How To Use Hashtags The Right Way For Your Business
Is your marketing team using hashtags to their full advantage?
Whether it is promoting a Facebook social post to a stay-at-home mum, or posting a Twitter campaign to people interested in the Tour de France, social media allows marketing teams to direct their efforts more effectively.
Hashtags are an intrinsic part of social media, created when the huge volume of content became too much to handle – some organisation was needed. They were a user-innovation that was eventually adopted by Twitter. They became a key part of the user experience, acting now as an official feature of the platform by allowing hashtags to be hyperlinked. Today, even Facebook has given in and added hashtags as a feature.
Hashtags are a great way of tracking data, and seeing how it spreads across the web. They allow people and businesses to create conversations and to promote their products to the many online users who have yet to hear of their brand. This is one of the many reasons your social media advertising should include the hashtag.
To the novice user, simply jumping onto a trending hashtag can be a perfect way of slowly introducing your brand into hashtags, without causing too much bother or hassle for your marketing team.
To the more experienced business, who are used to the ways of social media, creating hashtags specific to your brand could be the start of your businesses social media takeover!
Three reasons why your business should be using Hashtags
Hashtags drive traffic to your social media accounts and therefore hopefully your website. Compared to Tweets without a hashtag, tweets with showed a 12% increase in engagement.
Want to improve your engagement even more? Add a hashtag AND a link, which will lead to the highest engagement rate out of any sort of Tweet.
2. Hashtags are used across various social media platforms
As Facebook decided to adopt the hashtag as part of its platform, brands can now utilise hashtags across their social media accounts. This ensures there is one common identifier in cross-channel campaigns, linking advertising efforts together.
3. They require constraint
Hashtags are meant to be short and sweet, which means you have to cut out the unnecessary data and stick to the stuff you need. This means people get the context of the hashtag faster, removing any confusing data or waffle. For example, when Broadchurch announced its return, it stuck to a simple #Broadchurchreturns which added mystery and intrigue to the whole build up.
Jumping on existing hashtags
Now, this may seem like the easy way to introduce hashtags to your social media campaigns, but this is something to approach with caution. Attempting to hijack a popular hashtag can be extremely successful or a social media disaster.
Many brands have fallen victim to jumping onto a popular hashtag, one including the pizza company DiGiorno when they decided to use the then popular hashtag “WhyIStayed” in a promotional tweet, without realising the meaning behind it was related to domestic abuse. Not a good idea.
Even Gap have seen the bad side of hashtag hijacking, when they angered storm victims by using the hashtag #Sandy for Storm Sandy as a PR opportunity for self-promotion. Our advice, don’t use a natural disaster to your advantage.
But there have been many instances of successfully taking advantage of hashtags. Audi saw someone using the hashtag #IWantAnR8 to explain to the world why they wanted an Audi R8. They then jumped onto this hashtag and utilised it in a competition of the best reasons a person might want an R8 for a chance to win an R8 for the day. The stuff of promotional dreams.
Even KFC take advantage of a perfectly timed hashtag. #NationalFriedChickenDay was their prime opportunity to get involved, because not only were they promoting their brand on Twitter, the users checking the hashtag were most likely hungry customers who wanted chicken.
Creating your brand’s own hashtag
But what if there’s no hashtag out there that suits your business, or maybe you want to take the plunge and go for gold? Yet again, there are many businesses who have profited from putting time and effort into hashtag creation which has become part of their brand’s image.
#ShareaCoke is one of the many marketing campaigns Coca-Cola has become famous for. Coke produced special bottles and cans of their products with the phrase “Share a Coke with…*insert name*” The gimmick soon became very popular and was documented across social media with people finding weird and wacky names on their bottles and cans of Coke!
Coke even managed to turn this into a hashtag campaign, encouraging consumers to Tweet their own stories with the hashtag #ShareaCoke. This one hashtag gained thousands upon thousands of Tweets and even celebrity attention with sub-campaigns if for example, you found a bottle or can with the name “Ryan” on it, you could win the chance to meet Ryan Seacrest.
Even though this marketing campaign has been going a few years now, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere so expect to see #ShareACoke popping up here, there and everywhere over the next year.
So much time goes into social media marketing campaigns, sometimes hashtags can be disregarded with little thought and attention. But hashtags make it easier for users to find content, and therefore, find businesses!
Making sure you use appropriate hashtags, that relate to the content of your tweets will mean that your content will be distributed across the web, to users who may not have been actively hunting for your brand.
Elena Lockett is a PR assistant for FM Outsource, who provide outsourcing solutions for businesses of all sizes across customer services, digital marketing and IT development. When she’s not entering awards and creating content, she is either working on her various radio shows or snapping her latest outfits on her fashion blog. Sign up and get to know us!
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