Social Media

How to master the use of #hashtags in your marketing campaigns

Hashtags are everywhere, so we'd like to share some tricks to help you unlock their power.

Hashtags can be used in a number of different ways to help you boost your campaigns. There are some basic rules you need to know before you can start to use them properly, but you also need to employ a little bit of cunning in order to take full advantage of this useful tool.

I spend a good amount of time every week doing online research, reviewing social media platforms across all types of industries and evaluating marketing campaigns. Many companies have social media profiles, but not all are using them correctly. One of the biggest mistakes companies repeatedly make is the use (or misuse) of hashtags.

First of all, you should know that this tool is no longer exclusive to Twitter, but now extends across multiple platforms including Facebook. The original idea behind the tool was to link disparate topics, but this is no longer the principal function of it for marketers. Hashtags have become essential to their marketing campaigns, not only to bring brand awareness but to launch individual products, events and movie premieres.

The use of hashtags is like every other tool: if you don’t know how to use it properly you can end up doing some serious damage. Here are 5 tips to help you master the use of hashtags:

1. Choose your hashtags wisely

It takes some research to find the correct hashtag for your post. Fitness, Tech, Food, Parenting… each topic has a variety of successful hashtags and you must do your research before you begin posting. One of the places where hashtags are generally misused is Instagram. Unlike Twitter, Instagram has no character limit, and this opens up the opportunity to add more hashtags and reach a wider audience However, I’ve seen too many brands getting carried away and using the wrong hashtags, therefore generating no engagement whatsoever.

Fitness is one of the biggest trends on social media. If your company runs a local gym your audience won’t find you by looking for #gym, but by using other hashtags and search terms they are passionate about i.e. #Fitness #FitnessMotivation #yoga or #Crossfit. Use more specific hashtags like these, and you could achieve real engagement.

Instagram has a neat feature: when you search for a specific hashtag, it shows you the number of times that hashtag has been used online. So if you have a giveaway to shout about in your social media, build that into your research. You will find #Giveaway has 13M shares and #Prize has 485K. Easy peasy, right? Twitter doesn't give you this kind of data directly on the app, but you can use RiteTag to see the most successful hashtags (which is vital on Twitter due to its character limitation).

2. Make them count

When you start a new social media channel for your company, hashtags can be your best friends. No one knows you, you appear with a brand new profile and you start with 0 followers. Do not expect people to “magically” find your profile. You can publish the most exciting news, pictures and articles, but if you don’t include the appropriate hashtag in the post, people are far less likely to find you.

Are you tweeting about a concert happening in London? Use #LiveMusic #London. Are you a tech geek? Make sure to add #TechNews

3. Use hashtags offline too

Take advantage of hashtags with your online and offline marketing campaigns.
For example, make sure to promote a hashtag when you launch a new product or seasonal offer. New research claims that the 20 most effective campaigns produce a 38% increase in smartphone brand actions. What does that mean? Your offline campaign can have an impact on the people viewing your ad, but the first contact with the brand will most likely be online. If you search for the brand’s Instagram profile you can only see what they post about, if you search for a hashtag, you can easily see everyone’s opinion and interaction with the brand.

4. Create real impact

Hashtags can communicate the simplest and most powerful ideas, and sometimes this is all it takes to create real impact. We can all relate to Hillary Clinton’s name, everyone knows it, but the impact of #ImWithHer on Twitter was a direct positive action during the recent US presidential campaign. If her campaign had built a hashtag around her name it could have been hijacked for negative purposes. By coming up with #ImWithHer there is no doubt people using the hashtag were actually endorsing the presidential candidate.

5. It’s all about the (double) meaning

The internet is littered with hashtag failure stories, and these prove how ugly things can get when you either misunderstand or miss a potential ambiguity in a hashtag. Most of the time, the problem relates to the use of capital letters. The fact that you start tweeting with a capital letter doesn’t mean it will remain this way. Users tweet quickly, and you want to make sure your hashtag is not misspelled, misunderstood or carries more than one meaning when written with no spacing or capital letters. Here you can see some of the biggest failures. My favourite? Let’s just say the New Album Party promotion for singer Susan Boyle #susanalbumparty ended up generating a lot of memes.

Here at Webstars, we like to experiment with hashtags ourselves, often improving engagement drastically on a range of social media channels. Social Media offers businesses so many opportunities, but you need to know how to make the most of them.

If you'd like to find out more about the use of hashtags or would like further information on how to launch your new product or improve your brand awareness online, get in touch or contact us through any of our social media channels @Webstarsltd.

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