The kids use them, the teens use them, even tech savvy seniors use them, so why shouldn’t you take advantage of them in order to make sure your company’s messages, campaigns or news pieces reach the most of their intended audience? I’m talking, of course, of hashtags, the trend that changed the world of online communication!
Although perceived as an informal means of communication, hashtags can be a powerful tool to master, through which you can ensure the success of your online marketing strategy.
What are hashtags?
But first things first! What are #hashtags? To put it plainly, a hashtag is a type of tag (obviously), similar to a keyword, used on social media channels in order to make it easier for users to find messages within a specific theme or topic. The very first one originated on Twitter, in 2007, and since then their popularity raised constantly.
Although accomplished marketers often frown upon them, those from the younger generations yearningly embraced them. And for good reasons, I might say!
How to use hastags
Hashtag your name and tagline
Whether your brand is already well known or if you want to raise its awareness on social media, you can hashtag its name. Similarly, you can hashtag your catchy tagline and gather all generated content under that topic. This is also a great way to conduct a cheap research into your audience’s habits, as you can see what others are posting about your brand, if they are satisfied with your products or services, how old and from where are they etc.
Make a hashtag campaign
You can include hashtags in every message you share or post on social media channels, but, in order to maximize their efficiency, you should use them smartly. A great way to accomplish that is to make a whole campaign that revolves around them.
Let’s take for example Coke’s current campaign, #TasteTheFeeling, in which social network users are encouraged to post a photo and hashtag the feeling/ feelings it captures and add #TasteTheFeeling, for a chance to get that photo printed on their soda cans. With this initiative Coke not only shows that it fully mastered the art of using hashtags, but also strongly appeals to the young, the hip, the trendy and the fashionable ones. Also, by gathering all content under #TasteTheFeeling, the company makes it easier for others to see the posts and for them to see all submitted entries and choose the winners.
Use them to advertise your new product/ service
Adding hashtags can be the perfect way to advertise your newly released product or service, as by doing so you can dramatically increase their online visibility and you can reach a larger amount of users. Another idea is to create a new hashtag that conveys the main emotion or the main benefit that using that product or service brings in the customer’s life, to focus on how it makes their lives easier, better or more enjoyable.
Hashtag your event
Every time you’re organizing an event and promoting it on social media channels, you could create a hashtag with its name, so that all the posts from it to be gathered in the same place and those who want to find out more to be able to easily check all posts on that subject. This tactic works especially well when it’s a public event, such as a concert, a festival, a sports or a charitable event, as many of those who are taking part in it can (and most definitely will) posts pictures, videos, or even updates from it, hashtagged with the events name.
Banca Transilvania (BT), for instance, is taking full advantage of this, hashtagging every event, service or initiative it launches. A fine example is the event #CrosulBT, a running competition that gathers more than 1000 contestants, many of those posting pics and videos from it and helping promote and raise its image on social media.
Incorporate them in conversations
In order to make your company and your messages sound more casual and not so businesslike, you could incorporate them in existing conversations on very specific topics, which directly relate to what you have to offer or what you have to communicate.
Less is more or the more the merrier?
According to an infographic developed by QuickSprout, the engagement rate of tweets with one or two hashtags is 21% higher than of those without hashtags. Also, there are 55% more chances to get them retweeted. However, you have to be careful not to flood your text with them, as using more than two actually drops engagement with about 17%.
On Instagram things work completely different: if on Twitter the main rule is “less is more”, Instagram is all about “the more the merrier”. The same infographic shows that using no less than 11 hashtags leads to 79.5% interaction per 1.000 followers. Quite a huge difference, won’t you say?
On Facebook hashtags were up to a slow start, but eventually they got popular. When it comes to numbers, using only one or two seems to bring the most engagement: 593 average interactions per post. Google+ automatically adds hashtags based on the written content, but you are free to add your own, doubling the chances to be found.
How to create killer hashtags
Be as specific as possible
As you already know, the more specific you are, the more chances you have to get your message heard! The same goes with hashtags. If you just put hashtags on random words in your text, chances are you’ll just make it unreadable and annoying; however, if you’re carefully selecting and hashtagging a few keywords, your message will reach exactly those you want it to reach.
Fine tune them
Following the same idea, you could try to fine tune your hashtags. What does this means? Well, it’s fairly simple: if you’re posting something about, let’s say, a healthier version of a no bake chocolate pudding pie, don’t just hashtag #healthy #nobake #chocolate #pudding or #pie, try instead #healthierchocolatepie #nobakepie #chocolatepudding or #chocolatepie. The more refined the hashtags, the more chances your post will have not to get drowned in the ocean of existing content and to be found by your target audience.
Don’t be afraid to use more than one word
Although it might be tempting to simply hashtag all the selected words separately, you’ll get more engagement if you’re organizing them in small groups, as you could see in the above mentioned example.
But don’t use to many words
Even though it’s better to use word groups, using too many words can be counterintuitive, as it makes the message harder to read and to understand. After all, you don’t want to suffocate the viewers with a huge block of text, but to make them interested in what you have to say. So, never use hashtags such as #nobakechocolatepuddingchocolatepie! I bet you found it difficult to read!
Don’t use conjucntions or propositions
Yes, conjunctions and propositions are an essential part of every phrase, but not when it comes to hashtags: in this case, you can forget all about them, they bring no added value to the message, they pay no role in attracting engagement and, therefore, are useless.
Put them in the first comment
If you’re planning on using more than two or three hashtags, you could put only the most important ones in the actual post and place the rest in the first comment. The hashtags will still be there, they will still get the desired results, but your message will not look crowded and will be easier to read. This strategy might work best on Instagram, where you can, and is even recommended, to use more hashtags than on the other platforms.
Now that you have all the resources needed to master the art of hashtagging, it’s time to go in front of your computer and hashtag your online content to perfection!