If you’ve spent time on Twitter, you’ve likely noticed the prevalence of hashtags on the site. Denoted by the pound sign, hashtags are a great way for users to find all tweets related to a certain topic. Someone looking for all tweets related to the World Series would search for #WorldSeries, for instance, while someone interested in finding posts related to Halloween could type in #Halloween.
As a marketer, hashtags can be a valuable tool in your social media campaigns. Instead of only reaching the people who already follow you, you could widen your reach to a group of customers you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach. Here are a few ways hashtags can make your campaign more powerful.
Start a Conversation
The ultimate dream of any new hashtag is to “trend.” When a hashtag becomes extremely popular on Twitter, it lists among the top trending tags on the site. Since many users will click on those top trends, even more attention is called to those hashtags. Whether your goal is to trend or simply initiate an easy-to-follow conversation, creating a relevant, interesting hashtag is the first step.
If you’ve been to a conference or convention recently, you’ve likely seen these hashtags in action. Conference organizers encourage attendees to tweet using a particular hashtag. Throughout the conference, by simply clicking on or searching for that hashtag, attendees can see all posts related to the sessions and events. Big conferences like the Consumer Electronics Show will sometimes trend by sheer virtue of the number of attendees tweeting about it.
Add to an Existing Conversation
One popular technique for Twitter marketers is to choose a trending topic and add to the conversation. As you post an announcement about your new product or upcoming event, search for a hashtag that relates to it and incorporate the hashtag. You can even use more than one if you feel it might connect with more groups of users. Be careful not to overdo it, however. Posts with #too #many #hashtags #scattered #throughout can be difficult to read and annoying.
If you choose to interact on a trending hashtag, it’s important to always keep in mind that your followers can see your posts. You may get caught up in a discussion on Super Bowl Sunday, for instance, and post throughout the big game. Even though you’re sharing your love of football with hundreds of thousands of other fans interacting on the site, your own followers can still see what you post. Keep it professional at all times and, by all means, avoid engaging in arguments with cyber trolls. It’s easy for things to escalate and before you know it, you’ve alienated the customers and colleagues who happen to be online during that time.
Host a Contest
One great way to launch a successful hashtag is to create a contest. By simply hosting a giveaway or promising a discount to everyone who participates, you’ll see multiple instances of your hashtag at once. Each of those posts will be seen by those Twitter user’s followers, giving your hashtag even greater visibility and possibly welcoming additional people into the conversation.
To add even greater visibility to your hashtag campaign, consider hosting an image-based campaign. Images stand out in newsfeeds and customers have fun posting photos of themselves interacting with your product or socializing at your event. Once other customers start seeing the photos, they may choose to participate in the contest, as well.
Creating a hashtag that merely markets your product will likely be ineffective. At the very least, you’ll come across as trying to push your idea. Instead of centering your hashtag on your marketing campaign, come up with a unique way to promote your brand. Your hashtag will then serve as your slogan for that campaign.
Kmart’s #shipmypants campaign was a great example of this. The company incorporated the hashtag into a video campaign to promote its home shipping to great results. Customers found the videos funny enough to forward them, helping the campaign reach more customers.
Hashtags are an essential part of Twitter, helping you reach more customers and show your personality on the site. By observing how other brands are using hashtags and following topics that are trending, you can make the most of one of Twitter’s best marketing tools.