If you’re a social media user, you must’ve seen hashtags everywhere.
Hashtag (#) is a part of the social media language. It adds context to your social updates, and helps you communicate between the lines messages. It’s a tagging system that helps you categorize content on social media, and make it searchable for users.
But there’s a lot more to hashtags than just witty communication.
You can use them in a number of ways to boost your social media posts, create loyal communities, power your sales and marketing campaigns and reach audiences far and wide.
Hashtags are widely used across different social networks. They expand the reach and exposure of your posts beyond your immediate followers and connections, and help you attract new followers and more engagement. Hashtags play almost the same role that keywords play in search engine optimization.
But before I tell you about the different ways you can use hashtags, let’s have a quick look at some eye-opening stats on why hashtags are so important. (Source)
- Tweets with hashtags get 2x more Retweets, favorites and replies.
- Tweets with 1-2 hashtags 21% more engagement than simple tweets.
- 40% of Tweets with Hashtags get Retweets.
- You can get an average of 593 interactions per post by using 1-2 relevant hashtags.
- Increasing the number of hashtags more than 2 will cause a steadily decline in your average interactions per post.
c. Google Plus
- Google Plus automatically assigns hashtags to your posts.
- You can add hashtags to increase your post exposure, but like the other two social networks, don’t use more than 2 hashtags per post.
- Unlike the other three social networks, Instagram hashtags work differently.
- Using 2 hashtags will get you 41% interaction per 1000 followers.
- Using 5 hashtags per post will get you 43% interaction per 1000 followers.
- Using 11 hashtags will get you 79.5% interaction per 1000 followers.
The stats I’ve shared clearly show the effectiveness of hashtags (when used in the right way). But you can’t benefit from them unless you make them a part of your broader social media management and content strategy.
You need to consistently monitor relevant hashtags, identify any potential opportunities and create the right social media content to take advantage. Oktopost, one of the leading B2B social media companies, recommends hiring a complete marketing team for this purpose.
If you’re on a budget, you could look for companies like $99 Social, who can take over your social media operations, monitor your target hashtags and help you take advantage from them. Moreover, you can consult them for developing a targeted hashtag strategy to amplify your content and boost engagement.
How To Creatively Use Hashtags to Power Your Social Media Posts
If you already have a marketing team, or enough time on your hands to manage social media, here are five creative ways you can leverage hashtags to enhance the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
1. Host Social Media Chats
Hosting social media chats is one of the best ways to strengthen the relationship with your followers, increase your brand awareness and generate more leads. Hashtags allow you to hold effective social media chats even with people who’re not your followers.
Managing these chats is easy. For example, Buffer regularly holds Twitter chats using the hashtag #BufferChat. Anyone using this hashtag can ask questions and become a part of the chat.
Another great example of Twitter chats is MyBlogU, a collaboration platform for bloggers and businesses to find content idea. My BlogU holds Twitter chats (using the hashtag #myblogu) inviting both business owners and bloggers.
You can create your own hashtag, announce it to your followers and host a chat.
While these chats can be managed on most of the leading social networks, they are most commonly seen on Twitter.
To host effective chats you should,
- Select an easy but unique hashtag.
- Always use the same hashtag for every chat.
- Have a fixed weekly or monthly chat schedule so that your followers know in advance about it.
- Respond to every question in the chat.
- Be proactive and discuss new ideas in your chats.
As the chat host, you can set the topic or put forward a question to kick off the discussion. You can then manage and decide the direction of your chat as it goes forward.
2. Run Contests and Giveaways
Hashtags can also be used to run different competitions on social media. Just like hosting social media chats, holding contests with hashtags is quite simple. You need to choose a hashtag, put forward your contest guidelines and ask your followers to use your hashtag in their responses.
Using hashtags helps in organizing your contests much more effectively and gives you a complete timeline of all the users who participated in it.
Just like social media chats, contests and giveaways also need to be conducted regularly and with pre-determined schedules in order to create maximum impact.
Here’s a good example of a social media competition that CloseUp Philippines recently ran on Twitter.
Here are a few great contest ideas for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus.
3. Manage Customer Service and Feedback
Many of the top brands are using social media platforms for providing timely and effective customer service. Publicly using social media for customer support and gathering user feedback has a number of benefits.
- It helps you provide immediate issue resolution, and avoids escalation of the customer’s problem.
- It shows the customer that you really care.
- It strengthens your customer relationship.
- It shows the world that you are a proactive brand that is always on the lookout for customer satisfaction.
Using hashtags for customer service not only helps you organize all the customer feedback, but also keeps all your interactions open for public viewing.
Shopify also regularly holds Twitter chats to get user feedback on their existing services and new apps such as their Facebook Store.
4. Launch Marketing and Promotional Activities
Gone are the days when product launches and brand promotions were limited to print media, billboards and television advertisements. Social media is the new home of brand promotion and marketing activities.
Again, hashtags play a vital role in organizing these launches and keeping your audience updated about the latest happenings.
From product launches at Google I/O to the latest gadget releases by Apple and Samsung, every launch event is aggressively promoted using branded hashtags.
5. Create Location Specific Campaigns
Using hashtags for targeting users from a specific location is another great way to create focused social media campaigns. There are two ways of doing this.
- You can see the top hashtag trends in your target region and include relevant hashtags to give your Tweets targeted exposure.
- You can add your location as a hashtag to your Tweets, and updates on Facebook, Google Plus and Instagram.
Using location specific hashtags will also clearly communicate to your followers that your campaign is targeted towards a region, so only the relevant users will respond and participate.
Hashtag is a vital part of the social media language and can significantly increase the exposure, reach and engagement levels of your social media updates. However, to take real benefit from them, you need to use hashtags in a planned manner and as a part of a broader social media strategy. The ideas I shared in this post were only meant to give you hints on how hashtags can be used creatively. But how you actually use hashtags will ultimately come down to your objectives and the nature of your business.
How often do you use hashtags in your social updates? Are there any other creative ways to use hashtags that you can share with me? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
See also: Tips for Using Hashtags on Instagram