Oxford Dictionary Definition. Hashtag; ‘A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic’.
The emergence of social media platforms and their subsequent popularity presented a unique opportunity for business to directly access and drastically extend customer reach in an effective way. One of the most active and widely used social media strategies, first seen on Twitter, is the user generated tagging system the hashtag. Widespread hashtag use quickly became a global marketing phenomenon and an essential tool for marketing professionals. That being said, simply using a hashtag symbol in your social media strategy is not an automatic recipe for success!
As a business, achieving your communication goals with social media can become a minefield of complications if not approached correctly. Having a clear plan and strategy in place to outline what your business wants to achieve is the most important first step to success. This article will outline hashtag marketing basics that you can apply to your business for a successful marketing strategy.
- List and approve hashtags into two categories. “Buzz-worthy” more popular tags and less popular, but more specific to your brand hashtags. Identify your niche market.
- Use your hashtags to access conversations relevant to your audience, thereby, increasing engagement. Hashtags are great at adding context to your posts and linking it to the larger conversation. They can also pull your posts into topic-specific feeds, thereby growing your customer “reach”.
- Assigning a specific hashtag to a brand campaign boosts the visibility of a promotion, allows for the performance and conversation around the hashtag to be monitored.
- Consider copywriting your hashtag to protect your brand. This requires you to be creative and come up with original hashtag content.
- How do you know if you are being effective? Use the resources available to you and track your success, often in real time through PR analytic software. Additionally, dashboard application Tweetdeck is integrated into Twitter’s interface and lets you manage the conversation around a specific hashtag.
Potential hashtag hazards:
- Using hashtags at the wrong time and place can have disastrous effects on your carefully constructed brand. Being appropriate and knowing your audience is crucial to connecting with your customer base.
- Posts with more than two hashtags show a 17% drop in engagement. Do not overuse hashtags or make them too long.
- Hashtag with a purpose! Again, have a plan and a clear strategy, do not reach out to your carefully chosen audience with an irrelevant message. Plan your outcome to reflect your brand and the message you want to convey.
Finally, it is important to present the “human side of your business” (Waddington, 2012) and engage with your audience to build brand loyalty. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and a social media success pointedly remarked that “people relate to people, not companies” (Waddington, 2012). Hashtags offer a unique opportunity for you to directly relate to your customer and effectively build your brand.