Hashtags Mean Business

by Patricia Bleck

Are you confused about the value and use of hashtags for business? I am crazy about their simplicity and power and I use them every day. Hashtags help people to find posts about the topics that interest them. Your brand can use them to connect with your target audience and take your social media content to the next level.

How do they work?

Hashtags connect your brand with others who are speaking about the same topic. When people search using a common hashtag, they will see the tagged content that addresses the same topic. For example, I often utilize #socialmedia in my posts. Others who follow or search for #socialmedia will see my tagged content. They expose your content to a wider audience, leading to conversations and additional connections with your brand’s audience.

Do they benefit my business?

Your business is on social media so you can grow brand awareness and connect with others, right? If that is a given, consider that you can use hashtags to expand the number of people who see your content. That alone is a good argument for using them. Also, they can help you to discover others who are talking about the topics that impact your business. Even if your business is already active in the social space, you can improve results by simply adding relevant hashtags to your posts.

How do businesses use them?

There are many ways that businesses can take advantage of hashtags.

Try finding relevant content via search. For example, a manufacturer of weed barriers can enter #garden in the Facebook search bar to discover many posts that relate to their business, including this nice post from Southern Hospitality.

Using hashtags

Image Credit: Southern Hospitality via Facebook

Follow up by connecting and interacting with companies and individuals who may positively impact your business.

You can also create your own optimized posts. Some platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, are naturals for hashtags – your brand will see results immediately. Place the number symbol in front of the word or string of words (no spaces in between words!) to create a hashtag in your post. Be sure to use terms that actually relate to what you are discussing. Take advantage of seasonal topics like holidays that are shared by a large number of people. For example, a manufacturer of ornaments may get Christmas shoppers to take notice of their products by using #ChristmasDecor or #ChristmasTree. Do the research to see what tags are trending.

Don’t throw random hashtags into your post unless you’re sure your audience gets the joke – it just confuses most people. Instagram is a special exception to this. My rule of thumb on Instagram is to use 3-4 primary hashtags in the initial post. Then follow up with a comment that includes less relevant hashtags which may still be meaningful to your audience. Additional hashtags may even add subliminal or commentary content that enhances the post and speaks to a specific audience. For instance, #blessed and #TBT are two enhancing hashtags that I see frequently. BunnyBaubles breaks down their hashtags into two groups in the following Instagram post and they put the enhancing hashtags, like “daisies”, in the Instagram post comments.

hashtags

Image credit: Bunny Baubles Blog

Once you use a hashtag on Instagram, you can tap on it to see related photos and videos uploaded by others.

Announce News

You can include hashtags in your posts to enhance important announcements. They are commonly added on Twitter to announce important news and to unite niche communities. Many couples announce that they are tying the knot with #gettingmarried. Law students tweet about the upcoming #barexam. Politicians use them to announce their candidacy for office. Brands use them to announce new products, services, personnel, and business results.

Create Awareness

Your organization can use hashtags to gain attention and organize group members. Activists utilize them to create awareness around issues. Announcements from world leaders and well-known brands using hashtags are quickly picked up by their audience. Last year, the foreign minister of Ukraine created #RussiaInvadedUkraine to alert others to their border breach. Many people retweeted the post and used the hashtag in their own posts. The coordinated hashtag went viral, gaining the attention of Twitter users, and the world.

hashtags

Image Credit: MFA of Ukraine

See more about the use of hashtags in Ukraine from Mashable.

How do businesses choose hashtags?

You might want to do a little research around your brand’s chosen topic to see which hashtags are being used. Spend time looking for hashtags that are used in your industry. For instance, physicians will find #doctor, #health, #healthcare, and #HealthyAging are common tags in the healthcare industry.

You can create your own hashtag based on your company tag line, special event, or promotion.

If you want to converse with people in a specific geographic area, hashtags are a great way to connect. Check Twitter to see what is trending in your area. You can even search by city. Last summer, the music festival #lollapalooza was in Chicago. Promoters, attendees, vendors and media used the hashtag to connect.

Other hashtags like #mondaymotivation are popular throughout the US. General hashtags like this may not focus the conversation sufficiently, but that may be okay for your purposes. Go ahead and play with it – it’s fun to experiment with hashtags to see what works.

Use the power of hashtags!

Hashtags help people to find posts about the topics that interest them. Use the power of hashtags to enhance your posts and make your brand’s social media content even more effective.

Additional resources

  • For more helpful information on hashtags, visit Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Here’s a nice blog post that focuses on the application of hashtags to specific social media sites.