Take a trip down memory lane with me. Remember the 90’s? Tupac and Biggie feuded to rule the airwaves. Women wore slouch socks and bubble bangs. You and your friends were discovering live chat and messaging? Ah yes, the good old days of Internet Relay Chats, otherwise known as the birthplace of hashtags. Humans had been using it as a number sign for almost 150 years—completely unaware of its potential to organize information. Fast forward a decade or so to 2007 when social technology expert, Chris Messina, suggested Tweeters use it to keep their conversations organized. Then, technology exploded into a new social networking era where one #hashtag has the potential to unite us all.
Pound sign or connective marking tissue
It can be really helpful to go back to the beginning. So, let’s do that. What’s a hashtag, really? A hashtag is a way to organize one word or a group of words by putting the # sign before the word or grouping—#wordgroup or #whatarehashtags. Behind the scenes, they are called metadata tags, and they are more and more widely used for companies and public figures to establish and connect their brand to a broader social mediasphere. But if you’re late to the hashtag party, here are some helpful things-to-know:
The Hashtag is divided into three categories: Branding, Campaign, and Trending. Branding and campaign hashtags increase your social media following, bring in more customer engagement, and help your company nail down what you do well. Brand hashtags are company-specific and could be associated to company taglines. Your Brand hashtag should be the signature of your online company, and getting others to use it creates a wider net of movement, optimizing your online presence.
A company hashtag is the most obvious beginning, but remember you can create hashtags for many things, and that’s where Campaign hashtags come in! You can hashtag promotions, ad campaigns, products specific to your company. Campaign hashtags are typically associated with a particular sale or coupon; they can also mark a launch for a new business initiative or short-term promotions. Trending hashtags connect you more broadly, linking you to an even bigger community. Finding out what hashtags are trending in your industry will put the extra spring in your step when hopping on the marketing rail-train trending hashtags provide.
With a little research you can find out if your hashtag ideas are already in use by searching Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ or Instagram for similar hashtags—making sure your hashtag won’t compete with any business that doesn’t represent your values or brand. Each social media platform has its own way for searching hashtags, most have a search area designated with a magnifying glass icon and will auto-fill or recommend popular and associated phrases for you.
Know when enough is enough
Very small steps will get you far in online marketing. But don’t overdo it. Posts with hashtags can do the job of getting your name out, connecting with your followers, and promoting a campaign. Do that with just a few hashtags. Most experts recommend 1 or 2 hashtags per post. Less is more on facebook, and on Instagram, many hashtags will benefit your post.
A strong network helps the campaign move along with more energy and spreads your net to cover a little more ground. Keep hashtags short and simple, catchy enough for employees, customers, and partners to remember without too much effort. Being creative with word use is necessary for this way to market your brand. Using your company name (#TempWorks) or the key words specific to your company together (#TempWorks #HRCenter) and industry specific (#staffingsoftware) are also going to boost your online visibility. Customers want to find you, so make your presence known by being smart and concise with your social media marketing.