Hashtags originally came from Twitter, and when clicked on, would send the user to all other tweets containing that same hashtag. This allowed Twitter users to engage in conversations relating to the hashtag topics. Various social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram followed suit, adding hashtag capabilities to their platforms to facilitate more user engagement. The smart social media marketers also began using hashtags to locate their audience.
Using Hashtags in Social Media Marketing
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Businesses can use hashtags in a variety of ways to promote public outreach and enhance their brand awareness. Like those savvy social media marketers, SMBs can use popular hashtags to target suitable audiences. Almost all social media sites allow users to see all trending hashtags which give users the ability to follow trending news and other topics in real-time. By participating in popular discussions on subjects pertinent to their industry, products, and services, businesses can advantageously use hashtags to gain new clients and establish their brand among new consumer populations. For instance, in Boston during the 2015 record-breaking snow storm, restaurants began to use #digoutdineout, letting those who wanted to eat out know that local restaurants were open as usual, regardless of the 10 feet of snow on the ground. Many businesses even offered discounts and specials to those who ventured through the blizzard to eat out, which allowed businesses to fill their empty tables, feed hungry customers, and help the local community.
A Few Suggestions for Using Hashtags in Social Media Marketing
The point of a hashtag is to draw in new customers to your business, so make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to your target audience ( Click here for more info on choosing your target audience .) Do some research on what similar businesses are using for their hashtags and check out your customers’ interests and likes to see what topics your hashtags should emphasize. There are many sites that post current trending topics to give you some ideas on where to start. Remember to make your hashtag unique enough so that it can be remembered more easily.
Jumping on board with trending hashtags is also a way businesses can reach out to customers. A trending "#" is used by many people at the same event or location, for example, in the case of breaking news or at a rally. Twitter even has a feature that tells its users when their followers are tweeting about the same subject. Take advantage of popular subjects if they’re relevant to your industry and target audience, but don’t forget to research any hashtags before using them. DiGiornio mistakenly used a hashtag regarding domestic violence when marketing their pizza, and consequentially faced harsh criticism from its customers. A hashtag should boost your business’ reputation, not ruin it.