Hashtags have become pretty mainstream. Almost everybody uses them and they’ve become a joke meme used to describe the hopelessly internet-obsessed. Yet for all this popularity, few businesses are using hashtags to best advantage. It’s time to learn how to optimize hashtags for your business!
Let’s start with the basics, just for clarity’s sake. Hashtags are keywords prefaced by a # — for example, #marketing. On social media sites, they are live links, and clicking on them takes you to a feed of all people using the same hashtag. It’s a natural connection to your core audience.
Hashtags are used on nearly every social media network with the notable exception of LinkedIn. In fact, if you want to learn more about hashtag best practices for individual networks, check out our channel best practices for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Adding a hashtag will help make your content discoverable and extend your audience by connecting with people of like interests. If you make up your own, bear in mind that hashtags can have numbers, but can’t have spaces or special characters.
With Rival IQ, you can take your hashtag game to the next level by easily identifying which hashtags perform the best in your competitive landscape using our Social Posts feature.
6 Ways to Optimize Hashtags for Business
1. Choose your hashtag(s) wisely.
Think outside the box to find clever ways to associate your product or service with something people naturally love to talk about. LG makes appliances, and their feed includes, for example, tweets with #recipes:
— LG Electronics (@LGUS) April 13, 2016
Had they chosen #stove, the resulting audience would be far less targeted…even though it seems like a natural choice.
2. Keep it short.
If your focus is B2B, you might choose #SMB or a combo pack – #SMB #Marketing to broaden your audience. Limit your hashtags, though, or you won’t have room left to be interesting. Long hashtags are very specific and not used much, so users are not searching for them.
3. Live blog/tweet events.
Industry events usually have lively hashtags, and joining in helps you connect with industry leaders and interested onlookers. Check out #SMMW16 to see how social media pros keep it lively and fun.
— Heather Gjerde (@LilMsSociable) April 19, 2016
My Facebook feed was full of selfies with Gary Vaynerchuk.
4. Create an event of your own.
An event doesn’t have to be a convention. It can be a contest or giveaway, an invitation to tour your business or have lunch. Anything that will appeal to your core customers. Popular hashtags include #contest, #giveaway, #freebie, and #swag.
5. Join a chat.
Industry chats are a great way to meet new people, including influencers. Even if you join a chat hosted by a competitor, you can connect with new friends. Chats are not the place for a sales pitch or self-promotion, so you won’t likely offend anyone. If you can’t find an industry chat, start one, and invite industry experts to share their wisdom.
IFFT has a lot of options for hashtag actions. Automatically add hashtag users to a list, cross-post hashtagged messages to other social channels, follow other users on snapchat, and more.
3 Ways Not to Optimize Hashtags
In addition to what you should do, there are a few things you should avoid like the plague.
1. Never insert a promo into a tragedy.
Every time something horrible happens, idiots will flock to try and hijack the thread. As I am writing this, #Wheniwas is trending. Women are invited to tweet their stories of sexism, sexual harassment and abuse. Here’s the description of the hashtag topic:
“Documenting experiences of sexism,harassment and assault to show how bad the problem is &create solidarity. We may add tweets with our @ or # in to the project.
Given that, and the heartbreaking messages from women who were sexually abused as young as 5 or 6, this tweet from a website that sells workout clothing is in spectacularly bad taste.
— Barbell Brigade (@BarbellBrigade) April 19, 2016
This one went fairly unnoticed, but a few brands have really damaged their reputations with hashtag hijacks during crisis moments.
2. Don’t go overboard.
You have only 140 characters to share your message. #marketing #smallbiz #B2B #WednesdayWisdom #companyname #SMB #businessadvice….it’s just annoying.
— Gartner (@Gartner_inc) April 19, 2016
3. Avoid used keywords.
Keywords already associated with other companies, tv shows, movies, or celebrities won’t yield the results you expect. If your B2B company name is Treanor, Walters & Dawson manufacturing, #TWD is not likely to connect you to your ideal customers.
— Blackberry Patch RP (@Tingling_Lemons) April 19, 2016
Using the right hashtags in the right way can help you connect with a much larger following and grow your business.