Every smart business today knows the importance of social media marketing. Certain platforms call for hashtags as part of a marketing strategy, namely Instagram and Twitter (and sometimes Facebook). Without hashtags on these platforms, you'll have a difficult time acquiring comments and views, especially if you're a new brand. Knowing how to use hashtags is integral to maxing out the free marketing opportunities available to you. Also, hashtag marketing is a great way to experiment with different types of promotions to see which ones work and which don't.
1. Change the Conversation
Let's say your business has taken some uncalled for or inappropriate backlash, and you want your social media posts to start changing the sentiment that's been pervasive. You can use hashtag marketing to show support for your brand.
For example, if you're part of a women-owned business and you've been criticized by naysayers, your hashtag could be something like #WeBelieveInWomen or #SupportForFemaleProfessionals. You can also include your brand name so that if your audience members use the hashtag, everyone who sees it will relate it back to your brand.
2. Create a Branded Hashtag
While commonly-used hashtags can be helpful, you should also include one or more branded hashtags in your social media posts. However, a branded hashtag shouldn't simply be your brand's name; it should be something even more unique that clarifies the type of content you want your audience to post.
For example, if you have a travel website that covers locations in Florida, your business name may be Destination Florida but your hashtag could be something more fun, like #VisitFL or #ExploreFL.
3. Do Your Research
If you think that a trending hashtag sounds good for your business but you're not 100% sure what it means, make sure to do your research before posting. Something that sounds obvious or appropriate could have an entirely different meaning once you look it up on Urban Dictionary. Also, even if a hashtag is normally politically correct, posting it could still be poor timing, so always make sure you're updated on the news so that you don't accidentally post an insensitive hashtag.
4. Don't Step on Anybody Else's Toes
While using generic and niche keywords in hashtag marketing is fine, you don't want to create a branded hashtag and call it your own if another company is using it, too. While it may be okay to use a branded hashtag that hasn't been utilized in years, using one that's currently popular with another company can mean trouble for the both of you. Why compete with another company when you can stand out all on your own by just thinking of a new hashtag?
5. Get in on a Conversation
If you want to align your brand with a trending conversation on social media, use hashtag marketing to join in. An easy way to do this is to find out which national day is trending today. There are all sorts of fun ones, like National Donut Day, as well as more serious ones that bring awareness to causes. You can even plan these posts ahead of time by pulling together a calendar of social holidays and upcoming events.
For more trendy or time-sensitive hashtags, using them in your posts can simply show your audience that you're identifying with a specific movement or raising awareness for a cause. Just make sure your post is actually associated with the hashtag – otherwise, it's a sort of bait-and-switch that tricks people into clicking on your post.
6. Limit Your Hashtags
You don't want to use too few hashtags and miss out on attracting a wider audience, but you don't want to use so many that your caption looks like spam, either. Yes, Instagram allows you as many as 30 hashtags per post, but this is too much for most brands who want to come off as professional. Play around with the right number – start with five to ten, then add two or three more to see if they increase your reach, and continue experimenting from there. You can even remove some hashtags to see if your posts make a bigger impression.
7. Run a Campaign or Contest
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When you want your brand to run a campaign or contest, you'll create a limited time branded hashtag specifically for the promotion. This type of hashtag marketing is a way to get your audience involved and track user-generated posts, and once the campaign is over, you can stop monitoring the hashtag. You can also create a hashtag for an ongoing campaign that promotes just one specific aspect of your brand, like a weekly chat.
8. Search for Unique Hashtags
There are plenty of common-yet-still-unique hashtags out there that you can use in your own posts. For example, if you run a hiking brand, #hike is a super popular hashtag that a ton of people in the community use on their posts. However, such a generic hashtag may not get you a concentrated enough audience. Instead, look for something a bit more unique to your brand, but that still gets a lot of views. If your company is based in New York, you could use #hikenewyork or #hikeNY.
9. Use Trending Niche Hashtags
Certain niches have hashtags that are almost always popular but that aren't as easy to find as more generalized hashtags. There are several ways to seek out these hashtags. You can research hashtags on Google Plus, Facebook or Twitter. You could use hashtag monitoring websites like RiteTag or Trendsmap. Or you could find other influencers in your niche and find out which hashtags they're using. Also, when you add these hashtags into your Instagram posts, you'll see an auto-generated list of even more suggestions.
From using already-established hashtags to thinking up creative branded hashtags of your own, there are all sorts of ways to utilize this impactful marketing strategy. The best social media posts are the ones that are thoughtful and well-planned, and with so many resources out there, hashtag research is easier than ever. Have you experimented with hashtag marketing in the past? We'd love to hear about your tried-and-true hashtag strategies!