms of content reach, turning up the volume on your brand, targeting your market, improving SEO, getting your content found, and more. Posts with hashtags continuously outperform those without tags in terms of user engagement.

Hashtags first became popular on Twitter and soon found their way onto other social media channels to describe what a post is about and help find prospective audience members for it. They are generally a word, or group of words after the # sign, or metadata tag.  

The more specific and relevant a hashtag is, the more targeted your audience will be, which generally means better engagement. Also, keep in mind the need to cater your hashtag for the network you are on. Twitter has their own guide as does Instagram.

Then, there are a few key marketing strategies for hashtags you can try.

Develop Brand Specific Hashtags

Brand hashtags are those that include your company name or a company tagline. These brand hashtags are unique to your own business. Come up with a brand hashtag that defines your business, or your signature tag. Then adding these hashtags and getting people to use them helps your brand get marketed.

As you create your own brand hashtag, make it a company name or tagline viewers will recognize as your business, for instance, Social Experiment uses #socialexpt. Keep your brand hashtag short and easy to spell. Once you’ve developed this tag, keep it consistent–using it on all your social sites.

Develop Campaign Specific Hashtags

Campaign hashtags are made for your unique marketing campaigns. These hashtags help marketers integrate their offline marketing campaigns with their social media activity. When developing your campaign tag, make it a word or phrase that’s unique to your short-term contest or promotion. Don’t use already popular hashtags, use a tag specific to your campaign.

Providing a customized label to campaigns or events helps anyone who wants to keep track of these topics a way to find the most current information or posts, and helps generate more engagement and awareness of your marketing efforts. It also affords you a way to measure your traction with your promotions.

With both brand and campaign hashtags, monitor their use and respond to people using them.

Use Trending Hashtags For Higher Engagement

A trending hashtag is a topic that is very popular right now. You can find these listed on social channels under “trending” topics. Monitoring these trending topics is key to finding one that is related to your business. But you’ve got to be quick in using trending tags to get more exposure for your content and brand as they are continuously changing.

When you see a trend that relates to your business, engage in it by using the tag in your content update. You have the potential to get your message seen by a larger audience because your content can be seen by more than just your followers–it’s like free publicity. Trending hashtags can help you connect and develop relationships outside your targeted market.

A word of warning; do not spam trending hashtags. Posting to many trends when unrelated to your business is viewed as poor etiquette and on Twitter can get your account suspended.

Use Hashtags Relevant To Your Content

Content hashtags are those you use in your posts that relate to the topic. They’re not branding and aren’t trending but are closely related to your business or content.

Content hashtags improve the SEO of your posts, they get your updates seen by your viewers who are searching for specific topics or hashtag words. You can find popular content hashtags by researching what tags are being used by your followers, competitors, and product partners. Some common hashtag categories include products, lifestyle, events, and locations. Engage with people using related common hashtags, with retweets, likes, comments and so on.

Using hashtags can gain a larger audience for your content. So it’s a good idea to do some research to find the best tags for your brand.

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