#Hashtags - 5 Beneficial ways to Use them
You may or may not be aware that the use of hashtags in social media posts, especially Tweets (where it all stemmed from) was never an original concept of social media, but instead adopted by social platforms after a user innovation.
Hashtags in social media tweets and posts, allow the user to tag their post, thus grouping them together with other posts containing the same hashtag. This helps to build community and conversational topics with people all over the world wanting to join in and discuss the same thing.
The first recorded use of a hashtag in social media was on Twitter, when Chris Messina used the symbol in a tweet dating back to August 23, 2007. This however didn't lead onto the extensive use of hashtags we know today. Instead that came when the American public started to use #sandiegofire after Nate Ritter used it when commenting on the San Diego Fire in October 2007.
It then wasn't until July 2 2009 that Twitter decided to hyperlink hashtags, liking them to search results. Following on from Twitter, Tumblr was one of the early adopters of hashtags dating back to August 2009. With the popularity of hashtags really picking up steam, Twitter then decided to move trending topics to its homepage after a redesign, with the view to driving and building further conversation on its platform.
It wasn't long before Twitter users were using hashtags as a normal part of their Twitter conversation. Subsequently this led onto popular culture including TV shows, celebrities and the mainstream media taking full advantage to build and engage audiences, while businesses saw the advantage of using them for promotions.
This wild fire of hashtag use then spread onto other platforms with Instagram adopting their use in January 2011, Flickr in March 2013 and FINALLY Facebook in June 2013.
So, how do you use hashtags effectively to build your brand? Here are five brilliant ways to use hashtags.
1. Drive increased engagement by using a # with a link
Tests have shown that companies using tweets with hashtags received 12% more engagement than those without. And by this I mean gaining a Retweet (RT) a favourite or a reply using your profiles @ handle. Businesses have realised that using hashtags helps to drive engagement and those tweets that use both a link and a hashtag received the highest engagement rate of all.
2. Test your message
For this I would like to a use successful example of when the White House media team, while preparing content for a presidential speech during a recent State of the Union Address, tested out 26 different hashtags.
During and just after the speech, the team then channelled their efforts into the seven top performing hashtags with three of them showing considerable engagement.
The following day they used what they have learned during the speech and used those top three again to further drive home and emphasise the messages that stuck.
So where possible, test your hashtags to see what creates the most engagement, then roll those out further to capitalise on what works.
3. Link activity across various channels
Hashtags more than any other social signal, such as Twitter @ handles or Facebook account names are being used in advertising, due to their cross channel nature. As the majority of social networks have now adopted the hashtag as a topical identifier, brands and business are now able to promote cross channel using one common identifier. The hashtag has become a universal connector for the social web.
4. Create a story
Using a hashtag during an advertisement could give your Twitter account a serious boost both in terms of mentions and new followers. Linking a hashtag to the story of an advert can entice people to connect with your brand using that hashtag. If you currently run advertising campaigns perhaps on TV, radio or printed media, consider using a hashtag to build instant interaction around what it is you’re advertising.
5. Keep an eye on the numbers
Ensure that you monitor the results of your hashtag campaigns. Don't just use a hashtag for brand promotion and just expect for it to work. Trialling and testing different hashtags to find the best combination for your brand is key to future performance. Keep track of your mentions, retweets and engagement so you can keep or cut.
Hashtags are now more than just a way of grouping and categorising social posts. They've become a marketing tool, allowing businesses to promote their brand, drive conversation, attract attention and harness public support through innovative means. Have a look at what your competition is doing and what's working for them, then try creating your own buzz with something similar. Monitor the results and apply this marketing tool across your social channels for maximum interaction.
Do you use hashtags in your promotions? Have you participated in any hashtag campaigns?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. For more information on my social media marketing services, check out my dedicated social media page here.