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The Ultimate #Hashtag How-to for Your Social Media Marketing

#Hashtags are becoming more important than ever in social media marketing campaigns

#Hashtags are becoming more important than ever in social media marketing campaigns

Increasingly, businesses are embracing the hashtag as a way to connect conversations with their fans, friends, and followers across social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ and Pinterest. According to the Interbrand 100 list, 97%of the top 100 companies in the world posted at least one tweet that included a hashtag in the last quarter of 2013. The hashtag has real capacity to be an incredibly valuable marketing device. It also has the potential to drive an otherwise successful social media campaign off the rails within seconds. Its vital that marketers fully embrace the hashtag: its history, how it works and, most importantly for marketers, how to turn the hashtag into a clever marketing opportunity.

Tech guru Chris Messina is widely credited with the "invention" of the #hashtag

Tech guru Chris Messina is widely credited with the “invention” of the #hashtag

A brief hashtag history

Hashtags originated on Twitter in 2007, when user Chris Messina, a well known social media interaction designer in San Francisco, asked what his followers thought about using the # (pound) symbol for groups. The idea caught fire with Twitter users—almost literally—when the symbol was included in informational tweets about the devastating 2007 San Diego fires. Twitter officially adopted hashtags in late summer 2009 as way to categorize tweets. In 2010, Twitter placed Trending Topics on its homepage, which let users know which tweet themes were garnering the most original tweets, retweets, and conversations. These can change literally minute-by-minute.

Hashtags have essentially become part of everyday “conversation.” Depending on which social media platform users are on, hashtags are used to categorize topics (Twitter), to brand (Pinterest), to build community (Instagram), to relate to other relevant posts (Google+), and to categorize interests (Tumblr).

How to use hashtags most effectively

Well-researched tags, (based on your core SEO keywords/keyphrases) will increase the quantity and quality of visitors to your website thus giving you more return on your content marketing efforts.

Well-researched tags, (based on your core SEO keywords/keyphrases) will increase the quantity and quality of visitors to your website thus giving you more return on your content marketing efforts.

Clicking on a hashtag in a tweet or a post shows the user all the other messages that contain the same hashtag. This way, users can follow all the tweets, posts, and conversations on a given hashtagged topic. An effective hashtag can make your business “findable” on Twitter and other social media platforms. A study of 1.2 million tweets showed that tweets with one or more hashtags are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted.

As a marketer, your goal is to entice people to retweet, reply or comment on the hashtagged post. That’s why marketers have to make sure that the “#” and the words don’t get lost in the hourly shuffle of trending topics.

Your brand can create its own hashtag or use established hashtags that you can find using a variety of hashtag tools like Hashtagify.me, Ritetag, and Tagboard.

tweet from the seat

Charmin’s #tweetfromthe seat campaign quickly went viral as users tweeted hilarious stories in their attempt to win Superbowl tickets.

Creating your own hashtags is great when you want to track the reach of a particular campaign. When you’re running a short-term social media campaign, you’ll want to create a hashtag that is distinctive to your business. Charmin toilet paper ran a terrific hashtag campaign: #tweetfromtheseat. After all, 40% of people admitted in a survey to taking their mobile devices to the restroom with them so the hashtag gave them something to do while they were in there. The campaign was irreverent, entertaining, and relatable and at the same time, gave people something to do…. “tweet from the seat.” The hashtag #tweetfromtheseat was a call to action. It was also tied to a contest where followers won Super Bowl tickets.

On top of the trends

Tying a hashtag into a contest is a great way to engage your followers. Another thought to keep in mind when developing hashtags are those trending topics mentioned earlier. When you see a trending topic that seems a good fit for your business or your social media campaign, include it in your tweets. The advantage is that your content update will be visible to anyone in the social media audience, not just your followers or fans. Be sure, though, that the trending topic actually relates to your business or campaign. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating the audience, who are savvy and will see through a blatant attempt to commandeer a hashtag.

