Do you remember when hashtags first emerged on the social media scene? There was a lot of confusion about the new use of the “number sign.” Today, their purpose and value has become clear as online chatter increases along with the need for organization. The Internet and social media are inundated with new content. Just to give you an idea, WordPress, the number one stop for web design, says its “users produce about 52.8 million new posts and 48.6 million new comments each month.” There are posts on every topic imaginable, on 20.6 billion pages being viewed by over 409 million people monthly! It’s even more astonishing when you realize that each of those posts are undoubtedly being shared at least once on multiple social media platforms. As you can see, there is a definite need to organize.
Enter Hashtags. These useful little handles give us an easy way to connect and search. It creates powerful campaigns, helps people follow topics of interests, and bridges gaps within social groups. As a social media user, it can be easy to adopt another company’s hashtag for example, REI’s recent #OptOutside campaign, which was shared by anyone supporting the company’s choice to spend Black Friday outside. When you individually or as a small business, however, are attempting to begin your own hashtag campaign, the process can seem a bit daunting.
According to Social Media Examiner, everyone should be using hashtags from individuals to businesses. “Hashtags help cut through all the noise. They connect your business with your audience and put it at the heart of conversations on social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook.” Author Dylan Kissane gives four ways to engage your followers with hashtags in his article, 4 Ways to Improve Engagement with Hashtags.
Here is a summary of his steps below
Align Hashtags with your brand.
To do this you must know your brand’s message and purpose, then make sure your hashtags align with that message.
Choose hashtags carefully.
Make sure your hashtags are ones that represent you and your goals. Do not choose hashtags that are likely to be taken over by another group or organization.
Take your hashtag offline.
Remember, if people don’t know your hashtag exists, they’re not likely to use it. You need to take the hashtag offline to increase user awareness and engagement. Post it in your business, include it in your newsletter, etc. Raise awareness offline so you can increase engagement online. Display the hashtag on your homepage, and also include “click to tweet” options on your social media and blog posts.
Introduce variety with hashtags.
Don’t stick with just one hashtag. While you may have a regular hashtag you uphold for your business, you also want to ensure your relevancy by including up-to-date hashtags that reference current events. For example, creating a hashtag that aligns with a particular holiday or upcoming event. Don’t be afraid to use hashtags that are already out there. If you’re an outdoor organization, for example, you might use #getoutdoors!
As your business gains traction online the use of hashtags will come more naturally. Keep an eye out for what others are using, take note of those that apply to you, and use them in your posts. Just remember, hashtags raise awareness, organize, and make your tweets easy to find for those who are looking for relevant content, so keep posting and #don’tforgetthehashtag!