Today, an official Twitter account is considered indispensible for any business in the social media marketing sphere. As a marketer, you have used tweets and the advertising features on Twitter. But, have you also used hashtags? If you have, has it been as much as you could?
Regardless, here are a few pointers on how you can make really good use of hashtags:
- Lookout for business-specific discussions: Use Twitter to learn about important updates in your industry. For example, if you are a small-scale industry, you can use hashtags like #SMB or #smallbiz to learn more about your industry. Blanket hashtags like #SMB may bring up a large number of tweets. A quick peek every now and then, with a few scrolls down the feed should suffice.
For specific information about your field of business, like accounting, you can use the hashtag #accounting. You can narrow down hashtags by topic if you want to.
- Don’t complicate it and maintain constancy: When creating hashtags for your tweets, keep a few things in mind. Keep it simple and direct. Long and complex hashtags end up confusing people. They are neither search-friendly nor are they usually used. Using complex hashtags will lead to them getting buried under the onslaught of other tweets quickly.
Another thing to remember is, don’t make your tweets “hashtag heavy”. Bundling a tweet with 6 or 7 hashtags makes you look desperate and you will lose followers quickly. Keep it reasonable with 1 to 2 hashtags per tweet.
- Craft your own hashtags: Hashtags are great tools through which you can generate a lot of buzz around your marketing campaigns. This is one of the reasons many big brands want to create their own hashtags. You can also use hashtags when you want to launch a contest. You can ask people to tweet including a particular hashtag when they are submitting entries to your contest. You can then see all the submissions in one place after the submission time is over.
When hosting events, you can generate excitement by creating a unique hashtag for the event. You can ask people to tweet with it during the event. This way, people who have attended the event physically and via the web will be able to follow discussions and activities.
Unleash your creative streak. Use hashtags for Twitter chats. Invite industry experts and have them answer the questions tweeted by your followers. You can also kick start a Twitter hashtag game. This is a good way to get people to connect with your brand.
- Categorize your social dashboard by hashtags: In order to have a finger on the hashtag pulse, you can make designated, accessible columns on your social dashboard. Regardless of whether you are using HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can create columns by social network, Twitter hashtag, list or search term. You can also add a business-theme hashtag column and continue adding more columns when they become relevant (a hashtag marketing campaign or contest). You can remove the column after the hashtag’s been used.
- Take advantage of Follow Friday - The Follow Friday trend began with the hashtag #FollowFriday, which has now changed to #FF. This trend is a great chance for your business to get its name out there and get noticed. You can create a #FF tweet in two ways. One way is to put together a list of great people to follow and add in as many Twitter handles as possible in one tweet with the hashtag #FF.
People may also opt to support only one or two persons per #FF tweet in a more personal approach. You can also create a tweet for one person if you want to appreciate or communicate with them.
- Make sure that your hashtag is new: You need to make sure that the keywords or phrases you’ve selected for your hashtag are new. After the selection, go to Twitter/Search and enter your keywords in the search box. If you see results pulling up, it means that somebody is currently using those words/phrases.
If someone is already using the words/phrases you have picked, you need to select new keywords/phrases. This will prevent people who are not part of your campaign target audience from participating in/diluting your conversations.
- Select keywords related to your industry and brand: Even if someone is not actively searching for them, your hashtags can help convey messages to people. Selecting industry/brand related keywords can help you grab people’s attention even if they are not following your hashtag conversation. For example, a person you are following may tweet about a contest using a hashtag. You will see this tweet in your feed though you are not following the entire conversation. If the hashtag used is an industry or branded keyword you are interested in, you will read the full conversation that is happening around that hashtag. This is a plus for the marketer who created that hashtag – and you could become that marketer by selecting the right keywords for your hashtag!
- Handle sentiments with care: Regardless of the emotion you are highlighting in your hashtags, make sure that your customers feel the same about your brand. If not, your campaign can easily go downhill. Because, hashtags can also be abused by people. A campaign launched by you with a particular hashtag can be used by people to tweet about the negative experiences they have had with your brand. The highlight here is it is possible that people will interpret your hashtags in different ways.
- Highlight and promote your hashtag: Your hashtag will serve its purpose only if it is known to people. Add your hashtags to your current resources and channels to start conversations around them. For instance, if you are hosting an event, create a hashtag for it and add it to your event collateral. During the event, make it a point to remind attendees about the hashtag (so that they use it in their tweets). Also, add the hashtag to the social sharing links you post on landing pages.
- Don’t piggyback on sensitive hashtags: Piggybacking on hashtags of sensitive situations can lead to a public backlash and you may get caught in a PR nightmare. Twitter also has a lot to say on the subject of hashtag abuse. So refrain from using sensitive hashtags.
- Don’t make it elongated: Make sure that your hashtag is short and so, easy to remember. The character restriction on tweets (140 characters with or without hashtags) binds users’ scope for expression. So if your hashtag is short, people can add in their comments about your content.
Got any other tips about using Twitter hashtags? Let us know in your comments.