What’s the deal with hashtags?

We get this question more often than you would think. It seems that everyone knows about them, but hardly anyone knows how to make them work. So we wanted to sit down and set the record straight about how to use hashtags on your business accounts to help take your marketing further. But first, let’s dive into the basics.

If you’re not aware, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded immediately by pound symbol, with no spaces in between. For example, #marketing as well as #smallbizmarketing are both hashtags. Most social media accounts immediately recognize this formula and will automatically link the phrase entered to other public posts featuring the same exact hashtag. So when a user clicks on the hashtag, it will pull up a listing of these posts, all connected by that single hashtag.

This is incredibly useful when it comes to building community. Individuals can use hashtags to connect with one another and find like-minded posts and accounts. This is an extremely useful tool for businesses, and frankly, one that you can’t afford to ignore.

This doesn’t mean you can just throw out any hashtags and make them work for you! There is an art to mastering the technicalities of hashtags. Which we’re here to outline for you in the following 5 steps. #yourewelcome

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

As mentioned above, you can’t expect to get any ROI on hashtags if you don’t have a strategy in mind. And in order to create that strategy, you need to do a little research. Get out there and take a look at popular accounts in your industry – what hashtags are they using? Do some digging into a few of your followers – are there any similarities in the hashtags they’re using?

A popular technique we like to use, particularly for small businesses, is to look for geo-dependent hashtags. This would be hashtags people are using for a particular city, area, or region. We are in the Jacksonville, Florida area, so a common one we use is #ilovejax, so that our posts show up in the main hashtag feed for the city. Think about big groups around you… are there any universities? Any sports teams? Figure out what they’re doing and get in on it.

There are plenty of great services out there to do some hashtag research. Try something like RiteTag to explore existing hashtags and popular ones connected to them.

Once you’ve compiled a list of popular hashtags for your industry, location, and audience, you have something to work with for each of your posts.

2. CREATE AN ENGAGING HASHTAG

The next step after figuring out your initial strategy is to create a hashtag unique to your business. Ideally this will be a hashtag that isn’t currently being used by anyone else (do a quick search on your favorite social media platform to be sure). Don’t be afraid to get creative. It doesn’t just have to be the name of your business. In fact, the more creative the hashtag, the more likely your audience will be to use it.

For example, if your business is Tina’s Hair Salon, don’t cop out with the easy option of #tinashairsalon. Go for something like #myhairguru or #newhairdontcare. The options are endless!

Try some brainstorming with your team and come up with something truly fun, engaging, and unique!

3. USE SPARINGLY

There’s nothing worse than a hashtag heavy post. It’s a surefire way to illustrate to your audience that you’re just trying to get as many likes as possible. And nobody likes inauthentic content. So stick to these recommendations for each platform to see the best engagement results:

Instagram: 11+

Twitter: 2-3

LinkedIn: 2-3

Pinterest: 0

Facebook: 0

4. KEEP AN EYE ON TRENDS

As with any social media strategy, never let your existing methods get stale. The nature of digital marketing is that everything is changing – constantly! Make sure you change with it.

This means you need to do your research frequently to make sure your tried and true hashtags aren’t growing old. You can also hop onto trending hashtags in order to gain more exposure for your business or your brand. Things like local events, major holidays, or sporting events usually offer excellent ways to piggy back onto a trending hashtag campaign.

5. REACH OUT TO YOUR COMMUNITY

Lastly, social media is about connecting to your audience. It’s about creating a community. Don’t just use hashtags to show up in others’ feeds… get out there and do your own searching. Use your hashtags to find potential followers and engage with them! If you build it, they will come is not the best way to attract new followers to your business. Use hashtags to get out there where your audience is interacting with one another and become a part of the conversation.

 

That’s it. Didn’t we say this was going to be EZY? Follow these tips and you’ll be mastering your own hashtag campaign in no time. We’re so excited to hear how you put these into play with your social media efforts, so let us know what hashtag you decide to start using. #whatareyouwaitingfor