Hashtags – you either #love them or #hate them – but they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Originally created as a simple way to organize Tweets together into some kind of theme, this simple, solitary character, can supercharge your marketing efforts when used correctly.
Hijack a Hashtag … At Your Own Risk
Case in point – if a well-known band is showcasing their music with a hashtag, and your own band has a similar style, it’s acceptable to “hashtag-surf” and use that tag to draw attention to your own efforts.
After all, no one owns a particular hashtag.
But this strategy can backfire, as in the case of highly-publicized Twitter fails #McDStories and #notguilty (to name a few). You can keep an eye on which hashtags are popular for specific events, topics and even people by using a site called Twubs.
There’s also a basic hashtag encyclopedia if you want to see what’s trending or which hashtags are already in heavy use by well-known brands.
Develop a Sense of Community
Whether it’s for a charity project, a common interest, band or special event, the right hashtag can bring together people from all over the world. Not only can the creator(s) of the hashtag interact with their fans or followers, followers can also interact with each other – sharing stories, lessons learned and opinions.
Host a Live Chat or Q&A
Twitter live chats are one of the most well-known opportunities to use hashtags, as anyone who follows that particular tag will not only have a record of the ongoing chat, but will also be able to participate and ask questions using it.
Depending on how often the hashtag is used, it can also appear on the sidebar of Twitter’s trending topics, encouraging people to take a look and add their own opinion or comment.
Ideally, it’s best to generate some anticipation before a live chat by emailing your subscribers, followers and friends to let them know the time and date, then scheduling some time to answer questions and chat on Twitter.
Grow Local Business
Local search engine optimization is one of those fields that even strictly online businesses shouldn’t ignore.
To that end, you can follow specific hashtags in Twitter, such as your city name, county or state (or abbreviation) to see what people in your area are talking about.They could be sharing short restaurant reviews, talking about weekend destination plans or asking others what events are coming up.
Either way, depending on your business, you can be part of the conversation.
Reach Out Across Multiple Platforms
So, if you post to Twitter with a time-limited coupon or special (a very common use of a hashtag), and you’d like your customers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ to join the fun, using a hashtag can bring people from all these platforms together, as hashtags are viewable and clickable across all those services.
Ride the Coattails of Popular Tags
Right now, the Black Friday anticipation is building here in the U.S., and stores are rolling out the digital red carpets with unheard-of deals before the “official” launch of the holiday season.
With this in mind, it’s perfectly acceptable to ride the successful coattails of popular shopping, holiday and event hashtags like #blackfriday.
You can also use multiple hashtags in your post – such as #blackfridaydeals and #blackfridaycoupons to encourage shoppers following those alternatives to take a look at your offer.
Share Hacks, Case Studies or Customer Spotlights
A hashtag is also the perfect way to highlight great ideas, suggestions and even people. Whether they’re undertaking a massive project using your product or service, or have enjoyed tremendous success as a result of it, these are the kinds of stories you want to share with others.
People on Twitter and Facebook enjoy the attention that their feedback brings, so showcasing their hard work or well-won efforts is a great way to say “I’m listening”!
Just remember that when choosing a hashtag, that your choice is limited to a single word or words without spaces. #wordpresstips would work, but #wordpress tips would not.
Also, as with any good marketing tool, be sure not to overuse hashtags in areas where it #doesn’t #make #sense.
Have you found a creative use for hashtags? How have they enhanced (or hindered) your social marketing efforts? How do you plan on implementing creative hashtags into your future marketing? Share your thoughts and ideas below in the comments!