We posted a short article in October of 2012 after a number of questions on #hashtags. A lot of things have occurred over the last year and a half.
- We can pretty much say for sure that tweets with hashtags generate twice as much engagement (that includes clicks, retweets, favorites and replies) as tweets without hashtags.
- Now every major social network allows the use of hashtags it is even more important to understand why they are such an important part of social media.
If you are new to using hashtags a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages around a specific topic or category of interest. Simply, it is a social media tagging system that categories content.
Why is that important? For a couple of reasons.
- Many people monitor hashtags as a way to keep in the loop on specific topics. Essentially they track what is being said on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google plus. The result is your hash tagged content will be found!The inverse is also true. When you want to target your social media messages to a specific group, there is no better way that by using relevant hashtags.
- Hashtags allow you to monitor an extreme amount of information. It gives you the opportunity to whittle down the thousands of updates we receive daily from customers, competitors, and friends.
- By monitoring hashtags related to your brand or product offering, you always have an idea of what people are saying about you or your industry. The smart business folks are looking. These conversations are taking place whether you are monitoring them or not. If you aren’t…maybe your competitor is.Similarly, tracking your company hashtags allows you the opportunity to provide a higher level of customer service. By monitoring mentions of your brand or company name you are able to find and respond to comments and complaints quickly an accurately. When you find praise, compliments, or recommendations , you can take advantage by thanking and re-posting.
- Finally, you can use hashtags for a special events, a weekly discounted product or promotions to make sharing effortless. Ask people to #Companydiscout to claim and track this weeks promotion.
You can read between the lines in the above and realize that there are many implied benefits. Obviously, if you are monitoring your brand- you can monitor the brand of your competitor. With that information, you can make adjustments in your targeting and messaging.
Even if folks are not tracking hashtags, a potential customer might do a search to learn more about a product. If you are fortunate enough to be “trending” (that means that folks are using a specific hashtag so frequently that is trending) your messaging will get a lot of attention.
So, let’s get started! Here are a couple of dos:
Be specific: If you’re using a hashtag to join a conversation, make sure the hashtag is specific and relevant to your topic. If you’re talking a recipe for lasagna, use #lasagnarecipe instead of simply #lasagna or #recipe. A vague or generic hashtag like #food or #lovethis isn’t effective either.
Less is better: Hashtags, like links, look like spam if they are used too often. Three hashtags should be the maximum on Twitter and Facebook, but you can get away with more hashtags on Instagram and Vine. Never hashtag the same word twice
Provide context: A tweet that contains only hashtags is not only unclear — it’s boring. If your tweet simply reads, “#great,” your followers will have no idea what you’re talking about. In the same way, don’t just state the obvious—add something to the conversation.
Network Specific: Do tailor hashtags to the social network you’re using. Read their guidelines and follow the same protocol as the other users.
What are the main social networks that use and support hashtags?
Here is the short list – each network has a different tweak on how they use them.
Twitter: The network that brought us the hashtag is the most popular site to use it on.
Google+: Google+ provides one main variance. Google+ will add hashtags to content if they think that it is a relevant and popular keyword. Although you can always opt-out of this.
Facebook: A late comer to hashtags. You’ll also see the different trending topics in the top right hand corner of your News Feed.
Instagram: Used to see similar photos. Hashtag the picture you took and it will create a link to a page with other pictures of the same subject.
YouTube: Users can leave comments with hashtags, which will then click through to a page with videos that contain that hashtag in their title.
Kickstarter: Sorting by different hashtags can make it easier for you to find projects you’d be interested in investing in.
Vine: Obviously, Vine (owned by Twitter) has included the functionality. As with other sites, adding a link to your Vine’s description will bring you to a page with Vine’s on the same topic.
Tumblr: There is an area at the bottom of your posting page that asks you to add “tags.” When you start to type a tag for your post, Tumblr will automatically add a hashtag to the front of it.
Pinterest: Remember hashtags aren’t searchable on Pinterest, so you need to just search the keyword to find the content. When you create a hashtag on Pinterest they’re only clickable in a Pin description.
Using hashtags will allow you to make a good impression on a wide social media audience. Monitoring hashtags will allow you the opportunity to evaluate. Make sure you’re sharing the best content, making the right impression, and you’ll be trending soon enough.
Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with Jerry on Google+.