Published: February 12, 2014
If you aren’t using #hashtags for #brandvisibility, sooner than later it’s going to #hurt.
When a new business or person takes on a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Google+ account, many are confused about the use and meaning of the “hashtag.” Do they serve a purpose? Is it mandatory to “hashtag” every word? Is it professional? What keywords do I hashtag? Does it even provide a business value?
Though questions are many, the answers are simple: Hashtags are simply a way for people to search for content that has a common topic.
Once you hashtag a word with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google+, all account users can see it. It goes into the world of hashtags. This allows users who are not following you to see your tweets, posts, and content that you put out on various social media sites. So to keep it simple, people are only one hashtagged word away from possibly being seen by thousands, if not millions of users through social media. Hashtags are an easy inclusion to a social strategy that pays multiplicatively when it comes to getting your message out there.
Here’s an example. On Monday, many businesses sported red, joining the cause of fighting Heart Disease in women. HJ Martin & Son was one of those businesses – with many employees wearing red to work and in return sharing their enthusiasm via social media. Using the hashtag #GoRedChallenge, HJ Martin was included in thousands of posts circulating the social sphere that day and as a result, was highlighted by the American Heart Association, via Facebook and their website.
With little time, money, and effort came excellent visibility and social conversation. Here’s all it takes, coupled with the value it brings.
- A Hashtag Strategy. Any good social strategy has an element of social listening that includes keyword research and generates topics of interest to focus on. If you want to know what your customers are talking about, what your competitors are doing, or how the media is treating a specific topic related to your product or service, hashtags are extremely useful in identifying the frequency and reach of topics, discussions, and tapping into audience sentiment. Use keywords identified in social listening in tweets and posts for a greater potential to go viral and thereby help your business. Hashtagify.me and Tagboard.com are favorites for us when it comes to hashtag research.
- Increased Visibility. Hashtags obviously provide extra visibility and result in your business showing up in list of relevant posts or content. Hashtags are an efficient method to find content related to specific topics, as well as the people talking about those topics. Just as searches are conducted on platforms other than Google, Bing, and Yahoo, search also happens on social platforms. People search every day on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and other social platforms using words and hashtags with success. If that’s not enough, recent Google updates have amplified visibility of hashtags in organic search results on Google.com as well as Google+, meaning if you hashtag right visibility will go up in more than just social channels.
- Excellent Engagement. Use hashtags to immerse yourself into a niche community. The opportunity for connection with thought leaders is made easy by following hashtags relevant to your industry. When you’ve found that niche of people, increase your engagement by joining the conversation.
As with most interactive business efforts, hashtags are yet another example of jumping in and trying something new. For younger generations, this is a given – take Jimmy Fallon’s ultimate hashtag conversation for example. Don’t fear new features and opportunities when it comes to social media, chances are they’ll catch on and provide greater opportunity for you as a business to reach and engage with your audience, just as we’ve seen with hashtags.
Yes, we suggest you nix the hashtags in your one-on-one conversation, but don’t discount the potential value hashtags bring from a social visibility perspective for your business.