The Entrepreneur’s Beginner’s Guide to Hashtags
Formerly known as the ‘pound sign’ by generations past, the cross-hatched symbol synonymous with social media messaging is now fondly referred to as the beloved hashtag. Unless you have completely unplugged from the digital world for the last few years, you have undoubtedly run into these somewhere in your communications but you might not know how to use them effectively.
How a few words can increase social media engagement
I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s no shortage of social media techniques and tips out there!
But have you also noticed the majority of those tips focus on general info, like how to get more followers or likes, or how to post compelling content to engage your users?
Those resources are important, but I notice that sometimes hashtags get forgotten about.
They’re rarely mentioned in marketing articles, but they’re such a great tool for building your brand, raising awareness around marketing campaigns and engaging/entertaining your audience.
How do hashtags work?
If you’re new to social media, I know it can seem overwhelming.
You may have seen these words with the # in front of them on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. (The hashtag actually got its start in 2007, when Twitter began using it to index keywords to make them more searchable.)
But what are these words supposed to do? Should you use them? Why are they seemingly random?
I’ve put together this guide to help you understand how to use hashtags (and what the heck they are!) so you can increase social media engagement and leads.
Think of hashtags as a way to categorize your content.
Ultimately, they help people find and share posts on a specific topic.
When you create your social media post, you take a word or words and put the pound sign (#) in front of it. If you use two words, don’t put a space between them. Now, the phrase is clickable and searchable on the social media platform the user is on.
Here’s an example of some I chose for an Instagram post about an eVision Media Tea Time Tip live show I was promoting.
Choosing the right hashtags
When done correctly, these tags can help you gain more exposure for your business and increase social media engagement. But like any social media strategy, you have to do your research and think before you post.
I’ll make this process easier for you. Here are 7 ways to start choosing the right hashtags:
Create them for events.
This is one of the best ways to increase excitement and engagement on your social media accounts. For example, the Cornucopia wine festival in Whistler shared many posts on their Twitter and Instagram accounts with the hashtag #Cornucopia2019, and so did their followers and attendees.
Tag famous people or big brands.
Take a look at what’s trending on Twitter, and try and incorporate it into your posts; but only if it’s relevant. People are going to know if you’re trying to force it or be fake.
Some examples are big sporting events, record releases by musicians, holidays and popular books. If someone who’s famous in your industry makes the news, you could use that tag in one of your posts.
Do your research
Whether you are doing research on the latest news for an upcoming Canadian Federal election or hockey playoffs, you could do a hashtag search to find several posts on the subject.
Searching tags on social media platforms can be a perfect way to find new ideas and spy on your competition.
The more people who share your hashtag and use it in their posts, the more exposure, engagement and traffic you’re going to get.
You may remember Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign. The company swapped out its iconic logo on 20-ounce bottles, replacing it with 250 of the most popular American names.
It was one of their most successful campaigns, leading to a 2% increase in soft-drink sales and lots of social media engagement as followers shared cans and bottles with their names on them.
Turn one tag into a campaign
Many users “monitor” certain words, so focusing on one consistently can help you gain a following.
For instance, you could come up with a campaign with several posts around a specific product you offer, or a holiday promotion you’re doing.
Find some weekly post themes.
This is a simple way to tie in a trending tag with your business.
Some common themes include #throwbackthursday, where people post anything from past vacation pics to high school graduation photos; and #wisdomwednesday, where they share their advice on all sorts of topics.
I use #MotivationMonday and #TuesdayTip on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels and often mix in other popular hashtags for optimal exposure.
People love to share funny stuff with others, whether it’s a trending meme or a relatable story. Here’s a hashtag late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon came up with to get people to share: #MyWorstCostume.
By understanding which hashtags will resonate with your target audience, you can tap into a whole world of people looking for exactly what you’re offering. So start brainstorming and researching how to add some fun and functional tags to your next post!
(Featured image by Allie Smith via Unsplash)
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