A hashtag, created by using “#” in front of a word or words without spaces is one of the most significant symbols used these days in social media marketing.
When it comes to promoting your brand on social media, hashtags are fundamental to attaining success. Once known as the pound sign, the hashtag is a way to make your posts and content easily discoverable.
· A hashtag should contain only one word without spaces: #onewordwithoutspaces
· No punctuation should be included.
· Include the hashtag within or after your message.
They can give people useful context and cues for recall, aggregate posts and images, and update a group of like-minded individuals on certain a topic in real-time.
Hashtags were first widely used on Twitter, but they have become common on other social media platforms as well including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Mastering the use of the hashtag gives you a powerful way to engage your audience and increase your social impact at no cost other than the time it takes to learn each platform and pay attention to trends.
The user simply clicks on the hashtag and is delivered to the spot where all those hashtags are indexed by the social media network.
Think of hashtags as a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, theme, or conversation. They also make it easier to discover posts around those specific topics because hashtags aggregate all social media content with that same hashtag.
Hashtag proliferation makes audience engagement easier, thereby informing and building a relationship with them.
The Public’s Hashtag Obsession
The power of the # is in the hands of your enthusiastic customers. They have several motivations that cause them to push your content around the Internet. Let’s say that your business is a local zoo. You are the Atlanta Zoo.
You announce that a baby panda has been born, #babypanda, #atlantazoo. Now, you’ve created a central virtual repository for all pictures, posts, comments, and videos about the baby panda from your zoo’s fanbase.
Your patron gets a Facebook post or sees a picture of the baby panda on Instagram. So, Lindsay makes her own post on Facebook saying that she’s taking the kids to see the baby panda and she puts #babypanda at the bottom of the post.
Then she goes and takes the kids and they post pictures of themselves and the baby panda on Instagram and Facebook and put #babypanda at the bottom of each post. Why are they marketing on behalf of the Atlanta Zoo?
· They are registering their excitement about the event.
· They want people to know that they were there.
· They want to be part of a larger group of enthusiasts.
· They want to spread the word about something they love.
· They want to give the zoo the recognition they think that it deserves.
· They want to be able to revisit that hashtag and see other people’s pictures, hear of their experiences, and see videos.
The community comes together using the “secret password” that is the hashtag. The power is that all of the information about that thing you are passionate about is now in one handy location. And, more content keeps getting added to it minute-by-minute.
These hashtags tie public conversations from all different users into a single stream, which you can find by searching for a hashtag, clicking on one, or using a third-party monitoring tool like HubSpot's Social Inbox.
Hashtags on Social Media Platforms
Hashtags find maximum importance on Twitter because it was the platform where the sign was first used and is still prevalent today.
Since inception, hashtags were considered to be a remarkable tool to drive high levels of engagement. Businesses having an account on Twitter find it fruitful to spread their brand message among their target audience using hashtags.
Facebook took some time to understand the importance of hashtags. Finally, it started providing a unique URL for each hashtag just like Twitter does to enable both the businesses and their target audience to click on and get connected with.
The trick of using hashtags on Pinterest allows users to search for a particular topic when they click on the hashtags on your profile.
Hashtags on Instagram are quite popular as they make the photos more discoverable by the audience. Without hashtags, the photos would remain private.
According to research by Agorapulse, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag got 70% more likes and 392% more comments than those without hashtags.
As organic reach declines and paid impressions rise with the algorithm changes put in place to push brands to pay for exposure, hashtags still represent the single best way to organically drive your social marketing campaigns by leveraging your Instagram posts to boost reach on the platform.
Instagram’s brand-to-customer engagement rate is the highest on social media, and strategically incorporating these hashtag hacks into your social strategy will help boost your visibility and engagement.
What Hashtag to use?
A good place to start to determine what hashtags are effective is by paying attention to what hashtags influencers in your niche have chosen and are using.
Chances are you have a good idea who the influencers are that are capturing the attention of your audience, but if you are brand new to a niche, how do you find the influencers?
For a particular niche, the influencers are the people whose voices are most trusted and listened to, such as celebrities, famous bloggers, and YouTube users.
Developing a Hashtag Strategy
With social network updates happening faster than you blink, using hashtags to raise brand awareness is not as easy as adding # to your target keywords.
Brands must not only rely on the popular hashtags now, but also must be aware of emerging trends among consumers and influencers. This helps optimize your hashtag usage so social media users don’t miss your posts.
To increase their reach among an increasingly global market, more brands use social media analytics tools to change their hashtag marketing strategy and keep up with shifts in trends the second they happen.
To get the most out of your hashtag marketing, you’ll need to define your goals. Having a narrow goal will help you pinpoint the best content and hashtag use.
Important Types of Hashtags for Marketing
The first and most basic aspect of hashtag marketing is having your own branded hashtag. Oftentimes, the hashtag is short, memorable, and includes the brand name in some form (#drinkcocacola). If you’re having difficulty coming up with the best one, do some research on what’s already being used for your brand. Your customers might already use a branded hashtag even without your knowledge.
Your basic branded hashtag should be used on an ongoing basis. It applies to any post and can be your fallback hashtag if you think you’re in need of one on your post.
A version of branded hashtags, community hashtags are often used by larger brands to engage their consumer base.
These hashtags still include the brand’s name in some form and often tacks on a community or lifestyle element like “AtHome” or “Community.” In practice, consumers will use the community hashtag on a photo that features the brand or service. The brand will then select from the hashtag and feature the best on its feed.
This practice has many benefits. Consumers often feel like they’re part of a larger community and use the hashtag to find like-minded community members to engage with. The brand can also use the hashtag to easily find user-generated content and add authenticity to its feed. And third, brand awareness is spread as users adopt the hashtag in their posts.
Used as part of a marketing campaign or a contest, campaign hashtags have a start and end date. Brands create these hashtags specifically to track contest entries and measure conversations around a marketing campaign. While these hashtags may have the brand name in them, it’s more important that the campaign slogan or message is conveyed.
Beyond the standard search to make sure the hashtag isn’t already in use, also check how the hashtag looks in various iterations. Combining words together in lowercased letters shouldn’t spell new, off-brand words. They also shouldn’t have any unintentional double meanings.
Like campaign hashtags, event hashtags often have a start and end date. If it’s an annual event, the same hashtag may be used. But some events also like to have a year-specific hashtag to separate new conversation from last years.
Brands often use event hashtags to join in and create conversation around the event.
Another common strategy for hashtag marketing is to jump into trending hashtag conversations. Similar to other types of viral content, these conversations are often fast paced, short lived, and unpredictable in their occurrences.
A major advantage in contributing to a trending hashtag conversation is that when timed correctly, the brand exposure and payoff can be astronomical. The day after a viral trending hashtag on Twitter, news networks often capture the most popular Tweets.
Using hashtags correctly is more art than science. Standing out from the crowd is essential if you want to really have an impact with this tool.
Our next article, Advanced Hashtags, will go further down this trail and give you some specific ways to be successful in your execution.
With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA, New Target provides digital strategy, web design, web development, data integration, application hosting, and online marketing for prominent national associations, corporations, and government agencies.
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