Hashtags, like many elements of social media, have become unavoidable parts of our modern culture. The same can be said for the modern business landscape. Any business engaging in the world of social media marketing needs to know and understand how to use hashtags as part of their strategy.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What is a hashtag? Originally developed by Twitter as a means to categorize messages, the # symbol has permeated additional social media platforms to become a universal way of organizing and linking content. A hashtag consists of words or phrases (with no spaces), preceded by a # sign.
#leadgen, #b2bmarketing, and #salestips are examples of hashtags you may run across. By clicking on a hashtag in a social post, that social channel will automatically compile and display a feed of other messages incorporating the same hashtag.
Put some thought into what you put behind the # sign, especially if you are creating a hashtag for a specific campaign or event. It should be in line with the key message and brand strategy of your business and be clear in its purpose. With a little insight into how hashtags work, you can greatly increase the odds that your social media campaigns on hashtag friendly channels will actually see real-world results.
1. Keep it simple. Keep your hashtag short and sweet. Make it something memorable and easy to spell. With a few exceptions, the most effective hashtags are composed of one or two very simple elements, such as an event name and year. If the hashtag seems too long, consider using an abbreviation or acronym.
2. Research your hashtag. Before you use a hashtag, do some quick research. You never know what people may be using the hashtag to discuss. The last thing you want to do is accidentally connect your business to a negative or controversial topic.
3. Use hashtags in your sentences. Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet so make each character count. “Having a great time at TED 2015! #TEDTalks2015” may be grammatically correct, but it is no more effective than “Having a blast at #TEDTalks2015!” If you can use a hashtag in place of a word without the sentence becoming confusing, go for it.
4. Capitalize multi-word hashtags for accuracy. The longer and more complicated the hashtag, the more likely the message is to be misread. Use capital letters to separate words in a hashtag. A perfect example of not applying this was the 2013 reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s death hashtagged #nowthatchersdead. Confusion ensued because some people read it as #NowThatChersDead instead of #NowThatchersDead.
5. Know that hashtags never really die. Content from years ago may no longer be trending or listed in your immediate Twitter feed, but that doesn’t mean that it has disappeared for good. Hashtags are searchable and, like everything else on the Internet, can be archived.
6. Limit your exposure. No one owns a hashtag. They are free to be used and manipulated by anyone at any time. Reduce the chances of sarcasm and trolling by considering hashtags that are less likely to be used out of context, such as acronyms. Just ask Burger King about their #WTFF hashtag fail.
7. Don’t overdo them. Don’t dilute and confuse your message by throwing several hashtags into your post or status update. As a rule of thumb, limit yourself to a maximum of two hashtags per post.
8. Build momentum with consistency. Like all B2B marketing efforts, hashtags can take several weeks and even months before they start to gain traction. Build momentum by consistently using the same hashtags to promote your messaging and engaging your followers when they use your hashtags.
As you can see, hashtags can be a very powerful tool. When used properly, they give you the ability to reach new audiences and increase engagement drastically.
Need help with your social media presence and strategy? Contact Launch Marketing today! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest B2B marketing tips and trends.