Do you know how significant are hashtags for small business owners? The power of the #hashtag is unlimited and it should be central to your marketing, branding and PR strategy online and offline. The right tag can help you drive brand recognition, increase audience advocacy, boost the reach of an advertising campaign, help you assess and analyze ROI and positively impact customer loyalty.
A #hashtag is so powerful that it can bring together a community around a specific topic allowing you to have local and international digital exposure in seconds. In fact, a hashtag immediately identifies what’s going on, whether at events, an emergency or breaking news, it gives you a real-time feed of all posts using that hashtag… so, are you ready to maximize your online potential?
Think celebrity: #Madona, #Beyonce or #EltonJohn. Think major event: #Oscars, #elections or #tweetparties. Think activities: #roadtrips, #summervacations or #smalltalks. Or brands: #Chanel and #Nike. Or think about the groups you identify with: #bloggers, #thoughtleaders, #latinas or #entrepreneurs. You can reach all of these different types of market niches by using a catchy, easy-to-remember #hashtag following organic strategies to effectively engage your potential to theirs. To create a fitting tag or hashtag, just type a hash or pound sign (#) in front of a word or phrase to identify messages on a specific topic. Yes, as simple as that.
Know that every online footprint gets registered and tracked. Hashtag is not just a Twitter thing; it started within it, but was quickly expanded once online makers realized its global potential for connection. You can use #hashtags anywhere on the Internet, from any social media platform such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to your own website, forums and/or search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s time to dominate the searches when it comes to people looking at your #hashtag.
The key is to find the way to turn the potential of hashtags into an effective business effort, as there are some important things to remember to ensure the successful use of hashtags. For this reason I created a golden guide of dos and don’ts of hashtags to take your digital game to the next level:
- Don’t leave spaces or use punctuation. Make sure there is no punctuation and there are no spaces in the words preceding the hashtag/pound sign (#), as it will break the link and it will create a disruption in the connection of the selected topic.
- Use hashtags across all digital platforms. This will help you widen your reach, diversify your message per channel, and encourage your audience to continue the conversation wherever they feel the most comfortable doing so.
- Anytime you think about a brand, think about its audience. As social media is the fastest communication channel and there’s a lot of noise, use #hashtags as a way to create signals, not to add more noise. You want to portray your brand as an efficient leader to guide the conversation and encourage audience engagement (not to become a spammy source and an annoyance to followers).
- Engage with your followers and potential clients through hashtags. Hashtags can be used to promote your products and services and find out what your competitors are doing in their marketing and PR attempts. For instance, using a competitor’s hashtag in your content marketing will increase your audience reach by becoming visible to their clients.
- As a brand, influencer and entrepreneur, join the conversation with the most organic hashtags your followers are already using. Share your content marketing using established hashtags in order to increase your content's visibility. This can be a chance to strengthen your brand loyalty and have your followers, fans and advocates feel acknowledged.
- Choose a catchy #hashtag that is unique to you, easy to remember and crystal-clear. Even though acronyms or multi-word phrases might be trendy and more specific to weed out questions, choose a hashtag that represents good your product or service, something short and easy to remember.
- Don’t become a spammer by using inaccurate hashtags. Don't post content with popular hashtags that have nothing to do with your message. This impulse could lose you followers and permanently cheapen your brand’s social media reputation.
- Don't add hashtags to every single word. Adding too many hashtags to your sentence makes your dialogue on social media look forced and too aggressively marketed.
- Track your hashtags to analyze their ROI. Monitoring and listening to the online conversations your hashtag is creating will allow you to gain better knowledge of your ROI. This will help every department in your company to better plan future business efforts. Want to track your hashtags? Or those of a competitor? Use #Radian6, #Hootsuite, #tagboard or even #Google Search.
- Use #hashtags offline. Hashtags can generate giant amounts of buzz outside of the Internet as well. Place a #hashtag next to your logo or slogan to boost your message on pictures, pamphlets or ads in a well- trafficked public location or somewhere that will be seen on TV, in magazines or videos.
Hashtags are an easy way to educate, entertain and engage your audience about your brand. The best thing is that hashtags aren’t copyrightable as of yet, so small businesses and entrepreneurs can freely expand their branding.
Don't be timid about harnessing the #hashtag power! Do you have a branded hashtag that follows all of these rules? Share with us in the comment section below!