Thanks to the social media revolution, the humble hashtag now firmly finds a place in popular culture. But more than that, it is also a very powerful tool when it comes to online marketing.
Just as smiley faces (emoticons) have a colorful history, so do hashtags. The use of hashtags in online conversations was first suggested back in 2007 by Chris Messina. But things really took off in October that year when Nate Ritter used it on Twitter to report on the San Diego Fire using #sandiegofire.
Fast forward to the present, and the hashtag is used extensively not just Twitter, but other social websites, promotions, business events, and even conversations.
How to properly use hashtags
While hashtags may be a powerful way to get picked up in social media and strengthen your brand, the fact is that they are extremely overused by some. One thing you don’t want to be doing is hashtag every word in sight — unless you plan on irritating your readers. Not to mention that it looks unprofessional.
Also since you do not have all that much room to play with because of the 140 character limit, two hashtags are more than enough in a single tweet. One is best.
Where to use them
If you can come up with a uniquely catchy tag that sticks in the minds of your followers, then great. Or you can simply opt to tag along with some popular tags and try to get your brand out there. Just make sure you keep it running for a week, at least, to test the response.
You can also include your unique tag on all your business stationary, including email signatures, document footers, brochures, websites, and marketing images.
Now, if you really want to be effective with hashtags, it is recommend you do some research to find out what’s popular. Sites like www.hashtagify.me and www.hashtags.org are good resources to search for trending topics and jumping in on the action using a popular tag that is being used in conversation.
Using seasonal hashtags is also helpful — particularly celebratory events like Halloween.
Doing some basic research this way, and then tagging your content posts more effectively is an excellent way towards a better rate of engagement, leading not only to more traffic and bigger communities, but loyal customers.