Facebook is the latest social media platform to adopt the use of hashtags, and as the significance of the pound sign increases, the more important it is for small businesses to start using the free tool to boost their marketing efforts.
The use of the pound sign in front of keywords was originally used to identify a topic on the chat client IRC long ago. The recent adoption of the hashtag largely took hold with its introduction on Twitter. Hashtagsare now used to catalog content, encourage discussions and create unmoderated ad hoc forums among users utilizing the same hashtag on the same social media platform.
Numerous websites and social media applications support the use of hashtags including Twitter, Facebook. LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. Businesses have numerous opportunities to utilize hashtags to promote their business and to connect with potential customers.
Twitter was the first social media platform to fully adopt and implement the use of hashtags as a way to group similar posts and to allow for open discussions among a large group of users. Hashtags are fully searchable, and any user can view all posts linked with a specific hashtag by clicking on the hashtag itself.
Hashtags are an invaluable resource for businesses that want to grow their social media presence. It is a free tool that enables businesses to connect with those who are interested and already talking about them, their products or industry. Businesses can use hashtags to identify potential customers or others with similar interests.
Hashtags can serve a variety of purposes for businesses. They are most beneficial when used to promote an event, launch a new product or to generate buzz about a particular subject of interest. Determine and identify your goals and develop a hashtag strategy to accomplish those goals.
Choosing which hashtags to use can be a challenge if you are new to social media. You will want to identify which hashtags are widely acceptable to identify your industry, but you will also want to target a more specific group as well. Several hashtags can be used at one time to reach potential customers, but avoid using more than one or two with each post.
Consider looking for and using hashtags related to current events happening surrounding your industry, major news stories or weather events, or seasonal trends. Also identify any industry-specific hashtags. Follow a few industry leaders and use the hashtags they use to identify your industry or products.
Many businesses coin their own hashtagsusing their company’s name or brand. Keep your individual hashtags unique but easy to use to encourage the use of it by others. The combination of the industry hashtag with your own company hashtagwill help those searching specifically for your business, but also allows you to reach out to an industry-wide audience.
Twitter should be the starting ground for your hashtags. After you have tested and identified the relevant hashtags on Twitter, you can continue to promote your brand or company on other social media sites using the same hashtags.
Facebook is the newest social media site to implement the use of hashtags. Twitter has long since ruled the hashtag, and because Facebook tends to be more private—you broadcast your posts to your friends, not the world—many users have been slow to adopt hashtags on Facebook.
Because Facebook is the largest social media website, their addition of hashtags means businesses can finally use hashtags across all the major social media networks. Using hashtags on Facebook simply means that more people can find your message, and you can gather more data about those who are using your hashtags.
There are numerous tools and apps available that will collect content from all social media sites using specific hashtags and create a custom feed, allowing you to track who is using your hashtags.
Using hashtags effectively can have a huge impact on your business. Engage in conversations with others talking about the same topics, and continue to test various hashtags to determine which ones are the most effective and target the correct audiences. Be social, be creative, have fun, and experiment.