How hashtags can help you build your business, gain new followers, and showcase your expertise
The simple little number sign first began appearing on Twitter in 2000, and has since become a widely used, well-recognized Twitter topic categorization tool. Now dubbed the “hashtag,” the symbol is used to classify an extraordinarily wide variety of topics.
You see those tags everywhere, but perhaps you aren’t sure what they are or why you should care. Your organization can leverage hashtags to meet a variety of marketing objectives. Take to Twitter to drive website traffic, build brand awareness, showcase your expertise, announce events, and keep followers engaged by enabling them to easily follow relevant tweets. (Such as, lowest prices of the year #BoulderAutoSale!). You can also encourage followers to visit your website or blog by tweeting about topics they care about. The tags can be used to link back to an article, blog post, site, or video (for example, the benefits of using your dealer for regular maintenance #dealermaintenance #BoulderAuto).
You can use the hashtag classification system to identify tweets related to the same topic. The more users who employ the same hashtag, the more the topic will trend upward. Those topics that are tagged the most will end up highlighted in Twitter’s Trending Topics page. Though the concept of tagging is relatively simple, it’s critical that you understand how to appropriately tag your posts without offending or annoying others, miscategorizing posts, or inadvertently claiming or creating a tag that’s already in use. Armed with this information, you can then get to work using the hashtag to your advantage.
If you’re looking to highlight a unique aspect of your business, announce an event or promotion, or discuss a relevant hot topic related to your organization, the first step is to choose a hashtag. Perhaps you want to join a conversation already trending in order to promote yourself or your business as a topic expert. In this case, carefully research the most popular version of the tag, which may have a variety of formats (#carmaintenance, #vehiclemaintenance, #carcare), and choose the most widely used. Or you may want to create an entirely new topic unique to your business, event, or idea. If so, choose wisely. With so many hashtags in use, you’ll want to be sure to employ a tag not currently in use. The best way to do so is to add uniquely identifying information (#BoulderAutoDecemberSale).
Regardless of the topic you choose, tag your own company’s name separately within the same tweet (#BoulderAuto), so you can begin to build a group of tweets that are all related to your company. While you want to ensure your tag is unique, take care to ensure spelling is correct and that the tag isn’t so long that others might find it cumbersome to retweet or write about on their own (especially important given Twitter’s 140-character limit).
Though Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags, it’s not the only social media site on which the symbol can be found. If you are looking to create a real presence for your new tag, consider employing it across multiple channels, such as Facebook and Google+. You can and definitely should also use tweets to link back to your pages on those sites, as well as to existing blog posts, your website, relevant articles, and more, boosting traffic on your organization’s other online “homes” and/or raising awareness of a given subject.
Before you get started, remember that it’s easy to get tag-crazy. You may assume that the more tags in your tweet, the more searches you’ll show up in, and the more folks will read your posts. Unfortunately, many users before you have been there, done that, and it’s generally considered poor etiquette to include more than three tags in your post. Those users who add too many tags or who attach unrelated tags to their posts may lose the interest of their readers or even find themselves suspended or kicked off social media sites.
Hashtags are highly effective means of categorizing and organizing tweets in what would otherwise be a rather chaotic, albeit character-limited environment. Your organization can reap the benefits of tagging by carefully considering which tags to use, following proper etiquette, and using tags as a means to not only build a following but also drive traffic to your organization’s other social media sites and website. With knowledge and understanding, as well as some research and preparation, you can easily begin leveraging hashtags to promote your business, help your customers to see you as an authority in your field, build brand and subject awareness, and boost web traffic. So go ahead and tag that tweet!
Do you use hashtags in a special way? Please let us know in the comments below.
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