Hashtags, that # symbol placed before a key word in a social media post, can be a powerful way to increase brand awareness and help grow an organisation. But, if used incorrectly, hashtags can lose their significance and power.
Lee Hawksley, Managing Director of ExactTarget Australia, said businesses can cash in on the growth of hashtags this holiday season, "Hashtag use continues to grow and with Facebook recently introducing them to their platform, that growth is only likely to increase. Approached thoughtfully and strategically, hashtags can be a really effective way to break through online chatter and better communicate with your audience.”
1. Build anticipation around an announcement
Businesses can use pre-launch hashtags to gage the level of interest in a product. This can not only help businesses spread the word about their new offering, but also predict estimated sales levels.
Music albums are an excellent example of where this is done well. Justin Timberlake used a hashtag on multiple social networks to post pictures, videos and other media assets to build anticipation around his upcoming album #The2020Experience. Because his fans were thrilled to assist in building album anticipation, they adopted the hashtag as well, increasing its momentum.
2. Be consistent and simple
New hashtags are added by Twitter users every day. Consistently use the same hashtags when referring to your business so your followers can find relevant tweets quickly. Having consistent hashtags also means followers can easily add your hashtag to their posts. Shorter hashtags work best. It can be difficult to remember long, complex hashtags, and followers are more prone to get them wrong.
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3. Give your followers a community with a hashtag
Twitter isn’t all about you. Turn the attention back to your followers. Providing a community hashtag such as #[brand]chat lets followers interact with each other and your brand by bringing together all your followers in one place. This also means that some followers will begin to ‘self-service’ by addressing minor questions to fellow tweeters rather than to customer service.
4. Be relevant but not too self-promotional
Remember that Twitter is about engagement. It’s a place where people share their thoughts and opinions. Don’t bombard followers with constant self-promotion or they will soon unfollow. Instead focus on genuine engagement and conversation. Content should be relevant and interesting, but doesn’t always have to be about your organisation. Think about re-tweeting, replying to or adding followers’ tweets to your favourites. This shows them that you are open to two-way dialogue and value their input.
Social media provides a unique opportunity for brands to connect with fans on an individual level. Smart execution of the hashtag can help you drive engagement that builds loyalty and brand advocates.
ExactTarget is a global Software as a Service (SaaS) leader that powers all types of interactive marketing messages through a single, integrated platform. Our messaging platform provides organisations a single platform to connect with customers via email marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, dynamic sites and landing pages.