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From #bostonstrong to #OccupyWallStreet, many significant events have been commented on, discussed, and debated through the use of viral hashtags.
However, while most small business owners are aware of hashtags, not all of them realize that hashtags can also play a significant role when it comes to social media marketing.
Not only have hashtags becoming quite ubiquitous, but their usage shows no sign of declining in 2015.
Whether you’re working on a New Year’s business resolution or want to explore additional marketing methods, here is a basic rundown of hashtag marketing.
How Hashtags Began
First things first, hashtags can be identified as a word or phrase following the # symbol. For example, #marketing, #buylocal, and #holidaysale are three typical marketing hashtags.
As a categorization feature, hashtags have been around for a while in Internet Relay Chat networks. On social media, the general consensus is that they were first proposed by Chris Messina on Twitter in August of 2007.
However, it wasn’t until later that year (in October) that hashtags were picked up by the public to report on the San Diego fire.
In 2009, Twitter officially established hashtags by linking them to search results while in 2010, hashtags gained even more prominence via the Trending Topics list on Twitter’s homepage.
While Twitter was the first to adopt hashtags, they are now seen on practically all major social media networks. As of January 2015, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram are just a few of the big-name platforms that support hashtags.
Hashtags and Social Media Marketing
In addition to acting as a link point for public discussion, hashtags also allow businesses to engage with specific communities on social media.
Namely, hashtags link together posts related to a certain topic. As a result, they are not only a great mechanism for facilitating discussion and interacting with potential customers, but they also allow businesses another way to build their brand.
While hashtags are powerful, they cannot be used haphazardly. Poor hashtags don’t get you very far, while hashtag overuse has become a modern faux pas.
To get you started, here is a short guide to hashtag usage on the top six social media networks.
On Twitter: While essentially the founding point of hashtags, using too many on Twitter tends to make people upset. 1 or 2 is acceptable, with 3 being the max.
On Facebook: Hashtags tend to not reach very far. Don’t bother using them, or if you really want to, stick to just 1 hashtag per post.
On Pinterest: With its existing search system, hashtags are not really necessary unless you are trying to build a community brand or tap into trending subjects.
On Google+: Don’t worry too much. Not only does Google+ automatically add hashtags to your posts, but you can edit them and include them when commenting as well.
On Instagram: Feel at ease. While some say 7 is the optimal number, Instagram users generally love hashtags and won’t bat an eye if you use them more liberally.
On LinkedIn: LinkedIn disabled hashtag support in 2013 so there’s no need to use them on this platform.
Have thoughts or questions about Hashtag Marketing. Please leave them in the comments below.
To your success!