• Lindsay

Using Hashtags

When it comes to social media marketing, people often talk about hashtags. I’ve even heard people say that they’ve done a lot of research and have spent ages deciding on the perfect hashtags to use. But the hashtags that you add in don’t matter if your audience isn’t interested in them. So before you next get excited about hashtags, here are some tips on how they can be used to best effect.


Conversations

One of the ways that hashtags work really well is to allow conversations to be had on social media. This works especially well on Twitter. A hashtag will appear against a post, such as #lindsaywoodwardmarketing. Then everyone who wants to see what’s been said against this hashtag can just search for it and all the tagged posts will appear.


It’s how Twitter Hours work if you’re familiar with them. If you put in something like #LWMTwitterHour after every post that you write within that hour, then everyone else partaking in that Twitter Hour will be able to see what you’ve said and take part in a giant conversation. It works extremely well.


It’s also good for TV programmes or live events. It connects people all over the world who want to talk about something at the same time. For example, at the end of Line of Duty, people took to Twitter to pass their comments, and anyone who was interested could take a look at what other people thought of the series simply through the use of #lineofduty.


The only thing that is important here is that enough people know of or want to use the hashtag. If not enough people are interested in it or no one knows about that particular hashtag, it simply won’t happen.


Sum It Up

Hashtags were used by Twitter originally to help alleviate some of the issues of limited characters. You can say a lot with a hashtag. I use #marketing all the time. I don’t then need to say I work in marketing or I’m a Marketing Consultant. I can say what I need to and then just use #marketing to sum up the context. If you were sharing information specifically for small businesses, you could just say what you need to and then put #SME at the end. It says it all without you having to go into the detail in the post. It keeps it efficient. Think how you can use hashtags more smartly to keep your posts punchier.


Connect

One of the more common ways that hashtags are used in the business world is to find and connect audiences. If I’m sharing one of my blogs that offer marketing tips, I might use #marketingtips. Then anyone who is looking for marketing tips might come across my content. I often get people I don’t know like and share my content through the use of hashtags. The numbers aren’t massive, but it’s an extra way to reach people.


What hashtags do you think your audience will be searching for? How can you sum up your content so different people find it?


Brand Awareness

Hashtags can be a useful way to connect with people, but they can also be used to connect your company’s information together. If you use #yourcompanyname at the end of every post, then anyone who is looking for more information relating to your business will be able to find it. They’ll also know what to use if they want to comment on something relating to your business. Unless you’re a massive company, you’re unlikely to get a lot of conversation around this, but it is a way for you to take some control and link things together.


Show Support

If there is a cause you’re passionate about, a national day you’re celebrating or an event happening that you are interacting with, you might want to add in a relevant hashtag. It might not be about a conversation, but if people are aligned to your cause or have an interest in what you’re talking about then they might search for that hashtag and see what is happening. Or if someone is following you, they will see what matters to you in a simple and effective way.


Just saying that you support an issue and using the relevant hashtag alone can be quite powerful and can help to get people to know you better. A hashtag brings things to life more.


Use Them Wisely

Although hashtags have their purpose, don’t go overboard. I always tell people to walk in the shoes of their audience. When was the last time you searched for anything via a hashtag? Do you navigate your way through the social media world by searching for what people have said about certain business topics? I know very few people who use social media in this way. So if you’re not searching through hashtags, the chances are your customers aren’t either.


Having the odd hashtag that is used strategically to either sum up, grab interest or show support can be very wise. But don’t drown your post in hashtags. And don’t spend ages searching for new and interesting ones. When I teach marketing, I tell people to think about the return on investment of their time. If you spend half a day looking for the latest hashtags that might be relevant, are you really going to get the level of engagement that justifies all that time? It’s highly unlikely.


Whatever you do, think about how your audience is likely to react and don’t waste your time doing things for the sake of it because you hope it might work. Hashtags have their place, but know why you’re using them and what you hope to get out of them.


As a little tip, hashtags work well on Twitter and Instagram. Not so much on LinkedIn, and not at all on Facebook.


To find out more about using your time wisely in marketing, check out my Marketing Book.

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