Social media 121 series: How to hashtag – What are they, when do you use them, and why on earth use them?

February 5, 2018

Continuing the Social Media 121 series this week, it’s all about hashtags. Many clients that come in for personal support with their social media are confused about the relevance of a hashtag and whether it’s really worth bothering with.

 

What is a hashtag all about?

Used in Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and now LinkedIn, hashtags are very firmly ‘social speak’, and have rapidly become one of the most effective marketing tools within social media. Used for promoting awareness days, competitions and to generate feedback and conversations with your customers, a simple # can have a huge impact…

 

Our social media manager, Hilary always refers to hashtags as paperclips, linking all the posts containing that hashtag in one forum style list. If you’re on Twitter, type in # followed by a topic and you’ll see all the tweets. You will also see what’s ‘trending’, in a list on the left-hand side. Trending simply means the most popular hashtags in use right now, and it’s ever-changing.

 

Using hashtags for visibility

And the point of seeing all the related tweets? You can jump on the bandwagon and talk about what’s popular, linking it to your business. A terrific example of this is when Push Start Marketing attended the WOBA awards dinner last year. We took photos and used the #woba2017 hashtag, which meant we were visible to all the other businesses that were paying an interest in the awards.

 

As it happens, we were visible to businesses outside the awards too, and we picked up a client from Twitter that night.

 

Hashtags for promotion

Giveaways and promotional campaigns on social media are more effective with a hashtag. Think about the ‘like and share’ type giveaways. It’s easy for you to see all the entries if they use a relevant hashtag, but it also gets your followers promoting your business for you.

 

Hashtags for engagement

Social media marketing is all about being social and engaging with your followers. You might like to instigate a hashtag campaign to have a conversation with your followers about an aspect of your business. For example, #SocialMedia121 #SocialiseMe. Followers that use the same hashtags can join in a group forum style conversation and you can have some fun reading all the comments. A great way to improve and develop your business.

 

A word of warning when using hashtags

If you open your business to social media and ask for honest feedback, you must be prepared for what may come… There is a popular story about McDonalds who used #MeetTheFarmers to collect stories about their meat suppliers. It worked wonderfully, with lots of positive comments. However, the second hashtag they used, #McDStories, resulted in stories from customers joining in, which were not so positive, resulting in the hashtag and the feed being taken down with hours of launching.

 

Hilary suggests making use of capital letters in hashtags to make them more reader friendly and to avoid potential mishaps like the launch of Susan Boyles album. Anyone remember the #SusanAlbumParty that looked like this: #susanalbumparty? Powergen Italia had a mishap with one of their hashtags too: #Powergenitalia. So, you see, take care to read what you write, not what you think you wrote!

 

Some topics can have a double meaning too, or a slightly darker side, so it is always a good idea to have a cautionary search on social media to see what you would be aligning your message with.

 

Have fun with hashtags

Ultimately, hashtags should be a bit fun. Here’s a few you can try out, that will add personality to your postss, without creating a storm:

 

#MondayMotivation – For the inspirational quote, or if your get-up-and-go has got up and gone, try #MondayBlues

 

#TipTuesday – A helpful business gives away a little bit, for free! Could you break up your latest blog into Tuesday tips?

 

#WednesdayWisdom – More famous quotes, or tips for your readers

 

#ThankyouThursday – tag your latest Twitter followers, or your best suppliers/customers

 

#FridayFact – stats, definitions or just something fun about your locality or industry

 

#FeelGoodFriday – great for the beauty or leisure industry, or simply if you know you’ve had a productive week

 

#Caturday – Cats are very popular on social. Especially with photographers, pet groomers, cat loving business folk at home at the weekends.

 

#SundayFunday – Great of you find yourself working over the weekend, or taking part in a charity event

 

If you have tried, and enjoyed using hashtags, tell us about your favourites on Twitter, tag us with @PushStart_ and use #SM121 #PushStartMarketing, so we can see them! And if you want help with your social media strategy or implementation, come and have a coffee with Hilary…

 

 

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