Hashtags are used on almost all social media platforms. They are used much the same as the old card catalog system in the library works. A card catalog is an organized collection of important information based on a particular subject. For example, if you are searching for scissors, the card catalog draw would be filled with information about scissors, much like the hashtag #scissors.
BUT WHAT THE HECK IS A HASHTAG AND WHY USE IT TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
It's kind of simple, a hashtag is a word or phrase that begins with a hashtag “#” (aka pound sign, number sign). What makes a hashtag simply irresistible? Is it's ability to become a hyperlink to all content, in a particular platform, about said topic. Crazy right?
Since hashtags help group content together on various social media platforms, it's important to use when sharing your business information. For example, if you or a member of your company attends a trade-show, that trade-show is likely to host a branded hashtag for the show. This branded hashtag helps you find information about the trade-show, share your products, and connect with influencers.
Using hashtags for business is a great strategy to increase reach. No business should underestimate the power behind one ‘#’ sign. They are useful on many social media platforms, especially on Instagram and Twitter.
There are generally 5 kinds of hashtags:
These are the most used hashtags. On Twitter, they’re sometimes called ‘trending’ hashtags. Popular hashtags are not great for targeting any niche or demographic because of their very general use. They can also be hashtags based on breaking news or popular events. Trending hashtags are short-lived and may last from a few hours to a few days.
Companies use these hashtags to start campaigns or hold contests. They are associated with well known brands and companies. Good examples include: #ShareaCoke by Coca Cola, #LikeaGirl by Always, and #NoMakeupSelfie by Cancer Research UK. On Instagram, a popular hashtag #ABMlifeisbeautiful or #ABMlifeiscolorful exists in the craft niche. You don't need a large following to have a branded hashtag.
NICHE BASED HASHTAGS
These are hashtags restricted to specific niches. Hashtags like #ootd (outfit of the day), #foodie, and #traveladdict for the Fashion, Food and Travel niches respectively. They are great for targeting audiences specific to that niche. It can be a bit tricky to use because both influencers and customers use the same hashtags but with a little effort, it works.
Unbranded hashtags are used by everyday individuals. The trick to using this kind of hashtag is to know what your potential client might be thinking of, or what they might be using. We all know a food lover might be looking for #dinnerideas or #quicksnack. Tagging your tweet or picture with the right hashtag can put you in front of the audience you desire. They're also called interest hashtags because they reflect the user’s interest(s).
EVENTS AND HOLIDAY HASHTAGS:
These are like popular hashtags but more specific. Make use of unofficial holidays and don't forget to piggyback on other people's events. #NationalPetDay is a great way to reach new people if you sell pet food or if you’re ideal client is a pet lover. Also consider that there’s almost no audience for a vegetarian company on the #NationalFriedChickenDay so always join hashtags that are relevant to you.
A few do’s and don'ts when using hashtags:
- be spammy. Nobody likes people who appear too “spammy and sleazy”. Keep your hashtags at a reasonable limit.
- Underestimate the social media platform. While Instagram may allow up to 30 hashtags, Twitter recommends two per tweet. #Do #not #tweet #like #this.
- tag your picture or tweet and leave. Start conversations on relevant hashtags in your niche and get to know your audience.
- Start a hashtag for your event, contest, product, or freebie.
- Encourage your audience to share and tag their friends as part of the contest requirements.
- Use hashtags to start twitter chats and engage with your audience.
- Get feedback from them and use it to improve your business. Customer feedback is priceless.
- Use location, product and service specific hashtags to find local clients.
Here are a few tools to help you find the right hashtags for your business:
- Hashtagify.me - To find hashtags in your niche
- Ritetag - To find hashtags that are not oversaturated
- What the Trend - To find trending hashtags
- Linkreaser - Find tweets that matter to you
Always make sure to do research even after using hashtags to find out how well they work for you. It may take a while to master using hashtags, but one thing is sure: you’ll never regret using them for your business.
Before you go, be sure to us in The Social Business Café. It’s a free Facebook group that I created for entrepreneurs and small business owners to talk everything social media, tech, and business!!