Oh hashtag. You odd, compelling little pop culture phenomenon. You overused catchphrase. You silly thing that the kids are texting about these days. You powerful search marketing term?
Yes. As much as “hashtag whatever” is used as a punchline in every teen movie these days, the hashtag is nothing to giggle at.
In fact, if used properly, a hashtag can be a fantastic way for you to help your content and your marketing efforts actually get found.
For those of you who still don’t understand the value of hashtagging, think of this way: hashtagging is like labeling your content with a category you want to be found.
That hashtag becomes a simple way for followers to find all relevant content in one clickable link. It’s a gathering tool and a great way for you to see all your mentions and shares at once, and to encourage folks to discuss you even more!
Here are some quick ways to get started using hashtags for your business, for fun…and profit!
Step 1: Choose Wisely
Picking a good hashtag isn’t something to do quickly or casually. You want to make sure that the hashtag you choose ticks the following boxes…
- Brief: Try to keep your hashtags short and snappy. Ideally, you want to limit it to less than 16 characters. By keeping it short, you’re not requiring followers to eat up too much of their status updates whenever they try to use your hashtag. Keeping it shorter also keeps it from being too annoying to type out.
- Brand: If you can sneak your brand name in there, do it. It’s a great branding opportunity. But remember, don’t go over your character limit.
- Unique: Do a Twitter search to make sure that no one else is using your desired hash tag. The whole point of adding a hash tag is to a social media campaign is to track it’s success. If another campaign is promoting this hash tag, it will skew your results.
- Natural: The more you can make a hash tag part of an actual sentence, the easier it will be for your followers to use it. Create something like “LoveBrandX’ and watch consumers tuck it in around their conversational tweets.
Step 2: Launch It
Make a Big Bang! When you launch your hash tag, do it up right. Launch it with an especially beautiful photo or an uber-compelling video. You want that first mention of it to get passed around and really get noticed!
Draw even more attention to the hash tag by attaching a contest to this hash tag. Offer to enter all hashtagging followers into a random drawing for an extra alluring prize.
Or do a ‘merit’ prize to the folks whose hashtagged status gets the most shares or to the one that’s accompanied by the funniest photo or video.
Whatever your rules are, when people think that a real, valuable reward is attached, they are going to be that much more likely to participate in your campaign.
Step 3: Keep it Going!
Once you launch your hashtag, keep it going. Stoke the fire. Use it frequently and as much as you can, add photos and videos.
And don’t just limit hashtagging to Twitter. Use it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. You want to pull in traffic from every corner of the social platform globe!
You also want to use the hashtag to not just talk at your followers, but talk to your followers. What I mean by this is you want to really engage them with your campaign.
Pull them into the conversation by asking them to talk back to you. Post very specific questions and encourage them to tag their answer.
Specifically mentioning people in your tagged updates is a great way to pull them into the conversation and heat up your campaign. This is especially effective if you get a celebrity or other well-followed influencer to talk back to you, using your hash tag!
Step 4: Bring Them Back
Now that it’s launched and is starting to get a little life of its own, attach a “hook” to it and bring people back your website.
Do this by hashtagging conversations and updates you post, and also when you post links to great content on your blog (you are posting great content to your blog, aren’t you??)
Make sure you hashtag every mention and backlink to your site, as well.
This way, when a follower clicks on your hashtag, hoping to find out if he or she won that contest you are running, they’ll also be exposed to great calls to action back to your blog or website. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Step 5: Consider a Promoted Trend
You know how, on Google, you can either hope that your website appears at the top of search engine results organically? Or you can just ‘jump the line’ and pay for a sponsored listing? You can do this on Pinterest too.
Well, you can do the same on Twitter! You can create a Promoted Trend!
Instead of crossing your fingers that your hash tag goes viral and trends on its own, you can bid to have your hashtag appear more often and more prominently.
You can create campaigns based on followers, leads and much more. Check out Twitter’s business center for more detailed information on how to create your own promoted trend.
Step 6: Analyze, Analyze, Analyze!
That which can be measured can be improved. So make sure you are really monitoring how well your campaign is catching fire.
If it worked, consider repeating some of the same techniques on your next campaign. You might even want to use a variation on that same hash tag for continuity and to feed off the fire of the initial campaign.
If it isn’t working as well as you’d hope, you will know to try something completely different next time.
What do you think of hash tags? Have you ever experimented with them as a traffic booster to your site? Did it work? Tell me what you do and don’t like about hash tags in the comments below!
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