The hashtag. Commonly used as a “laughtag” (cue Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon spoof video: hashtags #LOLOLO). However, in a professional context, proper use of the hashtag can propel a social media campaign from second-string sidelines to Superbowl status. Using the pound sign preceding a word or phrase allows you to group the post into a conversation under a common thread, useful for increasing post visibility as well as tracking discussion topics based on those keywords. But be aware, there is a social science to doing this correctly. Here are three takeaways to remember when hashtagging:
Research Begets Results
Each industry has its own vernacular—tap into this! Research the top publications in your field, along with competitors, customers and your ideal target audiences to see which terms and hashtags they use most often, and incorporate those into your messaging strategy. Simply adding a hashtag to your tweet expands its reach beyond those who follow you to anyone who is interested in the phrase or keyword. When you start talking about things of interest to your audience, they will begin to engage with your posts on a sincere level, which is essentially the point of “social” media. It may take some time for people to join your conversations, but consistently putting out relevant content with strategic hashtags will reel in the followers. Think: “If you build it, they will come”.
Keep Characters in Mind
Just 140 characters are all you get to craft a message that will resonate and strike a chord with your followers. No pressure. Don’t waste these precious commodities unnecessarily with long hashtags. #AintNobodyGotTimeForThat. During an event, keep the official hashtag short and sweet to give tweeting attendees enough space to share their entire message. (Also, be sure to make it easy for others to remember!) Luckily for social media managers, a recent Twitter study discovered that tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags. Save characters, gain engagement—if only everything could be so simple.
You may have noticed that most of these hashtag tips have focused on Twitter. This is intentional. While hashtags on Twitter prove to increase clicks, favorites and the likelihood of being retweeted, this does not translate to every social media platform. In fact, Facebook posts with hashtags get less engagement, and the use of hashtags has no positive effect on audience reach. On the other hand, Instagram users’ attitude toward hashtags seems to be “the more the merrier,” with 11 hashtags earning the highest interactions. Each social channel is its own entity and should be treated accordingly. #NOToneSizeFitsAll
Overall, to be successful in your social media endeavors, remember to keep things simple. Social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Adding #every #hashtag #possible will not immediately boost your followings and will likely deter people by appearing spam-like. Be patient, be strategic and keep these tips in mind to help make your 2015 social campaigns grow to greater heights. #HappyHashtagging!