In today’s world nothing can be more influential than social media. Now more than ever anyone with a smartphone or computer can have their voice heard by thousands or even millions of fellow “followers” or friends. Utilized in the right way, social media can be a very powerful marketing tool for companies and small businesses. Nothing can be more useful for self-promoting and marketing than the hashtag. The hashtag is a great way to get traffic directed towards your brand. However, there are a lot of people out there misusing and at times even abusing the hashtag. This article will lay out the guidelines for proper hashtag use to help get your brand in the public’s eye.
Keep It Short and Simple
When using hashtags you want to keep them as short and precise as possible. Having long draw-out hashtags, something along the lines of #brandnewsocialmediadesignsblogpost, will do nothing but drive your audience away from your post and that is the opposite of what you want. However, something like #SMDblog is short, to the point, and will keep your followers invested in the conversation. When using hashtags, abbreviating or using acronyms can be a great way to keep your tag down to a manageable size.
Don’t Misuse or Abuse
In the same vein of having unnecessarily long hashtags, having too many hashtags in one post can also have a negative effect on your audience. When you scroll through your social feed and stumble upon something like, “Catching a movie tonight with my girlfriend #datenight #TGIF #weekendwarriors #movies #funfridays” what is your first thought? Are you interested in learning more, or do you want to scroll away as fast as you can? When posting an update or ad try to keep your tags to around one or two a post, at the most. In extreme cases three tags if they are relevant, but using any more than that you run the risk of confusing your reader.
Engage your Audience
Hashtags give you and your business the opportunity to interact with your followers in a way other forms of media don’t really allow. Starting a conversation and asking your followers to respond with the same hashtag is a good way to grow word of mouth about your brand and to let people interact with your company. An example would be if a local pizza shop were to ask its followers “Who would you share a slice of pizza with? #ShareaSlice.” This may seem simple, but it does two things. It engages the audience by asking them to respond to the post, while also having that custom hashtag grow with posts about that specific pizza shop and page.
Keeping a watchful eye on current events as they break is a great way to piggyback your way to some great publicity. Big business marketers have become pros at capitalizing on opportunities as they unfold. Last year a global phenomenon occurred over the heated debate on what the color of a particular dress was. Whether or not a dress was “black and blue” or “white and gold” quickly captivated the internet and soon the world. Companies were quick to jump on board the #TheDress discussion for free and effective self-endorsements. In a marketing technique called “news jacking,” companies like Oreo and Ikea came up with a quick slogan and threw a related hashtag on the end and had instant marketing gold. Don’t be afraid to do the same. If an opportunity presents itself, capitalize. A well timed ad or tag can do wonders during a trending event. But as always, make sure what you’re saying is still relevant or adds to the conversation.