If your business is on Twitter, part of your social media strategy should include using hashtags to track conversations, network with others in your field, and shape conversation around your brand.
But assuming that you're new to Twitter and social media, let's talk first about what a hashtag is.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded immediately with a pound sign (#) without a space separating the pound sign (aka hashtag) from the term it follows.
A hashtag for social media, for instance, might be #socialmedia.
Hashtags emerged from Twitter users in its early days to help with Twitter search, help categorize conversations (important at the speed Twitter moves at!) and for marketing purposes as well.
Some businesses or organizations choose to use a hashtag with their brand name. (#Apple, #Nike, etc.) This makes it more likely for a brand's name or tweets to be found in a targeted search for that term (and decreases the likelihood of finding tweets about eating tasty apples instead of #Apple products).
But hashtags aren't just a convenient way to follow Twitter conversations. If used strategically, they can be used to enhance your company's way to communicate with your audience on Twitter, and here's how.
3 Ways for Using Twitter Hashtags as Part of your Social Media Strategy:
#1: Keep it simple.
While Twitter hashtags are a great part of social media strategy, it's important to keep each hashtag simple and not to use too many of them in a single tweet. No more than 2 or 3 hashtags at most should go in a single Tweet, and not in every Tweet. Also, if you are using an automated service to post your Tweets, make sure not to post your Tweets with hashtags in them to other social media platforms such as your Facebook page or your LinkedIn profile. Why? Many people are turned off by seeing hashtags on other profiles, as it's a pretty clear sign you're posting from an automated service. Websites like Hashtags.org and What The Trend are great ones for finding trending hashtags.
#2: Create your own hashtag.
Using your own hashtag is a great way to create buzz around your brand and any current events related to your brand such as a new marketing initiative. Rolling out a new product? Create a hashtag. Better yet – host a Twitter party related to the release of that new product and create some buzz by using a #hashtag during the party.
#3: Use social dashboards and organize them according to hashtags.
Using a third party social dashboard and organizing it by hashtag is an easy way to follow hashtags that are relevant to your business niche. If you're someone who uses Twitter extensively and need to know when new tweaks to the platform are made, make a #Twitter stream on HootSuite, for example, to follow the conversation about Twitter. General small business trends can be followed by making a column for #smallbiz, etc.
Are you using Twitter hashtags as part of your social media strategy? Let me know – I'd love to hear.