If you follow social media, you have probably seen, and maybe even used hashtags. These markers for social engagement can help unite causal browsers, concert goers, and causes around one simple phrase. But have you ever considered using a hashtag to help your business?
How do you reach the broader audience of social media and grow your followers? If you are using Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook to market your business or distribute your web content, you need to know about hashtags. They connect your business to conversations that are happening online, making you visible in the larger context of your industry.
Hashtags are words or short phrases preceded by a pound sign (like #socialmedia). The pound sign signals to the social media engine that this is a keyword, and that your post should be connected to others with the same keyword. When a reader uses the search engine on their social media dashboard, one of the first things that comes up are hashtags contextually related to the search.
So how can you use hashtags to grow your online audience?
Add Hashtags to Your Social Media Posts
Next time you go to publish a blog post, take a moment to search Twitter for a relevant hashtag. It may be as obvious as #law for a law firm. Or it could be more obscure, like #mileg which represents posts related to the Michigan Legislature. The better related the hashtag is to the post content, the more focused your readers will be, and the more likely they will become followers.
Tap In to Event-Based Hashtags
If you are writing from the headlines, your blog could be related to a topic trending on social media. An event-based hashtag may be related to a local charitable event (#DrunkDrivingEndsHere), the name of a celebrity in the news (#DonaldTrump), or even a tragic headline (#WeAreOrlando). By using whatever the popular event-based hashtag is for that event, you can tap in to that audience and catch readers who may otherwise have never known your company existed.
Just watch out. Some organizations are starting to copyright their hashtags. (even though defeats their purpose and effectiveness). For example, the United States Olympic Committee was recently accused of bullying companies that aren’t official sponsors, threatening to sue if sports broadcasters used their hashtags #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA.
Create Your Own Hashtag Campaign
If you are getting ready for a big event or a rebranding launch, you might want to consider making your own hashtag campaign a part of it. For example, one attorney, who has a brand of compassionate representation for commercial and residential real estate law has penned the hashtag #LoveYourLawyer. On a larger scale, several hospitality companies have crafted their own hashtags to help customers connect with their travel brand.
Creating a hashtag campaign is best done with help from web marketing professionals. But if you are going it alone, here are a few tips to make it successful:
- Keep it short. Use abbreviations and short phrases to craft something brief, and memorable. Remember, your followers only have 140 characters on twitter!
- Keep Focused. Pick one hashtag to use for the campaign. Don’t spread yourself thin. Keep in mind, you want all of your followers to identify that hashtag with your business. The more you have, the more marketing you will need to use to tie them all together.
- Make it Unique. Before you get into branding, run your hashtag through all the big social media outlets and make sure no one else is using it. Sometimes the same abbreviation can mean very different things.
- Make an Emotional Connection. The best hashtags are the ones people will use. Social media posts are often motivated by an emotional response, whether it is love, offense, or excitement. Tap in to those emotions to make followers more likely to tweet.
Hashtags can be a great way to make your time spent marketing on social media worth more. By reaching out to more than just your followers and entering into national, and even international, conversations, you can grow your reputation, readers, and marketing base. And that will lead to a higher ROI for your web marketing efforts.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She writes blogs and web content for law firms and small firms. If you want to improve your online presence, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.