January 30th, 2015

Using Hashtags for Business

by Ashley Bullin

Hashtags—you’ve seen them used on all your favorite social networks. Even LinkedIn had a brief stint with hashtags! But if you haven’t realized the benefits of using relevant industry hashtags in your own content, there’s a lesson to be learned.

Many folks use hashtags as a means of entertainment. #itsfuntoputthemonanyphrase. It’s almost like a puzzle—how long will it take you to distinguish between the end of one word and the beginning of another? If you’ve ever clicked on an absurd hashtag such as the one above, you’ll notice it’s usually the only post of its kind. We, at Sage Island, can appreciate the humorous aspect of these hashtags from an individual’s standpoint. But it’s the biggest misuse of hashtags we encounter for businesses.

Let’s talk about what happens when you strategically use hashtags. The social media gurus at our agency often put the notorious # symbol in front of words and phrases such as marketing, content marketing, marketing strategy, SEO, social media and more. When you click on one of these, you’ll see other content with the same hashtag. It’s a means of categorizing your posts and tweets with other content of the same nature, which is beneficial for businesses in many ways. First, you become part of a larger conversation and establish a presence among competitors utilizing the same hashtags. Second, you are placed in front of an audience actively searching for the information you can readily provide them. Should a member of this audience discover your brand’s content, you increase the likelihood of lead generation, open the door for a conversation and create social signals for Google.

Sage Island Tweet

Hashtags are also useful in encouraging user-generated content. When you’re watching your favorite show, you’ll probably notice a hashtag in the bottom right corner of your TV screen. The network wants to hear what their audience has to say, and potentially engage in conversations with them.

Modern Family Tweet

The same is true for brands. By encouraging customers to use a specific hashtag, they can collect key data by listening to conversations about their brand and even build relationships through interaction. Plus, they’re simultaneously building a bank of content centered around their brand for other audience members to browse and weigh in on. Keeping the conversation alive is crucial. Brands have the opportunity to pull that content from time to time, and publically recognize an individual user. The possibility of being selected from the crowd encourages people to use brand hashtags even more.

Harry's Twitter Profile

Harry's Tweet

Brands may also use campaign hashtags when they have a specific objective. Choosing a unique hashtag for people to use as a means to enter a sweepstakes is a prime example. Followers may upload a photo to Instagram or tweet using a specific hashtag, which automatically enters them to win a prize. Brands simply choose a winner out of all the content aggregated as a result of the hashtag.

Warehouse Instagram

Social media is an ever-changing marketing tactic, which means it’s necessary to stay up to date on the latest news and trends in order to succeed. Developing a social media strategy is also key—adequate planning will help brands help determine their core audiences, corporate voice, appropriate content to share and, yes, even relevant hashtags to use. If your business needs help developing a social media plan, contact Sage Island today.

 

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