Once specific to Twitter, hashtags – words/phrases without spaces that begin with the “#” or “hash” symbol – are now widely used across all major social media platforms. While they might not seem like a particularly important part of a corporate social media strategy, don’t let their simplicity fool you. In fact, they may be the difference between a successful, traffic-generating campaign and an effort that falls flat.
Good things come in threes
An important thing to know about hashtags is that not all of them are created equal. Some are specific to a company or brand, some represent what Twitter calls “trending topics” (things people are talking about right now) and others are related to content that isn’t company-specific. Here are some examples:
- Company/brand-specific: “Have a break, have a Kit Kat” has been the globally popular chocolate-covered wafer’s tagline for as long as anyone can remember, so it makes sense that the brand’s hashtag would be #HaveABreak. McDonald’s has a similar relationship with the #ImLovinIt hashtag.
- Trending: The #SuperBowl and #GRAMMYs hashtags made it to Twitter’s top 10 list of worldwide trending topics earlier this month. Users eager to join the conversation about the famous 11th-hour interception or Beyonce’s grand finale could do so by incorporating the relevant hashtag, and brands were no exception.
- Content: No individual restaurant, coffee house or bar has a monopoly on hashtags like #steak, #latte or #martini, but that’s what makes content hashtags so great – browsing through them is sure to yield some varied results.
Hashtags for more engagement
So, now that you understand the different types of hashtags, how can you use them to get your social posts more traffic?
- Company/brand-specific: Use your tagline (or simply your enterprise’s name, if it’s unique enough) as the official hashtag of your business. After checking that it isn’t already in use, emblazon it across your marketing materials, include it in your email newsletter and even advertise it in-store. Be sure to track its usage, repost the best comments and respond when necessary. Once you show consumers that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying, they’re more likely to utilize the hashtag in the future.
- Trending: Piggy-backing off a topic that’s already being widely talked about is a great way to get your brand some attention, especially if you’re looking to dive into the real-time marketing trend. For instance, continuing with the example from above, DiGiorno tweeted during the Super Bowl, “This game is like a DiGiorno pizza because it was done after 20 minutes. #SuperBowl…” Frozen pizza doesn’t have much to do with the football championship, but DiGiorno’s social media manager saw a chance and took it, and the company’s Twitter account accumulated a lot of favorites and retweets as a result.
- Content: Eager to show off the cocktails on your drink menu or your own unique twist on a classic dish? Content hashtags are the perfect vehicle. Before you know it, #fettuccine fanatics and #maitai maniacs will be checking out your account.
Ultimately, integrating hashtags into your social media marketing approach is sure to take your strategy from good to #awesome.