Hype Around the Hashtag: What Marketers Should Know

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Hype Around the Hashtag: What Marketers Should Know

Written by Anneliese Herbosa, Content Manager of The Social Media Network 2013-14.

Hashtags aren’t anything new. What’s new, though, is the way in which marketers are increasingly recognizing them as windows of opportunity.

Last week, Facebook rolled out hashtags which can now be used and monitored via public updates. Whether your initial response to this feature was Like, Dislike, or #KanyeShrug, here are a few good reasons why marketers shouldn’t take these powerful words or phrases prefixed by ‘#’ for granted.

Hashtags have essentially become embedded into our 21st century lexicon. In fact, many of you reading this probably use it in your everyday dialogue (yes, both online and offline). Online users employ hashtags as a rich content discovery tool. So, to be on the other side of the SEO scavenger hunt, you must be strategic in scattering them around all the right places, at just the right times.

Gauging insight

Hashtags can be very insightful as they can point you in the direction of where your audience is, what they are doing, what they are thinking, and how they are feeling. Hashtags are pretty much the text form of an emoticon and can be seen as the digital heartbeat of an online update. Being able to tap into the right location, activity, mindset, and emotion of your audience by being able to analyze their use of hashtags is something that will take time in figuring out. After switching on your ‘hashtag radar’, it is important that you react in an appropriate and timely manner. The cherry on top? Finding a clever way to infuse your company or brand’s objectives into the context of the online update.

Context and cues

Some generic hashtags are timeless and can be recycled time and time again without losing relevance. Others appear to only surface at certain times for finite periods. It is thus important to make use of social listening tools in order to monitor the digital realm and keep your finger on the hashtag pulse so that you can strike while the iron’s hot! Be sure to check the infinite index that is the internet to weigh which hashtag would be more fruitful in yielding more visibility or a greater reach. If you have a pop culture junkie on your community or content management team, be sure that their popular radar is on at all times! Look out for popular cultural cues which naturally invite opportunities for using hashtags in a savvy way.

Keep an eye out for trending topics on Twitter! (Screencap via WebAdvantage.net)

 

For those of you who aren’t so well-versed with all the hip digital lingo kids are using these days, it will take some time to become attuned to what makes an effective hashtag, and what doesn’t. Take note of good techniques and practices in order to effectively reach your target audience.

Experimenting

Some of the most viral hashtags are innovative ones that are created at the spur of the moment. It might take some time to get your online community to adapt a new hashtag, but you will never know unless you put it out there, wait, and see. It’s good to use a mix of both popular and niche hashtags, while using the latter to make it truly unique to you and your brand.

Once you’ve found one that fits your company, event, or campaign like a glove, your online dashboards will be buzzing in no time.

This campaign has Nike written all over it. (Image via Branding Magazine)

 

So before you start #going #crazy with the #hashtags…

1. Have a firm grasp of what hashtags can afford
2. Do your homework and keep an eye out for which hashtags would be appropriate for your company, service, or brand, to use. Some generic hashtags can be seen as one-size-fits-all, while some may be unique to certain campaigns or events
3. Know which hashtags are best across which platforms. Popular hashtags on Twitter may differ from those on Instagram, though more often than not there will be some overlap
4. Listen, monitor, react, tweak when need be, experiment, repeat.

With the new integration of hashtags into Facebook, what new opportunities do you think social media marketers could have in pushing their product, service, or brand, to the digital forefront? Which companies or brands have you found to have been consistently doing a solid job at ‘hashtag marketing’?

Featured image courtesy of Smirk New Media.

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