What the Hashtag?

hashtagAlmost one year ago,  I wrote an article where I detailed all of the reasons why the hashtag would never die. But I don’t think anybody could have predicted that it would blow up the way it has.  There’s no other way to say this: Hashtags. Are. Everywhere. With the web launch of Instagram, Twitter surpassing 200 million followers, and Vine growing month over month, hashtags are only increasing in popularity and use. Whether you’re a sole proprietor, small business, or multinational corporation, if you’re not using hashtags, you’re missing out. Plain and simple.

Get Yourself Discovered

If you are just starting your Twitter account (let’s say under 5,000 followers), and you don’t use ANY hashtags, you’re never going to grow your community. Similarly, if you only use the same hashtag over and over again that no one is never going to find (think #sorethumbmarketingtips), you’re also never going to grow your community. You may not monitor hashtags or use them to discover new pieces of content but PEOPLE DO! And our eyes are slowly being trained to not even notice them, unless they’re being used excessively. So use them at the end of every post, pick commons words or topics that are easy to search and find and be sure to engage in conversations about those topics.

Group Your Conversations

suits  USA hashtag

USA’s Suits keeps viewers engaged in conversation mid-episode using hashtags

This point may seem to contradict the first one slightly, but stay with me, they’re compatible I promise. If you find yourself tweeting or posting about the same topics frequently (think a weekly class, or a daily tip), use a hashtag to group these like ideas together. This should not be used in place of common hashtags like the ones in the point above, but rather along with them if you have room. This is a similar to idea to the way TV shows (and more recently commercials) use hashtags to group conversations about their brand or episode.

Note: The first kind are probably more important when you’re first starting to grow a followership. While the ability to click a unique hashtag and find all of your past/similar posts is a nice luxury, it’s worthless if nobody is actually seeing these posts to begin with.

Aggregate and Analyze

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, hashtags are everywhere. And nothing displays that better than my new favorite site on the internet, Tagboard. Tagboard pulls from Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google+, and even Facebook and compiles them into a beautiful collage like the one you see below from last year’s Ultra Music Festival (click the social logos long the top to filter by channel).

This is a great new way to entice your users to use your hashtag and get involved with you socially. It’s also an excellent way for you, as the small business owner, to monitor all of the activity around your brand in one visually appealing location. As an added bonus, it’s an exciting way to get people more engaged at a conference or networking event and a very cute way to have your friends help you remember your wedding.
If you want to go one step further, there are excellent sites that Hashtracking and TweetReach that help analyze the impact and reach of your hashtag across any given period of time.

Bottom line here: Get on board with hashtags. Use them. Explore them. Monitor them. They only exist for you to utilize and benefit from, so make the most of your social media presence and tag away.

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