You've seen them around everywhere. Every time you watch TV, look at a poster, listen to the news, or have a conversation with a teenager, you'll be exposed to the term "hashtag". What are hashtags exactly? What do they do? Why should you care about them? How can they help your business? #readmoretofindout
Hashtags are used to link social media posts together on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and other sites. Think of them as a way to join a worldwide conversation about any given topic, kind of like a live public forum. It's simple actually. Just type "#" followed by your tag. For example, if you log on to Twitter (the biggest hashtag outlet) and want to see what other people around the world think about the Beatles, you could search "#Beatles", and all posts ever made that include the hashtag "#Beatles" would come up in your search results. On the flip side, if you wanted to join in on the conversation, you would include the hashtag in your post; "The #Beatles were the greatest rock and roll band this world has ever seen". You have now joined the conversation, and your post will show up when others search "#Beatles".
Hashtags are also used as humorous ways to "tag" a post. In fact, the television show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon runs a weekly segment on their show called #latenighthashtags. Every week, Jimmy Fallon suggests a topic for his followers to tweet about, and reads his favorite posts. For example, a recent suggested hashtag was #MyRoommateIsWeird, where Twitter users could post about how weird their roommates are. One response was, "@MissSchliez: My roommate left me this note: 'Hi! If you happen to find something strange in the apartment, don't kill it.' #myroommateisweird". Another example of using a hashtag for humor may be: "My wife and I are facing each other in Fantasy Football this week. It's going to be a long weekend. #donthitme".
When posting to social media using hashtags, there are a few simple guidelines.
- Using punctuation will break up your hashtag. For example, for #it'ssoniceoutside, only #it will be used as the valid tag. The same goes for spacing.
- Capitalization doesn't matter. So, #mywifeisawesome is the same as #MyWifeIsAwesome is the same as #myWIFEisAWESOME etc.
- Don't spam your posts with hashtags. Your tweets and posts should include no more than three hashtags, and make them short words or phrases. #dont #spam #its #annoying #and #looks #dumb
As a business manager, you need to find ways to relate to your ever-changing culture. Using hashtags is an excellent way to get some buzz started around your company, products, and services. Here are three ways you can use hashtags to market your company.
- Make your own business hashtag. To create some buzz about a campaign or project, create your own hashtag, and encourage your followers to use it as well. You could even make a contest out of it. Make your hashtag short and simple, something like Domino's Pizza's #letsdolunch campaign, where 85,000 tweets in one day were generated with the hashtag. Domino's Pizza responded with half price pizzas during 11am-3pm that day. Stick your hashtag on your promotional items; TV ads, radio ads, postcards, fliers, social media ads, etc.
- Get involved in Follow Friday. Many businesses have joined the Follow Friday trend. Essentially, every Friday, businesses use the hashtag #FF to encourage their followers to follow their business partners. For example, you could tweet: "Here are our favorite Non-Profits in town! @AlcoholSupport @GospelChurch @ChildCare #FF". Chances are, if these partners get any followers from your tweet, they'll probably do the same for you next week.
- Search hashtags for more business leads. Join the #SMB and #smallbiz conversation. Search for industry partners by searching #computerrepair, #technologyservice, etc. You could even search for new customers by searching for frustration points; #stupidcomputer #horribleservice #ihatetechnology.
We admit, hashtags can be confusing if you're just joining in on the trend. Many businesses have benefitted from using social media by making new connections with clients, customers, and business partners. If you feel intimidated, the best way to learn is to jump right in! Start using hashtags right now. If you are not linked in to social media yet, or are looking for ways to maximize your social media marketing efforts, call Directive at 607.433.2200. We'll help you be a #trendsetter.