How Can You Use Social Media Hashtags to Grow Your Business?
by Rob Kramer
Ah, the hashtag. That bastion of social media awesomeness. Some view it as a useful way to connect various themes and memes across social media sites, while others see it as somewhat of an annoyance. Either way it goes, hashtags–and the words that come behind them–aren’t going anywhere, and have actually proven to be quite an effective marketing tool when used correctly.
So how exactly can you use social media hashtags to grow your business? Read on to get some key insights that will help you boost your brand’s reach through this simple yet effective social media tool.
Why Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Posts?
Simply put, hashtags increase user engagement. When you add hashtags to your posts, you’re speaking the language of social media, and other users will respond in kind. Practically all social media sites use hashtags as a grouping function, enabling users to search for a topic by hashtag, which will return a site-wide list of posts that use that hashtag.
Hashtags can also facilitate the discovery of new content; for example, a person searching Instagram via a particular hashtag may come across one of your posts that features that same hashtag. Next thing you know, you’ve gained a follower that may not have even known you existed just two minutes prior to their hashtag search.
Growing Your Business Using Social Media Hashtags: Some Dos and Don’ts
- Add hashtags to your posts that are highly relevant to your business. For example, if you sell mountain bikes, add #mountainbikes to your next tweet or Instagram image.
- Include hashtags that represent the popular themes, memes, sayings, or ideas that relate to your niche as well. For example, a personal trainer might include hashtags like #fitness, #fitlife, #imuscleup, #fitgoals, or #onemorerep.
- Show the human side of your business by participating in some of the popular recurring hashtags on social media. For example, Throwback Thursday is a popular trend on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where people post old pictures of themselves (such as a high school yearbook photo) with the hashtag #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday. Another popular recurring hashtag is #mondaymotivation, where people share inspiring quotes or words of encouragement on Mondays.
- Venture over into spam territory by using too many hashtags in one post. While there are no official rules regarding how many hashtags are deemed acceptable, it’s recommended not to go beyond two or three per post. If you’re concerned about including all of the hashtags that you think are necessary, simply create multiple posts and divide the hashtags up accordingly.
- Put any spaces between the characters in your hashtags, as this will break it up and render the hashtag null and void (or just awkward). For example, use “#mondaymotivation”–all one word–instead of “#monday motivation”.
- Pull a “bait-and-switch” move, where you’re using popular hashtags that have no connection to your business or post topic whatsoever just to give your posts more exposure. This is widely considered to be a spammy technique, and could harm the credibility of your business. Be creative and draw some type of connection to the hashtag that will make sense, without coming across as a form of underhanded self-promotion.
- Leverage a red-hot trending topic or hashtag to promote your business without thoroughly researching the context for that hashtag. Frozen pizza brand DiGiorno experienced major social media backlash when it unintentionally used a domestic violence hashtag on Twitter to promote its pizza. The moral of the story: Do your homework before you hashtag!
When used wisely, hashtags can be an outstanding tool for promoting your business. Keep the above tips in mind to boost your brand’s presence on social media #likeaboss!