Welcome to the newest post in the Burlingame Business Tips series where we’ll be talking about how small and medium size businesses can use hashtags. To learn the do’s and don’ts of starting your own hashtag or joining a trending hashtag, read on.
Although it was used by IT experts and computer programmers long before the rest of the world began their addiction to social media, the hashtag (#) first became famous on Twitter.
Used as a method of grouping together a word or phrase and instantly organizing topics so they can found by other social media users, hashtags are now utilized across most social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter now all support hashtags.
If your small or medium size business is not using hashtags then you could be missing out on the chance to boost your brand recognition, reach new clients and increase customer loyalty. Here are five ways you can start using hashtags today.
- Drive Engagement By Creating Your Own Hashtag. According to Twitter tweets with a hashtag receive 16% more engagement than those without. Creating a hashtag of your own however requires a little thought. You’re hoping to connect with people with an interest in your business or your business ideals. Be specific and think about your target audience, you might not want to include your brand name either – Domino’s Pizza opted for #letsdolunch to promote their one day promotion and amassed 85,000 tweets in the process. An organic cafe in Burlingame for example may want to use #organicofficebreak to appeal to workers who usually eat ‘al desko’. Whilst #organicfood or #healthyeating are popular globally, a local hashtag like #Burlingame will ensure post are visible to the local area.
- Join A Twitter Chat. When a group of people all tweet about the same topic using a specific hashtag it’s known as a Twitter chat. By participating you can increase the visibility of your brand amongst an already active and interested audience and grow your social media presence. It’s not just about asking questions either; answer questions and share your unique experiences and you can develop a reputation as an industry expert. Check out #SmallBizChat every Wednesday at 8pm EST for insights and advice about running a small business. Don’t forget to include the hashtag or no one will know you’re joining in the chat!
- Follow Trends. Keep an eye on trending topics and join in – but only if it’s relevant to your business or you can add something meaningful to the conversation. Including #XFactor in a Facebook post to promote your printing business probably won’t be good for your credibility. However KitKat responding to #MakeLifeBetterIn3Words with ‘Have a break’ works perfectly.
- Check Out The Competition. Of course social media gives you the chance to interact directly with your customers as well as finding out what they’re saying about your business in general. Another interesting feature though is to spy on the competition. Using a social dashboard like HootSuite is a really useful tool for this – add a column for hashtags used by your competitors as well as mentions of their brand. Use this information to keep on eye on their strengths and weaknesses. Do they post great content, or join in with trending topics well? Are they overly promotional or inconsistent? Learn from others mistakes.
- Market Your Business By Holding A Contest. Hosting a competition or contest on social media is a great way to expand your reach and boost your brand recognition. Unlike a simple ‘like/follow to win’ competition, including a hashtag means your contest and therefore your brand will be even more visible. Your followers will be more likely to retweet you and your chosen hashtag if there’s an incentive to do so. If entry includes posting something personal like a photo (on Instagram for example) this can also increase the emotional connection with your brand. Don’t ask too much though, are followers really going to enter if they have to post a photo, use a hashtag and then tag their friends as well? Keep entry easy to generate maximum buzz.