The secret is out, folks – hashtags get results. Whether you’re a business professional attempting to build brand recognition or just the average Joe with an affinity toward silly cat photos, the hashtag has completely changed the way we communicate across nearly all media. They help muffle the noise produced by hundreds-of-millions ofactive social media users and, from a business/marketing perspective, have opened up a direct link between the brand and the consumer.
So, what is a Hashtag?
Simply put, a hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the pound sign (#) that is used to identify and categorize online conversation of a particular topic or event. As a marketing strategy, hashtags give brands the opportunity to discover and create trends within their industry. Made popular back in 2007 thanks to Twitter, hashtags have since made their way through nearly every social network including Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and even Reddit.
Get Some Use Out of Your Hashtag
Any posts within the aforementioned social networks hyperlink all hashtags. When these links are clicked, you are able access a thread consisting of all posts that include said hashtag.
For example, say you’re looking to find like-minded Twitter users discussing the topic of infographics or infographic design. It’s as easy as typing in the search field “#infographicdesign” or “#infographic” – no spaces, sans the quotes – and clicking on the hashtag. You now have a data base consisting of literally thousands of potential infographic contacts and enthusiasts right at your finger tips.
Know the Hashtag You Want to Use
The way I see it, hashtags can be broken down into two categories – general and unique – and figuring out the one you want to use is highly dependent on your end goal. Are you looking to become more involved in conversations within your industry? Or, are you trying to start your own conversation and build a community? Whichever the case, the beginning stages will always be the same: Research and discovery.
If trends are what you seek, it’s recommended to go with the general hashtag. As the name suggests, these kinds of hastags cover broad topics and are mostly used to help you get a feel for the social tone of your industry and audience; the infographic topic from above is a great example of this.
The general hashtag is by far the most common and is a great way to not only interact with fellow peers, but also allows you to discover any potential new segments that you may have otherwise overlooked. It’s as simple as sifting through conversations within your field of interest, finding which hashtags are being used the most, and incorporating them into your own conversations.
If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, you’re best bet is to create a unique hashtag. Many companies and organizations with a strong brand presence often create their own hashtag specific to a special event, new product or media campaign. By creating a your own unique hashtag and spreading it across multiple media, you’re not only giving followers and brand advocates the opportunity to respond to and share your content across their own social feeds, you’re also setting yourself apart from the thousands of conversations within your industry.
Just keep in mind that the hashtag you choose to create should be something that is unique to your campaign, easy to remember and clearly stands out from existing hashtags. Again, research and discovery!
Stay Fresh, Don’t Overcomplicate it and Just Have Fun
Yes, it’s important to make sure that your hashtag use is relevant and you’re not just adding to all that social noise, but don’t forget that hashtags are just a fraction of the pie. It’s important to understand the overall messaging as every industry’s audience is unique and will demand a certain tone.; hashtags should only amplify that tone.
Bottom line is to just have fun and experiment. That’s what social media was built for in the first place!