Octothorpe or pound sign? Number sign? For musicians, the sharp symbol. To Unicode pros, it’s something called a “viewdata square.” To editors, the “insert-a-space” mark. Maybe a universal signal for a little Tic-Tac-Toe?
Historically, all of the above.
But ask any teenager weaned on social media, and they’re likely to say “hashtag.” Oh, #KidsTheseDays.
It started on Internet Relay Chats (IRCs) and then on Twitter, when some users found a better way to organize the content of tweets and track topics based on their specific keywords. Then Twitter itself officially integrated hashtags into its system, making them clickable and searchable.
Today, hashtags have evolved, and other platforms followed suit, supporting them as a social media–wide method of linking posts. Sites include Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr and of course, Twitter.
For example, once a week, you might have noticed friends posting retro pics and a message ending with #ThrowbackThursday or simply #TBT. That means they’re jumping into the fun/nostalgic/possibly mortifying social-media trend called (you guessed it) “Throwback Thursday.”
They are “tagging” their posts with the “hash” symbol and the designated keyword. Now anyone who wants to join that conversation can click on the hashtag to view every post mentioning that topic––or they can include it themselves in their own posts.
Among other adopted uses––classification that enables others to follow conversations, self-referential commentary, a keystroke of humor, irony or emotion, etc.––hashtags can serve as a quick-and-easy technique for marketing your brand.
Lots of brands are doing it, and with great success. Plus, studies show that on their computers and mobile devices, many of your potential and current customers are taking advantage of this shortcut when searching content. Ensuring that they see yours is key. By using hashtags, you will turn up in searches and expose your brand to that entire platform’s community, not just your existing followers.
If you’re game for setting a smart hashtag marketing strategy that also improves the SEO of your posts, here are a few tips and things to remember:
- Don’t expect to find a hashtag directory. There isn’t one. So feel free to create a new, suitable hashtag of your own. Exciting!
- By incorporating suggested hashtags into your strategy, you can get people talking about your brand––and help control how they are saying it. But be sure to include them in your marketing materials and remind your audience to use them.
- Your hashtags can and should be unique, appropriate and memorable. The shorter and more informative it is, the better. Most importantly, it should be personalized to promote your brand, your tagline and/or your news, campaigns, offers and events.
- Your hashtags unite your marketing across multiple platforms, allowing followers to readily submit content that can be grouped and shown elsewhere.
- Hashtags are a great opportunity to request content from your customers. For example, you can ask them to post photos or videos and include a specific hashtag that you’ve created.
- Plug your contests and other promotions by using and advertising a required hashtag that’s exclusive to it. Doing so will expand your reach and increase enthusiasm, as users will be more willing to participate if they know they could win a prize.
- To maximize buzz, use your hashtags consistently and across all of your social sites. Your customers will love engaging with your brand and sharing their interests with likeminded people. Don’t forget to interact with, and respond to, people using your hashtag!
- Stay on top of trending hashtags that are relevant to your business. Engage in using them, multiplying your odds of gaining a bigger audience.
When it comes to creating effective hashtags, there are a number of recognized guidelines you should follow. Before you get too hashtag-happy, reach out to Lynn Kaniper at email@example.com or 609.466.9187 ext. 117, to discuss your hashtag marketing strategy.