Hashtags are no longer monopolized by Twitter. The metadata tag that was once exclusive to 140-character tweets has now evolved into an influential social media business tool and cultural grammar phenomenon. Social sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ have adopted the hashtag to increase user engagement and participation. Most recently, Facebook introduced the hashtag to its more than one billion users, greatly enhancing the experience and value for users and businesses.
If you’re in need of some hashtagging 101, a hashtag is a word or phrase prefaced with the symbol #. Labeled an “organization tool” by Digital Ethos, a hashtag serves to connect a common topic or idea that can then be searched. On Twitter for example, users click on #marketing and #ecommerce in tweets and are redirected to a page with conversations about marketing and ecommerce. Hashtags can also be customized. Unique, brand-specific hashtags create an original space where people can engage in dialog surrounding a particular topic.
Hashtags not only strengthen the virtual connections of friends and families, but can also build relationships between brands and consumers. Facebook status updates are public conversations, and posts embedded with a hashtag create a gateway for users with the similar interest to meet and connect. It’s mutually beneficial for businesses and customers. Connected by hashtags, businesses can acquire a fly-on-the-wall perspective on what people are saying about their brands or products. Alternatively, customers can directly express how they feel about a brand or product. With active updates and social network strategizing, such as campaigning with hashtags, a business can reach out to consumers and attract loyal customers.
Creates Brand Ownership & Engagement
Sam Haseltine, the social media strategist at digital marketing agency Greenlight, emphasizes how Twitter helps brands claim ownership of online discussion through hashtags. “Whether it’s a television program or a developing news story, there’s great value in being able to own the online discussion around a life event.” Businesses can use hashtags to mimic that “ownership” methodology, promote their brands and engage audiences.
Digital marketing and SEO agency iAcquire takes ownership of content marketing and SEO through iAcquire.com tweets, Facebook posts and other instrumental social media spaces. The digital search agency maximizes these social spaces, engaging with other key industry players through Twitter and Facebook hashtags such as #PR, #content and #linkbuilding.
Keep in mind that “engagement is more important than sales on social media,” notes Business Insider report covering social marketing by Altimeter’s Brian Solis. Businesses can’t afford to be exclusive from a Web and social media standpoint. As these digital spaces evolve, businesses should grasp these opportunities to gain consumer insights, stay up-to-date on trends and gather customer information.
Brand and market your business with the following SmallBizTrends.com pointers:
- Add # in front of key words within Facebook posts to network with new people and join conversations within your niche.
- Actively comment on and like relevant posts that share your hashtags.
- Use hashtags to monitor trending topics and locate those who are also passionate about #smallbusiness, for example.
- Explore competitor hashtags, track conversations and use that data to your advantage.
Incorporating Facebook hashtags into your social media campaigns will “add more functionality to help convey information and build an audience around specific topics“, notes Small Business Trends.