There are a number of resources that can help you find trending topic hashtags that you can tie into your business. Check out:

  • Hashtags.org : You can find trending, declining and constant trends, as well as metrics about your social brand.
  • Statigram : You can search for Instagram hashtags trends and get alternatives for hashtag words, so you can choose the most popular tags.
  • Trendsmap: This site gives you a visual map to see geographic hashtag trends so you know what’s trending in your immediate area.

When your hashtag is hijacked

One of the interesting and unpredictable aspects of social media platforms is that the audience can abscond with a hashtag and turn what should have been a nice engagement tool into a way to mock a company. One of the most famous instances of this is McDonald’s #McDstories.

McDonald’s intended its #McDstories to be a platform for their followers to share their positive experiences at McDonald’s restaurants.

Almost immediately, however, the hashtag shot up to the top of the Trending Topics list for the worst possible reason: people from all over the Twittersphere tweeted McDonald’s horror stories. Tales of food poisoning, rude treatment by the fast food chain’s employees, dirty restaurants, and moral outrage against McDonald’s in general exploded across Twitter. McDonald’s scrambled to recover, but the damage was done. Marketers still cite the incident—which happened in 2012—as the ultimate example of a hashtag fail.

It’s said that prevent is 99% of the cure, so be prepared in the event something like the McDonald’s #McDstories debacle happens to your campaign. Make sure your hashtag is clearly defined; an open-ended hashtag practically invites pranksters to run away with it. Also, people with an axe to grind or complaint will use the hashtag to express their unhappiness with a company.

Be prepared in the event something like the McDonald’s #McDstories debacle happens to your campaign. Make sure your hashtag is clearly defined; an open-ended hashtag practically invites pranksters to run away with it.

Changing the way we market

Until recently, many businesses missed the value of hashtags. It’s very different now: using hashtags is vital in virtually any social media marketing campaign. They help companies track engagement, gauge influence, and are a great way to inspire dialogue about the topics businesses put out there. As marketers, it is our job to find the most innovative ways to use hashtags to garner positive attention for our brands.

If you have an insight you’d like to share, we’d love to read about it in the comments section.

 


Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.

Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.


 

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8 comments on “The Ultimate #Hashtag How-to for Your Social Media Marketing

  1. amaraheslin
    June 13, 2016

    Timely article! Ordinary people do not know the value of hashtags but we businessmen do. Hashtags really are important so that your posts can be found easily and that specific results are tracked easily. Here is another article that might be of help: http://www.siteabove.com/how-to-get-more-social-media-followers/.

    Like

  2. imgur
    September 11, 2014

    When you make a website, all your web pages are served from the server residing somewhere on the internet.
    You will also need to delegate your domain name to the
    hosting space, details on this are provided by your hosting provider.
    Elements such as text, graphics, images, font
    sizes and colors are used in designing and producing pages for a web site.

    Like

  3. catholic church
    September 8, 2014

    My brother recommended I may like this blog. He was once totally right.
    This submit truly made my day. You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this info!
    Thanks!

    Like

  4. BJammin'
    August 6, 2014

    I like the #tweetfromtheseat story! Very clever. Thank You!

    Like

  5. James S
    July 24, 2014

    Awesome article. Hashtags don’t appeal to me as a user of social media. But as a marketer, it is a fantastic tool for users to communicate their likes, wants, needs, desires; what matters to them. Thanks for the share!

    Like

    • Kim Haman
      July 28, 2014

      Thanks for stopping by, James S. I’m glad you liked the blog. When hashtags first came on the scene, I admit that I didn’t see their full value as a potent marketing tool. I think that hashtags are a genus way to differentiate marketing campaigns and track specific results.

      Like

  6. Kim Haman
    July 23, 2014

    #thanksphillip!

    Like

  7. Philip
    July 23, 2014

    #thisisawesome

    Like

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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