The Hashtag: using it to boost your business views on social media

  • March 7, 2015
what-the-hashtag

Hashtags are everywhere.  From being used in text messages to being spotted on the catwalk.  They first arrived on Twitter back in 2007 but have since spread to most other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Blogger and Pinterest.

In this blog we discuss what they are and how you can use them to promote your business online.

#WhatIsIt?

Hashtags generate an incentive for your business to pigeonhole posts, making it simple for your customers to find other posts on the same topic.  Putting the hash symbol (#) directly in front of a word or phrase without spaces allows other users to find it.

Take a look at the left hand side of your Twitter feed (swipe left if you’re using the app), here you can follow what’s being discussed on Twitter.  This is known as ‘trending’.  So if you click on #SiteZulu, you can see who has been chatting about us and what they’ve been saying.

#Why?

Hashtags have several uses.

Firstly, they can help you keep track of who (or who isn’t) talking about your business.  People, primarily use #hashtags when they’ve either got something really great or really bad to say, and want to share these thoughts.

If your business experiences a negative hashtag, contact the person – doing so is a great way to show off your customer service skills.  If it’s positive, make sure you share what’s been said about you.  This is the first step in starting your business ‘trending’.

Secondly, hashtags allow other people to discover what you’re talking about.  So, if finding other people’s hashtags is like joining an existing conversation, think about using your own as starting a new one.

#HowToUse

Here’s a few tips on how to/to not use hashtags:

  1. Only use hashtags that are relevant. Don’t tweet about something just because it’s trending.  If you can relate it to your business that’s great, but don’t do it just because you can.   You can talk about how much you love #bbqsauce on your personal account.
  2. On that note – make sure all hastags have context.  As mentioned in our ‘Why your business needs Social Media post‘, Social Media acts like a conversation, so only use hashtags when it will add something to the discussion.
  3. Don’t spam-add hashtags. There is nothing more annoying than having to scroll through endless tagged words #nothingmoreannoying #annoying #annoyed #spam #pointless #toomanyhastags.  #Just #Don’t #Do it
  4. Don’t do it because you feel like you should.  Just because you have characters left on your Tweet, don’t use a hashtag just to fill the space.  You can sometimes stimulate followers more with a conversation, or a link to a page.

Keeping this mind, here’s a useful example.

elf-post

Here, Comedienne Elf Lyons has used hashtags to link into the Adelaide Fringe Festival, so that anyone in Australia searching for ADLFringe will also see her show; Being Barbarella.

Because she has also hashtagged the name of her show, people can easily discover the festival through her.  By tagging the name of the venue, she has given them the opportunity for cross-promotion.  A stand-up job.

#UseTheseTrends

Just help get you started, here are a couple of trends that are already in use – you should find it easy to connect to these.  By using these, you’ll already be connected to other people, who can see what you’re promoting.

#ThrowBackThursday or #TBT – Seen every Thursday, this is when people show old photos or posts.  It’s a great way of showing a personal side to your business, or illustrate just how far you’ve come as a company.

audi-throw-back-thursday

Audi uses #TBT on Instagram really effectively to show pictures of old models of cars.  This has resulted in some great discussion.

#FollowFriday or #FF – A chance for you to recommend another business every Friday.  This can be a fantastic opportunity for cross-promotion.  So if you have a joint event coming up, or a sponsor, this is your chance to mention them and tag them in a post.  This way they can both share the post themselves and return the favour.  It’s a simple but effective way to expand your audience.

Here’s how book festival States of Independence uses #ff to full effect:

festival States of Independence

#CreateYourOwn

It’s usual for some companies to create their own hashtags.  This is a good way to help share news about specific products or to help boost new promotional offers.  A nice example of this happened with Sean Hanna Salons, who used the hashtag #SpotTheSHBus on Twitter and Instagram to involve people in their new bus campaign.

#Remember

There are different trends for different social media sites.  As we said last week, make sure you customise each post for each platform by looking at what’s popular on each, as every social media site has different users.   There’s a lot to be gained by taking a couple of minutes to do this.

And remember: always #hashtag responsibly.


Ellen Fife
Ellen studied at the University of Kent, followed by a MA in scriptwriting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She enjoys photography, and has her own site for her pictures, theatre and video games.