How to Use Hashtags to Promote Your Business

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

hashtag-social-networkThere are some things in life that are easy to understand but hard to master; which is the category of knowledge where hashtags belong. Since hashtags are used on Twitter and other social media networks, like Instagram and Facebook, most people realize how hashtags work. However, it’s harder for social media marketers to know how they should use the hashtag feature to promote their business and improve the quality of social media campaigns. This post will address the ways businesses can use hashtags to their benefit and how to choose the best hashtags.

As as simple review, hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the hash sign [#] (more commonly known as the pound sign or number sign in America) on a social media network. Users can then find all of the posts with that tag by doing a search for it. It benefits the poster by allowing them to organize their content; and it helps readers by letting them search for related posts from a poster or to search for any post about a general topic. According to one study, about 40 percent of users will click on hashtags they see to explore new content.

The first way business owners can use this feature is to increase engagement among their subscribers. Getting people to look at past content can be hard (especially on Twitter) because people don’t want to slog through pages of unrelated posts or tweets just to find the next one about a particular topic. By using a hashtag, users can quickly find all of the related posts that were posted in the past or quickly find new posts about their favorite topic.To illustrate, a business could use this organization function by giving popular post features specific hashtags so that readers can look at previous posts in the series (e.g. a salon with a weekly beauty tip could use the hashtag #MondayMorningMakeover.)

Wendy’s recently used the #PretzelLoveSongs campaign to get fans to submit tweets about the new pretzel burger, which they then turned into a song. According to to Wendy’s, millions of people were exposed to the campaign. (A sample tweet from @LukeyDuda: “I wanna stand with Pretzel burger on a mountain, I wanna bathe with pretzel burger in the sea, wanna eat like this 4eva.”)

Because anyone can use any tag they want, there is a lot of overlap. This is good for users because it means that people can search for a hashtag and find all the posts about the topic and not just the ones of the first person to use the hashtag. Businesses can also use this to their advantage because they can use popular tags in their posts to get new people to notice them. For example, a jeweler can use #necklace to accompany a link to necklace on their post or tweet. Now, anyone searching for #necklace will see the organization’s product. In essence, by using hashtags properly, social media marketers can target their content so it’s found by the right demographics.

With hashtags being so valuable for spreading an organization’s content, it’s important for social media marketers to choose the right hashtags. Though hashtags have been a mainstay on Twitter for years, there are many people who just learned of the function when it was added to Facebook. It’s not uncommon to see hashtags used in a way that serves no purpose, either by having a unique hashtag that won’t be used again by the poster and are unlikely to be used or searched for by someone else. To make the most of the hashtags, marketers must think of what  they are trying to accomplish and perform research when appropriate.

One of the best resources is Hashtag.org, which uses a powerful algorithm to discover the most popular hashtags by category, user, and time period. Users can even have their hashtags tracked on the site. For business owners who are using hashtags on Google+, Instagram or Facebook, they can use Tagboard which can be used to search for hashtags on multiple platforms. And though it’s limited to Twitter hashtags, the site Hashtagify.me has the most advanced hashtag search engine available for the platform and users can even see tags that are related to other tags so they can find the most appropriate ones for their use.

Hashtags can be a valuable tool for reaching new audiences and engaging old ones, but they must be used properly. With the character limits on social media networks, wasting space on useless hashtags makes as much sense as buying a billboard and throwing black paint over half of it. Like everything else in business, social media efforts have to be strategic and thought out. Spending a little extra time researching the best hashtags for an organization could have a significant effect of the reach of its social media content.


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