Hashtags are nearly 10 years old. They were created in 2007 by Chris Messina as a way to categorize content on Twitter (instead of using the traditional blog posts’ tags and categories). In 2012 and 2013, Google and Facebook respectively added them to their own timelines, and hashtags are also at the core of all Instagram posts.
And yet, many people on the online business segment still have no idea of how to use hashtags so to increase their number of followers and their engagement. Some will overdo them, others will just ignore them altogether. But statistics say that you should take hashtags seriously as they are responsible for doubling the engagement rate on Twitter, for example. And here is how you will do it.
Hashtags are a perfect way to make people talk about a topic of your choice. The company Always, for instance, made the news after launching their campaign #LikeAGirl with the idea of how stereotypes are created and established in our culture.
Their video ad went viral and was watched by over 80 million people worldwide. But more than that, it made people connect Always’s brand to a cause directly related to their target audience (females from puberty-aged and older) which certainly made a difference in their sales figures.
This is one of few opportunities when you will be able to request your social media followers to do something for you, and they might actually do it. You can ask them, for example, to share their personal experiences with your product and post them on social media, followed by the hashtag of your choice as part of a promotional campaign.
Of course, there will be a prize in there, but your investment will be nothing compared to what you will get in terms of brand awareness and number of followers. Plus, people love having a good motivation to share their own ideas with the world, so it can never go wrong.
When it comes to creating hashtags, you will need to follow some rules so they will be recognized as such on social media. And here they are:
- Don’t use spaces, punctuation, or @ symbol;
- When using more than one word, capitalize all of them to improve readiness (#FridayFeelings instead of #fridayfeelings or #Fridayfeelings);
- Make them short (#StillLaughing instead of “Can’tStopLaughingOutLoud”);
- Don’t over do it, writing several hashtags in a row – best way to find out the best number is by following Twitter 140-characters rule;
- They should be original, and not copy those already famous and in use (No point in creating a variation of #MondayMotivation, for example);
- They should start conversations or make people take action (such as #ThrowbackThursday or #TransformationTuesday)
Another thing you should be aware is that hashtags will make your post public even if your account is private. They also should be memorable and focus on the conversation itself, not on the brand’s name.
Hashtags are a great source of information about your target audience. If you are looking for content ideas, you certainly should check which hashtags they are currently following on social media.
You can read their opinions about the topic in question, find out their expectations and their complaints without having to bother them directly or to spend tons of money on surveys.
You don’t have to create your own hashtags to achieve your goals. You can just join a conversation or use those already popular among your target audience. And to find out which hashtags are trending at the moment you can use one of these web-based services below:
- WhatTheTrend: if you ever wondered why a topic is trending on Twitter, check What The Trend website. They not only publish a ranking of the trending hashtags but also a short explanation about the topic and for how long it is on the top list.
- Hashtags.org: there you can see the most popular hashtags organized by topics, their estimated number of tweets per hour and the most recent tweets. And if you decide to upgrade their service, their analytics get even better.
- Twitonomy: this is a monitoring and analytics tool that will let you know much more than what is trending. It will give crucial insights about your own Twitter account that will change the way you see it.
It is important to say here that despite the fact that the tools above have been created with Twitter in mind, they can give you insights about how to use hashtags on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and any other social media networks as well.
Hashtags are a great way to increase your number of followers and their engagement with our brand and business. They can be used to show your values and humanize your products or services and to build an emotional connection between your company and your clients.
But to enjoy these benefits, you will have to understand how they work from their writing to monitoring process. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to help you out. So start trying them all and make the most of what hashtags can bring to your digital marketing strategy.