The very fact you’re reading this online makes it very likely you know what a hashtag is. If you’ve heard of the trending phenomenon but are still not sure how to wield hashtags to your small business marketing advantage, fear not. We know that the larger social media becomes, the more small business marketing tactics evolve. That’s why we’ve written this blog – to give you a crash course in hashtags so that you can go forth and market like a seasoned digital professional.
Hashtags started out on Twitter, but now appear in almost every type of media
Hashtags look this this - # - and are followed by a word or phrase. They were born on Twitter and were quickly adopted as a way of categorising a tweet. A hashtag within a tweet takes you to a page that aggregates every single tweet with the same hashtag in it. The hashtag then spread to other social networks, like Facebook, even before hashtags were officially adopted by them. They’re being included in traditional advertising and also appear on our TV screens as we tune into our favourite series. Hashtags have even crept into our spoken language, demonstrating how they’ve become a cultural token of our time, as well as a useful small business marketing tool.
Hashtags make it possible to engage with people interested in the same things as you
Now, there are about 20 social media sites that use hashtags – Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and Google+ are a few of them. Hashtags help you reach the right people and engage them in conversation: something a market researcher from twenty years ago would have paid good money for. Today, small business marketing can be so much more effective because of this chance to engage niche target audiences in conversation for free - thanks to hashtags and social media.
Less is more when it comes to using hashtags on Twitter
So, you understand what a hashtag is. The next step is using them effectively alongside your startup marketing package. It’s all very well typing a # followed by a random word or phrase of your choice, but it might not achieve the goal of drawing people to your content or engaging them in conversation. Each social media platform will have different etiquette when it comes to using hashtags. If you want your tweet to get as many interactions as possible, then stick to one or two hashtags per tweet, as tweets with more than two hashtags suffer a 17% drop in engagement compared to tweets with less than two. For more information about Twitter hashtag protocol, click here.
When it comes to Instagram, don’t be afraid to go wild
Instagram is another story. You can use up to 30 hashtags per photo, and the more hashtags the more “likes” you’ll get. If you’re still unsure about correct hashtag protocol, consult this Buffer App blog, which has a great in-depth analysis of hashtag best practice across Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
Hashtagify can help you identify popular and relevant hashtags to use
So how do you even know which hashtags to use to boost your small business marketing strategy? Firstly, check out sites like What the Trend or Hashtagify to identify popular hashtags that are relevant to your business. You could also try creating a hashtag to generate hype around your brand – but keep it short, snappy and simple. Try to avoid including your brand name in the hashtag, and remember: you don’t have to include a hashtag in every tweet.
Hashtags make it easier for Google to find you in search results
Another nifty way to use hashtags to your strategic advantage is to embed them in your website so visitors are whisked instantly away to the relevant hive of conversation on social media. Hashtagify provide a widget that makes it possible to access hashtag data from Twitter. Something many don’t realise is that by using hashtags on social media, you’re making it easier for Google to find you. Say, for example, you’re a surf shop and regularly tweet with the hashtag #surfing. Google identifies #surfing as a keyword, so every time someone searches “surfing in Cape Town”, your tweets have a greater chance of appearing higher up in the search results.