Who would have guessed that the pound sign symbol (#) would become so popular as the “hashtag” we know today? It has become part of many of our daily online conversations on Twitter and beyond. A little birdie once told me, “Hashtags are an effective and powerful marketing tool (when used correctly).”
The hashtag was first used on Twitter in 2007 but without the hyperlink. Later in 2009, Twitter embraced the hashtag and automatically created a hyperlink for anything that was preceded by a #. It did not take long for Twitter to also add a search box on its homepage where you could find “Trending Topics” and the most popular hashtags. Google defines Hashtag as “A word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.” Click here for more Twitter terms defined.
Hashtags Spread their Wings
Today, hashtags are being used Twitter, but also on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, and other social media networks. Hashtags are becoming a norm in social media conversations, especially since Facebook recently integrated hashtags.
5 Tips for using Hashtags in Marketing
- Search and Organize by a Topic or Audience– Since the word or phrase with the # in front of it creates an active link in Twitter and other social media sites, you can easily see all the conversations related to that topic and contribute posts of your own. Hashtags can help you get more reach and get you found faster. For instance, people who are interested in content related to a certain hashtag, may find you if you are also posting content with that hashtag.
- Follow Events or Online Chats – Breaking news, events, conferences, webinars, or Twitter chats are examples of ways that people can use hashtags to follow what is going on with a live event. For instance, conventions who establish a specific hashtag can help people meet each other, follow happenings, and spark conversations even if they are not physically there.
- Listen and Monitor – By monitoring hashtags and trends, you can listen to what your audience and industry leaders are talking about and chime in when appropriate. Monitoring hashtags related to your brand, products, and competition is important for brand reputation and customer service. Starting conversations and showing people you care and are listening leads to relationship building.
- Promote Marketing Campaigns – Develop a creative and easy-to-remember hashtag for your contests, promotions, or marketing campaign. For instance, Home Depot encourages their community to share their Home Depot Hacks with the hashtag #HDHacks on Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Be Human – What fun is it to be social without a little humor? Sometimes hashtags are just for fun, so if humor fits with your brand’s personality, work it in. Many people simply use hashtags to draw attention to a phrase, indicate irony, celebrate, or to be funny! (#someofusoverdoit – as cleverly depicted in this hilarious #Hashtag skit by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon).
Hashtags are a powerful way to get involved in social media conversations and can be used to increase your reach, get discovered faster, monitor conversations, find opportunities, and build relationships.
Bonus Tip: Before using a hashtag (especially on Facebook), do some research (click on it or search for it) to see who else is using that hashtag and what content comes up. Choose hashtags carefully to make sure they are relevant to your topic and audience. Researching the hashtag first could also give you some insight into new people to follow, ways to craft your message, or other relevant hashtags.
What challenges or questions do you have about hashtags? What has worked for you?